The best-looking cars of 2016 (that weren't sports cars)

January 6, 2017

We're not difficult creatures to understand, really.

We all have a Jungian connection to objects that we can identify as "beautiful" before our next breath. Examples? Sure. The Sistine Chapel, orchids, anything written by Vaughan Williams, the KFC Double Down sandwich, and sports cars.

All of those share something in common: the Golden Ratio, which is the division of an object so the larger part is to the whole is the same ratio of the smaller part to the larger. (We probably got that right. Maybe.)

Sports cars, what with their long hoods, muscular shoulders, wide hips, natural exhausts...wait, what? What we're saying is, sports cars have a built-in advantage.

There are beautiful cars beyond sports cars, and 2016 gave us some of the best. While most of our perfect scores on our new, rigorous rating system went to sports cars—one didn't. The Audi A7 was a perfect 10, and a heated internal debate landed the Range Rover at a near-perfect 9. 

Here were our non-sports car winners, in no particular order whatsoever.

2017 Audi A7

This one nearly cheats because of its dramatically sloping roofline, but we know a sedan when we see one—and we can't stop staring at the Audi A7. Audi's fastback is so good looking that they're bringing another to the U.S. this year: an A5 Sportback, which should appear on this list one year from today. Audi didn't invent the fastback sedan, but it has done a very good job with it so far.

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Cadillac CT6

Cadillac's newest sedan takes all of the good parts of the Art & Science look that we liked (CTS), and none of the elements we didn't like (ATS). The result is a good-looking sedan that can be a flagship for the luxury brand until something like the Escala shows up. The high window line helps, but the long hood and rear-wheel drive proportions help more.

2017 Mazda MAZDA6

2017 Mazda MAZDA6

2017 Mazda6

Depending on what day you catch us, we might argue that Mazda's lineup is the best looking in the biz—and they only have one sports car on the lot. The Mazda 6 is a very good expression of a front-drive sedan with rear-drive proportions.

2017 Volvo S90 R-Design

2017 Volvo S90 R-Design

2017 Volvo S90

Volvo's newest sedan set the table for two coming wagons that we like very much. Up front, the signature headlights and softly sculpted power dome in the hood, reach back into a better cabin with a higher-than-expected window line from Volvo. The sides are far from slab-sided; it's Scandinavian sensible without being boring. We're split on the back—half of us say it's lazy, the other half says its simple—but we all agree that it looks better in person.

2017 Buick Regal

2017 Buick Regal

2017 Buick Regal

Oh yeah, we can hear you rolling your eyes from here. The Buick Regal is one of GM's best looks in a decade—quote us. It's one of the older models in Buick's lineup, and the Avista concept clearly shows the direction Buick will be headed for the next decade. But for us, the Regal will be a tasty pick up in the next few years because we don't see those lines getting old anytime soon.

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep's longtime SUV can stand up to vehicles twice its price thanks to a sturdy shape that not only looks authentic to the brand, but also pushes it forward into a new era. The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is still one of our favorites because of its wide range—less-expensive models still look nice; top trims are true luxury SUVs—and because it's incredibly functional. Off road is still well within the Grand Cherokee's wheelhouse, same goes for a valet lot.

2017 Land Rover Range Rover

2017 Land Rover Range Rover

2017 Land Rover Range Rover

It's the shape that never gets old. Although the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover shares more lines in common with a brick than it does with anything born out of a wind tunnel, the Range Rover is one of our favorite looks because it's a direct line back to where it all began. This generation may be the furthest removed from the old Range Rovers we love to see (but perhaps we don't love to own them) but it's still instantly recognizable. That's a classic.

2017 Honda Civic

2017 Honda Civic

2017 Honda Civic

Honda's compact sedan made a big impression on us, ditto for the coupe and hatchback. It's latest generation righted the wrongs we found in older models—especially in perceived quality—but it also borrowed heavily from luxury automaker's playbooks for a simply drawn shape that's more appealing. In the broad, horizontal elements, we see a little BMW. In the shape and curves, we see a little Acura. That's great if you're buying a Honda Civic at half the price; maybe not if you've just purchased one of the others.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Night Edition

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Night Edition

2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The Mercedes-Benz flagship has a high bar to clear for its exclusive clientele—and it delivers. As impressive as the full-sizer's athletic shapes and muscular lines are on the outside, its doubly impressive inside. Of course, get to butch and you end up with a Hummer, but the S-Class strays far from too macho with an elegance and organic approach befitting its sky-high price tag.

2017 Bentley Bentayga Diesel

2017 Bentley Bentayga Diesel

2017 Bentley Bentayga

We said they didn't have to be sports cars, we didn't say anything about good looking cars being cheap. In the case of the Bentayga, it takes a somewhat-corporate diktat and manages to bring forward a Bentley, and an SUV at that. Its beauty is more subtle than the others; by looking at the front, you see that it's a single-piece fascia uncluttered with lines. Looking at the side reveals that it's one of the largest single pieces of stamped aluminum in the car world. In short, the Bentley looks expensive, which was probably the idea.

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