Photography by Doug Berger

Every year, Run to the Sun gathers automotive journalists from around the nation to check out the latest in fast cars while driving curvy roads around Mt. Hood, Oregon. Some high-profile names came this year and the final results of the competition were a bit of a surprise.


The Contenstants

Over the course of three days, 25 auto journalists would drive 25 cars and SUVs. The first vehicle on The Auto Reporter’s schedule, and for the longest leg, was the 2017 Honda Civic Type-R. An unbelievably fun car for all the boring highways between Portland and Mt. Hood.

The next day’s vehicles included the likes of McLaren’s 570S back-to-back with the Acura NSX, a stunning Corvette Grand Sport Carbon 65, a Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and – TAR’s fan-favorite – a Mazda Miata RF. Vehicles on the last day included Ford’s impressive Focus RS, a Subaru WRX Limited faced off with the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, among others.

Full list:

  • Acura NSX
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio
  • Audi SQ5
  • BMW M550i
  • BMW X4 M40i
  • Chevrolet Corvette Carbon 65
  • Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody
  • Dodge Durango SRT
  • Ford Focus RS
  • Genesis G80 Sport
  • Honda Civic Type-R
  • Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
  • Lexus LC 500
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
  • McLaren 570S Spider
  • Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster
  • Mercedes-Benz E43
  • Mini Countryman S All4
  • Nissan GT-R NISMO
  • Subaru WRX Limited
  • Volkswagen Jetta GLI
  • Volvo XC60 T8
  • Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost –
    DNF Not Judged
  • Nissan Sentra SR –
    Flying Spare Not Judged

While it’s all fun and driving for three days, there must be a winner for each of the four categories. (Don’t forget to check back in December when we check out each car individually during the Days of December Sun!)


2017 Run to the Sun – Convertibles

Chevrolet Corvette Carbon 65, Mazda MX-5 RF, McLaren 570S Spider, Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

With stiff competition between the top contenders of the Convertibles category. In the end, tough there could be only one winner and that was the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster.

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This $179,065 (MSRP) ultra-luxurious sports convertible offers drivers the kind of elegance they have come to expect from the Mercedes with a power boost from AMG. Only one master craftsman has worked on its engine from start of production to finish. As one listens to the crackle and burble that gloriously bursts forth from the exhaust, its hard not to fall in love with the 550-hp opulent behemoth.


2017 Run to the Sun – Performance Coupes

Acura NSX, Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400, Lexus LC 500, Nissan GT-R NISMO

Another category comes rife with stiff competition between imported speed and American muscle. However, the 2017 Acura NSX became king of coupes at Run to the Sun.

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While enjoying my back-to-back session in the McLaren 570S and the Acura NSX, it became obvious which many journalists seemed to choose between the two. While the former is glorious, the latter is just incredible in all aspects. The seats cupping driver and passenger in comfort as one wizzes past the speed-blurred world. With a total output of 573 (between a 3.5L turbocharged V6 engine and two electric motors), the 2017 Acura NSX is one mean contender with an spine-tingling audio to match its mean looks.


2017 Run to the Sun – Performance Sedans

BMW M550i, Ford Focus RS, Genesis G80 Sport, Honda Civic Type-R, Mercedes-AMG E43, Subaru WRX Limited, Volkswagen Jetta GLI

This category had a wide variety of players, from top dollar drives to budget econo-boxes with some speedy upgrades. Yet, it was one of these low-cost and speedy machines that took home the Performance Sedan award: the 2017 Honda Civic Type-R.

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This 306-hp is just as giggle-inducing as one might expect from its extreme, winged looks. However, put the pedal all the way down and it rips laughter from your stomach and puts a smile on your face a mile wide. It wasn’t the highest horsepower vehicle in the group – coming in at a respectable 306-hp from the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder – but it was the one that brought the most enjoyment. And for that, we thank Honda sincerely.


2017 Run to the Sun – Performance SUVs

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi SQ5, BMW X4 M40i, Dodge Durango SRT, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Mini Countryman S All4, Volvo XC60 T8

This was an all-new category of drives for the 2017 Run to the Sun and it didn’t disappoint. While there were some amazing SUVs in the category, it came down to one super qualified vehicle: The 2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T Quattro.

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The 354-hp SUV cornered like its smaller, sports car-ier brethren, the Quattro all-wheel drive system intelligently telling the power where to go. The whole point of these drives are to find the perfect touring vehicle that will put a smile on your face and a tingle in your spine – and the Audi SQ5 has that in spades, plus towing capacity and storage for dogs or luggage.


2017 Run to the Sun – Overall Winner

While all the rides at the 2017 Run to the Sun were fun to drive in their own ways, there can be only one overall winner. The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster took home the trophy.

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Its V8’s sound is spine-chilling, with its snarl and crackle, and reverberates within one’s chest, the suspension and steering are tight and nimble, and its interior is old-world refinement. The combined effect is feeling like you’ve been swept away for a high-class Bavarian weekend with a car that could tackle the Alps corners and elicit avalanches with its roar.