Best New Cars of 2022

Dan Smith

2022 was a year of change for autos. Sports cars got faster, pickup trucks grew larger, SUVs became more cavernous. There were advances in drivetrains, horsepower, and infotainment systems. Even tire technology got a little bit better. And electric! Cars that ditched the pump for a plug-in were everywhere this year, and maybe for the first time they felt like mainstream options, not technical curiosities. While the Hyundai Ioniq 5 earned our top honor for 2022, the rest of these rides offer something surprising, something technologically advanced, or something completely unique. In other words all of them are special. We say it all the time at Esquire: there may be no such thing as a perfect car, but there is definitely a perfect car out there for you.


Car of the Year

Hyundai Ioniq 5

When you roll down the street in a Hyundai Ioniq 5, people do a double take as if they were seeing a glitch in the matrix. It’s one of the most delightfully distinctive everyman cars on the road today. When most electric vehicles tend to resemble an inflated dolphin, the Ioniq is unabashedly angular; it wouldn’t look out of place in the Roblox metaverse. The playful shape harks back to sporty hatchbacks in particular, the Lancia Delta Integrale and the Hyundai Pony, one of the first South Korean cars made for export. While it exudes small-car styling, the Ioniq 5 is actually longer than the Hyundai Palisade SUV, which means plenty of trunk space as well as massive legroom and headroom for all passengers. It’s extremely quiet even at high speeds, and it has the impeccable build quality and driver-assistance technology usually reserved for cars at a steeper price. Yet this is not a luxury vehicle. The Ioniq 5 embraces clean design and simplicity over opulence in a world where many cars seem to have gone through a maximalist design-by-committee machine. It feels just right. — Kevin Sintumuang


polestar 2


Electric Car of the Year

Polestar 2

If Elon’s rapid descent from technological visionary into Q-Anon Howard Hughes has soured the idea of owning a Tesla, boy, have we got some good news for you. After several years on the market, the Polestar 2 has matured into a world class electric sedan that, as a bonus, doesn’t line the pockets of someone who promotes vaccine conspiracies, busts unions, or runs multiple companies straight into the ground. How does it pull this off? First, and perhaps most importantly, the software is good. A massive, iPad-like touchscreen graces the cabin’s tasteful, minimal nordic interior and makes navigating between apps for in-car entertainment or navigation a delight. On the road the 2 is quick — very quick — provided you’re driving a model fitted with a long range Dual motor which will accelerate the 2 from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. (The single motor edition has a laughable 7.0 second 0-60 time and should be avoided at all costs.) The suspension is taught making cornering through twisty country roads a grin inducing pleasure. While the 270 mile range is still low compared to the 400+ mile range found on some Teslas, it’s hard to believe that gap won’t close as Polestar makes technical leaps and Elon slips further into a void of madness. —Daniel Dumas From $48,40,

lamborghini aventador ultimae


Internal Combustion Engine of the Year

Lamborghini Aventador Ultimae

Few drivers of the future will understand the pure terror and awe of an unadulterated, 769 horsepower V12 growling inches from the back of your neck. And that’s a shame, because it's a singular experience that can turn you into someone who was skeptical of why people are into amped-up Lamborghinis into someone who wants to drive amped up Lambos all day long. This is the last pure V12 that Lamborghini will make, and what a magnificent end to an era it is. —K.S.

From $498,258,

ford 150 lightening


Pickup Truck of the Year

Ford F-150 Lightning

From outside, the F-150 LIghtning looks like pretty much every other pickup truck on the road: big, brash, slightly menacing. The second you sit inside the cabin, though, you realize something is up. It is dead silent. You press the accelerator and it’s silent still but you find yourself hurtling along faster than most trucks on the road. 0-60 in 4 seconds. A 12.7 quarter mile. But that’s not what makes the Lightning special. What’s special about the Lightning is how useful it is as a truck. This is no proof of concept vehicle trotted out by a major automaker for funsies. The F-150 Lightning can do pretty much any task that its fossil fuel burning brethren can perform be that towing a trailer up to 10,000 pounds or hauling a load equal to one ton. As electric tech gets better, those numbers will go up. So will the 230 mile range or the battery charge time from 15 to 80 percent in 44 minutes. It’s important to remember the F-150 Lightning doesn’t just represent a technological step forward, it’s also a giant leap for truck culture. In the future almost all pickups will be electric — big, brash, and slightly menacing — and anyone who fails to adapt will likely be left in the dust. —D.D.

From $51,974,

land rover defender


Mid Size SUV of the Year

Land Rover Defender 110 V8

When you’re looking for something that has the interior feel of a luxury hotel, the raw power of a muscle car, and the off-roading capabilities of a Baja 1000 winner, Land Rover’s Defender 110 V8 may be the best bet there is. This three ton beast, which looks like it could take a direct hit from an artillery shell, gets its power from the 5.0-liter V8 that generates 518 horsepower with 461 pound-feet of torque. Step on the accelerator, hear the quad exhaust crackle, and prepare to hurtle from 0-60 in a little over five seconds. Are there faster SUVs out there? Absolutely. But that’s not why you get a Defender 110 V8. You get this car because it will turn heads when you pull up to the valet at a three Michelin star restaurant. You get this car because it can handle rough off roading as easily as it glides through urban streets. You get this car because it pulls off that tricky balancing act between rugged individualism and all encompassing plush comfort. You get this car because it gets you. — D.D.

From $109,560,

kia ev6 gt


Sports Car Bargain of the Year

Kia EV6 GT

With 576 horsepower, a 60 mph of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 161 mph the mildly insane GT version of the EV6 (Kia's cousin to our Car of the Year, the Hyundai’s Ioniq 5) is faster than the track friendly, all-electric Porsche Taycan GTS at almost half the price. It offers tire-squelching fun in GT mode at the cost of a smaller range: 206 miles. Fortunately with DC fast charging it can go from 10 to 80 percent battery life in around 18 minutes. —K.S.

From $51,700,

bentley bentayga ewb


Best SUV For a Long Road Trip

Bentley Bentayga EWB

In the Bentayga EWB, the distance between the axles has been stretched by seven inches. Now while some people may not think seven inches is much, trust me, you can really feel it — especially in the rear. Settling into the back seat is like being in the first class cabin of the plushest airline imaginable (think: Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific). Bentley has dubbed these Airline Seats” which feature 22 planes of adjustment, can recline 40 degrees, and even kick out foot rests. There’s a multi zone climate control. There’s humidity detection. There’s even a device that will help adjust your posture if you start slouching – apparently a common occurrence in Bentleys. The whole thing is powered by an extra crispy 542-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine and moves from 0-60 in 4.5 second with a 180 mph top speed. These are stats your driver will be concerned about. Because you’re buying a Bentayga Extended Wheelbase to be driven in. And that doesn’t matter if it’s a jaunt around town or a cross country road trip. You’re going to be ensconced in the most luxurious SUV imaginable. —D.D.

From $229,625,

cadillac escalade v


Big SUV of the Year

Cadillac Escalade V

The new Escalade is one of the plushest, extra-large family haulers around, but when you drop in a 682 horsepower, 653 lb-ft of torque, V8 engine and you press the start button, and the exhaust just rips like no car this size should outside of a Mad Max flick. Your mind starts playing Flight of the Valkyries even though Kidz Bop may be blasting on the 19 speaker sound system. This is easily one of the best sounding V8s out there today. —K.S.

From $149,195,

bmw ix m60


Technological Advance of the Year

BMW iX M60

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the iX’s design is divisive. Boxy, thick lines, mind breaking angles. Some people will stare wide eyed and salivating when they see it. Others will recoil. But get behind the wheel and be prepared to take the time machine to the year 3000. The onboard infotainment system, a glittering slab that allows you to control virtually every aspect of the car is easy to use and never feels overwhelming. Bimmer’s iX M60 feels distinctly like a BMW too: it’s smooth and effortless when accelerating and handles superbly, death gripping the pavement when conditions get slick. The dual motor engines are also so riotously powerful delivering a combined 610 horsepower and a combined 811 lb-ft of torque. The range is 290 miles which is not bad for a vehicle with a 3.2 second 0-60 time that can rival many sports cars. But the iX M60 is firmly an SUV with roughly the same capacity as BMW’s mid size X5. And it feels versatile too; this is a car for cargo, kids, and pets. Are there design quibbles? Absolutely. The plastic molding in the headrest smacks shorter people in the back of the skull when accelerating fast. And while some people might dig the angular design I found it to be a little too, “Hey! Look at my electric SUV!” for my tastes. Still, BMW made a big swing on a fully electric luxury SUV that makes zero compromises. This ride isn't just a hit. It's a home run. —D.D.

From $108,900,

mercedes eqe


Luxury Car of the Year

Mercedes EQE

Perhaps it’s because I first drove the EQE among the mossy, otherworldly landscape of Iceland, but damn does this car have a way of putting you into a serene mind space with it’s various massage modes, plush, quiet ride, and more space than the gold-standard of luxe sedans, the E Class. The all encompassing, optional 56 inch Hyperscreen (think: a digital dashboard that has three screens in a single pane of glass) is flashy while also being oddly soothing to the eye.—K.S.

From $74,900,

aston marten dbx 707


Sport SUV of the Year

Aston Martin DBX 707

Last spring I got to test Aston Martin’s new ultrafast SUV, the DBX 707, in Sardinia Italy. My driving companion, a sweet twenty-something kid from the digital magazine Design Boom, was at the wheel. He was driving the way all young guys do when they drive an Aston for the first time: pedal to the fucking metal. The massive, 4.0 liter V8 roared with 697 horsepower (707 if you’re measuring it in metric units) and, as we came around a soft turn on a desolate Sardinian highway, we saw two traffic cops gesturing to pull over. Neither of us were sure how fast we were going. We stopped and soon a loud conversation in Italian ensued (the kid from DesignBoom was fluent, thankfully). My Italian is muy rustico but I’m trying to piece together the exchange. Maybe the cops just want to know about the 3.9 second 0-60 time. Or to get a closer look at the massive carbon-ceramic brakes exclusive to the 707. Or maybe they want to reenact the opening scene from Quantum of Solace which was, not-so-coincidentally filmed on Sardinia. Ha, no. They want us to pay a fine. In cash. Immediately. I can’t believe what I’m hearing and the kid from DesignBoom merely shrugs. “That’s Sardinia for you.” Minutes later our cheerful British liaison at Aston Martin is on the scene with an envelope stuffed with Euros. After the “fine” is paid I get behind the wheel and we’re off again. The rest of the day feels like a dream with the DBX 707 taking us through breathtaking Sardinian geography with its equally breathtaking engineering. The DBX 707 hugs the road with far more tenacity than any SUV I’ve driven, lending to a car and driver connection that’s usually only found on the best sports cars. We finally park at the end of the day and I’m left with a lasting impression: if you’re driving this SUV prepare to be noticed. —D.D.

From $207,680,

gmc hummer ev


Resurrection of the Year

GMC Hummer EV

Driving one of the most in-demand cars of the year is like riding atop a bald eagle: people will practically salute you. By reviving the formerly gas-guzzling Hummer brand, GM has turned people who hate electric cars into people who really want a $110,295 electric car. And it’s not just the brawny looks. The Hummer EV has an impressive 329 mile range, a whiplash-inducing 0-60mph time of 3.3 seconds, and the ability to “crab walk” sideways, a handy feature for parallel parking a land yacht of a truck, but also very cool for Tik Tok. —K.S.

From $109,223,

lotus emira


Sports Car of the Year

Lotus Emira

Let’s play a game called “How Much Does this Car Cost Based on How it Looks?” First up is the Lotus Emira. Very clearly this land rocket with its sloped front hood, fighter jet air intakes, and sculpted body that resembles a mechanical jungle cat should require you to liquidate your 401K account to afford. Now consider for a moment some of the more blistering specs; the 400-hp supercharged 3.5-liter V-6, the 0-62 time in 4.5 seconds, the 180 mph top speed. Are you feeling that you might need to also sell a kidney just for a down payment? No need. The baseline Emira starts at around $77K with a special First Edition model being offered at $96,100. Lotus stated the Emira will be its final purely gas powered vehicle with future models likely taking the form of gorgeous, suped up hybrids or fully electric land rockets. But for a final tribute in the dinosaur burning, high revving, three pedal having (yes there’s a six speed manual gearbox) pure sports car category? Dollar for dollar, there’s no better manifestation than the Emira. —D.D.

From $77,000,

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