We are programmed to believe that change is daunting. It doesn’t have to be, though. Consider just how often you adapt and adjust without pause or concern. When a restaurant carries only Pepsi products, you order water and move on with your life. If someone replaces your beloved Charmin with no-name single ply, you grab a bigger handful and just keep wiping.
Yes, we’re warming you up.
Our 10Best Cars and 10Best Trucks and SUVs awards are now simply the 10Best awards. On this list, cars and trucks and those irritatingly popular crossovers peacefully coexist, just as they do on streets and in parking lots. Don’t panic. Just keep wiping.
Here’s what hasn’t changed: Our 10Best winners still represent the smartest, most entertaining vehicles you can buy today. They are picked after an exhaustive evaluation of this year’s new or significantly refreshed models as well as last year’s defending 10Best—okay, fine, 20Best—honorees. For two weeks, our editors drove, measured, tested, and scrutinized 92 cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans, plus the Kia Soul, which mocks our need to categorize everything.
There are no categories on the trophies, though. To earn a 10Best win, a vehicle must prove itself against contenders as diverse as the automotive industry. Our criteria remain the same: Every winner must deliver exceptional driving engagement, offer indisputable value and/or practicality, and fulfill its mission better than any of its competition. As a result, these are the cars we’d own. These are our 10Best.
Click each individual car to get the full story, or keep reading to find out more about the 2020 10Best cars and trucks.
The 2020 Corvette Stingray is different than those that came before it. Moving the engine to the middle of the car has not only taken its performance to new heights, but the sports car’s image has been catapulted from mouth-breathing, tire-smoking semi–muscle car to supercar disrupter in a single bound. It good enough to reclaim California from the grip of the imported sports car, and if you’re under 40, for the first time in your life, the Corvette isn’t an old man’s car. All this mid-engine goodness starts at just $59,995. And what you get is a V-8 supercar that costs less than a base 718 Boxster. Corvettes have always aced value and performance tests, but moving the engine has created a different sort of Stingray. Now there’s an American sports car set up to send more than a few Porschephiles into Chevy stores, a Corvette that’s ready to retake the Coast.
Quickness is routine in 2020. So when we call the Honda Accord a sleeper, we’re not talking about the fact that the base model shoots to 60 mph in a spry 6.6 seconds. This sensible family sedan is a sleeper because of how the chassis responds when roused from a lazy commute. Alert steering and fluid handling turn every on-ramp and off-ramp into a momentary escape from the monotonous and the mundane. The Accord’s excellence never rests, even if the driver does. The cabin is calm at highway speeds, and both the front and rear seating areas feel cavernous. The hybrid Accord returns Prius-like fuel economy without Prius-like despair and ineptitude. Driving an Accord has always been a safe and sensible decision. It becomes something much more than that—rewarding, engaging, fun—when you hustle the car harder than most drivers do. The Accord’s dynamic competence is always lying in wait for a discerning driver to wake it.
Secret trail to the beach that only the locals know? Piece of cake. If overlanding is your bag, Rubicon-edition Gladiators are the off-road equivalent of a Corvette on a racetrack. It is the car for having fun outdoors. Judged against other pickups of comparable size, the Gladiator isn’t the best, not even second best. But it isn’t just a pickup; it’s a convertible pickup wagon dreamed up in the vein of an 83-function Swiss Army knife for the road. It will help you harvest your grapes, buy the yeast, move your storage casks, uncork your wine, and drink it, too. You know what else the Gladiator offers that only a few other 10Besters do? A manual transmission. Considering all its attributes, we’ve decided it’s love. It’s taken Car and Driver 65 years, but we finally get that mantra constantly broadcast by Jeep owners. We finally understand.
The Kia Telluride is rare. Not small-batch-production, costs-as-much-as-a-mansion, exotic-fasterossa rare. But rare in how ridiculously good it is. Its arrival reminds us of when the Lexus LS400 and the Acura NSX were introduced. Like the Telluride, those cars reshaped the landscape, elevated their brands, and led to a run on Maalox from Stuttgart to Detroit. Although minivans still offer more space, the Telluride has a luxurious and refined side that no minivan can match. But Kia hasn’t built this house on features and amenities alone. At 70 mph, the Telluride is quieter than a Land Rover Range Rover, and it goes down the road with the hushed, refined ride of SUVs that cost tens of thousands more. The only customers we can think of that might not be delighted by the Telluride are the other carmakers that will inevitably buy one to reverse engineer. Get one before Kia realizes what it’s done and raises the price.
The words “lifestyle vehicle” are generally used to make vehicles like the Mazda CX-5 seem more exciting. But when we say vehicles “like” the CX-5, we are describing a fairly loose association. Because even though there are a dozen or more compact crossovers on the market that check the same boxes, none are truly like it. Mazda’s appealing ethos is just as apparent here as it is in the Miata. And once you’ve driven a CX-5, everything else in this class feels clumsy and burdensome. With accurate steering, a controlled ride, and a carefully crafted interior, the CX-5 compares favorably with entry-level models from BMW and Mercedes. We’re not claiming that the CX-5 is perfect: Its base engine is leisurely, and it doesn’t have as much cargo space as some competitors. But if it had more space for your stuff, the CX-5 might shine too brightly for mere mortals to gaze upon. Think of that minor flaw as Mazda’s way of protecting us from being totally consumed by our own perfect lifestyles.
While we love our corner of Michigan, even its biggest boosters would not call it exotic. But some cars don’t require a fancy setting to feel exceptional. The 718 Boxster and Cayman have earned their undefeated run on the list because of their ability to turn the bumpy, twisting roads of this corner of the Midwest into true driving adventures. There’s a purity of purpose to both the Boxster and Cayman that defies our best attempts at professional cynicism and makes any journey memorable. Dynamically, these Porsches are calligraphy pens in a world of driveway mops. As the internal-combustion sports car enters what is likely its 11th hour, and as Porsche rushes toward its own electric future, the Boxster and Cayman remain proof that the brand has not abandoned the values that made it great. There’s a romantic escape in every turn of the wheel.
The Porsche Macan excels at power and grip, but it’s the confidence it inspires that makes it exceptional. It communicates in many subtle ways. Bits of information come up through the steering, brakes, and suspension. It feels alive at any speed, a trait that runs through Porsche’s entire lineup. The Macan is fluid and graceful, never punishing. A 2019 facelift brought on two new turbo V-6s: S models make do with a 348-hp 3.0-liter V-6, and Macan Turbos get a stonking 434-hp twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6. (Porsche hasn’t been able to send us a base four-cylinder version, so our 10Best award does not apply to that model.) That the Macan is the oldest vehicle in Porsche’s lineup and still shines this brightly is a testament to just how high it set the bar. There are quicker SUVs. And there are more practical SUVs. But the Macan is the best blend of excitement, refinement, and practicality of sports-sedan-wannabe SUVs.
American cars once oozed luxury. They were smooth, quiet, and powerful things. Think of a 1950s Cadillac or Lincoln—cushy domestic behemoths with burbling V-8s and bodies bolted to full-length frames. We’d pilot these across far expanses of land, ferrying our families and our imaginations to places we’d rather be. We can still do all of those things. Only now we do them in trucks. Ram has made this possible by envisioning the light-duty pickup as a luxurious yet utilitarian carrier of families, fertilizer, and dreams. The Ram 1500 isn’t just the best truck out there, it’s one of the best vehicles. Its supple ride, rich interior, and fluid power delivery elevate it to a place we never thought possible for a pickup. One of the pillars of 10Best evaluation is mission fulfillment, and if part of a pickup truck’s mission in 2020 is to be as comfortable as it is capable, you’ll do no better than the smart, opulent, and usable Ram 1500.
The new Toyota Supra is one of the world’s best teaching aids for learning to go fast—because it’s also one of the best cars to drive fast, period. The Supra broadcasts what it’s doing in reaction to what you’re doing with the controls as if it had a bullhorn bolted to its dash. While the steering is direct and accurate, it’s the car’s ample body movements as the tires nibble at the edge of adhesion that speak loudest. It’s also a happy everyday driver. The platform and running gear are courtesy of BMW, and Toyota has honed the components to sweet perfection. The Supra's ride over large bumps is as supple as taffy; its steering offers rewarding heft; and its inline-six is refined and mellifluous. The standard eight-speed automatic works so well that we almost don’t miss having a manual gearbox to stir. Almost. The Supra is a killer value on top of being a stellar sports car. Congratulations, Toyota. You’ve managed to bring back a car worthy of the Supra name.
For years, it has been nearly impossible to beat the all-around brilliance of the VW Golf GTI. Until now, by its three-box sibling, the Jetta GLI. These Vee-Dubs check every box and do everything well. They are affordable, efficient, spacious, and fast. It’s their unflinching sense of fun that makes them so easy to love. They bring the same verve to a crosstown jaunt as they do to barreling into the braking zone. Throwing a perfect heel and toe to one of the world’s great manual transmissions as you rotate toward the apex is better than 1000 Instagram likes. And with roomy back seats and either the capacious hold of the hatchback GTI or the cavernous trunk of the GLI, there’s room to take the rest of your now perfect life wherever you go.