2023 New Car Reviews… in Review

It’s the first work day of 2024 for me and that means it’s time to look back at everything Tyler and I drove last year. Yes, there have been videos and articles on each car or truck, but I always enjoy a quick review of the reviews with some data visualization mixed in. After all, why keep a spreadsheet of everything you drive if you don’t use it? After spending just over 18,000 miles behind the wheel, here’s some statistics.

We Reviewed 55 New Cars, Crossovers, SUVs and Trucks in 2023

Thirty-three different brands thought we were worthy of some seat time in 2023, and we covered the gamut of market positions and sticker prices. New brands on the Out Motorsports roster last year included Lucid, Bentley, Maserati, Lotus, Infiniti, Polaris, and Rivian. In most cases, we drove one or two vehicles from a brand, but Toyota lead the pack with six vehicles. Lexus followed with three.

Crossovers and SUVs made up about 40 percent of our reviews, though given our focus on enthusiasts and what we love, another 40 percent of the lineup was either a coupe, sedan, or hatchback. The remainder was split between eight pickup trucks, one trike (the Polaris Slingshot) and remarkably… three wagons!

2023 Toyota Supra 6-speed manual Nitro Yellow

It Was a Colorful Year, Sort Of

We don’t get to pick the color of anything that shows up. Manufacturers will build out their fleet of press cars and select a variety of paint colors that are then distributed around the country. Sometimes, the distribution is more deliberate – more flamboyant colors sent to beachy coastal fleets, for example – and other times, it’s a touch more uniform if vehicles come from a launch program where the brand wanted every vehicle to be one of two colors.

I was once told that press cars are generally not painted black, because they’re dirty more often than not and also hard to photograph well. Interesting tidbit.

So then, gray lead the pack last year but was indeed joined by a pretty good variety of “actual” colors. Fun standouts included the Mischievous Purple Mustang that Tyler brought to Pride at the Dragon, the Copper Crest Lexus RX 500h, the Fangio Verde Alfa Romeo Tonale, and the electric blues found on both Chevy’s C8 Corvette and Acura’s Integra Type-S.

Some Were Fast, Some Were Not

Not everything has to be a tire-burning machine, but average horsepower is increasing year over year and we do get to experience a good amount of high-horsepower fun given enthusiasts like to go fast. To keep track of what’s what, we log each car’s stated horsepower and curb weight. Those numbers are then used to calculate the power to weight ratio of each vehicle.

Power-to-weight, much like 0-60 or 0-100 times, is a good way to compare vehicles. It’s not always the best way to show how a vehicle feels to drive, though, because while we all buy horsepower, more often than not we drive torque. That’s why you click through to reviews and get the full download on how a car produces its power, how it is to drive in various scenarios, and so on.

In any case – there were some standouts on both ends of the scale. Here, lower numbers are faster. For reference, 16 pounds per horsepower is pretty average today. Something like a Honda Pilot or Nissan Pathfinder is right about there.

The single fastest car of 2023 was the Lucid Air Grand Touring. It makes 1,050 horsepower with a 5,236-pound curb weight. That’s 4.99 pounds per horsepower.

Dodge’s Challenger Black Ghost wasn’t far behind the Lucid. One of the brand’s “Last Call” models, the Challenger Black Ghost is a special edition of the Hellcat Redeye Widebody and makes 807 horsepower out of its supercharged 6.2-liter V8. Given the 4,500-pound curb weight, each horsepower has to move 5.58 pounds. Given the standard all-season tires, rolling burnouts are indeed a thing.

The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was our third fastest of the year. Keep in mind, the Stingray is the “base” Corvette, with the Z06 as its even higher-performance sibling. Regardless, our loaded 3LT tester produced 490 horsepower with a 3,535-pound curb weight for a ratio of 7.21 pounds per horsepower.

On the flip side, our three slowest vehicles on paper were the gas-powered Chevy Silverado 2500 (17.5 lbs/HP), the Nissan Sentra (20.4 lbs/HP), and the Buick Envista (22.9 lbs/HP). While the Silverado’s 6.6-liter V8 makes 401 horsepower, it’s moving just over 7,000 pounds of truck and whatever you’re towing or hauling. It feels plenty spry though, thanks to the transmission’s ten gears and appropriate axle gearing – a case of numbers not telling the entire story.

The Sentra and Envista, though, are both cars focused on providing value. Neither feels especially quick, though that’s not their purpose. I liked the Sentra’s CVT over the Envista’s six-speed automatic, though, as it provided many more ratios to help keep the engine in its optimal power curve. By comparison, a six-speed has fewer, longer gears to work with. This is why you see so many new cars with eight, nine, and ten speed transmissions – they make the most of the engine’s power given shorter gears and additional ratios.

Some Averages

Keeping in mind there are other trim levels, engine options, and so on – these averages simply represent what we drove and not the new car market as a whole. Manufacturers often configure their press cars so we can see every new feature on offer, or drive a specific new engine option.

The average curb weight of the cars and trucks we drove was 4,610 pounds. Trucks and body-on-frame SUVs are, predictably, heavy. Many EVs – of which we drove eight – also help drive that number up.

Average horsepower was a healthy 396, dragged upward by the various performance cars on the roster. We’ll take it.

Our average power to weight ratio in 2023 was a plenty-quick 11.64 pounds per horsepower. New cars are fast, y’all.

What’s Next in 2024?

We’re already building out the schedule of reviews, with a continued focus on what appeals to the driving enthusiast across a variety of price points. That doesn’t always mean sports cars – it may be a look at the sportiest trim level of an economy car, too.

Towing will remain in the spotlight as those reviews have proven invaluable to so many readers and viewers based on the feedback we’ve received. If it can tow 5,000 pounds or more – enough to pull a track car around – we’ll give it a whirl.

Tyler is our resident motorcyclist (I can ride and not drop a bike in a parking lot, but have little interest in actually riding on the street) and he’s starting to add more motorcycle content to our mix, between tales of his own journey as a rider and the occasional new motorcycle review. You’ll see more of those to join his recent Moto Guzzi review as the bikes are available.

Thank You All!

We’ve been at this for five years now – time flies when you’re having fun! I really had no idea how everything would turn out when I accepted our first-ever manufacturer loan for review, a 2019 Toyota Tundra that I towed with to HyperFest at VIR.

This has all grown and snowballed (in a good way) since that sunny week in May of 2019 thanks to all of you. If you’ve read our articles, watched our videos, shared things with your friends, encouraged them to follow and subscribe and whatever else Big Algorithm wants lately… thank you. It’s been a literal dream come true to do this and share these vehicles with so many fellow enthusiasts, both online and in-person when we can.

I’d also be remiss to write all this and not thank both the public relations teams at the automakers and the fleet companies that move cars around between media and events and everywhere else. These teams all field huge volumes of emails and phone calls, between requests for vehicles, date changes, follow-up questions, and so on. Everyone I’ve met is an enthusiast in their own right, but this is still work for them. So, thanks. And please don’t read my emails after 5 PM. Nothing is that urgent over here.

Alright 2024, let’s do this.

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