Over 28 years, over 1,400 new cars, crossovers and trucks sampled, and it still feels like Christmas Day every week when we swap one new car for another, somewhere in New England. Occasionally, not everything goes according to Hoyle, and sometimes we might repeat a vehicle due to outside influences beyond our control; however, the fun persists. Pretty good gig if you can get it.

The chart for monitoring changes in the auto industry has been on a steep upward curve for quite some time. From competitive changes to technology challenges, and computer chips to EV battery engineering, the automotive sector has a lot of balls in the air.

Yet consumers will embrace change when they see that it benefits their daily lives. Drivers will buy the vehicles that continue to serve their needs, and is not change solely for the sake of change. Value, reliability and performance (in whatever form you need) remain common denominators for what we all seek in a new vehicle.

From the fifty vehicles that visited Downeast Maine in 2022, here are the ten that I liked best.

Small pickup trucks are poised for a revival, and Ford fired the first shot with a ground-breaking Maverick four-door compact truck that is also a hybrid. The least expensive vehicle Ford now makes for the American mass-market, the Maverick hybrid was a tidy, comfortable, capable and modern rendering of the type of pickups that put Toyota and Datsun (Nissan) on the new-car map in the 1970s. Because of the efficient hybrid powertrain — 45 mpg while here — the Maverick edges out the equally impressive Hyundai Santa Cruz.

Ford’s strength in pickup trucks was further revealed with three different offerings of the top-selling F-150; the Raptor 37, the PowerBoost Hybrid, and the all-electric Lightning. Each of these F-series models perfectly pursues the various niches that buyers have access to right now. The Raptor is king off-road, the Hybrid is quick, efficient and sensible (as well as the only real hybrid pickup available), while the Lightning is cutting-edge with its EV capabilities. There is no denying that Ford has all bases covered when it comes to full-size pickup trucks.

Only GMC sent alternative full-size trucks this year, earning GM’s premium brand a spot on this year’s list with a 1500 Denali and a 1500 AT4X. Wearing revamped exterior styling, plus a handsome new interior, GMC has closed the gap with its rivals. With turbo-power, big V8s or a diesel half-ton engine, giving the brand lots of powertrain options, GMC has improved not only its sales, but its standing among the competition.

At number seven is a perennial choice — something with a Hellcat supercharged V8 engine from Dodge. This year, it is the Charger SRT Hellcat Wide Body. Next to F-U-N in the dictionary is a picture of a Hellcat. Waiting lists are lengthy as Stellantis Corporation is winding down Hellcat production this year for whatever comes next. Pricing is high — very high — yet these vehicles will long be collector’s cars with more value than the performance cars from the 1960s.

Next is the return of Nissan’s venerable two-seat sports car, now named simply the Z. Easier to live with than the Supra, the Z packs 400 horsepower as well as the styling cues made famous by the original 240Z in 1970. A practical enthusiast might prefer a Subaru WRX with room for four and AWD, but the Z gets the nod here.

SUVs rule the industry now, in case you hadn’t noticed all of the two-box crossovers surrounding you every time you drive. There are four standouts among the dozens that visited in 2022; the Genesis GV70, Hyundai’s Tucson Plug-in Hybrid, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, and Toyota’s Highlander.

The Grand Cherokee has been remade into an upscale two-row, mid-size crossover with gobs more tech inside, which is good because the Genesis draws a line in the sand about what is necessary to be competitive in this class as its stunning portfolio is amazing. The Tucson joins the fleet of compact class plug-in hybrid offerings that the masses are saying they want instead of EVs, while the Highlander is simply the best-selling three-row crossover because it has tradition, a proven track record, a hybrid model and the enhancements necessary to compete against Palisade and Telluride.

At number one is the Hyundai Ioniq5, the electric wunderkind crossover that shook up the industry this year, winning awards wherever it visited. Sleek, powerful, roomy and stylish, this innovative car recalibrates what we will see with future EVs. It is that good.

2023 promises more change. Happy New Year to all.

Tim Plouff has been reviewing automobiles for more than 20 years.