These are our ten favorite cars of the year.
It's the news you've all been waiting for: the winners of the 2020 CarBuzz Awards. We've evaluated over 500 vehicles this year, so narrowing them down to ten winners has been no mean feat. Continuing the theme for the 2019 Awards, three finalists were selected for each of our ten categories, with many excellent vehicles missing the cut due to the fierce competition.
Each award has its own unique criteria on which to select a winner, but since our jurors are all automotive enthusiasts at heart, driving enjoyment always plays a factor so you can be confident that all ten winners are fun to drive.
So, without further ado, here are our favorite ten cars of 2020.
"The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 exemplifies what it means to embrace technology in modern automobiles," says Roger Biermann, Managing Editor at CarBuzz. "From the EQ Boost mild-hybrid system and the class-leading AMG Ride Control - arguably one of the finest air suspension setups CarBuzz has ever experienced - to the Mercedes-Benz User Experience with its advanced voice control, 'Hey, Mercedes' keyword activation, and MBUX motion-detecting Interior Assistant, Mercedes-AMG has truly created a technological tour-de-force that stands head and shoulders above the other finalists," Biermann continues.
"The neverending list of advanced driver assists and semi-autonomous functionality equipped as standard to the GLS 63 simply caps off its claim to the title. Mercedes-Benz is a worthy winner of the 2020 CarBuzz Tech Lover's Dream category and, after winning in 2019 with the GLE-Class, has proven the brand's commitment to the development and democratization of world-class technology."
"The Pacifica has turned the minivan segment on its head, appealing to a broader range of image-conscious family buyers than ever before. But it's done so in a way that makes family motoring fun again," says Biermann. "The 2019 Pacifica had already impressed as a runner-up in last year's CarBuzz Awards, but meaningful updates for the 2020 and 2021 model years, including the addition of all-wheel drive, the ultra-luxurious Pinnacle model, and refreshed styling, made the Pacifica impossible to ignore this time around."
All-weather ability in the form of the Pacifica AWD, world-beating gas mileage from the Pacifica Hybrid, and the industry's best infotainment system found in a minivan, courtesy of Uconnect 5, were all key factors in awarding this year's winner in the Family Fun category. There is simply no other family car with this breadth of ability, technology, and features, making the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica a worthy winner in our eyes.
"The 2021 Kia K5 proves that the sedan still holds an important place in a crossover dominated market. Replacing the Optima in Kia's lineup, the K5 offers a tremendous package with an affordable starting price of $23,490," says CarBuzz Senior Editor, Jared Rosenholtz. The People's Car Award winner must cost less than the average transaction price of a new car in the United States, which was around $38,000 in 2020. The K5 undercuts this budget with room to spare. Even the premium EX trim starts at $27,990 and the sporty GT model arriving next year will also qualify with its $30,490 starting price.
"After driving the new K5, we came away impressed with its unique style, well-organized interior, premium materials, sporty driving manners, and outstanding safety technology," Rosenholtz adds. "Unlike the Optima before it, the K5 offers optional all-wheel-drive, opening it to new customers in colder climates who would have otherwise only considered a crossover. The addition of the sporty GT model with 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque will even give enthusiasts something to lust over at an affordable price point. We think the K5 offers the best blend of features and fun on a budget, making it the clear winner of this year's People's Car category."
"In a year full of surprises, the 2020 Nissan Sentra shocked several CarBuzz reviewers by completely transforming from its previous iteration," comments Rosenholtz. "Nissan's designers took the Sentra from drab to fab, throwing away the old styling for a handsome new look. The Sentra improves inside too, with more upscale materials including available quilted seat patterns and an eight-inch touchscreen featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay."
As an improvement from last year's model, the Sentra shines brightest on a curvy back road. "We were blown away by the Sentra's handling prowess thanks to the new independent rear suspension," Rosenholtz adds. "Combined with flawless chassis tuning, comfortable suspension, tight steering, and a surprisingly smooth continuously variable transmission, the Sentra is now one of the most enjoyable compact sedans on the market. It's so good, we hope Nissan lets the Nismo division create a faster version." The Sentra was the biggest surprise of this year, earning it the spot as the winner.
"The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette turned heads more than any vehicle we reviewed this year, which is impressive considering how many six-figure exotics came in for evaluation. The Carbuzz Poster Car of the year must garner stares in traffic, and act as inspiration for car enthusiasts from its hanging position on the wall," says Rosenholtz. "The Corvette has long been a symbol of Americana and the personification of affordable performance, but with the move to a mid-engined layout in the C8 generation, the humble Vette will now be confused with Italy's finest out on the road."
Moving the engine to the middle also had a profound impact on the performance. With a 6.2-liter V8 producing up to 495 horsepower, the Corvette hits 60 mph in a supercar-rivaling 2.9 seconds. "The Corvette is the definition of a poster car that enthusiasts young and old can look forward to, saving up for the day that they may finally drive one," Rosenholtz adds. "With a starting price of just $58,900, the Corvette is an attainable dream car that exists within the realm of possibility for those who are willing to work hard enough. We imagine that the 2020 Corvette will grace many bedroom walls this year."
"The Rolls-Royce Ghost is a delight from the moment the power-operated doors silently close, isolating occupants from the hustle and bustle of the outside world," says Jared Rosenholtz. After more than a decade on sale, the Ghost is all-new, rolling in new luxury features that will further impress long-time owners.
"This interior is a stunning place to spend time. Anyone fortunate enough to ride in the Ghost will marvel at its new starlit dashboard panel, which matches the signature Starlight Headliner, now featuring shooting stars," Rosenholtz adds. "Every surface in the Ghost feels as though it belongs in a Hollywood mansion - the real wood dashboard, the metal controls, and the lamb's wool carpets - it all feels exquisite. Combined with luxury tech features like massaging seats, a built-in champagne fridge, and rear picnic tables with power-operated screens, the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is a worthy winner of this year's Best Interior award."
"The Cadillac Escalade reinvents and revives top-notch American luxury," says Rosenholtz. "Not only does the latest Escalade impress with its vast size, but it also adds new tech features that meet and surpass its European rivals." The Escalade excels as a family vehicle, offering three rows of seats with room for up to eight passengers. "Even the third-row passengers will be comfortable, and with the extended ESV model, there's still room for cargo with all seats filled," Rosenholtz adds. "Up front, the Escalade impresses with 38-inches of OLED screens tied to one of two stellar AKG audio systems packing up to 36 speakers."
Cadillac also adds its signature Super Cruise technology, offering hands-free driving on select highways. This new Escalade is more comfortable than ever before too. "We came away impressed by the Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 with air suspension, which helps the Escalade glide over rough roads," Rosenholtz comments. "Combined with a change to an independent rear suspension, this is the best-driving Escalade ever. Its combination of practicality, technology, and comfort helps take it to the top of the Family Luxury category."
"There's no pretense from Lotus that the Evora GT is anything but a track weapon or back road brawler," says CarBuzz Associate Editor, Ian Wright. "The Evora GT is not a daily driver. It's hard work to drive in commuter traffic, and what little shopping you can fit in the trunk at the store will be cooked by the high-strung 3.5-liter supercharged V6 engine by the time you get home. The lack of compromise has allowed Lotus to build a lethally quick and agile car. Other mid-engined sports cars boast bigger engine performance numbers than 418 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, but the Evora GT doesn't need more. It will show up with the purity of its sense of purpose to lay down quicker lap times than more expensive and flashier cars. The Evora GT's engine and chassis are honed to a sharp point and reward skilled drivers with breathtaking cornering ability and ballistic exit speeds."
"This year, Land Rover has not only brought back the iconic Defender name but opened a new chapter for the off-road legend," says Wright, "Gone is the clunky lever-controlled drivetrain, replaced by a state of the art electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system. Land Rover also improved on the anemic engines of old and now uses either a 296-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit or a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbo engine with mild-hybrid technology making 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Completing the package is a rugged yet stylish and comfortable interior that takes the edge off long days traversing even the harshest terrain. As an unexpected bonus, we were pleasantly surprised at how well the 2020 Land Rover Defender drives on the road as well. It's how easy the Defender is to live with and its class-leading off-road ability that makes Land Rover's latest offering the obvious winner in our Off-Road Warrior category."
"Fuel economy is clearly important for a hybrid vehicle, but we also expect it to be a well rounded daily driver offering more than just being friendly to our bank balance," says Wright. "Not only does the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offer 50/54/52 mpg on the EPA's city/highway/combined cycles from its base model and 45/51/47 mpg from higher trims, but Hyundai has made sure the Sonata is feature-packed and stylish to boot. The sedan boasts a roomy cabin with features like dual-zone climate control and six-way manually-adjustable front seats as standard. There's also either an eight or 10.25-inch touchscreen depending on trim level, both housing Hyundai's excellent infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Carplay as standard," he adds.
"But Hyundai doesn't stop with the convenience features and call it a day. The suite of driver assistance equipment includes blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, something too many automakers make an option on base models. It's that level of consideration for its customers, and a reasonable $27,750 starting price on top of Toyota Prius levels of fuel economy that makes the Sonata Hybrid our top pick for the Save The Planet category."