The new year has well and truly started, and that means a whole lot of interesting cars, trucks and crossovers are launching over the next 12 months.
Given the current automotive landscape, a sizeable portion of this list is made up of crossovers and SUVs. That shouldn’t be a surprise: trucks and crossovers dominated the 2019 sales charts. There’s still life in the regular ol’ car yet though, with hatchbacks, wagons, and sports cars dotting our want-to-drive list.
That’s really what this all boils down to: these are the cars we can’t wait to get behind the wheels of. They have buzz behind them, whether it’s for bringing back a storied name, putting a new spin on a classic formula, or for simply promising a cracking drive. Read on for our top picks.
SEE ALSO: 2020 BMW 330i xDrive Review
We’ll get our next real look at the i4 in just over a month, with a concept version set to take BMW’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show in early March, according to BMWBlog. It should be an evolution of the i Vision Dynamics concept of 2017, seen above with the upcoming iX3. Munich is targeting an impressive 372 mile (600 km) range on Europe’s WLTP cycle; expect EPA figures to sit a little lower. With an 80 kWh battery pack, the i4 will be able to sprint to 60 mph in a hair over four seconds, right in the realm of its main competition, the Tesla Model 3. It will also include fast-charging capability, allowing owners to add an extra 62 miles (100 km) of range in as little as six minutes.
As the Blue Oval answer to the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco will act as more of a halo model than a mass-market volume leader. It’ll have to come correct, and all signs are positive on that front: patent filings suggest removable doors—and even an entire roll cage. We expect the engine lineup to closely mirror the Jeep’s too: a standard 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder is likely, the same mill found under the hood of the Ranger the Bronco shares its platform with. A higher-powered turbo V6 might also find its way onto the menu.
The last Bronco was produced in 1996. That’s given it over two decades to build up a loyal following. If the new Bronco bucks tradition it could piss that fan base off, something another Ford will also face this year…
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Depending on which part of the Internet you listen to, the Mustang Mach-E could be the greatest Ford of modern times or an abhorrent blob that spits in the face of tradition (in the most eco-friendly way, of course). There’s seemingly no middle ground, and that’s what makes it fascinating.
Look past the name however, and the Mach-E is still a big deal. This is Ford, one of the biggest automakers in the world, putting its full weight behind a dedicated EV crossover. This isn’t targeting a single part of the market either, with everything from a reasonably-priced and -powered entry level to a GT performance trim. That latter one’s badge is significant, since it offers power and performance figures almost exactly in line with the classic V8-engined pony car. Now there’s an idea for a head-to-head…
Honda CR-V Hybrid
We’re being pragmatic with this one. Honda quietly announced the first CR-V Hybrid last year, and yet it’s easily the most important model on this list for regular car shoppers. Yearly CR-V sales are likely to eclipse the rest of the list combined, in fact: the CR-V was the fifth-best-selling vehicle in the US in 2019.
There’s just one non-pickup ahead of Honda’s soft-roader: the Toyota RAV4. And guess what? It has a hybrid option—one we prefer to the regular gas model. We want to see how these two sales titans duke it out, and how their ubiquity can affect public perception of hybrids in general.
Land Rover Defender
The Defender is one of the enduring automotive icons. It’s a tough act to follow, which is probably why Land Rover took for-freaking-ever to properly reveal its replacement. But here it is, looking simultaneously completely new and yet still recognizably a Defender.
This mountain goat of an SUV hasn’t been officially sold over here in decades, but that changes with the new model. What doesn’t change is the Defender’s go-anywhere spirit, with impressive stats like 35 inches (maximum water-fording depth), 660 lb (static roof load) and 7,200 lb (max towing weight). None of that comes cheap though: it will start for a few dollars short of $50k when it hits dealer lots this year.
The traditional 90 and 110 model designations carry over, translating to short- and long-wheelbase models. Here in the third decade of the new millennium, engine options are exclusively of the turbocharged variety, with both four- and six-cylinder options coming with mild hybrid systems too.
A band’s second album is almost more important than its first. We weren’t completely enamored of the Polestar 1 last year, mostly thanks to its heavy price tag (and general heaviness). But the company’s next act, the more proletariat Polestar 2, is the true test.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Polestar 1 First Drive Review
One thing the 2 won’t mess with—thankfully, in our opinion—is the smooth, Scandinavian style so emblematic of the young brand. More high-riding sedan than low-riding crossover, the 2 drapes its all-electric drivetrain in chiselled, ice-cool looks. Power is a heady 408 hp, with an electric motor for each axle drawing from a 78 kWh battery. Stomping the go-pedal produces a 0-62 mph time of 4.7 seconds; a lighter foot should see a single-charge range of 275 miles. Prices start at $63,000.
Porsche Boxster and Cayman 718 GTS 4.0
We consider ourselves fairly forward-thinking here at AutoGuide.com. We appreciate the advantages of a good hybrid or all-electric system; the rest of this list should say as much. But we also appreciate the simpler things, and what’s more good-old-fashioned than a six-speed manual hooked up to a singing, naturally-aspirated flat-six?
The Porsche 718 GTS 4.0 twins throw convention to the wind, in addition to the previous GTS turbo flat-four. Sitting amidship is a slightly detuned version of the 3.8-liter unit found in the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder. 394 hp, a near-8000 rpm redline, a limited-slip differential and standard sports exhaust: every ingredient is here to make the 718 one of 2020’s ultimate driving machines. Anybody buying a spare kidney?
Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Look, we couldn’t put the regular Taycan on this list. We’ve already driven the 4S version of it, and found Porsche’s first all-electric model deeply impressive. But what we can put on the list is the upcoming long-roof version of it, because who doesn’t love a good wagon?
Don’t count on many surprises with the Cross Turismo. If it follows the script of Porsche’s other wagon, the deeply desirable Panamera Sport Turismo, the lineup will mirror that of its sedan sibling. So far, that means the “entry level” 4S—if you can call it that—plus Turbo and Turbo S variants, with anywhere from 453 hp to a frankly obscene 751 hp. Prices will start firmly in the six-figure range.
Tesla Model Y
No, not the superlative Roadster, or the meme-worthy Cybertruck. Our focus on Tesla this year is the Model Y, the high-roof companion for the very popular Model 3. Its egg-like shape may seem like an 8/10-scale Model X, but this more affordable EV will use regular rear doors instead of that model’s complicated “Falcon Wing” items.
When it first arrives, the Model Y will be available in Long Range and Performance trims, boasting 280 and 300 mile ranges, respectively. Afterwards, a lower-priced Standard Range model will join the ranks, listing for around $40,000. The Model Y should end up being a common sight on roads: the 3 already is, and this leans into the market’s love of the crossover.
Volkswagen Golf GTI and R
We’ll wax lyrical about cars like the afore-mentioned Porsche 718s for what seems like unnatural lengths of time, but they’re still essentially made of Unobtanium. If you want the working man’s (or woman’s) performance car of choice, you have to look at the hot hatch. And this year, we get the latest evolution of the original, the Golf GTI.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
We’ve already seen the eighth-gen Golf (shown above), and even got a taste of it in electron-munching GTE mode. Don’t get us wrong, that sounds cool too, but it’s distinctly lacking in plaid seats, a turbocharged gas engine, and a row-your-own gearbox. Volkswagen is expected to show off the GTI at the Geneva Motor Show in March, with the latest rumors suggesting anywhere from 230 to 286 hp. What’s more, the 330 hp R should show up later in the summer, potentially at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Power to the people, indeed.
Honorable Mention: Toyota GR Yaris
We couldn’t end this list without a parting shot of the mad Toyota GR Yaris. This rally car for the road will feature the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine, a 257 hp triple sending power to all four wheels. It’s an old-school homologation special in the truest sense: Toyota let its Gazoo Racing division create a custom three-door shell just so the rally team could use it. The team’s involvement also means this is light, tipping the scales on the right side of 3000 lb. The biggest concession to road use? There’s no sequential shifter here: just a six-speed manual, for maximum giggles.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Toyota Supra First Drive Review
It’s the sort of spec that turns enthusiasts into blubbering piles of drool. We know the chances of this showing up in North America are about on par with a speedy visit to the DMV, but we don’t care: we want it. Badly. Who would’ve thought that in 2020 Toyota would be the coolest, most enthusiast-friendly of the mainstream manufacturers? We dig this timeline.