The automotive industry has performed admirably in the face of 2020’s strong headwinds by pressing forward with new models and planning for the future. In fact, several 2020 vehicles may well inspire competition and influence industry approaches to style, performance, technology and engineering in the years to come.
The Top 2020 Cars, Trucks and Utility Vehicles
1. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is Better Than Ever
After seven generations, the all-new Corvette Stringray returns for its eighth generation as a mid-engine model. Its beautiful styling and incredible performance are two of its top attributes. The fact that GM can produce a sports car that matches some exotics with a price starting around $60,000 is perhaps its most significant accomplishment.
2. The Kia Telluride Bucks Trends
Kia has made great strides in recent years by delivering several models that are a cut above similarly priced rivals. One example is the Telluride, a three-row midsize crossover utility vehicle. Its squared-off good looks are a welcome departure from the soft features of most crossovers, but it’s the stylish detailing and quality materials inside and out that make luxury shoppers take a closer look at a model costing thousands of dollars less.
3. The Jeep Gladiator Is Back
It’s been decades since Jeep fielded a pickup truck, so it was important for this utility vehicle brand to get an all-new model right. There was no better way to do that than to use the Wrangler’s rugged SUV architecture for the new Gladiator truck. This Gladiator offers all the usability of a Wrangler with a truck bed to haul payload. Quite suddenly, Jeep is once again relevant in a booming segment.
4. The GR Supra Makes Toyota Fun
Toyota hadn’t built a true sports car in years until the GR Supra made its return in 2020, and the vehicle possesses the eye-catching style we expect and the performance we crave. Toyota partnered with BMW to build it, which means the engine, transmission and other key components were not developed in-house. However, Toyota’s influence on steering, handling and the suspension system gives it an intense appeal for enthusiasts.
5. Ford Escape Hybrid and More
Toyota may have cornered the hybrid market, but competing models from Hyundai, Honda and Ford show great promise. The Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, which is new and available in standard and plug-in variants, packs a punchy powertrain and a comfortable ride. Most importantly, it averages 40 mpg, a threshold that’s 10 mpg above the typical gas model.
6. Porsche Taycan Sets Hearts (and Wallets) Ablaze
Porsche has proven that it can build gorgeous models that aren’t two-door sports cars. The Taycan is its first all-electric model, with a gob-smacking design. This four-door coupe has a 200-mile range and a 0-60 mph time of just 3.8 seconds. Reviewers praise it as a challenger to the very best — whether gas or electric — though its six-figure price tag puts it out of reach for many.
7. 48-Volt Technology Offers Efficiency and Power
Instead of shouting out a specific model, we’ll point to a trend we saw unfolding in 2020 that’s poised to reshape the industry: 48-volt electrical systems. Designed to handle increased electrical loads on vehicles, these systems will also undergird future autonomous and electric vehicles. This year, BMW and Mercedes-Benz added 48V systems to several models, effectively creating new and improved “mild hybrids” that can conserve fuel under certain conditions.
The Year in Review
Determination to build a better future keeps us going in the face of adversity, and that drive has served the industry well in 2020. We’re expecting great advancements in 2021, such as the first all-electric trucks and SUVs from Rivian. Stay tuned to see what strides the industry makes in the year to come.
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Photos courtesy of Matthew C. Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.