Just like every year, 2019 presented so many good vehicles for us to drive. In terms of passenger cars (non-trucks/SUVs/crossovers), of which there are fewer than ever before, the sedan segment plucks our heartstrings because sedans look great, drive well, and occupy a more interesting niche of the market in terms of styling and design. We got to helm some truly good (and even great) sedans this year, and the field was tough. Our top contenders were:
Each one of these vehicles rated "Excellent" in our overall review scorecard, and we wouldn't hesitate to spend our hard earned dollars on any one of them. Each one of them has strengths that stand out in the segment. The Genesis G70 is the best to drive in terms of performance, steering, and handling. It also has a beautiful interior. The Jetta GLI is a hoot to drive and comes in at a shockingly low price for what you get. But our choice for 2019's best car is the Volvo S60. It does just about everything remarkably well.
The S60 was brand new for the 2019 model year, and it's leaps and bounds better than its rather dated predecessor in just about every way. In R-Design AWD trim, it's especially delightful thanks to the optional supercharged & turbocharged engine, sport suspension, and the upgraded interior materials. Though it's not as prominent visually as a BMW 3-Series or a Lexus ES, we think its handsomely styled exterior exudes more maturity than both without looking dull.
It's sleeker than the bigger S90 and better-looking as a result. The Thor's Hammer headlights are wonderfully original and attractive, as is the signature Volvo grille that's just about the perfect size in a world where grilles are getting way too big. The exterior is tasteful, sporty, and elegant at the same time, not an easy feat. It copies no other brand's design, nor does it try to be anything but a Volvo.
The interior is a thing of beauty, as well. It looks more like it was penned by an architect than a car designer, and everything looks and feels opulent. Volvo also happens to have some of the best seats in the business. From the matte wood trim surfaces that adorn the dash and center console to the knurled drive selector knob, the S60's interior is an exercise in subdued artistry.
The 316 horsepower on tap is enough to get it going quickly and without lag thanks to the supercharger. Steering is crisp, and body control is taut. The fact that you can get it in all-wheel drive configuration means you don't have to worry about wet, snowy, and slippery at all. The power, the premium materials, the design, and the features mean Volvo packs a lot in for less than most of its competitors.
Here are the specs as we tested it.
- Trim Base Price: $40,300
- Price As Tested: $55,490 (incl. $995 destination charge)
- Engine: 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting
- Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 316 / Torque: 295 lb-ft
- Fuel Economy: 21 city / 32 city / 25 combined
The only issue we really had with the S60 was with the Sensus infotainment system. While it stands as one of the most attractive systems out there with its big vertical hi-res screen, it relies too much on touchscreen controls for most of the S60's operations, and this is the case for all its models. There's noticeable lag and a definitely noticeable learning curve. But this demerit isn't enough to knock the S60 off the top podium position. While the G70 is better to drive, the S60 does a better job of being a true all-arounder.
It's a sedan that doesn't sell in the same quantities as BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Lexus, and that's a crying shame. It really is a superb vehicle that warrants more recognition. While it may not be our favorite car to drive fast, nor is it the roomiest sedan we've driven, it's the one that checks virtually all of the important boxes when it comes to a great car. It drives well, looks stunning, feels great to sit it, and redefines what a car interior can look like. And that's more than enough to make it our 2019 Car Of The Year.
Note: We base our choice of Car of the Year on real-world vehicles, not high-performance versions that are way out of reach. The pool of cars we choose from are only selected from ones we've actually driven and reviewed, so we have first-hand experience with them. They are evaluated based on style, comfort, driving experience, utility, safety, technology, efficiency, materials quality, build quality, amenities, brand significance, and segment impact. Our contenders had to be models new to the 2019 model year that were either full redesigns or totally new for 2019. Refreshed models from the previous years did not count.