Business Insider/Hollis Johnson/Mike Nudelman
- The Porsche Panamera takes the trophy for 2017.
- It beat out 14 other finalists, including the Chevy Bolt and Lexus LC 500.
- There are few cars in Porsche's history that have been more polarizing than the Panamera. Its raised-fastback rear-end design and offbeat proportions have long been points of controversy.
- The luxury sedan might be the best-performing four-door on the market.
The Porsche Panamera is Business Insider's 2017 Car of the Year.
This is the fourth year we've presented the big trophy. The Panamera joins illustrious company: In 2014, our winner was the Corvette Stingray; in 2015, the Volvo XC90; and, in 2016, the Acura NSX.
This year the competition kicked up from 2016.
We sampled and reviewed more vehicles than ever, thanks to transportation reporter Danielle Muoio and deputy editor Cadie Thompson joining our ranks. News editor Bryan Logan lent a hand on the West Coast, too.
The Panamera had to beat 14 other finalists, ranging from perhaps the finest supercar on the market to a glorious machine that would appeal to James Bond. There were also extraordinary sedans, marvelous SUVs, a legendary roadster, and an all-electric masterpiece.
Our methodology is based on a handful of simple questions.
- Is there a strong business case for the vehicle? We are a business website, after all.
- Did our reviewers agree that the vehicle should be included? We have to come to a consensus, even though we might disagree on some particulars.
- Was the vehicle objectively excellent? There has to be a wow factor of some sort.
- Did the vehicle stand out from the sea of competition, particularly when it comes to technology? A Car of the Year finalist has to be special, and we're also a technology website.
- Can we strongly recommend buying or leasing the car? We demand to know whether we'd buy the vehicle ourselves if we had the resources.
To be eligible, all models must be new or have been substantially updated within the past year.
As a result, we've been blessed with a bountiful selection of cars spanning a broad spectrum of the market. In addition, all models must have been road-tested by at least two members of the Business Insider team to qualify.
Porsche takes the prize
We were fortunate in that we got to test two versions of the Panamera: the Turbo and the 4S. In both cases, we were blown away by the big sedan's luxury, poise, power, and style.
Yes — style.
There are few cars in Porsche's illustrious five-decades-long history that have been more polarizing than the Panamera since it burst on to the scene in 2009.
Its raised-fastback rear-end design and offbeat proportions have long been points of controversy. Automotive journalists have not been kind. The Panamera's looks can be attributed to the need for all Porsches to look, well, like a Porsche.
In plain terms, all cars bearing the company's brand need to be instantly recognizable. That means they've all got to look like a 911. It's a blessing and a curse.
Instant brand recognition is worth its weight in gold for a car company. In spite of the controversy, the Panamera became a sales success. The first-generation Panamera was widely regarded as one of the finest performance sedans money could buy; the second-gen Panamera might be the finest performance sedan money can buy.
And you will need some money: The car starts at $85,000 and heads all the way up to $180,000. But with it, Porsche (part of the VW Group) has the auto industry's definitive lineup: the legendary 911 and its companion sports cars; the terrific Cayenne and Macan SUVs; and the magnificent Panamera, named for the Carrera Panamericana, a famous race run in Mexico in the 1950s.
An elevating machine
The Panamera is one of those cars that alter your consciousness, especially when you slip behind the wheel.
It's a cliché to suggest that a car can make you a different person, but that Panamera makes good on that promise. It looks good, feels good, sounds good. As with all great machines, the thrill is a combination of the visceral and the cerebral. Everything about the Panamera says quality and the engineering is beyond world class. When you drive the car, you know why many people think Porsche is the best automaker on the planet.
But the Panamera stays with you. It certainly did for us.
During one of our test drives, our correspondent's significant other, when asked if she liked the Panamera, said, "We should just keep going for a few more hours." High praise from the wife of an auto journalist.
An astonishing year for cars
We'll be honest: 2017 blew our minds when it came to four wheels. We took a spin in the Tesla Model 3, we visited Italy and Utah to drive supercars, we explored cars that can sometimes drive themselves, and we even spent some time in completely practical sedans and SUVs that people like to buy in large numbers. There were pickup trucks. And more pickup trucks.
In the end, and after many hours of genuinely furious debate, we couldn't get the new Panamera out of our heads.
Yes, we might be headed into a future when it won't matter how gloriously bolted together and spectacularly styled your car is. You might not even want a car. And if you do, you might not be able to drive it. But until then, we can say there is something right in the world when something as great as the Porsche Panamera is available to feast upon.
It's exciting to announce the Porsche Panamera as Business Insider's 2017 Car of the Year!
Here it is — the new Porsche Panamera! Even though it's built on VW Group's new Porsche-developed MSB platform, you won't mistake for anything other than a Panamera.Hollis Johnson
See the resemblance! This is last year's model.Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
And have they changed that controversial rear end?Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
See the rest of the story at Business Insider