It’s been one hell of a year, a year that started off strong and turned into one of the bumpiest in quite some time. Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, we managed to test 30 manufacturer-provided new vehicles this year, and a few others at responsibly-hosted manufacturer events. As this gloomy 2020 winds to a close, let’s take a look back at the thirty-some bright spots we experienced.
Before we dig in, we’d like to extend an extra-heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in the process of obtaining press loans. Manufacturer representatives and teams, cleaning crews, and fleet management companies have been working overtime all year long to keep cars in everyone’s hands as safely as possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
2020 New Car Reviews by the Numbers
If you’re a data nerd, you’ll appreciate some statistics on what we drove this year.
We reviewed 32 new vehicles in total – 29 were manufacturer-provided press loans, two were reviewed at group events, and one was a dealership service loaner worth discussing.
Of those 32 vehicles, the average engine displacement was 2.86 liters from an average of 4.9 cylinders. Averages were brought down ever-so-slightly by the one full electric vehicle we tested, which displaces zero liters from zero cylinders.
We reviewed mostly sedans and sport-utility vehicles (crossovers are lumped in there for ease of tracking), though body styles also included coupes, pickup trucks, one convertible, and one van.
Paint color is another fun data point. Our most popular paint color this year was red – ten of our testers were painted in some shade – followed by, predictably, gray and black. Yellow made a surprisingly strong showing, as three vehicles we received were slathered in various shades of this relatively-rare hue.
First up, representing 34 percent of our reviews, the traditional sedan. Consumer preferences have trended toward crossovers for a while now, but we try to sample a mix of “fun stuff” given our motorsport and driving-enthusiast focus. And there are still a good number of fun sedans to be had. We’re including the lone hatchback reviewed here, as it had four doors like all of the sedans.
2020 Toyota Camry TRD
We love what Toyota and TRD are doing with so many of their cars, and the Camry TRD is an honest effort to zazz-up the family sedan. It works, sort of, but transmission tuning could be better. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Subaru Legacy Limited
2020 Toyota Yaris LE Hatchback
2020 Mazda Mazda6 Signature Turbo
Punches above its class in terms of style and interior quality. Also packing a punch was the new turbocharged engine producing 320 lb-ft of torque. A must-drive in the segment! [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited
Easy to use, feature packed sedan with bold looks to boot! The 1.6T left us a little thirsty for more power, but will future N-Line and N variations satisfy that urge? [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Mercedes-Benz A220
The perfect size for an honest “compact” sedan. Lovely little car that feels premium given the right equipment. Dual-clutch transmission sometimes annoyed in city driving. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 BMW M235i Gran Coupe
Most closely related to a John Cooper Works MINI than anything in BMW’s fleet. Front-biased AWD and a laggy throttle remind you this isn’t a pure BMW. Boisterous personality and entry-level price still make it a worthy competitor in its class. [Read the article]
2020 BMW 330i
Sedan sales may be declining, but the 3 series is still the benchmark. Our base tester offered lively yet refined driving dynamics, and the turbocharged four-cylinder didn’t leave us begging for more power. [Watch the video]
2021 Kia K5 EX
2020 Honda Civic Type-R
2020 Toyota Avalon TRD
TRD brings a sense of humor to Toyota’s largest and most stoic sedan. Its superb body control and vast interior space make it a capable back-roads cruiser. Who doesn’t love red seatbelts? [Watch the video]
2020 Lexus GS350 AWD
SUVs and Trucks (and one Van)
Utility vehicles of all sorts are found here. We’re considering the more common “crossover” an SUV for the sake of our tracking and this conversation. So yes, you’ll see a Jeep Wrangler mentioned alongside a Hyundai Venue, even though they represent very different missions and target different buyers. We’re including pickup trucks in this section, as they represented about nine percent of what we drove this year. We’re also including the one van we tested, as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is more of a utility vehicle than a family hauler.
2020 Ram 2500 Laramie with Cummins Diesel
2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited
2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara with EcoDiesel
EcoDiesel feels like the old AMC inline-six, in a good way. Steering is a bit sloppy and the box makes squeaking noises at slow speed. Was the only game in town, but here comes Ford’s Bronco for 2021. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Crew
2020 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature Turbo
Diesel-y power and torque delivery. Chassis allows impressive handling, it’s great through an off-ramp or on a back road. The default answer for enthusiasts who need crossovers, for a good reason. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Hyundai Venue SEL
Can we just call this a hatchback already? Switchgear feels as nice as the Palisade. Funky in a good way, FWD-only is no issue, could use more power. Not particularly fun for enthusiasts but perfect “city car” size. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo
Right-sized for many. Small turbo-four and DCT pair well, though tuned for lower-RPM grunt over high-revving fun. Selectable 50/50 split for AWD system is a nice touch. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Ford Expedition Limited
Ford’s 3.5 liter EcoBoost tows like a freight train, though we’d choose the Expedition Max for longer wheelbase and more stability. Interior is identical to F-150, and could be a little different given how expensive these can be. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Ram 1500 Limited with EcoDiesel
Fantastic interior, though Limited trim seems a bit “too nice” in some cases. EcoDiesel is great off the line but doesn’t have enough power to easily pass when towing. We want to compare against a 5.7L Hemi with eTorque. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB250
Really bummed that Mercedes-Benz won’t let us rallycross one of these. Perky, peaky, fun drivetrain that seems right at home on the dirt. More seats than a same-sized GLC, but doesn’t feel as premium and Mercedes-y. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Ford F-250 Platinum Tremor with 7.3L ‘Godzilla’ V8
Tremor package offers impressive, warrantied capability that will go unused by many, skip it unless you can off-road often. All-new Godzilla 7.3L V8 sounds great at full-tilt and tows with ease. You sure you need a diesel? [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Lexus LX570
Feels a bit like the right vehicle for the wrong era. Hydraulic suspension is impressive. Good body control while towing in Sport, unloaded feels wallowy. Rated to pull 7,000 pounds and does it in a pinch, but hooking up is a pain. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Jaguar I-Pace
If 512 lb-ft of torque is the future, sign us up! Jaguar’s first EV brings an air of sophistication to the segment that only Jaaaggg can do. Its well-bolstered, bright red seats and lively chassis make it a great EV option for the enthusiast. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
Coupes and Convertibles
The two-door isn’t dead! Roughly 19 percent of our reviews involved two-door vehicles, almost all of which were coupes. Mazda snuck one convertible in the mix, with the retractable “fastback” hardtop MX-5 Miata.
2020 Toyota 86 Hakone
Say it “hah-ko-nay.” Everything should be painted this shade of green. Toyota hasn’t changed much over the years with the 86, and they don’t need to. We need more affordable, fun coupes in the world. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Mercedes-Benz E53 AMG Coupe
Inline-six is back! EQ-Boost drivetrain is technically interesting and great on the road. Coupe was a bit bathtub-y in seating position and COMAND infotainment is due for an update to MBUX. Feels like “a real AMG.” [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Toyota Supra Premium
Yes, it’s 99.5% of a BMW Z4. No, we don’t care because it’s that good. No, it doesn’t need a manual transmission or more power. Factory “burble tune” in Sport is obnoxious enough they removed it for 2021. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Honda Civic Si HPT
The coupe and the Si are going away for 2021 as the 2022 Civic bows shortly. Si will return, coupe won’t. Lots of content for the money with adaptive shocks and standard limited-slip. We longed for more steering, clutch, and shifter feel. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club with Automatic Transmission
The ND Mazda MX-5 Miata is a lovely car that deserves a better two-pedal option than this automatic. Mazda needs a snappier slushbox or a dual-clutch automatic as their two-pedal option. Buy the manual. [Read the article] [Watch the video]
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Surprisingly adept at being a dual-purpose high-horsepower road course and drag strip machine. We want more track time and street time to learn more. Tremec DCT is good enough that we didn’t miss the manual. [Read the article] [Watch the video]