Drivers’ Choice Awards
Each year we roll out the red carpet for our annual Drivers' Choice Awards. These are the cars and trucks we would like to have parked in our driveway, or at least dream about owning if we won the lottery. We look at the factors mattering most to consumers - price, practicality, performance and fuel efficiency. Then our editorial staff selects the best models in a variety of lifestyle categories ranging from family sedan to luxury car, to large utilities and pickups. From that group, an overall best of the year is chosen. MotorWeek's Drivers' Choice Awards have been presented annually since 1983.
2019 Drivers’ Choice Awards
Best Small Car
Kicking off the accolades is our MotorWeek winner for Best Small Car, the Kia Forte. Kia’s compact has always had a European flavor to it. But this year, better technology, more space, and truly dynamic styling are sprinkled into the mix. There are a lot of great choices for an everyday small car, but none more enjoyable to drive everyday than the Kia Forte.
Best Family Sedan
Despite midsize sedan sales continuing to slump, and some brands leaving the segment; Nissan has doubled down, making a huge investment in an all-new platform for the Altima, our Best Family Sedan winner. Besides roomy comfort, great tech, and style, what really won us over was a big hit in performance; both in suspension tuning, and from its segment-first variable compression 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder. Plus, they’ve even made all-wheel-drive optional for the first time.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Our Best Convertible winner is the delightful Mazda MX-5 Miata. For Mazda’s bargain throwback roadster, this is nothing new; having won our award numerous times before, including last year when they added the RF to the lineup. This year, Mazda finally got serious about giving us more horsepower. Now, the additional 26 ponies may not be enough for some, but they suited us just fine; providing more oomph, without overpowering the Miata’s fantastic chassis. Still frugal, still fun, and still a top down winner.
Best Luxury Sedan
Well, that didn’t take long. After launching an official standalone luxury division for 2017, it’s just 2-years later that a Genesis earns our Best Luxury Sedan award, with the G70. Some may find that a surprise, but those that know the G70 shares its platform with the Kia Stinger, understand why it was a no-brainer for us. Genesis took that wonderful chassis, tidied up the measurements, applied some beautiful bodywork; and then added a gorgeous, but not pretentious, interior where, should you so choose, you can even find a clutch pedal and a terrific manual shifter. Our kind of luxury indeed.
Best Sport Sedan
MotorWeek’s Best Sport Sedan may be another shocker. It’s the Volvo S60. Now, its SPA architecture and 2.0-liter multi-boost powertrain didn’t come as a surprise. But what did amaze us, was the spot-on chassis tuning. We went into driving the made in America all-wheel-drive T6 R-Design, expecting a mildly sporty luxury sedan. We came away finding a car fully capable of competing with Europe’s best known sporty four-doors. Not to mention there’s a Polestar engineered twin engine T8 on the way. Yowza!
Best Sport Coupe
Hyundai Veloster N
Our Best Sport Coupe winner is all about going above and beyond. Hyundai chose the humble Veloster to launch its first N-Brand high-performance model to the U.S. Spearheaded by former BMW M chief Albert Biermann, N-Brand addresses every aspect of the car, to push performance to where we thought no humble Hyundai could go. All this, and even with an additional performance package for the hardcore, you can walk away with one for under 30-grand. In fact, this sport coupe delivers so much; it even has an extra passenger side door.
Best Performance Car
Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Last year it was hard not to give our Best Performance Car award to the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Come on, 840-horsepower and 9-second ¼-miles is our kind of performance. Well, all of the Demons that FCA is going to build, have been built. But that American muscle car spirit, and more importantly the engine, lives on in this year’s winner, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Yes, you get a slightly detuned version of the Demon’s supercharged HEMI, but it still gets to 60 in the time it took to say this sentence. And you also get a car that can handle its own on a road course as well as the ¼-mile.
For a much more Global kind of performance, the Honda Clarity is our pick as Best Eco-Friendly. We love having choices around here. The Honda Clarity PHEV delivers an outstanding MPGe rating, along with great style, and Civic-based interior packaging and driving demeanor. Need more, there’s a full-EV Clarity, with 89-miles of range; and even a Clarity Fuel Cell. No matter how far you’re willing to push the eco envelope, Honda provides Clarity.
Best Dream Machine
Bentley Continental GT
It’s hard to put your finger on one specific thing that makes this 3rd generation Bentley Continental GT so spectacular. That’s because everything about it so phenomenal. Mega performance, mega luxury, with drop dead looks.
Best Dream Machine
Ferrari 812 Superfast
When you actually name your car Superfast, you’re going to get our attention. And once you start driving this Ferrari 812 Superfast, you’ll get everyone else’s as well. Fortunately, it’s got the performance to back up its race car looks.
Best Dream Machine
And that brings us to the Porsche Panamera. Race car worthy performance in a luxurious, tech-filled, daily-driver sedan; delivering it all in a way that only Porsche can.
Best Small Utility
MotorWeek’s Best Small Utility winner, the Toyota RAV4, is no stranger to our accolades. It won, what we called back in 1996, our Best Mini-SUV award, as it essentially invented the small, car-based crossover utility segment. Now for 2019, the RAV4 has leapfrogged all of its ever-increasing competition by doing a little bit of back to basics. Wearing a more rugged design, and gaining a more substantial ride; yet retaining all of its car-like friendliness. Here, at least, history does repeat itself.
Best Midsize Utility
With utilities now making up almost half of sales, we decided to make room for another category between the traditional small and large, and that is of course midsize. And while the lines may get blurry between them all, the Ford Edge is exactly what we think of, earning our Best Midsize Utility award. The Edge got quite a significant makeover for ’19; but what really did it for us, is their first ST performance version. A true European-style “sport” utility, the Edge ST delivers power, handling, and braking like nothing else in its two-row price class can touch.
Best Large Utility
With all of the large 3-row utilities we drove this past year, you’d think something new would take the crown from last year’s winner, the Volkswagen Atlas. But, that’s not the case; Atlas is once again our Best Large Utility. Some may be bigger, some more rugged, and some may even be more luxurious; but none offer the total, roomy, easy to drive package for growing families quite like the Atlas. It took a while for Volkswagen to join the 3-row class, but they’ve clearly done their homework. Atlas is just what Americans are looking for in a family utility.
Best Luxury Utility
MotorWeek’s Best Luxury Utility is a real game changer, the Jaguar I-PACE. It’s not the first fully-electric utility, but it is the first to come from an established car brand. A motor for each axle provides the all-wheel-drive, as well as close to 400-horsepower; while beautiful Jaguar style outside, exquisite luxury inside, a familiar Jaguar driving prowess, provide the real appeal. All while delivering 234-miles of battery range. We know there are plenty more full-electric utilities in the pipeline from a host of brands. We also know most won’t impress as much as the Jaguar I-PACE It’s a fantastic modern Jaguar that just happens to be an EV.
Best Pickup Truck
This was truly a tough year for picking a pickup truck; as in the full-size ranks, an updated F150 went up against all-new designs from both Chevrolet and Ram. There’s really no loser here, but for us, it was Ram 1500 that proved Best of the bunch. Ram has the best overall mix of capability, comfort, and features for today’s personal-use truck buyers. But there’s much more to this Ram than just a huge tablet in the dash. Comfort features are borderline over the top; and thanks to what is still the only rear coil spring suspension in the full-size ranks, ride quality is unparalleled.
Best of the Year
We’ve handed out a lot of our awards so far, but there’s one that stands above all the rest; it’s our Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year. So, without further adue…
And the winner is, the Jaguar I-PACE, as the 2019 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice for Best of the Year!
Up until this point, if you were looking for a fully-electric SUV, your only option was the Tesla Model X.
Well, leave it to Jaguar to become the first established luxury brand to bring a full-EV SUV to market. Granted, as is the case with many utilities these days, we admit it is a bit of a stretch to call it an SUV, as its shape is more akin to a tall, slick hatchback. But, that’s the modern SUV market.
And it does actually have credentials, 5.6-inches of ground clearance, and room for 5 with 25.3 cubic-ft. of rear cargo space.
Battery hardware consists of a 90kWh pack that stretches between the 117.7-inch wheelbase. Total output is 394-horsepower and 512 lb-ft. of torque, enough to get you to 60 in 4.2-seconds. Range…a very useful 234-miles.
And, it’s cool to be seen in. I-PACE is one of the most attractive SUVs…or for that matter automobiles…on the planet. We love the fact that it is instantly recognizable as a Jaguar, with plenty of brand hallmarks. They even kept the family grille, even though it is no longer needed.
Likewise, the interior is also a fantastic blending of modern with Jaguar luxury. Plenty of high-tech too; but again, all delivered in a subtle, non-jarring fashion.
As for the all-important driving aspects, well the I-PACE doesn’t disappoint here either. Solid road feel, linear power delivery, nicely-weighted steering, and near perfect balance. A highly configurable setup allows for easy driver fine tuning to deliver the exact experience you’re looking for.
Truth is, the Jaguar I-PACE is such a fantastic vehicle, it most likely would have won an award even if there was an internal combustion engine under the hood. So, considering that it’s a full-EV, on top of being spacious, dynamic, luxurious, and highly capable; it’s easily our MotorWeek 2019 Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year!