The rush of electric cars is nearly upon us, but that hasn't stopped a flood of great drivers' cars from launching in 2018. In an era when eyes, and headlines, tend to focus more on kilowatt hours and driving range, it's reassuring to see manufacturers still focused on steering feel, manual transmissions, and dual-mode exhaust systems.
Over the past year we've driven a host of new and significantly updated vehicles, both gas and electric, that have set new benchmarks in the auto industry. This year we started with a list of 18 cars and SUVs and began whittling it down. Some cars we couldn't get into because of timing, while some simply didn't have what it takes to make the final cut to be named the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2019.
After hours of careful deliberation, arguing, voting, and more arguing, our editorial team pared down the list of finalists to the six cars you see below. These six simply stood out from the contenders for their engineering, beauty, power, value, passion, and even what they mean to the industry.
These finalists represent the vehicles our team would most likely spend our own hard-earned money on going into 2019, at least if we had that much.
In a couple weeks our team will gather to drive the finalists back-to-back both on the street and on the racetrack. No, you can't come. Yes, we know you were wondering. We'll post to Instagram so you can follow along.
After spending more time with the finalists we'll deliberate again, no doubt argue and bruise each other's egos, then apologize (maybe) and eventually come up with a winner.
For now, here are a few thoughts on each of our six finalists for Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy 2019 award:
2018 Audi RS 5
2018 Audi RS 5: Audi said goodbye to the naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 from the last RS 5 and hello to a new 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 with the 2018 model. With loads of power and improved fuel economy, the new RS 5 has made us embrace the turbo. Add in flat cornering and taut sheet metal in both the coupe and Sportback body styles, and the RS 5 is an appealing modern performance car.
2018 BMW M5
2018 BMW M5: The latest generation BMW M5 makes a big move for the storied nameplate: it has all-wheel drive. While each generation M5 has boasted more power and better performance specs, the last two generations lacked a lot of road feel. The new M5 brings back the feel and emotion we desire, while also delivering better performance on the track.
2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette is the new king of the Bowtie's lineup. With 755 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, the ZR1 is a supercar in all ways but price. Chevy offers two different aero packages, and a convertible model to boot. No one should question why the legendary nameplate is on this list. It's self explanatory.
2019 Hyundai Veloster N
2019 Hyundai Veloster N
2019 Hyundai Veloster N: Hyundai's finally given the Veloster the go it needs to match its show. The Veloster N model cracks things up to 11 with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 firing out 275 horsepower to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. Don't count this little hot hatch out, as the Honda Civic Type R was named the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018.
2019 Jaguar I-Pace First Edition
2019 Jaguar I-Pace: Jaguar has jumped feet first into the electron pool with its battery electric I-Pace. The I-Pace is one of the first true Tesla competitors on the scene with a luxury badge. Its eye-catching design straddles the line between crossover and hatchback. A total of 234 miles of range on a single charge make it a real player in the EV segment, even before Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes have arrived.
2018 Ford Mustang GT Peformance Package Level 2
2018 Ford Mustang GT Performance Package Level 2: For 2018, Ford fixed all our major gripes with the Mustang's handling by introducing the new Performance Package Level 2. It started as an after-work project by some of the Mustang team members, and became an official package priced at $6,500. Think of it as a handling package that rivals the Camaro 1LE.
How we choose our Best Car To Buy
It begins with a cup of coffee and a sort through all the luxury and performance vehicles that were new or significantly updated this year.
We can't evaluate what we can't drive, so we eliminate vehicles that haven't been made available for our editorial team to road test by November 1, 2018 (goodbye, Lamborghini Urus and Aston Martin Vantage).
Then it's time for the tough cuts. Vehicles that we love and might be considered excellent in their own right sometimes start to fall short when compared to others in the automotive landscape. Some cars push boundaries while others fail to do so.
It's at this point we consider the remaining vehicles against the established benchmarks and one another. Our six finalists all passed this test.
We'll announce the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2019 award on November 12. At the same time, our sister sites The Car Connection and Green Car Reports will also announce their respective Best Car To Buy 2019 winners.
It's too soon to know which car will win the clash of the titans this year, but we are eager to find out. Stay tuned for the results and more on each finalist.