We chose a group of 17 vehicles from 12 different automakers to be finalists for the inaugural Motor1.com Star Awards and they included some real stunners – the new Ford Bronco, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the latest Volkswagen GTI to name a few. Each wowed us in different ways. But when it came time to grab a set of keys, all played second fiddle to the 2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo, our first Star Award winner for Editors’ Choice.
Over a week of testing, no car was in greater demand than the Taycan Cross Turismo. Even when we didn’t actually need to shoot photos or gather drive impressions or really do anything with it, our editors went out of their way to bring the long-roof, all-electric Porsche along, always making sure to detour through the canyons, where they could exploit its impressive performance and revel in its agility.
That’s far from the only reason the Taycan Cross Turismo earned our inaugural Editors’ Choice Star Award.. While certain vehicles could have qualified for more than one Star Award, only the Porsche could have actually been competitive beyond its own category. It would’ve been good enough to win Best Luxury Vehicle and exciting and engaging enough for Best Performance Vehicle. Hell, it barely lost for Best Electric Vehicle. However, despite its price tag (the highest of any car we invited), the Taycan Cross Turismo stunned our editors with its poise, comfort, performance, style, versatility, and advanced technology.
We aren’t going through all 17 vehicles here, but we will touch on a few of the strongest challengers for Editors’ Choice. Porsche’s first electric vehicle arrived last year offering blistering performance wrapped in the brand’s classic styling cues. The German automaker expanded the range earlier in 2021 when it first tossed us the keys to the more rugged and capable Cross Turismo.
Don’t let the cladding or the name fool you, though. Even though there’s a dedicated Gravel driving mode and an air suspension with additional lift, the Cross Turismo is a wagon. A damn attractive one, too, especially with the lowered Sport Plus ride height and our tester’s Cross Turismo–exclusive 21-inch wheels. Beyond the style, though, our tester was loaded out for a week of canyon carving.
The Performance Package costs $6,430 and that’s a fair price for handling that seemingly defies the laws of physics. This option adds active anti-roll bars that virtually eliminate body roll, four-wheel steering that helps the 195.8-inch wagon change directions like a far smaller car, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus that allows our 4S Cross Turismo maximize the deployment of its 562 horsepower and instantaneous 472 pound-feet of torque. On canyon roads, the Taycan is easily sharper and more agile than the Golf GTI, while its handling is more accessible than the BMW M3.
Speaking of that power, it’s immense. The manufacturer-estimated 3.9-second sprint to 60 is almost certainly conservative, but even if it is accurate, little prepares you for the immediacy of the Taycan’s performance once underway. Stab the accelerator at 40 miles per hour and after the sudden kick from the rear-mounted two-speed automatic changing down to its performance-oriented first gear, the horizon suddenly comes up very quickly. Moreover, Porsche’s tuning of the accelerator pedal is masterful, allowing drivers to easily adjust their inputs with little thought.
The Taycan is far more than 562 one-trick ponies, though. The clean, modern cabin packs top-notch materials and an excellent pair of front seats. There’s little wind noise, although tire roar does come through thanks to the massive 265/35 front and 305/30 rear tires. The suspension is quite compliant considering the car’s sporting pretenses, too. We’d happily live with the Taycan on a daily basis, even if the infotainment system is a touch finicky.
The Ford Bronco was a close runner-up for the Editors’ Choice Star Award. The reborn SUV takes basically everything that’s good about the Jeep Wrangler, pares back the inherent compromises thanks to an independent front suspension and a pair of excellent turbocharged powertrains, and then wraps the entire package in an unapologetically retro wrapper. The result is an off-road vehicle that demands very few real-world, day-to-day sacrifices.
The Bronco wowed us on the trails, not just with its capabilities, but how accessible its performance is. Features like Trail Control and the assorted GOAT modes take the mystery out of trail work in a way we haven’t seen since Land Rover introduced the original Terrain Response system. A comprehensive accessory catalog and a spate of different trims, packages, and optional extras allow customers to craft their ideal rock crawler.
Also from the Blue Oval, the Ford F-150. While the redesigned F-Series might seem like a dark horse for Editors’ Choice considering it doesn’t look all that different from last year’s model, the hybrid-powered Lariat tester received rave reviews from our editors, particularly the Motor1.com photo and video team. The ProPower Onboard generator system provided a virtually limitless means of recharging batteries, while the sizable bed served as a platform for capturing content. Comfy chairs and the optional Interior Work Surface made editing on the go simple, too.
The F-Series mimics the Taycan in the way it could challenge for multiple awards. It handled the same off-road trail as the Bronco and Ram TRX, attacking obstacles with little hesitation. The spacious interior and pleasant on-road demeanor, meanwhile, would have served well in the competition for Best Family Vehicle. It’s little surprise, then, that Ford’s perennial best seller came up in our Editors’ Choice discussions.
Finally, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was also in the running for this award. The redesigned flagship is a paragon of luxury, comfort, and technology that routinely wowed us. During our week of testing, if you lost the battle for the Taycan’s keys you made damn sure you won the fight for one of the S-Class’ back seats.
We’d happily live with the Taycan on a daily basis, even if the infotainment system is a touch finicky.
Those rear thrones are widely adjustable, while heating, ventilation, and window shades guarantee protection from the elements. Life isn’t bad up front either. There’s an excellent massage function and the pillowy headrests made the Mercedes an okay place to nap while waiting for the F-150 to recharge camera batteries. And at night, the lighting suite bathes the cabin in neon hues that wouldn’t look out of place in a South Beach vodka bar.
This sedan is quite good to drive, too. Like the Taycan, the Mercedes uses four-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars to hide its size and deliver a handling experience more like what you’d expect in a smaller vehicle. The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, meanwhile, will get the big Benz to 60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds.
How We Tested
The Editors’ Choice award is the culmination of an entire week of testing, filming, photographing, and living with these vehicles. Where individual categories focused on specific attributes, here we considered the entire scope of the assembled products, looking for the one vehicle that we’d park in our driveway were price and practicality unimportant.
It wasn’t enough that vehicles were comfortable, well-equipped, fast, or stylish. They needed to be all of those things. At the same time, we were more willing to forgive certain shortcomings in the pursuit of this all-encompassing goodness. Even price, an important metric in nearly every category, went out the window in choosing our Editors’ Choice winner. Put simply, this is the award where we hang objectivity and pick our flat-out favorite.
Why The Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo Is This Year’s Editors’ Choice
Brandon Turkus, Managing Editor, Motor1.com
The Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo sold me the day I arrived in LA and set a course north for our test site. This wagon drew stares everywhere I went, whether I was cruising down Sepulveda, speeding along one of the area’s many superhighways, sitting in the drive-through lane at In-N-Out, or rejuicing the battery. If you ever want to talk to a lot of strangers, find the nearest Wal-Mart that plays host to an Electrify America charger, park your Mamba Green Porsche there, and wait. It’s like a hummingbird feeder for people.
Speaking of charging, the Taycan does it better than most. Its 800-volt architecture allows exceptionally fast recharging, with a peak rate of 270 kilowatts. Getting the battery from five to 80 percent takes less than two dozen minutes, which combined with the available 350-kilowatt Electrify America chargers, saved me from talking to even more Wal-Mart shoppers as I tried to enjoy my Double-Double. In fact, it was this future-proofed electrical system and fast charging that had me championing the Porsche for Best EV.
More than anything else, though, the Porsche Taycan is a delight to drive quickly. The German automaker has taken everything it’s learned over nearly a century of building vehicles and forced that down the Taycan’s throat, so despite the 195.8-inch length and 5,000-plus-pound mass, this feels like a sports car. Its body motions are incredibly tight and the fast tiller, amplified by the active anti-roll bars and four-wheel steering, provides immediate responses. And yes, it’s massively quick, even in 4S guise. Frankly, I can’t figure out why anyone needs a Turbo or Turbo S model.
The Taycan Cross Turismo is everything I hoped for when Porsche announced it was getting into the EV game. It’s fast, graceful, attractive, poised, and comfortable. But more than arguably any other electric car on the market, the Taycan is a sign that fun won’t die with the gas engine.
Jeff Perez, Senior Editor, Motor1.com
More than anything else, the Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo oozes cool. The already gorgeous styling paired with a wagon-esque rear and rugged fenders make this model a bit more niche than the standard sedan, admittedly. But buyers with refined tastes and an eye for the unique will easily fall in love with this Taycan the second they see it, just like we did. Especially in a bright paint job like Mamba Green.
But even beyond good looks, the Taycan Cross Turismo was one of my favorite cars to drive during the entire Star Awards testing. This EV is poised, powerful, and comfortable over longer stretches. The cabin, meanwhile, is a tech-heavy marvel of interior design, with some of the best sport seats in the entire business. The Ford Bronco was a near second for me in this category, but the Taycan Cross Turismo is the one I would buy above all the others.
Clint Simone, Video Director, Motor1.com
We stacked our inaugural Motor1.com Star Awards with some of the best cars on sale today, representing basically every color of the automotive rainbow. The contenders were big, small, fast, slow, efficient, gluttonous, and somehow there wasn’t a bad car in the bunch. But there was also one that stuck out above the rest.
I didn’t want to love the Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo. It’s inaccessible to most people (myself included), costing darn-near supercar money. But for anyone dubious of an electric car’s ability to stoke fire in an enthusiast’s heart, the Porsche is the answer. This car excites like almost nothing else on the road – gas or electric. The Taycan was the first car to make me not dread our all-electric future, and now I’m just excited to see more things like it on the road.
Brett Evans, Senior Editor, Motor1.com
While there’s a decent amount of subjectivity that goes into selecting a winner for a Motor1.com Star Award, we try to use objective certainties as much as possible in deciding which vehicle represents its category best. However, for the Editor’s Choice Award, fact goes out the window and feeling takes over. Under that guidance, the Porsche Taycan rose to the top for me, distilling everything good about a Porsche and adding future-proof EV charging technology and mean, green street cred.
It starts with how easy the Taycan (particularly this Cross Turismo 4S version) is to live with on a daily basis. As with most modern Porsches, its interior is faultlessly constructed of soft, supple materials, and its seats adjust to a wide variety of spines and backsides. The tech is well-integrated too; even though I usually hate twin-screen setups, the Taycan’s infotainment is easy to get accustomed to.
But no one buys a Porsche for cabin comfort or screen size. They buy it to feel a connection to the road that’s nearly unmatched. Here, the Taycan obliges with perfect steering, a low center of gravity, and stout brakes that defy the 2.5-ton curb weight. And accelerative force from the dual-motor EV setup is appropriately Porsche-like, hitting 60 mph in well under 4 seconds.
Even though its middling EV range and six-figure price are disappointing (and make it an objectively worse EV than the cheaper and longer-legged Mustang Mach-E), nothing else in our test made its driver feel as talented or as special as the Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo. And in a category where feelings prevail, that makes it a winner.
Gabriel Vega, Automotive Content Manager, Driven Lifestyle/DuPont Registry
To say that the Porsche Taycan’s keys were the most popular would be a massive understatement. For me, my editor’s pick came between the Taycan 4S and the Ram TRX. While the TRX was fun to get into and mob around at times, I always kept coming back to the Taycan. The way it seamlessly balances incredible performance and a luxurious driving experience just by changing its driving modes is still shocking. Not to mention the fact that it’s also a station wagon with a bit of off-roading prowess.
The Taycan 4S also got my vote because it’s simply the best-driving EV I’ve experienced. Despite its 5,000-pound curb weight, the Taycan 4S is agile and light on its feet. Additionally, there’s tremendous grip, regardless of how hot you come into a corner. Overall, the Taycan’s performance is accessible for most drivers, meaning the barrier between you and a good time doesn’t require tremendous skill.
2021 Motor1.com Star Award Winners
- October 12: Best Value – Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
- October 14: Best Luxury Vehicle – Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- October 18: Best Electric Vehicle – Ford Mustang Mach-E
- October 20: Best Performance Vehicle – Volkswagen Golf GTI
- October 22: Best Adventure Vehicle – Ford Bronco
- October 25: Best Truck – Ford F-150
- October 27: Best Family Vehicle – Kia Sorento
- October 29: Editors’ Choice – Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
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