A nice, and in my view very accurate, observation from the piece:
Many Americans rightfully take pride in so-called gems like San Francisco, New York, Portland, and even Los Angeles on a clear day. But Mercer's analysis indicates that we're fooling ourselves: we're so far from the top that, in true Platonic fashion, we can't even imagine what the top looks like.
You could say that Stephens is being a little tough on the US here. Perhaps US life is fundamentally centred around the car, and that it is this fact that changes everything in terms of how cities are designed. To be fair, I know Americans who dislike European cities because they have pedestrian zones and public spaces and because you have to walk between shops: so perhaps it's just a case of to each his own.