1. 2011 Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is the best selling EV ever made; and true proof that electric cars were more than just golf carts. Equipped with a 24kWh battery, this car had a range of around 76 miles, and retailed for the equivalent of 37,500 dollars.
Nowadays that much money could get you a second generation Leaf with a 62kWh battery and 220 miles of range.
If perhaps the 10s proved to be the decade to show whether EVs were viable, the 20s will be the decade to make them affordable for the masses.
2. 2010 BMW X6 M
This revolting SUV was the first M car to come with all wheel drive, a torque converter automatic, and turbocharging from the factory. It was also the first BMW to use the S63 engine, which made its way to the F10 M5 a year later. A fact I found as insulting at the time.
Does this thing make any sense? No. But that was the whole point of the X6(which more than likely belongs to the previous decade’s list), even if it didn’t make any sense to us, the connoisseurs of the car world, it went out to inspire comparable models from other manufacturers, and it showed the way future high-performance road cars would head: Turbocharged, automatic, and AWD.
3. 2017 Ford Mustang GT350
The sixth generation Mustang was a radical departure from previous models by having independent rear suspension rather than a live rear axle; making it a much more sophisticated car. The sixth generation Mustang also brought back a turbo four cylinder engine, unavailable since the Fox body mustang, along with a flat plane V8 engine featured on the GT350.
This generation also saw the demise of the always underappreciated V6 mustang, but no one should cry over that.
This generation didn’t bring the mustang into this decade, but into this century; and it shut up those who believed American cars couldn’t handle well, and those who believed American cars require huge engines to move.
4.2016 Honda Civic Type R
The FK2 Type R was only sold for two years, and it’s the last Type R that had to comply with the US’ stupid 25 year import ban, as the next generation Type R, the FK8, is sold in the US.
The FK2 came to fame for having nearly 300hp, and special technology to battle torque steer; dual-axis struts and a limited slip differential. The FK2 was such an engineering success that the basic front suspension and powertrain setup remained the same for the next generation, which despite being FWD could hang with AWD competitors like the Ford Focus RS.
More than being the more important car of the two, the FK2 shows how many brands are starting to standardize their models globally, as the FK2 sold in Europe and Japan, a wholly different version was sold in North America. Not the case with the FK8. It also shows a renown commitment to American enthusiasts, as brands are starting to bring more cars stateside, the aforementioned Focus RS, the Audi RS6, and even, presumably, some Peugots.
5. 2015 VW Passat
The New Midsize Sedan (NMS) Passat was made specifically for one purpose: to conquer the American market. Throughout the years VW had trouble breaking into the massive, and profitable American market. This larger, cheaper version of the European Passat was meant to form the cavalry in VW’s attack of the American market. Consumers could equip the NMS with a boring four cylinder motor, a fast but thirsty V6, but more importantly, a turbocharged diesel motor.
It’s easy to forget, but a decade ago VW was reluctant to delve into hybrid and electric vehicles. To them sustainable transport involved torquey, efficient Diesel engines. However, tough emissions regulations meant US market cars would more than likely require ureic treatment of the exhaust in order to reduce NOX emissions. VW thought this would be a great deterrent for consumers, and opted instead to create an emissions cheating device that would change the engine’s performance if it detected it was being tested.
It culminated with VW’s emissions scandal of 2016, and it killed all of VW’s hopes that the world would rely on Diesel for personal vehicles or that they’d be able to dominate the American market in any way.
Also, BM2 has one and he’s a cool guy.
6. 2013 Mclaren P1
Part of the “holy trinity” of hybrid hypercars, the P1 is the most important evolution of Mclaren’s modern turbo V8 and carbon fiber chassis that aided their resurrection as a road car manufacturer.
The Mclaren P1 refuted the idea that hybrid technology was a burden at the track due to the weight and complexity of the powertrain. The instant power of electric motors however, sufficed to upset the downsides of added weight and complexity. Along with the LaFerrari and the 918 Spyder, the P1 lit the way for future hybrid supercars. I’d love to add the NSX to the list, but shamefully it was a bit late to the party, and totally out of spec.
7. 2019 Toyota Supra.
If the G29 Z4 and Supra pair had a 2JZ; they’d be worse cars. But that doesn’t matter.
As literal hoards of people have said, the reason why the Supra and Z4 pair are “OK” is because thanks to BMW’s and Toyota’s collaboration, the world gets to have a pair of wacky, almost unprofitable, exciting sporty cars. Yes, the hot ones with the I6 are only automatic, and these aren’t iron block I6s either
But a strange thing is occuring in the automotive world; we’re getting a lot of technology, and amazing product quality for very little money. With such tight margins, and such high expectations it’s almost inevitable for cars like this to exist and thrive.
The truth is that sporty cars are faltering, Aston Martin is buying engines from Mercedes, and Fiat is using Mazda’s MX5 to dress up the 124; the real world is scary, and if we don’t join forces together we might not have actual sports cars to complain about at all.
8. 2014 Jaguar F type
Something strange occurred when Tata formed Jaguar-Land Rover in 2008; a couple of companies that seemed lost in a fog of little money, antiquated products, and terrible quality resurrected.
After a hefty investment from the Indian company, the old British ones came out with some of the best looking vehicles of the decade. Cars like the F type, and the Range Rover Evoque. Some models like the full size range rover doubled their market share in Europe
Along with a revitalized design, courtesy of Ian Callum and Gerry McGovern, JLR invested in new engines designed from the ground up by them. No longer would they have to limit themselves to what Ford had left them from the previous partnership. The new Ingenium engines were praised by the press, and seem to be relatively reliable.
Shamefully nothing lasts forever, and JLR will close the decade with layoffs and without the F type’s designer; Ian Callum.
9. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
Along with the deceased Dart and 200 pair, the Pacific might be the only car Chrysler designed on its own (without Fiat or Daimler), from the ground up (not evolved from a previous platform), in the entire decade. It is also coincidentally the best car FCA currently makes.
It’s not the best selling, that probably goes to the WK2 Grand Cherokee. But the Pacifica is great at recognizing what people actually need; a spacious, safe, appropriately sized family vehicle; it’s like America’s Fiat Multipla.
It was also one of Macheronne’s bold bets into the huge consortium of Italian and American manufacturers he managed until his very death last year. As FCA heads into yet another merger, no one really knows what the future holds for the American side of the company.
10. 2011 Porsche 911
The 991 generation of the Porsche 911 was the most successful 911 in history, and it was produced for eight years. The 991 was a controversial model, as it dropped the manual transmission for the Turbo version while introducing a new seven speed manual for the rest of the lineup, it had electronically assisted steering, and it brought the first turbocharged Carrera models.
the 991 was a marketing success and Porsche took full advantage of it, offering a slew of special edition models, most important of which might be the 911R, a car so focused on being the best driving machine that Porsche opted for a more conventional six speed manual rather than the complicated seven speed unit found in regular 991s.
As the 992 rolls into production, there’s no doubt it will be the first hybrid 911, but that doesn’t mean the 991 will be unimportant.
In the end, the 2010s were an important decade for the automotive industry, as it not only reeled from the 2009 banking crisis, but it also had to deal with ever tightening pedestrian and occupant safety regulations, emissions regulations, and a shrinking, aging customer base.
What the 2020s bring on is still kind of unknown; maybe Diesel regains its footing after a turbulent time where various manufacturers were caught cheating, maybe Lapo Elkann inherits FCA, maybe Tesla eventually bankrupts itself.
alike ten years ago, the future is unpredictable, and we’ll only be able to tell what had happened on when we make this same list for the next decade.