We’ve driven them all. Now it’s time to choose the best! The 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards pit the year’s strongest contenders in five different categories against each other, and crown an overall Car of the Year.
The oddball entrants in our diverse Daily Driver category look as varied as the drivers they represent. A mom with four kids in the suburbs, for example, needs a different type of vehicle than a single twenty-something in the city. No matter your lifestyle, though, a good daily driver must be affordable, practical, and reliable. The ability to put a smile on your face once in a while doesn’t hurt, either. Yes, it’s a nebulous category, but it’s our most important in many ways, because these aren’t the cars of your dreams; they’re better. These cars are a part of your life.
Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport
The Impreza has been one of our favorite sedans for years. While compact cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla dominate sales, the Subaru has always stood out for its offbeat character, impressive value, and standard all-wheel drive, the last of which isn’t offered by most of the competition. The Subaru Impreza can take you and your family just about anywhere you need to go reliably, and the redesigned 2017 model brings better handling, a more spacious interior, and improved tech. There’s no question: Impreza checks all the boxes for an excellent family car.
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
Wagons are making a comeback, and the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is proof. Taller, more functional, and quirkier than the standard Golf, the Alltrack adds practicality and personality to an already excellent Golf package, but most importantly, it does it without increasing its footprint.
Like the Impreza, all-wheel drive comes standard, but the Alltrack also features a dedicated off-road mode and increased ground clearance, which means your trip doesn’t have to end where the pavement does. It’s half crossover, half station wagon, and when you put those two together, you get a car that’s actually better than both.
The Chrysler Pacifica is more than a car; it’s a mobile command center. Inside the cavernous minivan, up to eight passengers can bathe in the latest and greatest in in-car technology, including an 8.4-inch touchscreen, a rear-seat entertainment system, a built-in vacuum, and Stow n’ Go seating that allows the rear rows to be folded flat electronically. Road trips will never be the same.
More important than that, the Pacifica is, dare we say, fun? It’s a handsome car to look at, there are plenty of toys inside, and with its new platform and decreased weight, it’s more engaging to drive than a minivan has the right to be. It’s safe too, with top marks coming from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
And the winner is…
An eight-passenger van may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a daily driver, but for the right customer, this is the perfect car. It’s just engineered flawlessly for its demographic. In other words, this is about as good as a minivan can get, and it quickly became a personal favorite at Lime Rock Park. Whether it was ferrying our camera crew around Connecticut to get the perfect shot or screaming around the racetrack with seven passengers onboard, the Chrysler Pacifica defied expectations and set a new bar for its category. Who said vans had to be boring?