“Whatever you are,” Abraham Lincoln once said, “be a good one.” This advice applies not just to careers and character, but to cars as well. Since 2002, when Robb Report first invited a panel of readers to drive and score the year’s new crop of sports and luxury models, we have spent an inordinate amount of time arguing the logic of comparing designs as disparate as, say, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni and the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography. Our instruction to the judges has always followed a line of thought similar to the 16th president’s: Whatever the car is, is it the best one?
Such a distinction, however, is not easily vested among such impressive automobiles as were gathered at this year’s Car of the Year event—which took place at the Napa Valley Reserve, a members-only vineyard and winery next to the Meadowood resort, where our panelists lodged. The competitors comprised the Allard J2X MkII, Aston Martin DBS Volante, Audi R8 V10, Bentley Continental Supersports, BMW X6 M, Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake, Jaguar XKR, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni, Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Porsche Panamera Turbo, and Spyker C8 Aileron.
While the driving took place on the vineyard-lined roads of St. Helena, the decisions were made over multicourse dinners hosted by Blackbird Vineyards, Dana Estates, Hundred Acre, and Shafer Vineyards. Fortified with fine vintages, our judges debated the relative merits and weaknesses of each vehicle. Here, we present the results of their lucubration, which includes our first-ever Car of the Decade and, following that, our winner and runners-up for Car of the Year 2010.