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Top Candidates for “Best Vehicles of 2020”

November 25, 2019
By the time December arrives, most of the industry’s most respected critics hit us with their “best vehicles of the year” lists (what is it about lists that make us so giddy, anyway?). But for now it’s my turn to entice your list-loving eyes. Here are my top nominees to snag their class’s “best of the year” vehicle awards.

Best Cars & Sedans of the Year

Top 3 Compact Car Nominees

  1. Toyota Corolla – Redesigned for 2020, the new Toyota Corolla earns great ratings for fuel economy (31 city/40 hwy), reliability, and standard driver-assist and safety features. It’s one of the most well-rounded vehicles in the pack, and thanks to a base price under $20k, it’s also one of the most affordable small cars in America.
  2. Hyundai Veloster – Perhaps the most unique vehicle on this list, the new Hyundai Veloster, following a full redesign last year, is a pleasure to drive. Its handling is composed, its 201-horsepower turbo-four is powerful, and its cargo space is surprisingly excellent to boot. The 2020 model can also be equipped with a manual transmission. (Hooray!)
  3. Chevrolet Sonic – Featuring agile handling, comfy seats, and plenty of cargo capacity, the 2020 Sonic—which teeters on the “subcompact” and “compact” line—is well worth its $15,420 MSRP. It’s a cozy little commuter that moves around better than you’d expect of a smaller, affordable car.

Top 3 Midsize Car Nominees

  1. Nissan Altima – A stellar and spacious cabin epitomizes what’s so great about the ’20 Nissan Altima: its comfort and versatility. With strong engine options, the Altima can be customized to handle everything from morning work commutes to long road trips to speed runs around an (empty) warehouse parking lot.
  2. Toyota Camry – You can’t go wrong with a midsize car that returns 41 mpg on the highway. Add a healthy list of safety features, an intuitive infotainment system, and an upscale dashboard to the list, and the 2020 Camry is a serious contender to become top dog this year.
  3. Subaru Legacy – Subaru may be best known for its SUVs and wagons, but the Legacy sedan merits a spot on this list. It’s been completely redesigned for 2020 and features an attractive interior, great passenger space, and standard all-wheel drive to make it the unicorn of the midsize car market.

Top Full-size Car Nominees

  1. Chevrolet Impala – An abundance of volume, both for passenger and their gear, as well as excellent reliability ratings, put the latest Impala on this list. Its burly V6 option powers it to the top, but its cabin space keeps it there.
  2. Toyota Avalon – A plucky V-6 is found powering the Avalon, but I love its user-friendly array of standard tech, like its 9-inch touchscreen, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and Wi-Fi. That 14-speaker JBL audio system rocks, too.

Best SUVs of the Year

Top 3 Compact SUV Nominees

  1. Subaru Forester – The new 2020 Forester may be Subaru’s best yet. It includes standard Rear Seat Reminder, an available lane-centering safety system, superb ground clearance, and enough room for a whole five-person lunch crew. All-wheel drive is standard, too.
  2. Chevrolet Equinox – Although not as large as some rivals, the new Equinox makes up for those shortcomings by offering unbeatable fuel economy, a nice selection of standard technology, and a friendly sticker price.
  3. Toyota RAV4 – An expansive cargo area, great EPA estimates, and a plethora of standard safety features are just a few reasons why it’s on my list of candidates. Few SUVs compare to the RAV4.

Top 3 Midsize SUV Nominees

  1. Hyundai Santa Fe – The new 2020 Santa Fe is a Hyundai masterpiece. It has just about everything one could look for in a five-seat SUV: great gas mileage, comfortable accommodations, good cargo space, and a handsome exterior. New additions on the 2020 model include standard Rear Seat Reminder, which is just a sweet cherry on top.
  2. Nissan Murano – Effortlessly luxurious, the Murano features an upscale cabin and dashboard, a nice navigation system, and a slew of newly added safety systems, including Nissan’s Intelligent Driver Alertness and Traffic Sign Recognition.
  3. Chevrolet Blazer – After a ridiculously long hiatus, Chevy’s once-popular Blazer saw the light of day as a new model in 2019. Its responsive and user-friendly infotainment system, as well as its spacious back row, are now carried over into the 2020 model. This off-road crossover should be at the top of its game in no time.

Top 3 Full-size/Three-row SUV Nominees

  1. Hyundai Palisade – The all-new Palisade is Hyundai’s take on “family first.” It comes with a laundry list of standards, like Highway Drive Assist, a power-folding third-row, a 12.3-inch instrumentation cluster, and hideaway cupholders. The Hyundai Palisade also offers over 86 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than Mazda CX-9’s offering.
  2. Subaru Ascent – Sure-footed handling, best-in-class safety grades, and a refined cabin help the 2020 Ascent ascend—sorry—to the top of the list. If those weren’t enough reason to buy an Ascent, maybe you’ll like its 19 cupholders, six USB ports, and second-row HVA controls.
  3. Chevrolet Traverse – With three roomy rows and cargo space to match, the 2020 Traverse is set up to tackle many a family vacation. Teen Driver is now added, as is Chevy’s easy-to-use Infotainment 3 system.

Best Pickup Trucks of the Year

Top 3 Compact Truck Nominees

  1. GMC Canyon – Class-leading towing and payload: Need I say more about the 2020 GMC Canyon?
  2. Chevrolet Colorado – The new Colorado is fuel-efficient, rides smoothly, and has enough off-road ability to get into trouble—and out of it. In terms of overall value, Chevy’s small pickup may pick up the nod.
  3. Toyota Tacoma – The TDR Tacoma models are arguably my favorite off-road trucks around. But even base Tacoma trucks are better equipped than most bare-naked base pickups in its class.

Top 3 Full-size Truck Nominees

  1. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – Best-in-class towing. A great turbodiesel engine (with class-best fuel economy). Spacious Crew Cab cabin. Low MSRP. The Silverado 1500 remains the gold standard amongst large, full-size pickups.
  2. GMC Sierra 1500 – Like its Silverado cousin, the Sierra 1500 offers numerous engines, has impressive towing capacity, and features a good selection of tech, such as a head-up display, surround-view camera, and the crazy-versatile MultiPro tailgate.
  3. Nissan Titan – The competitively priced Nissan Titan is a great value-buy. While it doesn’t match some of the class’s top trucks, the Titan does have a commendable array of features and the capability to tow nearly 10,000 pounds.
The only thing left to do is wait for the experts to grace us with their picks. Of course, if none of these candidates made their lists, we’ll just have to agree to disagree—or to agree that the 2020 Chevy Corvette deserved to win MotorTrend’s Car of the Year award. (I can’t wait to check that ‘Vette out.)

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