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Emily Agar's top 5 cars of 2023: Isuzu D-Max to BMW X6 and everything in between

It's been a big year for new cars, but these diverse models are my favourites.

Oh boy, was this fun but difficult to write up!

It’s been an interesting year for car manufacturers with an onslaught of new EVs hitting the market and familiar models being updated or redesigned completely. 

I’ve road-tested 48 cars this year alone and I’ve seen the weird, the wonderful and everything in between.  

So, out of all of the cars I’ve been fortunate to be in, these were my favourites (in no particular order).

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain

I love a good ute and the D-Max is just a solid all-rounder. It has a pleasant cabin space which looks high end, no-fuss tech and the on-road handling of a smaller car. It looks like a unit but doesn’t drive like one. It features practical family elements too with a 60/40 split on the rear seats which allow for larger items to be stored in the cabin and you can move your child seat/s individually without having to unclip both. 

The D-Max is a solid all-rounder. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Read the review: Isuzu D-Max 2023 review: X-Terrain

Hyundai Kona Premium petrol

A small SUV that feels like a large one! The cabin space in this is like the wardrobe in Narnia, it just keeps going. It is enjoyable to drive and handles well on regional roads as well as in the city. The price point is affordable and you get a more generous features list than cars twice its price. Plus, it looks nice, inside and out and the ambient lighting is cool.

The Kona is enjoyable to drive and handles well on regional roads as well as in the city. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Read the review: Hyundai Kona 2024 review: 2.0 Premium

BMW X6 xDrive40i M Sport

I've got to admit, I was not a fan of the SUV coupe style until I got into the BMW X6. I wouldn’t say I’m a convert to the style in general but damn, the facelifted X6 is niiiiice. It looks far more athletic and mean now with the illuminated black kidney grille and multiple intake vents. The cabin is sumptuous and features enough of the luxury items to keep you satisfied at the price point. However, it’s an absolute thoroughbred on the road. It handled itself beautifully no matter what I threw at it and I very fondly patted it goodbye.

The X6 looks far more athletic and mean now with the illuminated black kidney grille and multiple intake vents. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Read the review: 

Audi SQ7 TFSI 

That twin-exhaust V8 engine just did something for me. If you know, you know but the spitting exhaust when you put your foot down just sounds mean and if I’m honest, I was won over by the sheer fun factor. It’s great to drive with its sporty performance and handling but you can still throw the pup and kids into the back. The standard features list is robust and the ride comfort was up there with the best. My brother and I had a long D&M on a cold day sitting in the heated front seats, enjoying the massage function!

The standard features list of the SQ7 is robust and the ride comfort was up there with the best. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Read the review: Audi SQ7 2023 review: Family test

Toyota Camry SL Hybrid

Don’t come at me for this one but I was super surprised that I loved this model as much as I did. Mainly, because I always associate it with Uber/Taxi but it’s popular for a reason. It’s delightfully smooth with its handling, cheap as chips to run/service and plush inside. It also just feels solid and dependable. The cabin is huge, offering families acres of space and the features list long. What’s not to like?

The Camry is delightfully smooth with its handling. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Read the review: Toyota Camry 2024 review: SL Hybrid

I think it’s only fair to include my seven-year-old's top-five cars, too, since the cheeky boofhead road tests them with me.

Kia Carnival Platinum diesel

He is a sucker for buttons and sliding doors and the Carnival has plenty of both. He also loved exploring the three rows and their amenities.

Genesis G80 Electrified Lux

The individual entertainment screens in the rear won him over. Plus, being able to change my music selection from the rear multimedia controls kept him in heaven, and me in hell, all week.

Mercedes-Benz EQE Sedan and SUV

He adored the customisable ambient lighting in both of these and how the LED strip lighting was on everything - seats, door handles, dash etc. A man after my own heart.

GWM Ute Cannon Vanta

My son loved this one but maybe not for the reason you suspect. Yes, he likes trucks/utes in general but he thought it was hilarious to sing when we went over a bumpy road because of how much vibration there was in the cabin (take from that what you will).

Emily Agar
Contributing Journalist
Emily discovered her interest in cars early through her mum’s passion, and quickly found herself researching the cool cars her mum’s S15 Nissan 200SX passed on the highway.  Emily's readiness to engage and...
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