List: Top 15 American Cars From Winding Road's Involvement Index 2.0

By John Beltz Snyder

June 17, 2011


89 – Rossion Q1: It may be a touch more refined than its Noble M400 predecessor, but the Q1 is still a bad boy. Hyper-quick with deep reserves of turbo torque, and the type of handling that’ll have you breaking track records.


86 – Ford Mustang Boss 302: As with the 911, the Boss 302 is payoff for decades of work on an idea. The Boss crumples, if not crushes, your preconceptions about what a Mustang can be: fast, balanced, passionate, subtle, and comfortable.


85 – Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Carbon: The most involving Vette money can buy. Unsubtle steering and a bruising ride keep this pavement scorcher’s score out of the 90s, despite rapidness on the track.


83 – Fisker Karma: A beguiling mix of speed, composure, and high-speed grace in a range-extended EV. Sonically far weirder than anything we’ve ever driven, but the mix of green cred and torque makes up the difference.


80 – Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport: The Corvette’s wide body gives it a good stance, but its drivertrain outshines its other qualities. Somewhat scary mid-corner behavior belies truly super grip levels.


80 – Cadillac CTS-V Coupe: 556-horsepower V-8 is just the sort of crazy sauce that the Caddy coupe needed. Huge thrust, silky magnetic suspension, but too quiet and with an uninspired automatic trans.


76 – Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: Mustang’s new power champ is still too softly sprung for its 540 horsepower, but the trade-off is a gloriously wild car. Truly epic motor here, folks—light the fuse and stand well back.


76 – Chevrolet Camaro Convertible SS: Cutting the top off fixes our issues with visibility in the Camaro Coupe, without out adding any flex or cowl shake. Handles more like a sports car than a “traditional” muscle car.


76 – Roush Stage 2 Mustang: Take the Mustang GT, leave the good stuff alone, and kit it with a more communicative suspension. Voilà!


74 – Cadillac CTS Coupe: Sexy and smooth, the CTS Coupe makes for a fantastic highway touring machine, but only a better-than-average driver’s car. Just sit back and relax—the ride is fine.


74 – Ford Mustang GT: Seriously sweet-sounding and hard-pulling, with power all over the place. Welcome back, 5.0. Notchy gearbox and soft suspension drag this score down (but are fixable in the aftermarket).


73 – Dodge Challenger SRT8: Like your fondly remembered first girlfriend: fast, good looking, and just a little bit too dumb. SRT8 offers manly thrust and great cruising behavior, but the numb steering and bad visibility hurt overall involvement.


70 – Lincoln MKS Ecoboost: More involving than the Ford Taurus SHO that shares this drivetrain. The Lincoln just comes together as the more complete car, with an appropriate combination of smooth isolation and great power.


70 – Chrysler 300C: Grunt from the 5.7-liter Hemi is as fun as ever, but Chrysler has really refined the ride and NVH package for this car. A super-smooth cruiser, but without much feedback available.


70 – Chevrolet Camaro 3.6 RS: While it is amply powered and a capable handler, its overall size and disappointing lack of visibility hinder a driver’s ability to maintain a sense of composure while approaching the Camaro’s limits.

89 86 85 83 80 80 76 76 76 74 74 73 70 70 70

In Winding Road Issue 72, we will be announcing the winners of the 2011 Involvement Index Awards, where we select the most deserving, engaging vehicles from a range of categories. In anticipation of honoring the winners in about a month’s time, we’d like to take a look at the most involving American cars from our Index.

Also, feel free to check out the list of the top all-wheel-drive cars on our index. Or see what happens when we mash together involvement and fuel economy.

For now, here are the 15 most engaging American beauties we’ve tested since we introduced our new and improved Involvement Index 2.0 in Issue 61 of Winding Road.