Best cars drove in 2019: These were our motoring highlights within the last 365 days.
Each year, countless hundreds of cars pass through the various garages and driveways of Roadshow’s staff. We test everything in the lowest priced subcompacts to the most expensive luxury barges — and we provide’em a thorough test, also.
However, as we reflect on the year — and the decade — some cars only stand out over others. These are the best cars our editors drove this season.
Best cars drove in 2019 by World Wide – Trending Motors
2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S
My drive in the Porsche Taycan was a long, long time coming. I have been drooling over that item’s shape because of its unveiling as the Mission E back in 2015. In 2018 I was blessed to push a very early prototype, but this year I finally got to drive the real thing. And, while it was not perfect, it left me mightily impressed.
The Taycan is very much a Tesla Model S competition and, like Porsche’s first production EV, it is impossible to overstate its significance to the brand. Luckily, it is remarkably good, offering better looks, better handling and, crucially, a miles-better inside than anything else Tesla has on offer. But, it is not all great news for Porsche.
The first problem? Range. Porsche has just given us a score for the Taycan Turbo, and a figure of 201 miles on the EPA cycle is disappointingly low. The second problem? Price. Even if you choose the least expensive Taycan, the 4S, you are looking at $103,800 and up. A 373-mile Tesla Model S Long Range starts at $79,900. But if you’ve got the money, and do not have far to go, the Taycan is celestial.
2020 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Sedan
On the exterior, the Mercedes-AMG E63 does not look a whole lot more special than the typical E-Class, but under its sedate exterior hides a monstrous, 4.0-liter, Biturbo V8 with 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque at the ready. This contemporary Q-car goes from a crazy performer to a comfortable daily driver at the touch of a button. It is like two cars in one, which is only fitting since its cost is more than double that of your average automobile.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the E63’s cottage is filled up with all the luxury and tech you would expect from a member of this hundred-thousand-dollar club. There are just two ways the cottage experience may be any better: An upgrade to the most recent creation MBUX dashboard tech — although the COMAND system is not too tough to live together — and update to the broader cargo capacity of this E63 S Wagon.
The 4Matic all-wheel-drive system makes for high speed stability and terrific track times, but with this much power, sometimes you wanna get a bit dumb by it. AMG’s got you covered with a concealed drift mode that disables the equilibrium control and locks the powertrain to rear-wheel-drive for yelling drifts and large stupid donuts. Smoke’em if you have’em!
2020 Jeep Gladiator
I have always been a Jeep Wrangler gal, as a result of the SUV’s unparalleled off-road art, wide aftermarket support and detachable top and doors. The only problem is that the Wrangler’s gloomy tow rating: 3,500 pounds is nothing. Enter the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck, the dirt rig of my fantasies.
Sure, with a longer wheelbase and rear overhang the Gladiator loses some off-road geometry compared to the Wrangler, but it’s nothing a little momentum can not resolve. I will gladly trade a little bit of capacity for the maximum tow rating of 7,650 lbs.
With one of them in my stable, I could tow my off-road car out to the desert, pre-run the course and recover the car if/when it breaks. Needless to say, I’d need at least $43,000 to begin for a Rubicon version, and my fantasy Rubicon runs north of $50,000. That’s lots of cash, for certain, but there is not another truck on the market now that fits my needs in addition to the Gladiator.
2020 Audi A7
When the second-generation Audi A7 debuted, I was not as immediately taken with its competitive and more heavily creased sheet metal. To this day, I still prefer the looks of its organic predecessor. However, the look of the standard car has won me over with time, and there is little to worry about with its inside, technology and performance. If I had some reservations about the latter, they have been pulverized into a fine powder and blown out the exhaust pipes of the 2020 RS7, a vehicle I drove in Germany in September.
Audi’s RS models have always had wealth of electricity, and there is no shortage, with 592 hp and 590 lb-ft from this car’s twin-turbo V8. However, the RS7 now combines globe-rotating thrust with more visceral satisfaction, including sharper and more tactile handling and greater visual distinction: a menacing widebody look which helps justify a cost that’s very likely to be around $120,000.
I might have driven cars by turns more engaging, luxurious or functional cars this season, but none have mixed so many virtues so convincingly. For those who have the cash, the RS7 is the entire package.
2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan
Having driven a Rolls-Royce Cullinan this season, how can I possibly choose anything else for this roundup? Rolls-Royce’s first SUV is a complete masterpiece.
The Cullinan also happened to be the first time I had driven a car with a V12 engine, and it did not disappoint. Its 627 lb-ft of torque effortlessly and quickly wafts you toward your destination, and the nose of the Cullinan climbs like the bow of a ship under acceleration. It even makes some very great sounds when you push it hard — but why would you? This is a car to be driven calmly, and it rewards that in its composure and supremely smooth ride.
That awesome V12 is just 1 part of this equation. The stately interior is completely covered in leather and wood, and even the buttons and buttons feel pricey. It is insanely quiet with the windows up, the chairs are super comfy and there is a really practical cargo area and rear seat. And my god, what a sound system the discretionary Bespoke Audio is.
But the best aspect of this Cullinan is how it makes you feel. People gawk as you drive by on your humongous, $400,000 cocoon, and after a couple of minutes you begin to think,”Yeah, I deserve this.”
2020 Lotus Evora GT
I will be honest, this was a very difficult call. I kept wondering if I need to select the holy-shit-it’s-finally-here Audi RS6 Avant I drove in November, or the truly amazing Porsche 718 Spyder — among the best roadsters, well, ever. I ultimately chose the Evora GT because, more than any other car I drove this season, I feel the Lotus has the purest focus on driver involvement above all, even if it means making a few tradeoffs.
I do not care that the motor is from a Toyota Camry. I do not care that the switchgear is borrowed from a two-decade-old Ford Focus. The simple fact is, no car — maybe not even that beautiful 718 — thrilled me like the Evora GT this year. No auto begged me to push it faster, harder. No car made me giggle quite like this one.
The brilliant steering, the unbelievable gearbox, the noise of the V6 engine revving to high heaven right behind my head. Yes, there are sports cars which are far greater all-rounders compared to Evora GT, but I applaud Lotus for realizing its own automobiles do not need to be all things to all people. Pure and concentrated, raw and radical, we want more cars such as the Evora GT.
2020 Porsche 911
A 911? Really? But isn’t it just more of the same old story? You are damn right, reader, and that is why it’s on this list.
Porsche’s venerable 911 has long been a car that prides itself on something: being a serious sports car. The most recent iteration of Neunelfer is no exception, particularly in the Carrera 4S trimming I drove, which packed enough punch to leave me wondering if Porsche accidentally mislabeled a 911 Turbo in the factory.
Sports cars are not generally the most technologically advanced, but Porsche’s technology has made great strides of late. Its PCM infotainment system is among my favorites, and even basic security systems such as automatic braking are now standard. The 2020 911 is the exact ol’ car, as usual, just updated to match a modern buyer.
2020 Lincoln Aviator
If there’s an award out there for the most-improved automotive brand, Lincoln would definitely be in the running. For ages, the blue oval’s “luxury” division limped along with a lackluster product and no sense of direction. The only drivers’ stimulation that could accelerate at the mention of its name was old enough to have voted for President Lincoln himself.
However, after a decade or two of listlessness, and probably a brush with death, this brand has long last figured out which direction it should go. Proving this point, product-development teams have consistently introduced a range of high-end, well-thought-out vehicles. And among the best of the new breed is your Lincoln Aviator.
This flight-themed, three-row crossover is a seriously impressive piece of work. A lot more than only a gold-plated Ford Explorer, the more-workaday sibling it borrows major componentry from. With plenty of smooth power, a supremely luxurious inside, tons of technologies and subtle-yet-arresting layout. The Aviator is among the most memorable, and striking, vehicles I reviewed this past year.
2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe by CarBahn
A stock Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a powerful thing, and when I was offered a version that had been fiddled with by Euro-car tuner legend Steve Dinan, I was skeptical at how much it might really be improved. As it turned out, I should not have worried at all.
Sure, Mr. Dinan added more power and torque into a car that arguably did not need it. But he also made adjustments to the suspension tuning. Wheel and tire package and — most apparently — into the way the car makes its electricity. He shifted the turbos to change where the automobile built boost up in the rev range. Which makes the vehicle really easier to drive in various ways.
CarBahn’s modifications do not completely transform the C63 S, but that is not a bad thing. It was a stunning car with an epic performance. But finding a way to fill in some of the stock car’s rough spots made for an overall more enjoyable package. And its a testament to Steve Dinan’s ability as a tuner.