Buying Guides

2019's Best New and Redesigned Vehicles

These fresh faces are more than window dressing

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Tired of that old car? Well, many new models and redesigned models are totally new for 2019, and that means the things you disliked about the previous model may just have gotten weeded out with the new one. Plus, redesigned models sport the latest designs, in-car tech, and safety technology. Then there are the new and exciting models that inject new life into the industry. Here are seven such vehicles that we love, either redesigned or totally new.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

 
  • PROS: Excellent room for four, great infotainment system that's a breeze to use, available manual transmission, upscale looks for the price, dynamic handling you expect from the German brand.
  • CONS: Reduced cargo space in the trunk, not as fun to drive as the Golf.

The Jetta was really overdue for a redesign, and VW really came through on this one. For 2019, it gets bigger inside and out, more fuel efficient with a great 1.4T engine that has virtually no noticeable lag, and a much-improved interior that's roomy for a group of four adults. The interior is also far nicer than the one in the outgoing car, and the exterior styling is a couple of notches up, making you feel like a grownup. It's also less expensive than the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla and looks more mature and sophisticated than both.

2019 Nissan Altima

Best

for Sedan lovers

  • PROS: Sharp new styling is original and fresh, optional all-wheel drive sets it apart from the family-sedan crowd, seriously improved cabin, great interior room, great fuel economy.
  • CONS: CVT is the only transmission available, interior isn't as quiet as we'd like.

Carmakers who still build family sedans need to make a strong case, and the new Altima does that in spades. It looks better than it ever has with strong creases and a bold grille that's very well done. Even more than the exterior, the new Altima's interior borders on Mazda6 style and quality, a huge leap from the last car's doughy-looking cabin. The new turbo four that replaces the so-so V6 from the last car is both powerful and efficient, and now AWD is available on every trim level, but only on the less powerful non-turbo engine.

2019 Honda Passport

Best

for Weekend Warriors

  • PROS: Fills the right crossover niche for the brand, looks better than the Pilot, great steering and handling for a crossover, standard dark trim give it a more premium look, quick off the line.
  • CONS: Still not as rugged as some of its competitors, infotainment system is fussy.

Just because a carmaker resurrects an old nameplate doesn't mean the second coming has to be the same as the first one. In the case of the Honda Passport, the return is far better. The new Passport isn't a rebadged Isuzu but a smaller more off-road ready version of the superb Pilot. The powerful 280-hp 3.5-liter V6 from the Pilot moves the Passport quickly, and there are 8.1-inches of ground clearance in the AWD version. It can even tow 5,000 pounds. There's ample room inside, and the Passport comes with standard adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warning with lane-keep steering assist, as well as LED head/taillights, pushbutton start, and a premium audio system, just to name a few.

2019 Ford Ranger

Best

for Urban Cowboys

  • PROS: Handsome without copying the F-150, potent turbo engine, excellent clearance and off-road capability, possibly a high-powered Ranger Raptor might make it here.
  • CONS: No V6 engine option, lower trim models have too much cheap interior plastics.

If ever there was a time for Ford to get into the mid-size pickup truck market, that time is now. And what a way to do it with the Ranger. Right-sized and easy to drive, Ford's new pickup is sure to be a hot seller. The single available engine is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four with 270 horses and 310 lb-ft. of torque. displaces 2.3 liters and generates 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Rangers with AWD take advantage of the Terrain Management system that selects the right surface for the Ranger to adapt to, as well as Crawl Control. It's the smaller Ford pickup we've all been waiting for.

2019 Lexus UX 200

Best

for Trendsetters

  • PROS: A hoot to drive, punchy 4-cylinder engine, great handling, great interior for Lexus's cheapest vehicle, styling is unique among compact luxury crossovers.
  • CONS: No all-wheel drive for the non-hybrid version, infotainment is better but still needs work, weird artificial engine sounds piped into the cabin.

The UX isn't as dramatic as the concept vehicle that birthed it, but it's still a great little crossover to look at thanks to an aggressive stance and great creases all over. Step inside, and you'll find one of the best cabins for the money, especially in the F Sport trim. The 169 horsepower engine isn't a monster, but there's enough power to make this little thing move. Fun to toss around, and nimble, the UX 200 delivers more driving thrills than you'd expect.

2019 Toyota RAV4

 
  • PROS: Rugged new styling is bolder and original, well-executed interior steps up its game from the last model, improved acceleration and efficiency.
  • CONS: Too angular in some places, no turbo four upgrade.

There's no question the RAV4 is a big-seller. In fact, it's Toyota's best-selling vehicle and the top-selling passenger vehicle for 2018. So why change it now? Well, the transition from sensible suburban transportation to semi-rugged steed might just be the right move for the new RAV4. With more creases and more aggression, the new RAV4 is more off-road minded and also more refined in the cabin. Great safety features that include standard automated emergency braking lane-keeping assist, and even adaptive cruise control make it attractive to families, as well as it flat-folding second row and spacious cargo hold. Step inside, and you'll find a totally transformed cabin with better appointments and improved infotainment. Expect a rugged TRD version, and a hybrid, as well. The RAV4 is stepping up its game, even when it didn't really have to.

2019 Mazda3

Best

for driving enthusiasts

  • PROS: Simply gorgeous to look at inside and out, a sporty but compliant ride, excellent driving dynamics, class-leading sophistication and style, much-improved infotainment look and operation, all-seasons traction with AWD.
  • CONS: No MazdaSpeed3 will be made from this gem of a car.

Look out compact car world. The Mazda3 is here to rock your world (again). Just when we thought the little Japanese brand couldn't make things better, the new 3 gets a more refined engine, optional all-wheel drive, and the best-looking sheetmetal of any car at its price (or a level up). The new 3 is sinewy, sophisticated, and its driving dynamics for the segment are unparalleled. Add in a beautiful interior that rivals premium German brands, a more natural steering progression, and room for 6-footers in back, and you have the best compact car on earth. Yes, it's that good.

Should you consider a new model?

  • Redesigned vehicles address complaints about the previous model.
  • In-car technology like infotainment typically get welcomed updates in terms of looks and function.
  • An all-new or newly redesigned model may have some initial flaws corrected in the vehicle's second year or mid-cycle refresh.

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