Even though 2020 was a hell of crappy year, we were still able to drive some great cars. Some cars we expected to be good, while others truly surprised us. Every year, we think to ourselves that we can predict what cars we'll love, but a handful of them blew us away. While we didn't log as many miles as we usually do since we've been working from home, that doesn't equate to a dearth of evidence about what constitutes an excellent car. Here are our top three candidates.
These three cars earned a rating of "Excellent" based on our scores, which means they excelled in most of the categories that include Driving Experience, Technology, Styling, Comfort, Safety, Storage/Cargo Fuel Economy, and Audio. The Hyundai Sonata's styling and its technology set are its sweet spots, while the Toyota GR Supra excels at performance. The Corvette, however, is a different animal altogether. It brings supercar performance that contrasts with its daily drivability, cargo space, and premium features for what should cost six figures plus. The result is an exhilarating sports car that could easily command twice its sticker price. It's why we chose it for our 2020 Car of The Year.
The previous C7 Corvette was remarkable in its own right, bringing excellent performance for less. But it wasn't quite a supercar when it came to going head-to-head with the European exotics. The C8 changes all that with the first mid-engined layout in a production Corvette, effectively giving it both the looks and the balance of its price Italian competitors. What this does is turn the Corvette into a bona fide supercar in terms of performance and design.
With the engine moved from the front to the back of the car, the nose is now shorter, the cabin has been moved forward, and the Corvette has a far more rakish look that departs from the previous generations in the most radical way while still maintaining a look that's still very 'vette. The nose is sleeker, the headlights pulled back to even more dramatic effect, and the intakes are bigger than your face.
The interior also gets upgrades that make it the best interior a Corvette has ever seen. It's more like a fighter pilot cockpit than a sports car interior. Three levels of bucket seats ensure you stay both planted and comfortable, the squared-off steering wheel is remarkably easy to use (as well as attractive), crisp digital instrumentation, and a great infotainment system, too. Although the long strip of climate controls in the center console takes some getting used to, it's a unique way to make use of the tight cabin area.
We drove it in LT2 trim, and it came with the booming Bose Performance Series 14-Speaker Audio System, which might just be the best sound system we've listened to all year. The rest of the interior is not just easy to operate (including the rather novel jet-fighter switchgear setup), but the Corvette is also remarkably comfortable even for six-footers. This isn't a supercar for just the lithe and athletically-built.
The Corvette we drove had all the proper componentry you expect in a supercar with virtually none of the headache (except for the compromised rear visibility, which we fully expected due to the mid-engine layout. The vivid color head-up display, the front curb camera, drive modes, and most importantly, the Z51 Performance Package that provides owners with upgraded brakes, suspension, exhaust, an Electronic Limited Slip Differential, a unique spoiler, performance run-flat tires, and a Heavy-Duty Cooling System--all track-ready.
Here are the specs as we tested it.
- Trim Base Price: $58,900
- Price As Tested: $79,315 (incl. $1,095 destination charge)
- Engine: 6.2-liter V8
- Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch automatic with paddle shifters
- Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 495 / Torque: 470 lb-ft
- Fuel Economy: 15 city / 27 highway / 19 combined
Finally, the price tag is one that you won't soon get over. For $58,900 base MSRP, you get the best sports car you can buy for less than $100k. No car at this price can manage its performance and capability, and we're guessing Chevy's making these at a loss since so much is packed into their halo car. The Corvette might not be as good as a Ferrari F8 Tributo, but that car costs an insane $276,550 (almost five Corvettes). Dollar-for-dollar, nothing else can compete. It really is a transcendent automobile that makes the automotive world a better place. For all these reasons and more, it deserves our Car of the Year award. We applaud Chevy for pulling off a truly masterful supercar for the masses.
Check out our video review of the 2020 Corvette Stingray below:
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 2020 model year that were either full redesigns or totally new for 2020. Refreshed models from the previous years did not count.