The Good 12

All over North American roads there are cars with no more personality than a hunk of metal. Many new car buyers have grand expectations when they fork over tens of thousands of dollars for a hunk of metal.

The desire for a relationship, the kind of machine-to-man connection you don’t get with your new dishwasher, is paramount. Sure, performance is nice. So is cargo capacity, and voice controlled-navigation, and stability control, and seating for seven.

What you want, however, is something less tangible, something you know when you see but can’t precisely define.


You want to want it. A new car can’t simply tick off all the boxes. That’s not good enough. Spreadsheet supremacy does not cause a passionate car-loving customer to sign on the dotted line.

We can’t all own original Volkswagen Golf GTIs or brand new Ferrari F12 Berlinettas. But we can have cars we like, cars that pique our interest, capture it, and hold it. For now and for always. Each year, GoodCarBadCar chooses twelve vehicles capable of piquing, capturing, and holding your interest. This sounds like a recipe for happiness, but beware: GoodCarBadCar also chooses eight vehicles you must avoid, at any cost. Bring me the twelve on Christmas morning, don’t bring me the eight.

The Good 12 is a bit different this year. It’s concise; visible on one page. Most importantly, like the 2013 edition, this year’s list is based almost exclusively on the answers to a question I’m asked on a constant basis: "What car would you buy?"

There aren’t always easily explainable reasons. Sometimes emotion plays too large a role. Choices aren’t always logical. But your humble sales analyst’s decisions can be found in 2014’s The Good 12. And The Bad 8 features the cars I simply couldn’t consider acquiring.

To land in The Good 12, vehicles are first expected to excite, to ignite some form of passion. Don’t be ugly; don’t be priced too far beyond key rivals; and don’t cause me to suffer boredom. Please consider performance, even if tiny levels of horsepower are a regulated necessity. Be unique and unanticipated. Turn tradition on its head. Show us things we’ve never seen before. Or go ahead and show us what we have seen before, but make it better, much better. Make appropriate use of history and cause us to feel nostalgic, but not nauseous. Reach beyond normal expectations. Look good in the process.

The vehicles you’ll find in The Bad 8 fail to excite. The only passionate response is vehement rejection. They are, in many cases, ugly. They are often overpriced. They don’t perform well enough to overcome their long list of negatives. If unique, they’re unique like LowChen-fathered Affenpinschers. Worst of all, they’re boring. Around here, boring always loses.

If you still don’t understand how this works, check out the FAQs below. Also, you can go back in time to inspect last year’s The Good 12 and The Bad 8.

FAQs

Where Are The Exoticars? We can safely assume the Rolls-Royce Wraith is great - you don't need GCBC to tell you that. The Pagani Huayra is incredible - you knew that already. So crazy cars are excluded from contention. We’ve set a price barrier of $90,000 USD, but the most expensive base price 2014’s The Good 12 is actually just $63,495. We’ll simply accept that cars priced above $90,000 are accepted as valid purchases. In cases in which genuinely expensive cars are not worth purchasing - the $120,060 Lexus LS600hL comes to mind - we already know the value quotient is nonexistent, and the car shouldn't be considered for the receipt of any award.

Why Twelve In The Good 12? If GoodCarBadCar.net honoured only one or two or three vehicles, I would be saying that many deserving vehicles are second-rate. If GoodCarBadCar.net honoured ten vehicles, it would look like attempts were being made to be like Car And Driver. So twelve it is.

Why Not Just Newly-Introduced Vehicles? Many publications throw together the whole fleet of new-for-this-year vehicles and hand out their Car Of The Year award as well as awards in different categories. Yet vehicles introduced last year or the year before aren't automatically sucky already. In fact, they may well be better than this year's crop of new cars. Conversely, recent unappealing vehicles may still manage to be more appealing than last year's worst cars. Imagine if sports leagues like the NHL only gave out an award for Rookie Of The Year but acted as though the winner was automatically the league MVP. That's how strange Car Of The Year selections are.

Why Only Eight For The Bad 8? As a symbol to recognize the improvements being made by automobile manufacturers in this golden age of the car, GoodCarBadCar.net places greater numerical emphasis on the good.

Aren't Most New Cars Built These Days Reliable And Therefore Not Bad? True enough, the least reliable new car in 2014 will likely be far more reliable than the most reliable car of the relatively recent past. However, when greatness is in abundance, an utter lack of excitement or excellence is perceived as, well... bad. Outside of quality (although quality and durability and reliability can come into play), The Bad 8 dishonours cars that are especially undesirable for a variety of reasons.

Where Did Last Year’s Bad 8 Losers Go? 2014’s The Bad 8 remains focused on its original purpose. The eight cars we can’t consider parking in front of GCBC Towers this year differ slightly from last year for three reasons. Last year, the Acura RL was about to be replaced by the Acura RLX, so we took a year to analyze the dullness of the RLX. It’s dull, and it’s here instead of the Lincoln MKS. The Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid is silly, but at least it’s unique. The Kia Sedona is so far from the top-of-the-class, and it has no redeeming qualities. The Chevrolet Spark is better than the Mitsubishi Mirage. The new Toyota Corolla isn’t exciting, but it’s no 2013 Corolla CE, so it’s been freed in (dis)favour of the brand-defaming Fiat 500L. The expensive Ford Escape Titanium doesn’t seem so outrageously expensive when it’s compared with the Buick Encore. Finally, when we successfully kill a vehicle off, there’s no need to dishonour it any longer.

Who Is On The Selection Committee? The opinions proffered on GoodCarBadCar.net are those of Timothy Cain, the founder and editor of GCBC. Thus, the victories garnered have not been won by acquiring multiple third-place votes. Each winner and lose is succinctly explained.

What’s The History? Check out last year’s Good 12 and last year’s Bad 8 to see previous selections.