Behind the Scenes at the 2018 Robb Report Car of the Year [Video]

A look under the hood at the horsepower, players, purveyors, and judging process that comprised the competition.

Start with thirteen cars and nearly 8,000 hp, then add the open road and more than 200 devotees of driving, and you have the winning recipe for the 2018 Robb Report Car of the Year. Here’s a primer on how the fine-tuned automotive gala was geared.

Horses for Courses

It’s no exaggeration to say that the sports and luxury vehicles in our 2018 Car of the Year contest constitute one of the most diverse and exciting dream garages the editors have gathered for Robb Report’s annual autofest. There was something to suit every taste: a couple of supercars, three gorgeous GTs, two feisty sports sedans, two ultra-luxury four-doors, three powerful convertibles, and an American muscle car, which elicited debate louder than its 707 hp engine.

It would seem that power was this year’s theme, and there were plenty of horses kicking the stalls. A total of 7,945 hp, to be precise. Had the Bugatti Chiron made its appearance as planned (forestalled due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control), total equine output would have teetered on the precipice of 10,000 hp. Power ranged from the 471 hp Lexus to the 710 hp McLaren, or an average of 611 hp per car. Fifteen years ago, the Lexus would have been at the top of the heap, yet now, 700-plus hp engines are hardly uncommon. Today’s drivers are a spoiled and entitled bunch, and carmakers are only too happy to indulge us.

Robb Report Car Of The Year 2018

Robb Report Car Of The Year in Boca Raton, Florida  Photo: Courtesy Michael Buckner and Stewart Cook

As with any sport, half the fun is making friendly bets on which competitor will come out on top. With 15 Car of the Year competitions under this writer’s belt, the biggest lesson learned is that one can never predict the love or hate elicited by certain automobiles. And the sheer diversity of our judges ensures that one driver’s heartthrob could be another’s heartburn. It’s a safe bet, however, that at the end of an exhausting day of driving, evaluating, and voting by our judges, every one of these 13 cars is someone’s winner.  —Robert Ross

Robb Report Car Of The Year Napa Valley

Robb Report Car Of The Year Napa Valley  Photo: Courtesy Michael Buckner and Stewart Cook

Rules of the Road

The criteria for selection and judging are simple: We choose 13 cars from among the best sports and luxury offerings on the market. Why 13? Because that’s about the most cars that can be driven comfortably in a day. The model must be new, or at least offer a significant change in specifications from the previous model year. So while a Porsche Turbo S (last year’s cowinner) is a stellar automobile, it’s not new for 2018, and thus doesn’t qualify. Other new models may have been available in Europe but not yet fresh off the boat in America, which explains the absence of cars like the Ferrari 812 Superfast and Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo.

Robb Report Car Of The Year 2018

Robb Report Car Of The Year in Boca Raton, Florida  Photo: Courtesy Michael Buckner and Stewart Cook

Judging is done by enthusiastic drivers—not automotive journalists—and the results are tallied from 10 groups of as many as 26 drivers each, who drive in pairs. Our Napa, Calif., event hosted seven groups; Boca Raton, Fla., had three, for 202 participants in total. Each driver answered questions with a grade of A through F, rating such aspects as performance, design, suitability as a daily driver, perceived value, and more. This broad scope of questions helps to level the playing field, with a sedan theoretically gaining a higher score than a single-purpose supercar. Needless to say, there were surprises at every turn.  —Robert Ross

Days of Wine and Roadsters

None of the judges were surprised by the hospitality received at the Meadowood Napa Valley resort in St. Helena, Calif., and Florida’s historic Boca Raton Resort & Club, now a Waldorf Astoria property. Both hotels lodged our guests and served as headquarters for our 10 demanding driving sessions. When not ensconced in the supple driver’s seat of the Mercedes-AMG S65 or the cockpit of the McLaren 720S, the drivers and their companions were regaled at elegant dinners held either at the resorts or, in Napa Valley, at the properties of some of the wine partners who so liberally filled our glasses: Alpha Omega Winery, Benchmark Wine Group, CADE Estate Winery, Champagne Taittinger, Darioush, Davis Estates, Freemark Abbey, Grgich Hills Estate, Groth Vineyards & Winery, Lokoya, Metaphora Wines, Mira Winery, Vineyard 7&8, Wally’s Wine & Spirits, and Hall Napa Valley.

Robb Report Car Of The Year, Boca Raton, FL, USA – 07 Dec 2017  Photo: Courtesy Michael Buckner and Stewart Cook

Of course, these moments of indulgence occurred on the evening before each event and at the close of each driving day, when the judges—sobered by some rides and intoxicated by others—gathered to share their experiences and argue their individual cases for the most deserving vehicles. While the dining rooms sometimes brimmed with dissension and occasional discord, harmony always prevailed among the stemware arrayed on the tables.  —Brett Anderson

Robb Report Car Of The Year 2018

One of the Car of the Year judges  Photo: Courtesy Michael Buckner and Stewart Cook


These drivers drove the decision of our 2018 Car of the Year.

David Alan

Marcu Alexander

Jim Allen

Steve Altman

Ronnie Amrany

Brett Anderson

John Arigoni

David Arnold

Roy Arnold

Marina Arnott

Rob Arnott

Carolyn Aronson

Jeff Aronson

Syed Baqir

Craig Barto

Paul Bartolotta

Ben Bennett

Bob Berry

Garrett Bland

Bonnie Bloom

Mitch Bloom

Jonathan Borisch

David Bowman

Darlene Brandt

Eric Brandt

John Bremer

Chad Brue

Greg Burden

Shai Burstein

Gerry Byrne

Jeffrey Cantor

Mark Carnucci

Chris Carpenter

Lee Carpenter

Tracy Cassady

Cristina Cheever

Ed Chui

Erica Chui

Ashley Chung

Lisa Clark

Kris Combs

Kyle Connaughton

John Conover

Michael Covarrubias

William Dakos

Brian Davis

Lee Davis

Lisa Davis

Mike Davis

Eduard de Guardiola

Missy de Guardiola

Danny Del Medico

Scott Dillon

Barry Dodds

Therese Doherty

Ali Ebrahim

Craig Eddins

Michele Eddy

Michael Edelman

Zane Edwards

Scott Ellington

Avrum Elmakis

Darren Enenstein

Michael Famiglietti

Russ Faulk

Juan Fayen

Geoff Fear

Moti Ferder

Jeff Fields

Peter Fioretti

Jon Flint

Philip Fusco

Sho Fusco

Peter Gary

Pete Georgiadis

Nelson Gerard

Bobby Ghajar

Mark Goldstein

Ted Gravenhorst

Violet Grgich

Suzanne Groth

Louis Guarino

Jeff Haber

Gary Hammes

Maurice Haroche

Diane Harrington

Jacquie Harris

Joe Harris

Steve Harshberger

Faheem Hasnain

Sean Hayes

Tonya Heermans

Bob Hekking

James Henderson

Lars Henriksen

Brent Holden

Cheryl Holden

David Hurtado

Michael Ingram

Earl Ishbia

Janice Jaraicie

Kai Jiang

Lucas Jones

Sally Jones

Jim Jordan

Scott Katzman

Thomas Keller

Craig Kelley

Darioush Khaledi

Ed Kinney

Rick Kinning

Mark Komine

Dov Koplovsky

Christopher Kostow

Steve Kris

Joe Laux

Kirk Ledbetter

Steve Leveque

Lawrence Levy

Peter Li

Brian Libman

Nick Linca

Muffy MacMillan

John Mahdessian

Robert Mann

Brook Margraves

Robert Masson

Christopher McKenna

Ravi Mehta

Silvia Mella

Beli Merdovic

Taylor Merritt

Jim Messemer

Ilan Mishan

Abdol Moabery

Carlo Mondavi

Tom Montgomery

David Mosteller

Dan Moyer

Larry Mueller

Christian Navarro

Patrick Nayrolles

Jose Luis Nazar

Mark Newman

Holly Nichols

Randy Nichols

Nick Nikolov

Ricky Novak

Ellis O’Connor

Mike Origer

Edvin Ovasapyan

Antwane Owens

Barbara Palumbo

Teresa Partington

John Pentz

Melinda Pentz

Danny Pettit

Allan Pollack

Bernard Pump

Scott Pyles

Karina Race

Bill Reid

Jodie Resnick

Chris Riley

Cheree Roberts

Scott Rosen

Brian Rowley

Lenny Sands

David Saunders

Praveen Sharma

Julian Shles

Jordan Sills

Matthew Simancik

Adam Simms

Mike Sisk

Roger Smith

Phil Snyder

Antoine Souma

Gary Spratling

Ron Sprengeler

Jen Stanton

Wesley Steffens

Brian Stoffers

Ron Stoll

Scott Sullivan

Manny Tavares

Jim Taylor

Philip Tessier

Najeeb Thomas

Lance Tobia

John Tolbert

Devin Valentine

Bill Varner

Charles Veth

Carlos Vidueira

Doug Von Allmen

Byron White

Stewart Winston

Willis Wong

Claude Yonnet

Reza Zamani


Thanks to following companies for their support.


Alpha Omega Winery

Benchmark Wine Group

CADE Estate Winery

Carl F. Bucherer

Champagne Taittinger



Davis Estates

Freemark Abbey Winery

Grgich Hills Estate

Groth Vineyards & Winery

HALL Wines

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

Korean Air


Louis XIII

Lugano Diamonds

Metaphora Wines

Patrón Tequila

Penske Automotive Group

Robb Vices

Roger Dubuis

TAG Global Systems

Via Luca

Vineyard 7 & 8

Wally’s Wine & Spirits


Boca Raton

Alpha Omega Winery

Benchmark Wine Group

Clase Azul Tequila

Collection Suites

Delta Private Jets

Freemark Abbey Winery

Groth Vineyards & Winery

Karma Automotive

Metaphora Wines

Mira Winery

Patrón Tequila

Penske Automotive Group

Provident Jewelry

Robb Vices

TAG Global Systems


Penske Luxury

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