After a new vehicle every week for more than 26-years, (that’s over 1,300 new cars and trucks sampled) it is still a thrill each week to see what will be arriving. Some vehicles obviously make greater impressions than others, while some leave little for lasting memories. Pretentious, over-wrought designs are not fun. Vehicles that are fun, useful, drive sensibly, or all of the above, are appreciated.

After a very strange year, here is my list of Ten Favorite Vehicles for 2020. There are some familiar names here—and no pretenses about these being the ‘best’ vehicles for either you, or me. Just the ones that I would consider having around for long-term use.

Land Rover’s new Defender makes the grade because it is the best LR sampled, ever. No hyperbole, the Defender just makes more fiscal sense, and better appeals to a larger audience, than any of its other SUV’s. The future of Land Rover depends on the sales success of the Defender—a vehicle that seems poised for the job.

The number of sports cars that visit annually has significantly dwindled over the past few years, so when the new Toyota Supra GR arrived (two visited), it was a momentous occasion for someone who relishes this sort of transportation machine. Fun, fast, and paradigm stretching, the Supra perfectly illustrates what the industry is capable of when it stops listening to the bean-counters.

The same could be said for Jeep’s Grand Cherokee Trackhawk—fun, fast, and paradigm stretching. This basic vehicle design is now over ten years old—and selling better than ever, especially with halo versions like this Hellcat-powered marauder. It is impossible to get enough of this 707-hp family wagon.

Pickup trucks are the rage right now, and four make this years’ list. Ram’s 1500 Laramie and Chevy’s 1500 Silverado Trail Boss earned kudos for different reasons. The Ram reminded us of how good it can be; with new dual-action tailgate, RamBox storage panels, and the best cabin in the segment, for now. The Trail Boss was agile, quick, and responsive—like a Camaro with a bigger than average pickup box out back. GM knows how to master suspension performance. Ram has got the other aesthetics down pat.

One of New England’s top-sellers appears next; Subaru’s Outback wagon. The latest Outback, in new Onyx trim, powered onto this list with a stellar ride package, outstanding daily functionality, plus a revised control panel that relies on the proven subtlety of actual buttons and switches. Add a new turbocharged Boxer engine and the Outback is a common-sense all-star.

Last year, you met the Hyundai Palisade and it was good. This year, its sibling, the Kia Telluride visited, and it too is impressively good. In fact the Telluride feels, and drives, like a much better three-row crossover than several competitors—some of whom cost a lot more money. Refined inside, polished in its performance, the Telluride is overlooked at your own peril.

Marking a three-pointed victory, Jeep’s Ecodiesel Wrangler Rubicon plus the Gladiator Rubicon (as well as the Mojave) elbowed onto this list with the same vigor that the Jeep brand has employed to enjoy record growth. The Ecodiesel turned the Wrangler into a powerful fuel-miser, while the Gladiator remains one of the most versatile, and valuable, off-roading configurations in the marketplace. The navigator loves them too, so it has to be here.

Four different Ford Super Duty models visited over the past twelve months. One-ton, three-quarter ton, extended cab, crew cab, gas engine, and Powerstroke diesel—we got to experience a great cross-section of this top-selling HD pickup lineup.

The F250 Super Duty Tremor with the Powerstroke diesel engine was the shining star. While the Supra earned dozens of impromptu photo admirers, the Tremor elicited an equal amount of favorable comments about its bold look. The stance, the styling, the whole presentation helped the Ford get the nod over similar diesel trucks from GMC and Ram.

We towed with the Super Duty, a task so easily accomplished that it is hard to overstate how much more relaxing the big Tremor was to operate under load. The Tremor went off-road, it did yeoman commuter duty, as well as weekend warrior duty. Passengers loved the space and comfort, while the feature content belied the work nature of this truck. The Ford proved to be the most favorite vehicle of the past year.

A hearty thanks to all who provide support for this column. Happy New Year to everyone.


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