Cars aren’t as cool as they used to be. Fewer teenagers are applying for a driver’s license every year (in the United States, at least) while European gearheads try to still have fun while dealing with emission taxes. While today’s best automobiles are truly the best ever made, getting into the hobby isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Thankfully, YouTube can help. The Internet’s favorite video streaming site is brimming with excellent automotive channels that provide informative reviews, excellent head-to-head comparisons, and in some cases, a fair bit of humor. In many ways, these channels seem to provide a rawer portal for enthusiasts than magazines, which often see their columns and reviews edited and re-edited to a finely honed (but often soulless) perfection. Here are the ten channels you absolutely must check out.
Contrary to this channel’s name, The Fast Lane Car doesn’t focus on fast cars, though a fair number do appear in reviews and features. Instead it serves up a nice a mix of reviews that covers almost every category, from serious off-road 4x4s to economy cars. This is a particularly good channel to look at if you’re thinking about buying a new car soon because the reviews are timely and the reviewers don’t hesitate to say which car they prefer, and why.
You’ve probably already heard of Motor Trend. This publication released its first issue in September of 1949 and has been a mainstay of American automotive journalism ever since. While most big magazines haven’t had much success with video content, and Motor Trend’s own channel used to be rather dull, a recent push to provide more and better content has turned this into one of YouTube’s best channels in any category. Of particular note are the Head2Head battles, which end with on-track commentary by Randy Pobst, a championship racing driver who also provides clear insight into how cars handle when pushed to their limits.
The baby of automotive commenter and journalist Matt Farah, the Smoking Tire isn’t updated as frequently as other channels, but each video is gearhead gold. Farah seems to have a particular talent for acquiring the newest, fastest automobiles, and his commentary is the most entertaining found on any automotive channel. The fact he’s not a host on Top Gear America is a tragedy.
Want a sports car, but not sure which one to buy? Then Everyday Driver is for you. Much like The Fast Lane Car, this channel’s name is actually deceptive, because it has little to do with what most of us would consider “everyday driving.” Instead the focus is on in-depth comparisons and reviews of various sports cars driven by the hosts, Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker. This pair is key to the channel’s success because the two rarely agree on what car is best, and the contrast between their opinions can say a lot about a car’s performance.
This very active channel, which updates every day of the week except for Saturday, hosts a variety of segments. Most of them are focused on racing, tuning, and modifying rather than reviews or comparisons, which gives the channel a unique tone. The must-see content here is Chris Harris On Cars, an entertaining segment hosted by, of course, Chris Harris, an automotive journalist best known for outing how Ferrari manipulates reviews. His honest, clear impressions of the cars he drives are the next best thing to being in the driver’s seat.
Evo Magazine is essentially the Motor Trend of Europe and is well known for its focus on the world’s most exotic and powerful cars. This is the place to go if you want an in-depth review of the latest Ferrari or Porsche, and it’s also the place to go if you want to watch comparisons of exotic automobiles. Besides the cars themselves, Evo TV is notable because of its extremely sharp camera work; this channel looks fantastic in 1080p and is nearly on par with the production quality of BBC’s Top Gear.
Leno has in his possession not only a monstrous chin but also a massive collection of cars that includes some of the rarest and most exotic cars in the world. His YouTube channel, though hardly the place to turn for journalism, highlights these cars with reasonably entertaining commentary and clear high-definition footage. This is the channel to visit if you just want to stare slack-jawed at beautiful machinery.
Yet another British publication, Autocar competes directly with Evo, which means it focuses on high-end sports cars and supercars. The channel is a bit more playful, however, as it performs unusual comparisons you won’t find on Evo, and there’s a rather humorous “will it drift” series that includes UK taxis and hearses among its lineup. Though this channel probably isn’t as exciting as Evo TV overall, it’s worth a look if you’re into exotic car comparisons and reviews.
Fifth Gear has lived in the shadow of Top Gear for the last decade, which is ironic, because Fifth Gear was started after the original Top Gear series was nearly cancelled (a pitch to re-format Top Gear into its current incarnation was the only thing that saved it). Still, Fifth Gear is one of the more entertaining car shows on TV and, unlike Top Gear, it regularly uploads segments to YouTube. The series is a blend of informative journalism and humorous stunts that should satisfy car enthusiasts who don’t have access to BBC programming over cable.
While technically not a publication that focuses on cars exclusively, a large number of this channel’s videos are reviews or comparisons of recently released autos. Consumer Reports, best known for its reliability reports, also conducts full road tests as extensive as anything produced by enthusiast magazines. They provide a balanced, no-nonsense look at the latest cars and automotive trends, which makes them a good place to turn to if you want to watch brief reviews of recently released models.
While these ten channels aren’t the only ones that auto enthusiasts should watch, they’re certainly the best place to start. All of them are professional, well produced, and provide hundreds of videos to watch. In fact, I’d argue that the current state of YouTube’s automotive journalism is a bit of a miniature golden age – there’s far more content available, from a far wider range of people, than has ever been available through magazines or cable television.
One can say that cars will continue to be a part of the future of transportation. Do name your favorite YouTube channels on cars.