There are real gems in the automotive world that pop up annually when new models come out or existing ones are significantly refreshed. But 2015 was a particularly special year, when Volkswagen launched its Mark 7 Golf (which went on to win the North American Car of the Year award), and Ford its 13th generation aluminum marvel F-150 (2015 North American Truck of the Year). More on these two, and a few other standouts below.

Volkswagen Golf

The VW Golf has been providing practical, fun motoring now for more than four decades. In its seventh generation, which was introduced in 2015, the Golf grew slightly in size to keep up with the times, but shed nearly 80 pounds to stay nimble. Available in two and five door configurations, there are two powertrain options, the most popular being the turbocharged 1.8-litre TSI engine producing a zippy 170 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque.

Ford Focus

There’s a reason people love hatchbacks like the Golf and Ford Focus (the latter also available in sedan form), and it’s simple: They’re easy to drive and park, and thanks to a big liftgate and folding rear seats, they can hold a ton of stuff. The current version received a facelift in 2014, implementing the modern Ford signature grille and slimmed down headlights. Well-equipped even at the SE trim level, features like one-touch power windows, heated mirrors, side mirror turn signals and USB are all included.

Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder, one of America’s favorite SUVs, is truly a versatile vehicle. And the proof is in the pudding — it’s available in two or four-wheel drive, seating for up to seven adults, and comes with a 260 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 mill. The 2015 was a particularly good model year for the crossover because options like hill descent control, D-Step Shift Logic Control (gives the Xtronic CVT transmission a more natural feel of acceleration), and a blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert system were all added.

Ford F-150

It’s no easy feat to win the honor of being named the North American Truck of the Year award, as the venerable F-150 did two years ago. But then again, Ford’s new Built Tough pickup is no ordinary example. Undergoing a massive redesign in 2015, body construction switched from steel to primarily aluminum yielding a 700-pound weight loss that provided the truck with better fuel economy and performance, among many other benefits.

Hyundai Genesis

Quite possibly one of the most underrated sporty cars on the market, Hyundai’s pint-sized rocket Genesis packs a lot of motoring enjoyment in a tidy coupe shell. Just check out some of these highlights: a standard 348 horsepower, 3.8-litre V6 powerplant, 18 or 19 inch wheels, built-in dual hood cooling ducts, eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, sport-tuned suspension, and big Brembo four-piston brake calipers. Perhaps most important of all, the Genesis is driven by the rear wheels and boasts a balanced 56:44 front-to rear weight distribution.

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