Best Cars of October 2020June 23, 2020
Most of those who buy a car are guided by approximately the same basic principle. It consists in paying less, but getting more. Not in all situations it is possible to take a cheap, but very high-quality and reliable car, because such vehicles by definition can not be overly affordable. Much more correct solution is considered to be the choice of price-quality ratio. This includes cars that fully match their cost, while having excellent reliability, durability and trouble-free performance. We present you a rating of 10 best Cars, current of 2020 with a description of technical characteristics and reviews.
Strong, smooth powertrains; aggressive styling; innovative technology; long-held reputation for durability; a luxury benchmark; coupe and cabriolet availability; AMG performance availability
The Mercedes Benz have essentially left the S-Class alone for 2020. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class continues to showcase the leading edge of automotive technology -- including some world firsts for active safety -- and in ride comfort and interior ambiance. When compared to its rivals such as the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, the S-Class continues to be seen as the premium luxury sedan on the market. With its sleek and aggressive styling, impressive list of features and performance rivaling exotic cars, the S-Class will exceed most peoples' expectations in an ultra-luxury sedan.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is available in four models: S 450, S 560, AMG S 63 and AMG S 65. Each model is set apart by their engine, with the AMG models driving performance to the upper limits. The S 450 is powered by a turbocharged 3.0L V6 engine making 362 horsepower, while the S 560 employs a turbocharged 4.0L V8 producing 463 horsepower. The AMG S 63 gets a significant increase in performance, powered by a 4.0L turbocharged V8 making 603 horsepower and 664 lb-feet of torque. The AMG S 65 tops the lineup with a 6.0L V12 with 621 horsepower and 738 lb-feet of torque. The S-Class sends power to the wheels through a 9-speed multi-clutch AMG SPEEDSHIFT transmission offering multiple driving modes. Rear-wheel drive is standard in the S 450 and S 560, while all models are available with the Mercedes 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
Interestingly, Mercedes also offers a hybrid version of the S-Class dubbed the S 560e. It utilizes a similar V6 engine to the one powering the S 450 but combines it with an electric motor for 469 horsepower. Fuel economy is obviously markedly improved over other models, even though it is a large car with a turbocharged V6.
Performance and handling in the S-Class is second to none. Multimode drive selection allows drivers to select from four different modes to change throttle response, shifting and steering control as desired. The expected comfortable ride is achieved through Mercedes' AIRMATIC suspension and adaptive damping system. Magic Body Control is an optional feature in the S-Class; it scans the road surface and changes the suspension settings to suit the surface and your own desired level of comfort and control.
The AMG S63 gets a special AMG Adaptive Sports Suspension that's tuned to make the most of the all-wheel drive system's capability and this car's more performance-oriented setup.
The S-Class, being the true luxury sedan that it is, has a long list of standard features and an array of additional options available. Standard features of the S 450 and S 560 include handcrafted cabin, LED exterior lighting, panorama roof, wood/leather steering wheel, heated 16-way power leather seats, remote start, soft-close doors, dual-zone climate control, cabin fragrance system, 12.3-inch instrument cluster, Burmester surround sound system, 12.3-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Sirius XM, navigation and inductive wireless charging. Some of the many optional features include larger wheels, ventilated seats, heated and ventilated rear seats, massage seats, heated and cooled cup holders, heated windshield, upgraded sound system and rear seat entertainment system.
Personalization options on the AMG model include a carbon fiber package, a wood and Napa leather-wrapped steering wheel, the ceramic-brake upgrade, red brake calipers and special carbon fiber and black piano lacquer trim.
Safety takes center stage in the S-Class, once again. As part of a Driver Assistance Package, prospective buyers can add the DISTRONIC PLUS radar-based cruise control, PRE-SAFE autonomous braking, the PRE-SAFE PLUS rear-facing radar warning system, BAS PLUS with Cross Traffic Assist (using stereoscopic cameras to help prevent an accident), Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Protection. There's also Night View Assist Plus, a feature that continues to be refined, and uses infrared and camera information to detect animals and people along the road ahead
Incredible acceleration; movie star looks; exclusivity; incredible handling; Spyder convertible model available and a potential 200 mph top speed in their Performance line
While the 2020 R8 received a minor refresh since its last full redesign in 2017 it keeps its aggressive lines and road stance intact. Two versions of the this powerful V10 engine are available. Styling on the car has evolved with the times and include a Coupe and Spyder model. One thing that hasn't changed is out of this world performance. The R8 still has the chops to go toe to toe with some of the fastest cars in the world, now it just looks a little bit meaner while doing so.
The Audi R8 does not share its price points with other super cars in its class who are almost twice the manufacturers price for the near same horsepower and amenities. It also manages to look far more exciting than any equivalently priced Porsche 911, adding value for those who care about looking fast in addition to going fast.
Supercars are generally defined by their engines and the Audi R8 is no different. The 5.2L V-10 engine has been given some upgrades for the 2020 model year and the result is a blistering 562 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. For those that absolutely must have a car capable of 200 mph, the Performance model (formerly Plus model) features a 611 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque version of the V-10. All-wheel drive is standard across the entire lineup as is a 7-speed S-tronic gearbox.
Keeping things in control are magnetic shock absorbers, which use magnets suspended in fluid to instantly adjust suspension firmness on the fly. Bumps can thusly be dealt with as they are encountered, with the kind of speed that would've been impossible several years ago. Magnetic shocks also allow the R8 to be driven in one of four different modes, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual, meaning that the right setting for the conditions and for the driver's mood can always be found. Also standard is the gas pressurized shock absorption found on both the Coupe and Spyder Performance Series to aid with a racetrack feel and response for race enthusiasts.
The Audi R8 is a sports car first and foremost but it makes for quite a comfortable long-distance cruiser. Standard features on the R8 include Audi's AudiConnect infotainment system, a 550 Watt Bang & Olufsen Sound system, a multifunction steering wheel, heated 14-way power adjustable sports seats, an alcantara headliner, leather seating and automatic climate control. Standard exterior features include 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights, heated power folding exterior mirrors and a parking assist system with a rearview camera.
The V10 Performance (Coupe and Spyder version) is of course slightly more performance oriented, so it sacrifices the stereo in favor of a lighter 5-speaker system and adds carbon fibre seats, mirrors, Instrument panel and door sills for less weight and by extension, more speed. Stopping power is also upgraded to ceramic brakes and wider tires. The V10 Performance also gets a special performance mode, which adjusts the traction control and stability control to aid the driver during high speed driving around a racetrack. As well as the updated handling, this race inspired model would not be complete without its Performance Data recorder
Fully electric propulsion; excellent range; quiet operation; excellent handling; futuristic interior; available all-wheel drive
Tesla doesn't update the Model 3 on a year-to-year basis, instead choosing to incrementally improve the car over time. The biggest and most recent change is the introduction of a new base model. With this model, dubbed the Standard Range model, Tesla has finally achieved what they set out to do, sell an all-electric vehicle to the masses at a base price of $35,000. This new base price is significantly less expensive than what was available earlier, truly bringing an electric only option to huge number of Americans.
The Tesla Model 3 can be compared both to compact luxury sedans such as the BMW 3-series and the Audi A4. It can also be compared to fully electric vehicles such as the Nissan LEAF and the Volkswagen e-Golf. The Tesla offers excellent power and handling as well as ultra-modern styling, but with a starting price of $35,000, the Tesla starts at about $5,000 less than the BMW and $2,400 less than the Audi.
Compared to the LEAF and Volkswagen, the Tesla offers greater range and a stronger technology suite as well as better performance. Pricing is roughly equivalent to those two compact electric vehicles.
Buyers in the United States can expect to take advantage of tax credits designed to incentivize the purchase of an electric car. The remarkable battery-only drivetrain of the Model 3 means there's very little difference between a gasoline-powered car and an all-electric one. With all the performance, technology and ease of use one would expect from a car in this class.
The Tesla Model 3 comes in four different configurations. Currently, the car is available in rear-wheel drive with what Tesla calls either its "standard-range battery" or its optional "mid-range battery." The car also comes in dual-motor all-wheel drive with the "long range battery," and in dual-motor all-wheel drive in "performance" guise. Tesla claims a 220-mile range for the standard battery, while the rear-drive Mid Range model will hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds with an EPA-estimated range of 264 miles. The AWD Long Range will cover 322 miles, with acceleration to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Performance trim with all-wheel drive accomplishes the same feat in just 3.3 seconds while not compromising range. Top speed on the Performance is estimated at 155 mph.
Step inside the Tesla Model 3 and it immediately becomes apparent that the future has arrived. Rather than a typical dashboard, a 15-inch tablet-like device dominates the central dash area, displaying everything from map information to the radio. The result is an incredibly clean and spartan looking interior that does away with much of the clutter that's defined modern interior styling.
For now, the Model 3 rides on a choice of 18- or 20-inch wheels, inside you'll find what Tesla calls its Premium interior. This means that standard features include heated front seats with 12-way power adjustment, four USB ports and two smartphone docks, a tinted glass roof, custom driver profiles and one year of Tesla's connectivity service free of charge. This service includes both navigation updates with traffic as well as in-car streaming from media devices. LED foglamps and heated exterior mirrors are also standard.
For those who really want to experience the future, Tesla offers an Enhanced Autopilot option. Enhanced Autopilot includes auto-lane change, autosteer, active cruise control and Autopark and Summon functions. Tesla also expects to add fully autonomous self-driving capabilities to the Model 3, though that function is not currently available
The 760-hp GT500 is an all-new addition to the Mustang stable this year, and the first time the nameplate has appeared since 2014. Elsewhere in the lineup, the 4-cylinder EcoBoost-powered Mustangs see improved performance options. While this review focuses on the top-performance GT500, you can also read our previous reviews on the Mustang GT and Mustang Bullitt, neither of which see substantial changes for 2020.
- While it’s the most powerful production Mustang ever, the GT500’s power feels well-modulated and non-sketchy enough for on-road use.
- Dual-clutch automatic transmission snaps off shifts in less than the blink of an eye, and is so good that you’ll barely miss the manual.
- Available MagneRide active damping expertly transitions from comfortable to controlled as the road surface demands.
- Some track software like Launch Control can be a little argumentative.
- The transmission’s boring dial-shifter, exclusive to the GT500, can make you forget you’re in a muscle car.
- It’s a heavy car, and on the track it feels like one.
The 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is precision instrument for generating burnout smoke and launching itself down a dragstrip with mind-numbing consistency. But although this supercharged alpha-horse of the Mustang lineup will happily run impeccable quarter-miles all day long, that’s not the only thing it’s good at. It’s been six years since Ford last offered a GT500, and the Mustang has come a long way since then, gaining a fully independent suspension and a level of refinement that’s long eluded this street-brawling ponycar. Just as the last-gen GT500 launched, sadly, we also lost Carroll Shelby, the legendary racer and innovator who made some of Ford’s most iconic performance cars possible. With this latest iteration of the GT500, the first one designed and brought to market outside of Shelby’s earthly purview, it was important that Ford Performance make good on his legend. Recently, Ford invited us to Las Vegas to drive the new GT500 on the street, dragstrip, and roadcourse, so we could see for ourselves how they did just that.
The heart of this beast is an aluminum-block 5.2L V8 topped by a 2.65L Eaton supercharger. On 93 octane, this powerplant churns out 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque—for context, that’s in the ballpark of supercharged brethren like the Camaro ZL1 (650 on both horsepower and torque) and the larger Challenger Hellcat Redeye (797 hp, 707 torque). The manual transmission is gone this year, replaced by a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission—a sort of ultra-quick-shifting automated manual not often encountered outside of supercars.
The GT500 packs some impressive equipment into the chassis as well: MagneRide dampers are standard, and modulate suspension performance hundreds of times per second in response to road conditions and driver inputs. The brakes are huge, especially the available 6-piston Brembos, whose massive pizza-plate 16.5” front rotors (14.5” rear) are among the largest in the industry. The GT500’s aggressive front fascia is a funnel designed for gulping down air, with six heat exchangers working behind it to keep things cool amidst the most punishing track use. The standard tires are Michelin Pilot Sport 4S’s, but a Carbon Fiber Track Pack adds staggered-fitment Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2’s on 20” exposed carbon-fiber wheels for weight reduction, along with an array of other lightweight and go-fast bits and a towering rear spoiler that Ford says can add up to 500 lbs of downforce.
Despite all its mean-looking race-car kit, get the GT500 out on the road and you’ll find it can be a total pussycat. This powerplant revs high and acceleration is explosive, and yes, it wants to go fast even if you’re just running errands. But it feels civilized and manageable on the street. The DCT is really lovely, shifting in the blink of an eye and never making the wrong decision. And the car grips really well for a front-engined car putting this much power to the rear—thanks to both the tires and some firm but subtle traction control, you get none of the roller-skate squirreliness that’s a daily annoyance with, say, the Hellcat. The DCT also facilitates a set of nicely-differentiated drive modes—Normal, Sport, Snow/Wet, Track, and Drag Strip—that give the GT500 the versatility to face an array of driving conditions. Track and Strip modes actually give you an imperceptibly slower shift, minimizing the torque loss under acceleration to almost zero. The modes affect steering as well—Sport and Track dial in weight quite noticeably, and make steering response super-immediate, almost twitchy. Normal provides a more relaxed touring attitude for the highway.
Meanwhile, the MagneRide is smart and versatile enough to smooth out rough road while completely controlling body roll in the turns, so the cabin environment remains pretty tranquil—other than that delightfully raucous exhaust note, which itself can be adjusted via a separate set of modes. Indeed, this is a car that’s comfortable enough to take on a cross-country roadtrip—while the track package’s Recaro seats may be a little firm for the long haul, the default interior features sumptuous and power-adjustable touring seats, and the Mustang’s outward visibility is superior to that of both the Camaro and the Challenger.
The rest of the interior is pretty standard Mustang fare, which is to say pleasing but not special. The GT500’s cabin is dressed up with a lot of fuzzy Alcantara and optional swaths of carbon-fiber trim, and a giant Shelby snake emblem dominates the steering wheel’s big center pad. But much of the switchgear is shared, including the retro-round air vents and piano-key function switches at the foot of the centerstack. The center console is a little ugly, with a big plane of plastic surrounding a pair of cupholders. And thanks to the DCT, instead of a proper gearshift the GT500 gets Ford’s corporate-standard dial shifter, an item more suited to a dweeby crossover than a high-performance muscle car. The regular Mustang’s manual and automatic shifters are both much nicer, and more in keeping with the car’s retro-styled vibe.
Where the interior does impress is with its giant 12” LCD all-digital gauge cluster. This crisply-rendered and configurable unit enables you to put a ton of useful information front and center, and its presentation and key metrics change depending on which drive mode you’re in. On the other hand, the 8” centerstack screen runs Ford’s standard Sync 3 interface, and not the updated one you’ll see in all-new Fords like the Explorer. But although this platform is showing its age a bit, it’s still straightforward and intuitive, includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and offers menus upon menus to dial in nearly every aspect of the GT500’s functioning. Indeed, just about everything here is independently configurable, from the color of the ambient lighting to the behavior of the shocks and steering. As for active driver-assist tech, the GT500 doesn’t offer the full suite of features that’s available on most Mustangs. Here, you can only get blindspot monitoring with cross-traffic alert as part of a $3,000 technology package that also includes navigation and an upgraded sound system. And adaptive cruise control is absent altogether, though you can get it on a Hellcat.
The GT500’s excellent on-road character translates to great manners on the track as well. Between its monstrous straight-line power and superb grip, the dragstrip is truly its happy place, and quarter-mile performance is where a lot of its “Track Apps” tech is focused. The line-lock feature is intended to warm up your tires with a perfect burnout, though its execution can be a little glitchy, sometimes canceling out on you during setup. The launch control is much more reliable—you just specify a launch RPM, stand on both pedals and then away you go, like being strapped in and shot out of a cannon. Ford claims that a sub-11 second-mile is possible, and with tire and surface conditions that day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway I was running a consistent low 11s, my times improving with each pass as I added a couple hundred RPM to the launch threshold. This is a car that’ll let you execute perfect quarter-mile runs all day long with such consistency that you could almost start boring yourself.
Good thing then that the GT500 isn’t just a straight-line car—it’s also content to be thrashed around a road-course, where it feels surprisingly dialed and non-sketchy. Its one liability here is its weight—at nearly 4,200 lbs even with the weight-saving elements of the track pack, its heft is on par with my own oldest Ford, a 1957 land yacht with a retractable steel hardtop. This is where you’ll be grateful for the GT500’s big brakes, which enable you to hurl its bulk into the corners pretty aggressively, just as the superb grip enables you to rocket out on exit. The MagneRide gets a specific tune for the GT500, different from similarly-equipped s or Bullitts. And for the most part, it keeps the GT500 flat and well-balanced despite the added weight out front (the supercharger adds about 150 lbs), with far less of the nose-heavy feel I experienced last year in the non-supercharged Bullitt. While the GT500 lacks the surgical precision of a mid-engined track missile like the C8 Corvette, it’s not going to subject you to tiresome corner-wallowing or scrabbling for traction the way a Hellcat does. The GT500 represents a good balance—it’s fast but not menacing, and doesn’t make you fight to keep it pointed in the right direction.
And that’s really the GT500’s personality in a nutshell—it’s a race car that you can drive across the country, a formidable performance machine that you don’t have to struggle to keep out of the fence. With all the best advances in the Mustang’s platform amped up to handle the supercharged 5.2’s unholy power, the GT500 is a formidable performer—but also a fundamentally approachable one. At least approachable in every area but price: while a regular Mustang starts at around $28K, the GT500’s cost of entry is $74,095—and the performance pack, which is essential if you want to do much with it at the track, adds another $18,500 right out of the box. Add the $3,000 tech package and factor in the $2,600 gas guzzler tax, and you’re at the doorstep of $100K—a blistering price for a Mustang, and that’s even before the $10K paint stripe kit is added (don’t ask). A step-down option could well be the GT350—if you can forego the supercharger and settle for 234 fewer horsepower, the lesser Shelby variant will make a fine multipurpose track toy as well. However, if you have money to burn and a hankering for a monster Mustang, the GT500 is a car that can hold its own among Detroit’s top muscle offerings—and even best them them on trackability, versatility, and overall good character. Somewhere, Carroll Shelby is smiling.
Fuel economy; excellent interior room; sharp styling; quiet interior; reasonable price; plug-in option; available electric all-wheel drive
The Prius enters 2020 with relatively minor changes. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility have been added as standard features for the car. Meanwhile, the Plug-in Prius Prime version now gets a 5th seat and a new black interior along with an extra USB port.
One of the most remarkable things about the Prius is how little it asks from the owner in exchange for its legendary fuel efficiency. Special fuel isn't needed, and there's no need to plug the standard Prius into the wall at night. Drivers are offered all the amenities and comfort of a modern mid-size.
The Prius drives, handles and behaves just like any other mid-sized car. It just happens to get seriously impressive fuel economy. Starting at around $24,000, the Prius is competitive with other conventionally powered cars in its price bracket, offering ample interior space, a quiet comfortable ride, plenty of interior gadgets but with world-famous mileage figures.
Though few people would look at a Prius and see it as a high-performance vehicle, the truth is that they are every bit as rigorously engineered as a Porsche or BMW. Toyota's designers maintain a ruthless pursuit of fuel economy, improving whenever and wherever they can.
For 2020, two variations of the Prius are available. The original Prius, the standard on which all the others are based, is a 4-door compact hatch that comes in L, Eco, LE, XLE and Limited trims. Prius LE and XLE trims can be optioned with AWD-e, an automatic, on-demand all-wheel-drive system that utilizes a rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels as necessary.
The Prius Prime is a plug-in version of the Prius. It has a larger battery on board that can be charged via wall-outlet. Careful driving can yield up to 25 miles on electric power alone, after which the gasoline engine starts up to keep things rolling. In all other ways, the two Prius behave the same: the powertrain will seamlessly switch between battery and engine power to maximize fuel efficiency and range. Prius Prime models are available in LE, XLE and Limited trims.
The interior of the Prius is big and airy, offering an open feel and a good view of the road ahead, with improved headroom over previous generations. Two 4.2-inch multi-information displays are housed within the instrument panel. Basic information such as speed and fuel level are displayed on the right. The left display, on the other hand, is programmable, allowing the driver to choose what information he or she wants to see at any time. A head-up display projects onto the windshield and serves to further keep the driver in the know without ever having to look away from the road. The Prime benefits from an 11.6-inch touchscreen display that is centrally mounted vertically, similar to that found in the Tesla, and it is controlled through simple tap/swipe gestures, much like a tablet.
Basic features on the Prius include 15-inch alloy wheels, low rolling resistance tires and four-wheel disc brakes. Higher trim levels include a navigation system, 17-inch alloys, and synthetic leather seating surfaces. A suite of safety options includes a pedestrian detection system and a pre-collision warning system, as well as a radar-controlled dynamic cruise control system.
Options include a premium JBL sound system and a full parking assistance system, which will make parallel parking much easier with the help of ultrasonic sensors
The Hybrid adds an exterior sound-alert feature for when the car is driving in electric mode. Otherwise, minor price increases are the only changes for the Accord in 2020 following its major redesign for 2018.
- Athletic chassis and engaging driving dynamics.
- Still offers a manual transmission with both non-hybrid engines.
- Plenty of space for passengers and their luggage.
- All-wheel drive is unavailable, though several competitors now offer it.
- The hybrid’s loopy auditory feedback makes for a weird acceleration experience.
- Pushbutton gear selector is novel but not better.
One could argue that the Accord is to Honda as the F-series pickup is for Ford, the Golf is to Volkswagen, and the 3-series is to BMW: It’s the model on which the brand’s reputation hangs, and consequently is the one they execute better than any of their others. It’s not necessarily the bestseller in the lineup, and in these crossover-mad times, the Honda CR-V has overtaken the Accord as Honda’s most popular model. But the Accord still stands as the perfect distillation of what Honda does well.
It’s been that way since the Accord first appeared on the scene in the mid 1970s, with a level of polish and just-plain niceness that put it head and shoulders above the Japanese econoboxes of the day. As it has grown, over 10 generations, from compact hatchback to compact sedan to midsize coupe and sedan to, now, midsize sedan only, those qualities remain. If you’re shopping this category, the Accord deserves a look.
With the tectonic shift away from passenger cars and into SUVs, Honda knew that the era of staid styling is over for midsize sedans, which need to play up the advantage of their sleeker proportions relative to SUVs. Thus, this current Accord, which debuted for 2018, is longer and lower than before, with a shorter front overhang and a more expansive wheelbase. It also has a roofline that sweeps in an unbroken arc to the tip of the abbreviated trunk lid. It leans into the wind with heavy chrome brow over a horizonal-bar grille and headlights with multiple lighting elements. But while this Accord is much more stylish than its recent antecedents, other automakers have gotten hip to this same idea, with even more visually pleasing results in the current Mazda6 and the new Hyunda Sonata.
Despite the lower silhouette, Honda’s packaging engineers have again managed to carve out a people-friendly space within. Up front, the passenger compartment feels broad, while narrow front pillars and a relatively low dashboard make for a good sightlines. Rear-seat passengers will have to duck their heads a bit more than before when getting in, but once inside, headroom is adequate and they enjoy stretch-out legroom. A nearly flat floor makes even the middle spot tolerable, but even the top-spec Touring is bereft of USB outlets although it does have rear-seat heating. The Accord’s stubby trunk lid opens to reveal 16.7 cubic feet of space, besting every other midsize sedan—and the hybrid’s battery is now packaged so as not to impinge on trunk room, so its luggage space is undiminished.
The EX-L and the Touring get leather, in an attractive pale beige in my example, with black accents and dark matte-finish wood trim. Stowage is plentiful with a covered bay at the front of the console, inside of which are the USB ports. Typical of Honda, the layout of the switchgear is extremely logical, with good separation of function on the multiple steering-wheel switches. I can’t say, however, that I’m a fan of Honda’s move from a traditional shift lever to a panel of buttons and a lift-up switch for gear selection, which is novel but not better.
The hybrid combines a 143-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a 181-hp electric motor, which nets out to 212 horses along with 232 lb-ft of torque. Those totals are certainly adequate, but the hybrid is probably the least pleasurable version to drive. The engine and the electric motor can power the car separately or together. Select Sport mode and the engine runs all the time, while EV mode keeps it off line, provided the battery has sufficient charge and the demands from your right foot are not too great. Regardless of the modes, a gentle prod of the accelerator can send engine revs soaring, and matting the accelerator will cause them to rise and plateau in a manner similar to an underpowered engine paired with a CVT. The powertrain gets the job done, but the aural sensations are a little weird.
Most buyers will opt for one of the two non-hybrid choices, both of which are quicker than the hybrid. The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbo four, good for 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, which is about on par with the larger, naturally aspirated fours found elsewhere. The 1.5L is paired with a CVT or, in the Sport model, an available six-speed manual—making the Accord the last remaining midsize sedan to offer that option. The Accord’s higher-performance choice is a 2.0-liter turbo making 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. In addition to the extra oomph, an added enticement here is that the 2.0L ditches the CVT for a 10-speed automatic or, again in the Sport version, a six-speed stick. Our editor reviewed a 2019 Accord with the 2.0L/automatic combo and found it delivered “astonishingly stout acceleration.” Amazon consumer reviewers with the 2.0L also rave about its performance.
Even the most potent Accord is not a heavy drinker, with EPA estimates of 22–23 mpg city and 32–34 mpg highway (the stick shift being slightly thirstier). The mainstream 1.5-liter/CVT combo returns 30/38 mpg, with the Sport model at 29/25 mpg and the Sport manual at 26/35 mpg. Naturally, the hybrid is the fuel economy champ, boasting EPA numbers of 48 mpg city and 47 mpg highway. All those EPA figures are pretty much in line with the Accord’s competitors.
What no Accord offers is the option of all-wheel drive, a feature that has been luring buyers out of sedans and into SUVs. To stem that tide, several of the Accord’s peers now have it: the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima, as well as the Subaru Legacy, in which AWD is standard.
On the road, the Accord exudes composure. Steering that’s quick off center lends this sedan a lively feel, and the car turns in with no hesitation and little drama. My only quibble is that the weighting seems artificially layered on, having no relation to what the front wheels are doing. The Accord steadfastly resists lean in corners—even more so in the Touring models’ Sport mode, which slightly firms up the dampers. The car also does its level best not to squat on its haunches during acceleration or press its nose to the ground under braking, and the suspension overall does an excellent job keeping body motions under control. The Accord’s chassis is extremely well sorted, and the structure feels solid as it sops up bumps. The hybrid models have the advantage of 17-inch wheels, which are wrapped in 225/50-series tires that provide more cushion that mask sharp impacts better than the high-style 19-inchers with lower-profile rubber found on the 2.0 Touring and the Sport variants.
Hybrids often suffer from brakes that are hard to modulate, as they blend regenerative braking and traditional friction braking, but the Accord’s brake-pedal action feels totally natural. On the hybrid, shift paddles increase or decrease regenerative braking when lifting off the accelerator, but even max-regen mode doesn’t come close to offering one-pedal driving in the manner of some electric cars, and the system automatically reverts to minimal regen and max coasting.
The Accord’s bundle of standard active-safety features consists of forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and a driver-attention monitor. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are on all but the base versions and the 1.5T Sport. The Accord’s lane-keep assist is among the better systems for maintaining lane position, and in contrast to some other recent Hondas I’ve driven, this forward-collision warning system was not prone to false alarms.
Honda struggled for a while with infotainment systems that were subpar, with annoying user interfaces, but the Accord’s system is top-notch. The screen is 8 inches—that’s not the biggest you’ll find (the Subaru Legacy has a 10-incher), but the graphics are modern and the resolution is sharp. Honda has mercifully abandoned its experiment with touch sliders and gone back to real knobs for volume and tuning along with physical buttons as shortcuts to major functions. The infotainment finally seems as intelligent as the rest of the car. Note, however, that the base LX gets only a 7-inch unit without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The Touring layers on factory navigation (optional on the EX-L), a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot, wireless device charging, and a nifty head-up display the content of which can be customized. All Accords get an instrument cluster that combines a speedometer on the right with a configurable screen on the left that can show a myriad of data, with another readout in between.
Accord prices start at $24,975 including the $955 destination charge. The base LX is worth skipping over, however, to get the better-equipped Sport version for $27,785 (same price for manual or automatic). The Sport is the entry trim for the hot 2.0-liter, priced at $32,315. The hybrid, meanwhile, starts at $26,575—$1,600 more than the LX, with the EX and EX-L hybrids priced at similar premiums to their 1.5-turbo equivalents. The top-spec 2.0L Touring is $37,205, with the hybrid Touring about $1,000 less (there’s no 1.5-liter Touring). The Touring is $1,000 dearer than the fanciest Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, and more than $2,000 north of the top-flight Hyundai Sonata.
Those competitors are worthy in their own right—this is an incredibly strong field. The Accord’s appeal rests not on price or feature content, but on the execution of the whole. This car exhibits a polish developed over 10 generations. Call it good breeding.
Building on the Camry’s wildly successful 2018 redesign, Toyota’s Calty design studio adds a full aero package to the base Camry XSE. Toyota Racing Development brings the cred with a track-tuned chassis and a cat-back dual exhaust tied to Camry’s stalwart 301-horsepower twin-cam V6 engine. Android Auto and Alexa Auto finally join Apple CarPlay.
- Meticulously executed exterior trim, from front splitter and aero nose to neatly wrapped gloss black aero skirts and pedestal rear wing.
- Enthusiastic cat-back exhaust with big stainless steel dual exhaust tips.
- Exceptional steering, braking, and overall road manners.
- No manual transmission option, but the 8-speed sequential shifter with Sport mode and paddle shifters delivers decent feels.
- Red instrumentation hard to see at twilight.
- Must register and pair phone to sync with Toyota’s disappointing Entune App suite.
Have you ever felt the fiery redness of a car’s spirit? You may never have imagined it could emanate from a Camry four-door sedan. But here it is, a racy Camry TRD in Supersonic Red paint , brought to market in limited number last fall as a 2020 model.
If any Toyota product needed the performance ministrations of Toyota Racing Development, it was the Camry. Despite about a dozen competent four-door Camry sedan iterations from which to choose—among a lineup of gasoline and hybrid models—Camry magic was in short supply.
Enter TRD. Bringing its vast performance know-how to the winners’ circle has been Toyota Racing Development’s stock-in-trade since it made the move from Japan to the U.S. in 1979. Toyota was the first foreign company to race in NASCAR, winning what was then the Craftsman Truck Series in 2006, going on to take NHRA podiums, WRC championships, CART wins—including the Indy 500—and dominating off-road racing as well as winning two IMSA GTP championships.
A stepping-stone Camry redesign in 2018 opened up an opportunity for both TRD and Calty, Toyota’s in-house design group, to move the needle into the red zone. Rather than starting from scratch, Toyota chose the XSE-grade sedan—a generous midsized platform—for the creation of an authentic TRD model. With it comes access to the XSE’s long list of amenities as well as Toyota’s Safety Sense-P suite of collision avoidance tech that includes pre-collision assistance with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and steering, auto highbeams, and adaptive cruise control—all of which comes standard no matter which Camry trim you choose. All Camrys also include active safety features like stability control, traction control, and brake assist, as well as ten well-placed airbags.
The Camry TRD is powered by a Toyota and Lexus stalwart—the 301-hp DOHC 3.5-liter V6 engine. That V6 is a gem, available on a number of Toyota and Lexus models. Ah… but if you want that engine (and you do), the Camry TRD is the least expensive way to buy a V6 Camry.
There are other bonuses to buying the Camry TRD. One is a new cat-back exhaust system breathing out through large stainless-steel dual-exhaust tips, bringing acoustic excitement into the cabin. Plus, those pipes add to the overall menacing look. Another perk is the perfectly trimmed red and black interior with red stitching throughout.
There is comfortable seating for five, each seat fitted with fabric inserts, a blazing red seatbelt, and a headrest with an embroidered TRD logo. Both front seats are power-adjustable and the driver commands a meaty telescoping and tilting leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Instrumentation includes a 4.2-inch multifunction display in the dash. The red-illuminated gauges can be difficult to read at twilight, but the gauge needles are prominent. Yes, Toyota has its own Entune suite of apps, but it’s fussy and poorly rated in the app store. Bring your own phone, as both AndroidAuto and AlexaAuto now join Apple CarPlay. The main audio system includes six speakers, a 7-inch touchscreen, a USB media port, and two USB charge ports, though nothing for backseat passengers to plug into.
TRD’s most important task was to create a track-tuned suspension—not for racing—but to deliver an all-around great driving experience. With three Toyota test facilities at its disposal in Texas, Arizona, and Japan, TRD engineers were able to meticulously work their way through the suspension and chassis, beefing up the front and rear stabilizer bars, adding TRD-specific front and rear coil springs and tuned shock absorbers, and going for the gusto with three thick underbody braces to increase torsional rigidity, a critical component of body control and handling.
If there are doubts about its sporting pretensions, they will be answered when you first fire up the Camry TRD’s engine.
The 2020 Camry TRD starts with a bark and corners with a bite. You’ll find yourself roaring off to find the nearest set of esses (or parking lot gymkhana) to check this sporty car’s bonafides. No, it’s not a sports car, but the Camry TRD has enough seriously sporty moves to honor Calty Design’s drop-dead package of aerodynamic aids.
Calty did not shy away from doing a 360-degree aero treatment—from front splitter to wraparound lower skirting to glossy black rear pedestal wing. On a test drive through a Michigan farm town at lunchtime, more than a few pedestrians stopped in mid-crosswalk (and in mid-bite of their burgers) for a second take. Literally.
The most exciting features, though, have everything to do with the pleasure you’ll find from behind the wheel. Helping the steering find its groove is a retuned electric power steering rack and an able boost from Active Cornering Assist, which dampens an understeering inside wheel when the road tightens up. When Active Cornering Assist is in play, you’ll feel like a hero driver handling whatever the road ahead presents, with no histrionics.
The Camry TRD’s ventilated front disc brakes are a goodly 12.9-inches versus the XSE’s 12.0-inch front discs, upgraded from one- to two-piston calipers for double the stopping power. Red painted front and rear calipers peek out through 19” X 8.5” matte-black alloy wheels. More than just fancy, each of those alloy rims saves three pounds which helps offset the added weight of the TRD add-ons.
The lack of a manual transmission might disappoint fans of the Save the Manual movement, but consider the 8-speed sequential shifter a willing partner along with steering-wheel-mounted paddles and a Sport mode in helping you hustle smartly through the twistiest of turns.
This would be a good car in which to try paddle shifters if you haven’t had that experience. The Camry’s paddles sit discreetly at fingertip reach behind the steering wheel—left paddle for downshifting, right paddle for upshifts. No need to remove your hands from the wheel to access them. Requested shifts from the perfectly placed paddles are decently quick, if not exactly crisp and direct. If you find it too confusing to steer at the same time you’re fingering shift paddles, you can move the leather-covered shift knob on the center console left into a manumatic gate and shift for yourself.
You have a choice of Michelin all-seasons Primacy MXM4 tires or Bridgestone Potenza summer tires. The consensus across the web of TRD fans says go with the softer Bridgestone summer tires. That would be the track tire. Our test car had the Michelins. For our purposes, they had excellent grip with nary a whine on the two-lane blacktop of our impromptu test course.
The Camry TRD weighs 3,572 pounds—the same as the XSE V6 on which it’s based. Even so, the Camry TRD is slightly longer, slightly lowered, and slightly wider. It’s also a scant $4,000 less than the Camry XSE V6, even packed with the TRD upgrades. How could that be? Well, Toyota considers the TRD as a no-charge aftermarket package meant to significantly raise the appeal of Camry. Which also makes it a whole lot cooler.
Over the decades, the Camry has built a reputation on being scrupulously well-made, offered at a reasonable price, and capable of maintaining great value. Attention to safety has contributed to a stellar overall five-star government safety rating. But TRD has finally brought the magic Camry has forever been missing. It has brought a fiery spirit. Finding one of the 6,000 or so made will be your only problem.
Roomy, comfortable, attractive styling, lots of safety features
The Chevrolet Impala heads into 2020 with a bit of a lineup shakeup. The LS trim has been dropped along with its 2.5L inline 4-cylinder Ecotec engine. This leaves only the LT and Premier trims with a singular 3.6L V6 engine option.
The Chevrolet Impala is a large sedan that competes in a what is known as the "near-luxury" segment. Starting at around $28,000, the Impala undercuts the price of many entry-level luxury cars while still offering plenty of luxury features. The Impala also includes substantially more room than many buyers might be expecting, especially considering a price point like that of smaller, midsized cars. A major emphasis has been placed on build quality and interior refinement, improving comfort while reducing noise vibration and harshness.
The 2020 Impala is powered by one engine choice, a 3.6L V6 making 305 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet claims that the Impala's 6-cylinder engine is the most powerful naturally aspirated V6 in its class.
The Impala comes in two trims: LT and Premier. LT trim is now the most basic trim feature but still offers keyless entry, cloth seats, a 6-speaker 100-watt sound system, the MyLink infotainment system with an 8-inch color display, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, rearview camera, automatic headlights, a noise cancellation system, 18-inch wheels and a 6-month subscription to GM's OnStar service.
The base LT trim gets dual-zone climate control, heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 18-inch alloy wheels and an upgraded stereo.
The Premier Impala's upgrades include a remote starter, keyless access, heated driver and front passenger seats, ambient interior lighting, integrated navigation, 19-inch wheels, HID headlamps, chrome door handles and LED running lamps. Premier Impalas also come standard with a host of extra safety features, including a lane departure warning system, cross traffic alert, blind zone alert and rear park assist.
All Impalas feature anti-lock brakes, traction control, OnStar with automatic crash response, stability control and a total of ten airbags
Roomy interior; compact exterior; great fuel economy; economical price; high levels of standard equipment
The Honda Fit returns for 2020 essentially unchanged, though an all new model was showcased in Tokyo it's not likely to land in North America.
The Honda Fit competes with other subcompacts such as the Ford Fiesta, FIAT 500 and Toyota Yaris. It's an extremely competitive class of vehicle, but Honda has been successfully building excellent subcompacts longer than just about any other manufacturer in the United States. The big selling point for the 2020 Fit is how well it utilizes the diminutive car's interior space. Pricing is competitive for the segment, but the Fit's strong set of standard features that come with the car makes it a solid value.
All 2020 Fits are powered by a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine that makes 130 horsepower. There are two available transmissions, a 6-speed manual and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Power is sent to the front wheels and acceleration is peppy, indicative of the Fit's lightweight and refined engine. Fuel economy is stellar, particularly with the CVT transmission.
The Fit comes in four trim levels: LX, EX, Sport and EX-L. Base LX-trimmed Fits come with plenty of standard features including Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, automatic headlights, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD player, a 5-inch color screen, a USB port and an audio input jack for MP3 players.
EX-outfitted Fits come equipped with a smart entry system, fog lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, hands-free text messaging, push button start, a 180-watt display type audio system with a 7-inch screen, a USB port, Pandora internet radio compatibility and a one-touch power moonroof.
A leather interior is optional on the EX and standard on the EX-L. In addition to adding leather seating surfaces, the steering wheel is also wrapped in leather. With the leather option, these trims also upgrade the mirrors to be heated and add integrated turn signals. Navigation is also optional on Fits equipped with leather, a feature which adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
Safety features are standard across all trim levels for the Fit, so even base LX models benefit from the whole host of safety devices available for the car. Honda Sensing is standard on the EX and EX-L trims and optional on the LX and Sport trims. Airbags include front, multiple threshold airbags, side airbags and side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. Anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control are all included along with brake assist and a tire pressure monitoring system
Stylish sporty exterior; upscale interior style; fuel-efficiency; long list of standard equipment; standout comfort and convenience options; industry leading warranty
Kia has introduced a couple of new trims to the Forte for 2020, the GT Line and the GT are both new for this year and both have an emphasis on sporty handling and looks. The GT Line offers a sporty appearance and includes blacked out badges, while the GT brings a more powerful turbocharged engine, which can even be mated to a 6-speed manual transmission if desired.
The Kia Forte has become a strong competitor in the midsize sedan market. With its recent redesign, the updated styling and refined interior makes it even more desirable for those looking for a sporty 4-door sedan. Put up against vehicles such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord and Nissan Sentra, the Forte offers many desirable standard features while keeping within the same price range. With a starting price under $18,000 you would be hard-pressed to find a sporty sedan with as much technology, efficiency and comfort that the Forte has to offer. Kia's industry leading warranty makes it shine with 10-year/100,000 mile protection.
The 2020 Kia Forte is offered in five trim levels; FE, LXS, GT Line, EX and GT. All trims but the GT are powered by a 2.0L Inline 4-cylinder engine, which creates 147 horsepower and 132 lb-feet of torque. The engine features dual continuously variable valve timing, which helps provide responsiveness over a wide range while enhancing fuel economy. The FE trim come standard with a 6-speed manual, though there is an optional intelligent variable transmission. The LXS, GT Line and EX also come standard with the IVT. The new for 2020 GT is powered by a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder making 201 horsepower, sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual though it is also available with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. The Forte's 2.0L engine paired with the IVT offers a combined fuel efficiency of 35 mpg.
The entry level Forte FE comes nicely equipped for the low starting price. Standard features include an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, 4-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 3.5-inch LCD information display, rearview camera, dual-zone temperature control, remote keyless entry, forward collision avoidance assist, forward collision warning and Lane keep assist.
The LXS trim add 16-inch alloy wheels, black gloss sport bumper accents, chrome exhaust tips, 60/40 split folding rear seat and Drive Mode Select (DMS), which allows drivers to choose their driving style - Normal, Sport or Comfort.
Moving up to the GT Line trim, the Forte adds 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black exterior trim accents, a rear decklid spoiler, red accents in the grille, side skirts, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, a flat bottom steering wheel with white contrasting stitching, a blind spot warning system and lane change assist, rear cross traffic warning and heated outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals.
The EX trim makes the Forte feel like a luxury sedan. Standard features include SOFINO leatherette heated and cooled front seats, 10-way power driver's seat, dual USB charging ports, smart key with push-button start and Smart Trunk. The Smart Trunk feature allows you to stand behind the vehicle with your key and the trunk will automatically open. Additional options include a Harman/Kardon premium audio system, navigation, power sunroof, rear spoiler, smart cruise control and wireless charging.
The GT is the sportiest Forte and is available with either a manual or a 7-speed DCT transmission, to match with the more powerful 1.6L engine. The GT also gets sport tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, a smart key, LED headlights with high beam assist, dual exhaust pipes, red contrasting stitching on the steering wheel and paddle shifters should the buyer opt for the 7-speed transmission.
The Kia Forte puts a high priority on safety and includes many passive and active safety features. Safety features include a suite of airbags, anti-lock brakes with 4-wheel disc brakes, hill start assist, brake assist system, traction control system and electronic stability control