Have you ever had the opportunity to drive dozens of cars over a 2-day period? Quite literally, 2 dozen cars? Exhilarating. Exhausting.
24 Cars in 48 Hours – 13th Annual Run to the Sun
As a member of the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA), I had an opportunity earlier this month to drive 24 cars in just under 48 hours around the mountains and high desert of Oregon and Washington state. For those 2 days, we drove 24 performance vehicles.
The 459-miles course weaved through the Columbia River Gorge and traveled as far south as the Erickson Aircraft Collection museum in Madras, Oregon, before heading east to the ghost town of Shaniko. The day ended with a sprint back to the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington. The last day took the group along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, then into Oregon and the historic Mosier Curves, before returning to Portland.
Each performance vehicle was a fun, unique ride in its own right. Here are the vehicles I drove, in order:
- Polaris Slingshot SLR 2019: I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I was nervous hopping on the interstate at 65 mph in the Polaris Slingshot, but I eased in and enjoyed my 40-mile ride to Skamania Lodge on that first afternoon.
- Mazda MX-5 Miata RF 2019: When isn't a convertible Miata a great ride? You had me at 6-speed manual the moment I stepped inside this soul red MX-5.
- 124 Fiat Spider Abarth 2019: This silver metallic convertible was a peppy little number.
- Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4×4 2019: Driving this firecracker red Jeep Wrangler made long for the days when I once owned my own Wrangler years ago. Maybe someday we'll be Wrangler owners again.
- Honda Civic Type R Touring 2019: For all the times I've seen a pimped out Honda Civic on the road, I question why you'd do that when you could just buy the Honda Civic Type R Touring! Handles well, drives like the sporty coupe you'd expect—and looks good doing so. I was impressed!
- Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 T SEL R-Line with 4Motion 2019: The Volkswagen Arteon was another of my top rides of the day. I really had no idea what to expect from the Volkswagen Arteon. Superior handling through the mountains of Oregon, sporty, luxurious, sleek lines, great design, slick interior, loads of bells and whistles—and a price tag that doesn't make you cry.
- Volkswagen Getta GLI 20.oT 35th Anniversary Edition 2019: It's been forever since I've been behind the wheel of a Jetta, and I was impressed at how far they've come. She had some get-up-and-go for a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine!
- Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door 2019: Have you ever driven a car that hugged you when you took a turn? Me either, until I got behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door in the mountains of Oregon. The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door features active multi-contour seats with a massage option and an active bolstering feature. The active bolstering feature essentially “hugs” you as you take turns to support you, much the way a sports coupe would.
- Subaru Legacy XT Touring 2019: I grew up in a family of Subaru owners. My entire childhood, we always owned at least one Subaru. My first car was a 1988 Subaru XT. The new turbocharged BOXER engine paired with the high-torque Lineartronic CVT transmission offers incredible mileage and I couldn't believe how well this vehicle handled! The DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System is a super rad technology that helps reduce driver fatigue and distraction—it essentially scans the driver's face when they start the vehicle so they know where their eyes are/should be so when they diverge from that location, it sends an alert and engages the EyeSight Assist safety features.
- Kia Stinger GTS AWD V6 2019: Oh, hai! One of my favorite rides of the experience, the Stinger didn't disappoint. It handled better than I expected and the sound from the Harman Kardon Premium Audio was heaven to my ears. Kia has really been stepping up their game with design in the past few years and the Stinger is just one example of this.
- Genesis G70 AWD 3.3T Sport 2019: This was my first experience behind the wheel of a Genesis and I was pleasantly surprised!
- Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Wide Body: One word—Sublime. The name of the exterior color says it all for this muscle car. I pulled out of the Ghost Town, maybe missed my first turn, and truly didn't want to turn around to head back in the right direction. I could have kept on driving while feeling the power of the 392 V8 HEMI every time I touched the gas peddle.
- Toyota GR Supra 2020: My high school days called and they wanted to come out to play. Resistance Red 2.0 exterior matches the Star Wars Rebel Alliance tattoo on my arm. This performance coupe is ready to tear it up. It's been over 20 years since Toyota had the Supra in its line up in the U.S., and the new 2020 Toyota Supra GR isn't playing. The 5th generation of the Toyota Supra is a sleek design that invokes nostalgia while invigorating the driver.
- Hyundai Veloster N 2019: Being the super Marvel nerd that I am, I couldn't wait to get behind the wheel of the Veloster. This peppy little ride handled amazingly and how much fun is it to say you drove the Ant-Man car?
- Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge 2019: There are no adequate words to describe the Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge. Arctic White exterior, starlight headliner, Rolls-Royce Bespoke audio, natural grain leather, lambswool floor mats. It's truly luxury at its finest. Quite frankly, for $427,875 I'm surprised it didn't drive me. Driving the Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge was an experience, to say the least. How nerve-wracking to drive a car that's more than my mortgage!
- Lexus RCF Track Edition RWD 2020: Matte Nebula Gray. Why does everything remind me of a superhero? The Lexus RCF Track Edition was LIT. It handled like a dream. This was one of my favorite rides of the weekend! If sound is your jam, this luxury sports coupe won't disappoint with its Mark Levinson 835-Watt Premium Surround Sound Audio System.
- Nissan 370Z Special 50th Anniversary Edition 2020: I love the history tied to this car. I can remember friends with the old Nissan Z-cars. I had a friend in college with a Nissan 300ZX when I was in college. I loved being able to drive that car. It was slick. The Nissan 370Z Special 50th Anniversary Edition 2020 is beautiful, with its homage to the “Fairlady” Z 1970 Datsun 240Z. Only 50 of these are made for the anniversary, in a combination of 7-speed automatics and 6-speed manuals. The red wheel markers, 50th-anniversary logo, and suede seat details make this car something extra special. And the price point is almost unbelievable at just about $43,000. You need to drive this car to believe it.
- Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Coupe 2019: There's no feeling like taking the tight curves of winding mountain roads in the Corvette. And I'm in love with the Sebring Orange color of the one I drove.
- Mercedes-AMG G63 2019: If I had to pick a vehicle that was the most fun of the experience, the Mercedes-AMG G63 wins. It was a unique mix of performance, utility, and luxury all rolled into one and handled immensely well given the style of the vehicle!
- Ford Explorer ST 4WD 2020: The new Ford Explorer ST 4WD 2020 handles mountainous curves with stability better than expected. This truck body handles curves surprisingly well with the Sport-Tuned suspension.
- Alfa Romero Stelvio Quadrifolgio AWD 2019: Italian craftsmanship is something everyone should be able to experience at least once in their lives. The Alfa Romero Stelvio Quadrifolgio AWD provides performance for conquering curves that will make you second guess the definition of luxury.
- MINI John Cooper Works Countryman (JCW) ALL4 2019: What a great ride! I've always wanted to drive a MINI! The MINI John Cooper Works Countryman features the JCW Sport Suspension, 3 MINI driving modes, and performance control, making the MINI a fun car for backroads!
- Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec 2020: The mid-size crossover SUV is a perfect family ride. Heading to the ski hill? Check. Headed to the lake with kayaks? Check. Road trip for vacation? Check. Handle well, with style and luxury without breaking the bank.
- Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription 2020: The fact that the Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription is last on my list is only because I put the vehicles in the order in which I drove them on our event. However, the Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription wins for overall best, most practical vehicle. If I were to buy a vehicle from the list of ones I drove over the 48 hours, the Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD Inscription wins hands down. Handing, styling, luxury and convenience inclusions and additions, upgraded Bowers and Wilkins premium sound, practicality, and price. Look at the whole package and this vehicle wins. I didn't want to get out once I got back to Portland at the end of my drive. I could have signed on to bring this beauty home.