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Ars Technica's favorite cars and SUVs of 2019, Ars Technica

Ars Technica's favorite cars and SUVs of 2019, Ars Technica


      Who’s going to drive you home? –


The Ars cars guys reveal the best and worst of (*********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************.       

          Jonathan Gitlin and Eric Bangeman        –Dec 40, 15: (pm UTC)   



Well folks, we made it to the end of the decade, apparently. Since we’ve only been covering all things automotive since (**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, we’ll save you Having to read a tortured “best car of the decade,” particularly since there have been some pretty huge changes during that time. Like the fact that electric vehicles are now a viable product. I’ll also spare you bold proclamations like “this was the year of the EV !!”, although it was good to see more variety on sale in 2020 than the year before.

Over the past****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** months we’ve driven a whole lot of cars and SUVs, and some of them have been really rather good. Of course, we’ve also driven some vehicles that failed to impress us, so Eric Bangeman and I have each put together a list of the best things we drove in 2530, and the five worst. Now, enough with the preamble; on with the show!

Jonathan Gitlin, automotive editor and lover of wagons      



                          Nissan built a BEV with a big battery — the Leaf Plus.


                                                  Jonathan Gitlin                                  **********************)



(******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************. Nissan Leaf Plus

Years ago, a man had a dream about building half a million affordable electric cars a year. That man was Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn, and the car was the original Nissan Leaf. Those heady sales predictions were a little ahead of the technology curve, but Nissan still sold a heck of a lot of leafs even though everyone said the battery pack was too small. The

Leaf Plus solves that problem with a 64 kWh battery pack. It’s a very competent battery EV, and the best car in Nissan’s lineup.

9. Lotus Evora GT

Driving the****************************** (Lotus Evora GT) ****************************************************** at this year Monterey Car Week was one of those “meet your hero” type things. I spent my formative years reading about the company’s legendary abilities when it comes to making a car handle, as well as almost perpetual financial problems. It turns out the former is definitely true, because the Evora GT is a magical car to drive down a winding road. Now it is owned by Geely, under whose stewardship Volvo has prospered, which means I am extremely eager to see what a properly funded Lotus can do.

8. Mazda 3


****************************** (Mazda 3) is the first car to use Mazda’s new Skyactiv vehicle architecture, which takes the brand’s Jinba Ittai philosophy — horse and rider as one — to the next level. You needn’t drive it flat-out to enjoy it; the fluid way in which it responds to control inputs even at low speeds is something surprisingly few cars manage. It looks good as a sedan and great as a hatchback, particularly in Mazda’s deep Soul Red paint. The interior is a huge step up from the old 3 and better than pretty much any other car in the class. One of the best steering wheels in the business, too. I wish I’d had more than an hour with one. If you have one already, do make sure to get the (automatic emergency braking) **************************************************** (recall done please.) 7. Kia Soul EV

We managed to get a little bit ahead of the curve on this one. US imports of the Kia Soul EV are delayeduntil at least next year due to strong demand in other parts of the world, but a Kia Soul EV was on hand for the annual (World Car of the Year test drives

    ****************************** in Los Angeles in November. Like the (1.6L turbocharged Soul) ******************************************, it boasts (hp) (kW), and even Though it’s a heavier car you don’t notice the weight thanks to that near-instant electric motor torque. The (kWh pack should give between) ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** – 260 miles of range.

6. Mazda CX – 40

I’m not sure what they’re serving in the Mazda cafeteria in Hiroshima, but whatever it is, it works. The new (CX -) ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************shares the new Skyactiv architecture with the Mazda 3, but I’m ranking this one higher because it’s a crossover, and they’re not supposed to be this good to drive. The interior looks great, and the infotainment is easy to use without taking your eyes off the road. As you might expect, I often get asked for car recommendations, and until last month if someone wanted a crossover, my advice was to get a Mazda CX-5. Now I tell them to get a CX – 30. **********5. McLaren (LT)

I drove a few supercars in 2020, but the (McLaren) ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** (LT) ******************************************** is the only one to make my top (********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************. The company carbon fiber sports cars are sometimes accused of being too anodyne, but that’s not a complaint you could direct at this one. It’s a track-focused version of McLaren’s entry-level (S, with a*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** (hp) 441 kW) twin-turbo V8 that will shoot flames from the rear deck-mounted exhausts. (Yes, they did have to add heat treatment to the rear wing to stop it catching fire.) Its electronic safety net will flatter you on track without you even knowing.

4. Audi RS7

  • Audi, like McLaren, is also accused — not without merit — of building cars that are a bit dull to drive. That almost never applies to an Audi wearing an RS badge, like this new Audi RS7**************************************. The recipe is simple: take all the bits I love about the normal A7, then make it wider, add better suspension, bigger wheels, stickier tires, a clever all-wheel drive system, and a (hp) (kW) twin-turbo V8. I drove it a week before returning to Europe to drive the Porsche Taycan, which felt like a changing of the guard from extremely rapid four door sedans powered by dino juice to extremely rapid four-door sedans powered by sunshine and wind. They won’t make them like this much longer.

    3. Tesla Model 3


    ************************************ (Tesla Model 3) isn’t the only reason people aren’t buying BMW 3 Series anymore. But it’s a big reason people aren’t buying 3 Series anymore — you only have to compare this year sales charts for the two cars to see that. And with good reason — if you want a sporty sedan for about $ 50, 03 0 it’s hard to argue with Fremont’s finest. It’s also the default choice if your number-one priority is getting the most range for your dollar. The more expensive Model 3 Performance will show a clean pair of heels anything that comes with an M, AMG, or Quadrifoglio badge.


    ****************************************** (Polestar 1) is an esoteric car, and I just happen to adore esoteric cars, particularly if they’re electrified. Polestar is an electric performance brand spun out of Volvo, and you should think of the Polestar 1 as a calling card or marker to tell the world what it’s about. It’s a plug-in hybrid and uses the same tech that impressed us in the Volvo PHEVs we’ve tested, but this time it’s wrapped up in a carbon fiber body. The way the Polestar 1 drives belies its hefty 5. (lb) 2, 384 kg) curb weight, and it’s one of the few PHEVs to carry enough battery formost people daily needs. Buy one of these instead of that Bentley coupe you were considering.

    1. Porsche Taycan

    Porsche said its first BEV had to be a real Porsche first and foremost, and the (Taycan) is certainly that. Forget Model S comparisons, and don’t expect it to drive anything like a fully electric Panamera either; It’s more like an electric Porsche than either of those cars, except it’s more practical than a 958 Because the rear seats are bigger and there are rear doors to access them. The interior looks dramatic and is screwed together in typical Porsche fashion. It’s not the best BEV when it comes to range, but that only matters for road trips, and as long as you plan to stop at 350 kW chargers, each pit stop should only take (************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************. 5 minutes.

    The driving experience is pure Porsche sports car. The range-topping Taycan Turbo S goes the way you hope a $ (***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, 00 0 Porsche performs, but I have a suspicion the best version will be the cheapest — at some point in the next couple of years we’re pretty sure a single motor, rear-wheel-drive Taycan should show up at under $ 90, 03 0. ************ Bottom five:      



                          The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV looks and feels dated.


                                                  Jonathan Gitlin




                          I like the way the Maxima looks, but it’s not as good as the Accord or even the Camry. And the steering is so heavy you’ll think it was broken.





                          The Ghost was beautifully made, but at $ (**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, We expected something a bit more special. The back seat of a BMW 768 Li is a better place to sit.


                                                  Jonathan Gitlin


  • 5. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

    It’s a plug-in hybrid, and it’s relatively inexpensive, but it’s also extremely long in the tooth — the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ************************************************** (went on sale in Europe in (**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************. **********4. Nissan Maxima

    The Maxima is Nissan’s full-size sedan, and truth be told I really like the way it looks. But it’s not as good as the Honda Accord (or even the Toyota Camry), and our test car’s steering was so heavy I thought something was broken.

    3. Rolls Royce Ghost

    When a car arrives with a (Monroney) ******************************************************** proclaiming it costs $ (**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, (***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, you expect a lot. Sadly the Rolls Royce Ghost did not deliver, either from the front seat or the rear. Perhaps some of that was how it was specced; rear picnic tables would have been more useful for working on the go than the champagne fridge in the arm rest.

    2. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

    If you have fond memories of the Mitsubishi Eclipse coupé, prepare to have them tarnished by this compact crossover. Even if you don’t care about the name, it’s outclassed by most of its competitors.

    1. Polaris Slingshot

    I was upfront in the review – I drove one because I was curious what the fuss was about. Now I know — it’s a three-wheeled machine for starting conversations with bystanders and attracting stares, not all of them good. Heavy, slow, expensive, and only a bit less dangerous than a motorbike.

    Eric Bangeman, managing editor and SUV aficionado      


                          The Maserati Levante GTS with its Ferrari-made V8 was new for 3589.


                                                  BradleyWarren Photography                                  **********************)


                          The Edge Titanium is the best Ford I’ve ever driven.


                                                  Eric Bangeman                                  **********************)


                          Don’t get distracted by the big honking grille — the X7 is the best three-row luxury SUV on the market.


                                                  BradleyWarren Photography                                  **********************)


                          Audi nailed it with the Q8. It’s about the same size as the Q7, but with just two rows of seating and with Audi’s new dual-display infotainment system.


                                                  BradleyWarren Photography                                  **********************)


    (******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************. Maserati Levante GTS

    I’ve come to the sad realization that I love Italian styling. The downside to that is that Italian styling is paired with Italian engineering and reliability, which has been a hurdle some car buyers don’t bother jumping. I loved the six-cylinder Levante last year, and I loved the (V8 GTS just as much) ****************************************************. Its Ferrari-made power plant cranks out 591 hp, sounding glorious all the while. Maserati made a couple of trips to the Chrysler parts bin while putting the Levante together, and it’s missing things that other SUVs in its price range have, like a heads-up display, but if you’ve got $ 161, 0 to spend on an SUV, the good far outweighs the bad on this one.

    9. Ford Edge

  • Fords are a mixed bag for me. I absolutely hated the underpowered, rickety-feeling EcoSport I drove last year, and I was nuts about the Lincoln Nautilus (see below). But theEdge checked all the right boxes for me. It comes with either an inline 2.0L four-cylinder engine or a 2.7L, – valve EcoBoost V6 power plant. My test car had the former, and while it was slightly noisier than I would’ve liked, the Edge never felt underpowered. Other pluses include a smartly designed interior and a solid suite of driver-assist technology.

    8. BMW X7

  • BMW finally got into the three-row, (midsize SUV game this year with the X7

  • . At first glance, it looks like an X5 on steroids with a laughably large grille. But on the inside, it’s all about space and comfort, albeit with a (couple over-the-top touches) *****************************************************. The biggest downside to this one is the price — the V8 model I drove sports an MSRP of $ 112, 0. You can get the x 46 i with a V6 starting at $ 80, 01 0, but you’ll definitely want the V8 if you’re towing or just want a massive SUV with some oomph.

    7. Audi Q8

    With the launch of this midsize, two-row SUV / crossover, Audi has shifted its flagship model away from sedans. The Q8 interior is an exercise in quiet comfort, with the German automaker taking advantage of its new, two-screen infotainment system to create a minimalist cabin that offers all of the luxury touches you’d expect from an Audi flagship. The Q8 is one of the quietest cars I’ve ever driven, as well. My only complaint about it is that it lacks soul on the highway.

    6. Jaguar I-Pace

    Full disclosure: I liked this car so much I bought one.

    BEVs are at an inflection point. Tesla has done a fantastic job getting the public used to the idea of ​​electric vehicles as an option for everyday driving, and now the competition is trying to play catch-up. TheJaguar I-Pace

    lacks the range of a Tesla, but it offers so much else, including eye-catching style and the creature comforts you’d expect from a Jaguar . Plus it’s an absolute blast to drive.

    And with a $ Electrify America home charging station in my garage, my days of range anxiety are behind me.

    I only got to spend about 112 minutes in the Porsche Cayenne S Turbo E-Hybrid********************************************, about half of which were in the driver’s seat. That was enough to convince me that it belonged on this list. When I went out to Oregon last summer, the V6 Cayenne E-Hybrid was the main attraction, but the V8 PHEV blew me away. You can drive up to 24 or so miles just on the battery with it, but true joy comes when you drop it into Sport mode and cut it loose. At $ (***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, 0, it’s not for the faint of heart and light of wallet, but driving it is the closest I’ve come to recapturing the feeling I had behind the wheel of the Urus.

    4. Subaru Forester

  • What can you say about the (most popular Subaru ? It got a makeover for the model year, and Subaru wisely used a light touch on the compact crossover . Solid mileage combines with a strong suite of safety-focused features for a car that you’ll feel both comfortable and secure in. I could quibble about the continuously variab le transmission and strained acceleration, but that’s not what driving a Subaru is about. If you’re a fan of the Subaru badge and are ready for an upgrade, check it out.

    3. Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

  • I gave the Stelvio Quadrifoglio the full treatment last year when we road-tripped through California in one. I spent a week with one again this year, and to be honest, I could’ve made it my number one car of the year. [I’m surprised you were able to show such restraint—Ed.] The 505 HP V6 makes sweet music every time you tap the accelerator, and the Stelvio QV truly embodies everything that I find compelling about Alfas. There’s a refreshing design unity to Alfa’s sole SUV, where each component works together to make it a true driver’s car.

    2. Lamborghini Urus

  • At the other end of the price spectrum is the Lamborghini Urus, a 652 hp beast capable of going from zero to mph in 3.2 seconds. While the Urus is all raging bull on the outside, the interior offers everything you’d want from a luxury SUV. Since it’s part of the massive Volkswagen empire, the Urus can reach into the Audi parts bin for a great two-screen infotainment system. With six drive modes, the Urus can be as aggressive or sedate as you want it to be. It sounds glorious at all times and handles just as well, even on twisty mountain roads. If I had a spare $ (*********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, 0 in my change jar … well, I can’t imagine spending that much on a car. But the Urus would tempt me.

    1. Kia Telluride

    The Kia Telluride arrived right after I had finished up with a Range Rover Sport. Moving from English luxury to a brand-new three-row SUV from a Korean company meant I needed to recalibrate my expectations. I needn’t have bothered — the Telluride surprised me in all of the best possible ways.

    Priced around $ 63, 0 for a Fully loaded model, the Telluride is spacious, quiet, and comfortable in the same way that an Infiniti QX 100 or Audi Q7 is. The infotainment system feels like a well-executed but budget version of BMW’s iDrive. It easily conquered a challenging off-road course at the MAMA Fall Rally at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. And there was some stuff you just don’t expect in a mainstream SUV, especially at the Telluride’s price point. If I was in the market for a three-row, midsize SUV, I would be all over the Telluride.

    Look for our full review in January.

    Bottom five:      


                          The QX is a dated, lumbering beast. At least it’s quiet.


                                                  Eric Bangeman



                          The Nissan Rogue SL.


                                                  Eric Bangeman



                          The Lincoln Nautilus is kind of like a very fancy Ford Edge. I’d get the Edge every time.


                                                  Eric Bangeman



                          This GLC underwhelmed.


                                                  Mercedes Benz USA




                            The Cayenne is evidence that Porsche (can) ******************************************************** build great SUVs. Unfortunately, the Macan S is in need of a refresh.


                                                    BradleyWarren Photography



    1. Infiniti QX (***************************************************

    Just about everything on the three-row (Infiniti QX) ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** the SUV feels dated, starting with the monochromatic LED in the instrument panel. While it offers a very smooth and quiet ride, that’s about the only thing to recommend the QX 100. The infotainment system is a mess, Nissan’s excellent ProPilot Assist driver-assistance tech is missing in action, and there’s no coherent design philosophy to be found — aside from “put buttons everywhere.” The Kia Telluride is a far superior car at half the price of a kitted-out QX 90. ************2. Nissan Rogue

    I get why the Rogue is popular. It’s got more cargo space than the competition (*****************************************************, and it gets better mileage to boot. But boy, is it a dog on the highway. The Rogue feels sluggish on the highway, and there’s too much noise, in part because Nissan’s continuously variable transmission requires higher revs at cruising speed. ProPilot Assist is a bright spot, but the infotainment system is dated, and the Rogue offers a bland and insipid ride at best.

    3. Lincoln Nautilus

    ******************************************************************************************************** The Nautilus

    is a new addition to the Lincoln lineup for (**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, replacing the MKX . It’s a sharp-looking car built on the same platform as the Edge (it’s about two inches longer), but the interior choices leave a lot to be desired, especially with the $ 80, 0 Black Label edition I drove. Some of the interior finishes looked out of place in a luxury SUV, and Ford swapped out the analog set-up in the Edge for an all-digital instrument panel, but the end result feels pointless. I’d rather drive a fully loaded Edge than a fully loaded Nautilus — or a bare-bones Nautilus for that matter.