Automakers love awards and they love touting them in their advertising.
I recently drove past Fiat Chrysler Automobiles headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. The entire side of the building is covered in a wrap showing off not one, but two awards from MotorTrend (the Jeep Wrangler is the 2019 SUV of the year and the Ram 1500 is the 2019 truck of the year.) I have no doubt we will hear about those achievements in many, many future TV spots.
While it’s great to be recognized by the buff books, car shopping website Autotrader has its own astute list, which it has been compiling since 2013. With more than 300 models available, buying a vehicle is a daunting task that leaves consumers with more questions than answers. The options seem to be endless.
The Autotrader 2019 Best New Cars were chosen on a wide-ranging set of criteria, including interior comfort and materials, build quality, available features and ride quality. Evaluated vehicles have a base price under $75,000 (though some are much lower), and are highly rated on Autotrader’s 5-point evaluation sheet.
“In order for a car to be on the list, our editorial and data teams have to unanimously agree,” Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader, tells Drive Time. “In addition, we try to include a diverse group of cars in a variety of body styles and price ranges in order to appeal to the broadest range of shoppers.”
This year’s list is big on so-called imports and light on the U.S. Big Three. Like MotorTrend, Autotrader, which is an authority on automotive consumer insights, also recognized the Ram 1500, but no other FCA vehicles made the list.
“We don’t use country of origin as a criteria — we could just as easily point out that there’s only one German car on the list, but we don’t think people shop like that, for the most part,” Moody says. “Many American cars are of very high quality to the point that segmenting them by ‘domestic’ or ‘import’ doesn’t really make sense anymore. Honda, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volvo and many others build a good number of cars in the U.S.”
Autotrader has had several FCA cars on past lists including the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Dart, FIAT 500X and Jeep Wrangler. “My gut tells me the Jeep Gladiator will be a strong contender for the 2020 edition of this award,” Moody says.
American shoppers continue to be interested in trucks, so that’s why there are three trucks on the list this year, each for a different reason, he says.
The Ranger is a new midsize pickup that’s the best of all the 2019 model year midsize trucks. The GMC Sierra has effectively differentiated itself from the mechanically similar Silverado and reinvented the tailgate in the process.
“The Ram is simply an amazing full-size truck that has a plush interior and all the truck-like capability anyone will ever need,” Moody says. “Trucks continue to be popular and we took that into consideration when compiling this list.”
Without further ado, here’s the complete list in alphabetical order, with comments from Autotrader:
2019 Acura RDX: The new Acura RDX is a full-fledged luxury/sport utility vehicle on par with Europe’s best. Its turbocharged engine is quick, responsive and efficient, averaging 28 miles per gallon. Drivers that love to blast music will love the optional ELS sound system -- it’s one of the best available in any new car on the market.
2019 Ford Ranger: Ford has resurrected the Ranger name for 2019, and this version is not stuck in the '90s. This Ranger is a competent and agile little brother to the well-established Ford F-150. As the right combination of work-ready and everyday-useful, the 2019 Ford Ranger is perfect for the needs of most Americans.
2019 Genesis G70: The Genesis G70 had the editors at Autotrader uttering a series of “inconceivable” proclamations every time they got behind the wheel. And this time, it does mean what they think it means. The G70 packs a lot of fun into a tidy package and does it for a reasonable price. The interior is a highlight that rivals cars costing tens of thousands of dollars more -- but at this price, it’s a no-brainer the G70 made the Best New Cars for 2019 list.
2019 GMC Sierra 1500: The Sierra is staking out its own territory in the full-size pickup world. With unique features and a traditional but modern look, the Sierra is a great truck in the full-size pickup world. GMC’s Multi-Pro tailgate is more than just a parlor trick; it gives a wow factor to a feature that has been taken for granted for years.
2019 Honda Passport: Finally, “sport” and “utility” tangibly make sense together when describing the Honda Passport. Move over, Pilot, the Passport’s rugged look is the newer, hotter version in town.
2019 Jaguar I-Pace: If car shoppers are suddenly going to start buying electric cars based on things like attractiveness, fun and a rewarding driving experience, the I-Pace is the EV to get them there. Tesla started the luxury electric car revolution, but Jaguar takes it to a whole new level.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450: The GLE 450 is a luxury SUV that pulls no punches. The GLE 450 offers drivers the best of both worlds: off-road capabilities yet serene on the road. Equipped with forward-thinking technology, this luxury SUV is arguably the world’s most perfect car.
2019 Nissan Altima: Debuting innovative features, the Nissan Altima keeps the overall look of the car similar to previous models. Some highlights are the new high-tech turbo engine, all-wheel drive option and driver assist features that landed this vehicle on the list. And we couldn’t forget Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2019 RAM 1500: Combining brute strength with class-leading luxury, the RAM 1500 easily pushes other trucks to the side. A few distinguishable features include a high-end audio system, super-soft leather and a large touch screen. It all equals a really plush cab, added to an available 12,750-lb towing capacity.
2019 Subaru Ascent: Surprise, the new Ascent isn’t really a surprise. Instead, the Subaru Ascent is exactly what Subaru owners have wanted for years: a three-row SUV that allows growing families to stay in the Subaru family.
2019 Toyota RAV4: Not just redesigned, but the reinvented Toyota RAV4's more dramatic and masculine look changes the character of the vehicle. If taken off-road, drivers will feel how engineers intentionally fused fun into the RAV4 formula. Roomy inside and reasonably priced, the RAV4 is an excellent compact SUV.
2019 Volvo XC40: The XC40 is a rolling playbook on how to take a luxury brand down-market while still holding your head high. The interior and driving dynamics are unique, making the vehicle feel more premium than its under-$40,000 price. An added bonus: You can get this car on a subscription plan, extending the Volvo vibe on the entire purchasing, owning and exchanging experience.