Our Favorite New Car Test Drives of 2023

Luxury SUVs? Modern design? Stellar electric cars? Muscular, confident pickup trucks? All of the above! Our writers weigh in on their favorite new car test drives of the year.

Time To Test The Tires Off The Track! These Ford And Buick Suvs Fitted With Pirelli Tires Are Ready For A Two-Hour Scenic Drive.
Time to test the tires off the track! These Ford and Buick SUVs fitted with Pirelli tires are ready for a two-hour scenic drive. Photo: Allison Bell

If You Have to Pick a Favorite… Can you?

The hardest question anyone asks me is, “What’s your favorite car?” Like a mom with a brood, I can’t possibly pick a favorite. I appreciate every car I test drive for its uniqueness, and I admire the passion that its designers, engineers and planners put into it. It’s my job with new car test drives to unpack the finesse, understand the technology and tell you why it might be the right car for you.

But of course, there are cars that speak to our souls and psyches, that understand us on a meta level. The SUV that becomes a cocoon for my family; the minivan that swoops us off to Disney World and back; the car that finally gives me the freedom to go where I want when I want. They unlock our ability to work, travel and socialize in a way we couldn’t without it. That is what cars are all about. How they make us feel; what they enable in our lives; the freedom to be our best.

So, as I think back on a busy year of amazing cars and try to narrow down my favorites, I also asked our writers to share theirs. Here are our favorite test drives of 2023.

2023 Dodge Challenger Black Ghost Is Among The Best New Car Test Drives Of 2023

Dodge Challenger Black Ghost. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Dodge Challenger Black Ghost

Cameron Aubernon, @CameronAubernon

My best test drive of 2023 was with the Dodge Challenger Black Ghost Last Call Edition. Not because of the drive itself — Challengers aren’t long road-trip cars — but because of where I took it: the 2023 Holley MoParty in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Where else can a tribute to a legendary tale of a triple-black 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE haunting the streets of Detroit be best appreciated than at a celebration of all things Mopar?

Manual Transmission, Ford Bronco - Among My Best New Car Test Drives Of 2023

This is the face of a lady who just conquered a manual transmission vehicle 2022 Ford Bronco! Photo: Kim S.

Ford Bronco Manual Transmission

Kim Smith, @beautyandthebump

The Ford Bronco 2-door manual is my top pick for a test drive, and here’s why:

Firstly, I learned to drive a manual on the Bronco. Despite its imposing size, it was surprisingly easy to handle once I got the hang of it.

It’s fun to drive. Its commanding appearance is a stark contrast to my small stature. It gives off serious confidence vibes, which suits my personality. It speaks for me without me having to say anything.

In comparison to a Jeep Wrangler I’ve driven, the Bronco outshines with a smoother drive and a better turning radius. No need for a 3-point turn.

It’s also a head-turner. We got stopped several times by curious folks asking about it. And, of course, my kids couldn’t get enough, especially when we took the top off. The Ford Bronco manual is not just a car; it’s an experience.

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Volvo XC90

Connie Peters, @xoConniePeters

While I drove my first super car in 2023, a Lamborghini Huracan, and of COURSE I fell in love with the sounds, the speed and the crazy good looks of the fiery orange beauty, it’s not a car I would (or could) buy. Maybe some day!
As for my favourite, “I would actually buy” car of 2023? A Volvo SUV. I say this often, if I needed a new family car right now, my money would be on a Volvo SUV. The XC90 for when my kids were younger and I was driving all three of them everywhere all day long, the XC60 for now. I am currently test driving the XC40 this week and I love its size and ease of driving, but the XC60 would be more suited for my family’s space needs, and for its added luxury. The things I love about Volvo SUVs are their quality build, amazing interiors, simple technology and touchscreen, and amazing advanced driver assistance features. They’re understated yet incredibly premium plus they have plenty of power and hybrid options.
Mercedes-Benz Eqe Sedan Has Cool Headlights Made My Best New Car Test Drives Of 2023

Mercedes-Benz EQE Sedan has cool headlights. Photo: Sara Lacey

Mercedes-Benz EQE … Or Acura Integra A-Spec?

Sara Lacey, @saradrives

In 2023, I was enamored with the Mercedes-Benz EQE sedan. Though its exterior is more EV-looking than most of their cars, the interior dazzles with its comfort and beautiful finishes. I enjoyed customizing the LEDs, playing with the colors and trying out how they work when you set a warning in conjunction with them. The gorgeous color of the seating and the rose gold trim is warm and luxurious, I felt like I was in a cocoon. It’s an EV, so it is fast. It also had great adaptive cruise and distance control to make driving in traffic a lot easier.

I Am Considering A Long Term Relationship With The Acura Integra A-Spec; Best New Car Test Drives Of 2023

I am considering a long term relationship with the Acura Integra A-Spec. Photo: Sara Lacey

I also really enjoyed the Acura Integra A-Spec with a manual transmission. I rejoiced in the red leather interior and the presence of fun knobs and buttons. It was a great pleasure to drive around town, and I kept it in sport mode most of the time to make the most of the engine and power. It was great fun to be connected with the car — I was so glad my test car was a manual.

The New Face Of The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander; Best New Car Test Drives Of 2023

The new face of the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Toyota Grand Highlander

Jana Askeland, @realmom_cartours

My favorite test drive this year was the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid. I am a 2x Highlander mom and left the brand when my family grew and I needed a useable third row. I was thrilled to find the Grand Highlander is just that – grand. It gave me all the comforts of home with the easy to use Toyota tech and thoughtfully laid out instrumentation.

I loved having a useable third row AND a good cargo space. My favorite thing was the handling and turning radius. It parked as easily as a small car. I love the fuel savings of a hybrid and that was the cherry on top of this test drive for me.

Genesis Electrified Gv70; Best New Car Test Drives Of 2023

If you can’t tell from the smile, I love the Genesis Electrified GV70. It’s a joy to look at and a pleasure to drive Photo: Patrick Anderson

Genesis Electrified GV70

Liv Leigh, @livshaka

My favorite car for 2023 was the Genesis GV70 Electrified. It’s powerful to drive, the charging is SUPER fast, and the suspension feels buttery smooth but it’s the looks that get me the most. It’s so gorgeous and modernly-elegant that it makes you want to look back when you walk away and smile. The interior is also stunning with brushed aluminum finishes, creamy white leather, and perfectly positioned ambient lighting that makes you feel like you’re in a movie when you drive at night. It also has a ton of room for passengers and perfectly fits my Hula Hoop in the trunk but it still doesn’t feel like a huge car. I love it!

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Another Vote for Genesis GV70

Teia Collier, @teiacollier

There’s something about peeping a new car for the first time. You’ve seen it on paper, know the specs, but wonder how it’s been put together and why it works. That’s how I felt about the 2023 Genesis GV70.

Decadently functional and finely finished, I knew I loved the look of it. Pictures didn’t quite do it justice. It echoed the quietly luxurious vibe of the Cayenne and i-Pace with all the bold savvy, swagger of the new Ioniq lines. Quilted leather, wood detailing, gleaming accents and smart tech drew me in, but it was the drive experience that carried me over. It handles beautifully, regardless of the powertrain on a variety of terrains. EV or Petrol, it didn’t matter… it was simply a stellar vehicle.

35-Inch Tires, Wider Fender Flares And The Spare In The Bed Are All Hallmarks Of The 2024 Chevrolet Colorado Zr2 Bison. Photo: Allison Bell

35-inch tires, wider fender flares and the spare in the bed are all hallmarks of the 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. Photo: Allison Bell

Chevrolet Colorado

Allison Bell, @alliebell

My favorite test drive this year was a surprise. Driving the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison in the desert was an absolute blast. I’m not a “truck person” by nature, so I wasn’t expecting too much from the experience.

But feeling how effortlessly it carried me over rocks and boulders was so impressive, and I couldn’t help but wish we had one of our own. (My husband has been checking them out ever since I mentioned the 35-inch tires and all the other AEV off-road equipment.) That truck was so fun to drive and was clearly well tuned by Chevy to take good care of its passengers. I can’t wait to drive one again. (I guess I’m a truck person now!)

So Much To Love About The 2023 Gmc Sierra 1500 Ax4X

So much to love about the 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 AX4X. Photo: Chastity Velasquez

GMC Sierra

Chastity Velasquez, @cowboyslifeblog

Country music star Joe Diffie made a good point when he said “if it weren’t for trucks we wouldn’t have tailgates.” The 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X elevates that statement. It has a spacious interior, massage seats and is a smooth drive.

But what really made this my favorite test drive of the year was the truck bed equipped with the built-in Kicker audio system and electrical outlets in the MultiPro tailgate, which is like a Swiss knife of tail gates. It opens down — great for actual tailgating — it opens out, so things in the bed are easy to reach, it has a drop down step, an integrated work surface and a load-stop that pops up to keep things from sliding out of the bed when you need a bit more space for your haul.

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Lucid Air

Tanya Gazdik, @TanyaGazdik

Driving the Lucid Air on the Pacific Coast Highway was pretty spectacular. It had power and maneuverability without sacrificing comfort. No test vehicle usually gets second looks in California, but this one did. It definitely has a modern and clean look to it, both inside and out. I didn’t think about range for a second because it was so good. I drove roundtrip from LAX to Santa Barbara without needing to charge.

The Front Face Of The Lincoln Navigator Has An Almost Jewerly Like Loook With Its Metal Link Front Grille And Twinkling Daytime Running Lights

The front face of the Lincoln Navigator has an almost jewerly like look with its metal link front grille and twinkling daytime running lights. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Lincoln Navigator

Gigi Leonard, @gigileonard

Of all the cars I got behind the wheel of in 2023, the Lincoln Navigator Black Label L was the most noteworthy to me. Everything about this car feels bespoke and special. The substantial heft of the doors graciously enveloped me in the interior’s dreamy environment. The luxurious interior choices of leather and wood are a pleasure for the senses. And the ambient lighting options with a 28 speaker Revel audio system transported me effortlessly from day into night with style and power.

Chevy Tahoe Rst Featured Image

The Chevrolet Tahoe RST gave me quite the confidence boost. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Chevy Tahoe, Volvo EX30, Lexus RX (How Can I Choose Just One?)

Scotty Reiss, @scottyreiss

OK, I told you this is hard and I can’t get away without mentioning several.  The test drive that surprised me the most this year was the Chevrolet Tahoe RST. I wanted to drive all day every day. The feeling of power, the high seating position, the command of the road are fantastic. It just feels good.

The Front Of The Volvo Ex30

The front of the Volvo EX30. Photo: Scotty Reiss

However, I was amazed by the electric Volvo EX30. The sheer innovation of a car’s interior parts and how it functions stunned me. Such as its doors that are sculptural, with few moving parts; a sound bar that replaces all the speakers typically hidden around the cabin, the palettes of interior materials; the clever arm rest/cupholder/sliding cubby, and that’s just to start. Plus, even in the base model its powerful and has a great driving range.

Me With The 2023 Lexus Rx Featured Image

The 2023 Lexus RX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Last, I have to mention the Lexus RX. Redesigned for 2023, it’s everything we love about Lexus and a whole lot more. But what’s really special is the future tech we were able to try out: Steer by wire. This technology takes steering from analog to digital, and uses a smaller, rectangular yoke instead of a typical steering wheel. I felt like the blinders had finally been taken off and I could really see for the first time. Steering was easy, but the smaller wheel gave me a view of the road like I’d never seen. I can’t wait for this technology to be offered on cars. My prediction is that once it is, I’ll never want to hold a regular steering wheel again.

I was a bit surprised in everyone’s answers, even my own. It’s clear that technology wows us, design is more important than ever and the experience is everything. Thanks for riding along with us this year, and cheers to an even more robust 2024.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss