Welcome to the 13th annual Best Cars and Trucks of the Year list, selected by TheWeeklyDriver.com.
As is our logical way, we wait until the end of the year to name our selections. As in previous years, the 2019 choices were selected only from the list of 35-40 cars and trucks manufacturers provided for weekly reviews.
Co-host Bruce Aldrich and I will discuss the list on The Weekly Driver Podcast.
The 10 vehicles on the 2019 Best Cars, Trucks list include manufacturers from the United States, South Korea and Japan.
The Weekly Driver has been writing about our main automotive vent for years. How do prestigious industry publications determine their vehicles-of-the-year selections before the calendar year starts?
Selecting a list of the year’s best at the end of the calendar year makes sense. How can a 2020 list be announced (several have) in December of 2019 when not all of the 2020 models vehicles are available.
Shortly after the Media Days for the Los Angeles Auto Show in mid-November, the Wall Street Journal took on auto industry publications for their odd practices. We’re glad the newspaper institution made its stand. It’s Goliath joining David (TheWeeklyDriver.com) and we’re proud of it.
Here’s the list of TheWeeklyDriver.com’s Best Cars, Trucks of 2019.
Each vehicle on the list is a 2019 model driven in the second half of 2018 or in 2019. Prices listed are review vehicles’ total costs unless otherwise stated. A synopsis of each vehicle follows.
Click on the links to read the entire reviews. The 12 previous years of lists follow, and those reviews are also available on TheWeeklyDriver.com.
The Camaro has exquisite, sharp lines. There’s nothing subtle about it and nor is it ostentatious. It defines a modern-day muscle car, handsome and confident. The Recaro front bucket seats add to the comfort and fun.
With its power, acceleration and overall aggressive traits, the new ZL1 is rip-roaring fun. If billowing down the road in a muscle car with its top down is appealing, the Camaro is ideal.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid ($45,545)
The Pacifica is the only hybrid van available, and a lot of manufacturers can learn a lot for Chrysler in this segment.
From acceleration to braking, steering to road feel, comfort to versatile interior space and gas mileage to maneuverability, the van is a top choice for many buyers’ needs. The EPA city/highway combined fuel economy ratings are 32 miles per gallon and 84 e-miles per gallon.
GMC Sierra ($67,735)
The Sierra Denali has a split driving personality. It accelerates with a throaty growl and the side steps open and retract with a noticeable mechanical grind. But on the freeway, the truck is quiet and smooth with no wind rush. It’s a small, serene crew cab apartment on wheels — at least when compared to other full-size trucks.
Front and rear passengers sit high in the comfortable cabin. It’s chock-full of small bins, cupholders, a huge center console and a comprehensive but simple dash. Power switches and buttons abound as do cargo box tie-downs.
The ideal compact is in the fourth year of its 10th generation after debuting in 1972. The Civic’s front end has been restyled; it’s less drastic and more attractive. The Honda Sensing bundle is now also standard on all models. It includes lane departure and lane assist, forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise standard on all trims.
Variety is among the Civic’s most impressive attributes. The compact is available as a hatchback, coupe or sedan and in nine trims, depending upon body style. Several dozen configurations are possible, making the Civic attractive to even the most fastidious shoppers.
The exterior styling is complemented by a clean, straight-forward interior design and appearance. The material quality is surprisingly upscale for a premium compact. The hybrid relies on a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Paddle shifters are included but don’t seem necessary.
While no competition for the power of a Tesla, the Ioniq has sufficient performance as a daily driver. Shifting is smooth and advancement over road imperfections or speed humps is handled with minimal turbulence. Rear-seat space is generous for the segment and comfort front and rear passengers.
Complementing its power and performance, Infiniti’s largest vehicle is a smooth operator. It handles nimbly, like a luxury sedan. The ride is quiet and the SUV negotiates bumps as if they’re not there. The overall vision is another strong suit. At night, the Infiniti logo projects on the ground in front of the driver and front-seat passenger doors.
The QX80’s interior design quality and functionality are impressive. One dilemma for some large SUVs is access to third-row seating. The Infiniti’s approach is as nimble as the vehicle’s driving limberness. The individual second-row seats easily fold forward, presenting a sizable opening to the third row.
The 2019 Lexus LS 500 no doubt defines flagship. It’s beautiful and proud and provides driving therapy during long freeway hauls. It’s a modernized version of the traditional big sedans of yesteryear.
The K900 accelerates briskly and drives as expected from a large sedan. It weighs about 4,500 pounds, but its size never becomes cumbersome. It handles the open road smoothly and its city maneuvering is surprisingly agile. The MSRP is $59,900. Gas mileage averages are 17 miles per gallon in city driving, 25 miles per gallon on the freeway.
Luxury vehicle buyers’ habits are often impenetrable. And the 2019 Kia K900 is an ultimate underdog in the luxury sedan segment. But it’s value-priced against its German and Japanese rivals and its new model improvements make it worthy of serious consideration.
The Ascent has plenty of modern-day features, but the controls are straightforward, well-organized on the dash and console and intuitive.
It all contributes to the Ascent’s overall appeal. Enter the vehicle for the first time and comfort awaits. The SUV has easy entry and exit, and the leather seats are well-constructed with quality materials. The cabin has a spacious feel. The overall vision is impressive. An afterthought in some three-row vehicles, the rear seats in the Ascent work for adults no taller than six feet.
Comfortable and with few weaknesses, the Camry is best known for its longevity and infrequently required repairs. The XSE and XLE models launch the Camry a far haul down the road from yesteryear’s reliable yet bland offerings.
The upscale trims feature dual-zone climate control, 7-inch configurable instrument display and 8-inch central touch screen, leather seats and selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport). There’s no doubt why it’s been the country’s best-selling sedan for years.
Audi A5, Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Honda Accord, Hyundai Ioniq, Infiniti QX60, Lexus GS300, Mazda3, Range Rover Velar, Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
Bentley Bentayga, Genesis G90, Honda CR-V, Kia Niro, Lincoln MKZ (Hybrid), Mazda3, Volvo S90, Volvo V90 Cross Country, Volkswagen Jetta, Toyota Prius Prime.
Honda Accord (Sport), Honda Civic, Honda Fit, Honda Odyssey, Kia Optima, Lexus IS200t, Lexus RC F, Lincoln MKX, Mazda6, Scion iA, Toyota Avalon (Hybrid), Toyota Sienna.
Buick Lacrosse, Chrysler 200, Ford F150, Ford Mustang, Honda Accord (Hybrid), Honda Civic, Hyundai Genesis, Hyundai Sonata, Kia K-900, Lexus ES350, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry (Hybrid).
Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet SS, Ford Focus, Ford Fusion (Hybrid), Honda Accord, Honda Accord (Hybrid), Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Equus, Kia Cadenza, Volkswagen Jetta, TDI. Special Mention: Rolls Royce Wraith.
Acura ILX, Audi Allroad, BMW 750 Li, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Santa Fe, Infiniti IPL, Mazda3, Volkswagen Beetle.
Acura MDX, Acura TSX, Audi A7, Honda Odyssey, Honda Civic (Natural Gas), Hyundai Sonata, Infiniti G37 IPL, Kia Optima Hybrid, Lexus ES350, Nissan Maxima.
Acura TSX, Buick Regal, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 2, Suzuki Kizashi, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Sienna, Volvo S60.
Audi A5, Chevrolet Camaro, Fort Transit Connect, Honda Crosstour, Infiniti G37, Lexus LS 460, Mini Mayfair (Special Edition), Subaru Forester, Suzuki SX4, Volkswagen Golf.
Acura TSX, Audi A3, BMW 335d, Honda Civic (Hybrid), Honda Fit, Infiniti G37, Lexus GS450h, Lexus IS350, Nissan Versa, Toyota Corolla.
Audi A4, Audi A8 W12, BMW 128i, Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Honda Civic (Hybrid), Honda Fit, Kia Amanti, Mini-Cooper Clubman, Nissan Altima.
Cadillac CTS, Honda CR-V, Honda Fit, Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Elantra, Lincoln MKZ, Mini-Cooper, Saab 9-3, Saturn Aura, Volkswagen EOS.