In an Electrifying Year of Test Drives, These Were the Top 10 of 2022

By Larry Printz

The 2023 Toyota Prius. Toyota’s designers created a car that looked sporty as well as aerodynamic, and challenged engineers to create a driving experience that matched the new car’s looks. (Toyota/TNS)

(Tribune News Service/TNS) — There have been some wonderful test drives during the past 12 months, and these are the most memorable in order of base price. Notably, only three of the 10 are pure internal combustion engine cars, while another is a gas-electric hybrid. The rest are pure battery electric vehicles.

The times are indeed changing.

2023 Toyota Prius, $27,450: Now that most Toyota models offer a hybrid variant, Toyota’s designers created a car that looks sporty and challenged engineers to create a driving experience that matched its looks. Long considered a commodity car by Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, the new Prius is slick, sporty and appealing. Push this puppy hard and you’ll find it obediently tackles corners at a higher speed than possible with any prior model. It makes for a driving experience that’s actually fun — a word you’d never have used in conjunction with any Prius. Until now.

The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (Hyundai/TNS)

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5, $39,950: This is a digitally drawn econobox reimagined for the road ahead, a battery electric box that’s at once fresh and familiar. Its shape hides outlandish proportions, yet it delivers up to 320 horsepower and 256 miles of range. And it can be recharged from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes using a DC fast charger. It’s a confident performer, with negligible body roll and swift, precise steering that makes it a kick to drive. It outperforms many of its electric and non-electric rivals.

Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum. (Ford/TNS)

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, $39,974: This is the vehicle that will change most consumers’ minds regarding battery electric vehicles. This Crew Cab pickup generates up to 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. With as much as 320 miles of range, an 1,800-pound payload and a 10,000-pound towing capacity, the Ford F-150 Lightning will make you want to ditch your internal combustion engine rig. It’s the most important vehicle introduced this year, and among the best EVs made.

2022 Nissan Z, $39,990: It seems like an eternity since we’ve had an all-new Nissan Z. But what the company has wrought is as welcome as a cool drink on a sweltering summer day: a modern take on its most iconic vehicle. Power comes from Nissan’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic that provides 400 horsepower through the rear wheels. No, it’s not the fastest. Yet it’s the consummate sports car, a joy to drive with precise steering and predictable handling. You’ll want to exercise it hard.

Korean automaker Kia is determined to make a brand statement with its first electric vehicle, the EV6 GT. (Kia/TNS)

2023 Kia EV6, $48,500: With its funky looks, the EV6 promises to be an unusual automotive companion. But aside from its EV powertrain, it delivers what you expect from any great car: up to 576 horsepower and 310 miles of range. The steering proves linear, with a quick, sharp feel that’s ideally weighted. Body lean is well controlled, and the instant-on torque provides for rapid off-the-line starts and more than enough punch when you need that extra burst of speed. The EV6 provides one of the most engaging EV driving experiences you’ll ever have.

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq’s excellence is evident in its engineering, design and execution. (Mueller/Cadillac/TNS)

2023 Cadillac Lyriq EV, $61,795: Cadillac has long struggled with regaining its former luxury market dominance. But the Lyriq represents its re-emergence among the leading luxury automakers. With 340 horsepower, and a faster 550-horsepower version coming, the Lyriq has the requisite performance chops. And none of its interior components are shared with other GM brands. With an impeccable design, world-class engineering and a refined demeanor, you might be tempted to call it The Standard of the World.

The new BMW i7 xDrive60. (Daniel Kraus/BMWGroup/TNS)

2023 BMW i7, $119,300: This 7 Series is a pure electric powerhouse, a slab of Bavarian luxury that bests the Mercedes-Benz EQS and Tesla Model S. Measuring 5.1 inches longer, 1.9 inches wider, and 2 inches taller than the 2022 model, it wears its newfound size with an imposing grandeur backed up by 536 horsepower that allows it to reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Yet it’s filed with indulgent luxury flourishes, like its huge 31.3-inch media screen, part of the lavish rear seat Executive Package. It’s true opulence.

2022 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Jailbreak, $125,990: This Detroit Neanderthal returns for 2023 for one last lusty, loud gas-fueled rebellion against an electron-filled transportation future. These cars are leaving, but not quietly. Its supercharged overhead-valve 6.2-liter V-8 generates 807 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds. With that much muscle being funneled to the rear wheels, maintaining grip while tapping that power is challenging, if not impossible. Don’t try to tame this tiger, you never will. But you’ll find it hard to resist.

The 2023 Rimac Nevera. (Rimac/TNS)

2023 Rimac Nevera, $2.1 million: For those who begrudge the coming of the electric-car age, who claim that the only way a sports car can deliver thrills is a loud exhaust and rumbling engine, I give you the Rimac Nevera, a hypercar that redefines high performance at a price that ensures its exclusivity. With 1,914 horsepower, reaching 60 mph takes 1.85 seconds, reaching 100 mph takes 4.3 seconds, and the quarter mile arrives in 8.582 seconds at 167.51 mph. Top speed is 258 mph, making it the fastest electric production car in the world. Take that, Elon.

The Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport and the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+. (Bugatti/TNS)

2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, $3.825 million: This 16-cylinder supercar is the ultimate expression of the brand’s internal combustion powered cars; one last howl of unearthly, audacious delight as gasoline-powered cars begin their denouement into history. Its 1,578 horsepower is fed to all four wheels. Superlatives are useless to describe the Chiron’s acceleration. It’s so powerful, it’s hard to find a spot where you could unleash its full power. Future Bugattis will no doubt be fast, but they will not feel the same.

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