This Wyse Award is for the type of gearhead who looks at a turbo-charged, 220+ horsepower four-banger and shakes her head in disbelief that anyone would ever drive something so slow. In fact, for this award we sped past both the 200+ and 300+ categories for the only category that really counts: 220,000 or more non-electric foot-pounds of power (yes, that's 400+ HP). What makes these high-performance hotrods Wyse? We wanted cars that would be practical in everyday life, so we filtered out the rear-wheel drive coupes in favor of AWD or front-wheel drive sedans and SUVs. Second, these cars had to offer the very best fuel efficiency in their class - at least 20 mpg.
Oh, M550i xDrive, how we wish you were just one mile-per-gallon more efficient (we also wish your name rolled off the tongue as smoothly as you accelerate through curves). Despite not quite qualifying for the 20 mpg cutoff, we had to include the M550i due to a couple of distinguishing factors. First, this car is fast. Zero to sixty in under four seconds. If you're going to burn some extra fuel, you might as well feel like you're on a rocket-ship. Second, the surprisingly reasonable price. Now no financial advice site worth its salt is going to claim that $73k is inexpensive with a straight face, but for this class of car, you're certainly not overpaying.
This coupe managed to sneak on to our list because somehow Audi decided that an all-wheel-drive system was something people wanted on a coupe, and somehow we decided to filter out those "impractical" sports cars by eliminating anything with a rear-wheel-drive. Oops. In any case, here the RS5 is, and here it's going to stay. What do we like about it? A combined mpg of 21 is not bad (we suspect it would even be a notch or two better if it were rear-wheel-drive, but then again in that case it wouldn't make our list). What else makes this car Wyse? At about $70k, it's not the sticker price. Don't worry, Audi's depreciate notoriously quick, and we don't typically recommend buying new anyways. What we like about the RS5 is you get to take advantage of Audi's renown reliability ratings. 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, 21 mpg, AND low maintenance costs? We'll take it.
Ok, we broke our own rule. The cutoff was supposed to be 20 mpg to quality, but we fudged it a bit and gave Wyse Silver to a car that ekes out 19 after a mid-year fuel-economy revision. Let's start by addressing the 420 horsepower elephant in the room: not everyone loves Cadillac. Some people think it's a car for your parents, or even your parents' parents (and the addition of a "Teen Driver" feature that purposefully limits speed and handling so your kid can focus on 'driving' - whatever that means - doesn't help). So, what do we love? We love the fact that you can get a 400+ HP sedan with an refined chassis, sweet profile and breathtaking speed for barely north of $60k. If I'm driving something like this when I'm 80 - hell, if it's driving me around when I'm 80 - I'll still feel pretty damn Wyse.
Combined FE: 19
It's no surprise that the winner of this Wyse Award is another brand that tops the reliability ratings. We love the Cayenne S because it checks the boxes while playing by the rules. It's not inexpensive, but in return for your $83k you get a car that's not shy about horsepower, and is not shy about catering to thrilled-seeking drivers with families, either. In terms of fuel economy, a combined MPG of 20 for a car of this size and power is frankly astonishing. Add the fact that it handles like a car half its size, and gets consistently high marks in comfort, safety & quality, and we feel quite comfortable in our decision to award the Cayenne S Wyse-Gold for Most Bang per Gallon in the 400+ HP category.
Combined FE: 20