The annual Motor Authority Best Car To Buy award is a knock-down, drag-out affair among each year's new luxury and performance vehicles. It starts with the roster of what's new, redesigned, or significantly updated and then we start to cull the herd.
Cars fall by the wayside for a number of reasons. Some simply aren't out in time (they need to hit the market by the end of the year), we can't get more than one editor's butt in the seats of others, and, well, some just can't compete with the best of the best for that year.
The most obvious exclusion this year is the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. With its game-changing mid-engine design, the new Corvette seemed like a true contender. However, a six-week UAW strike moved the car back from a December delivery to as late as March. We'll consider it next year.
Our list starts out with a lot of cars and we give editors the right to nix any given entry based on experience behind the wheel. One editor might not get a full veto, but multiple editors can scuttle a car. That doesn't mean these aren't fine vehicles. It just means they don't stand out for their luxury and performance bona fides against the rest of the contenders. Sometimes feelings are hurt when one editor's favorite is eliminated by others.
The 2020 list started with 20 vehicles and we eventually cut it down to six. Here's a look at each of the cars and SUVs that didn't make the cut as a 2020 finalist:
2019 BMW 3-Series (330i M Sport)
2019 BMW 3-Series: The 3-Series is a sweetheart to drive, and its dynamics help it maintain its position as the benchmark sport sedan. Available with a pair of excellent engines, a 255-horsepower turbo-4 or a 320-horsepower inline-6, the drive modes with both engines give it multiple personalities, from sedate cruiser to sporty track star. It's not quite the performance monster that the upcoming M3 will be, and we will likely consider that car when it arrives.
2019 BMW X7
2019 BMW X7: The X7 is the anti-BMW in many ways. It's too big and tall to be considered the ultimate driving machine, and the brand wouldn't have even considered building it 15 years ago. However, it's also extremely luxurious and roomy and we count it among the very best of the three-row crossovers. Again, however, it doesn't have the performance chops we prefer in our winner.
2020 Cadillac CT5 Sport
2020 Cadillac CT5: The CT5 is based on the excellent Alpha platform that has served the CTS and ATS very well. It is powered by a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes less power than the one it replaces, but is more efficient. It also switches to a hatchback body style that gives it a little more utility. Unfortunately, we've had little exposure to the CT5 so far. Maybe we'll consider the CT5-V or pumped-up CT5-V Blackwing next year.
2020 Cadillac XT6 Sport
2020 Cadillac XT6: The XT6 is Cadillac's other three-row SUV, but this one is a crossover while the Escalade carries the banner for audacious truck-based luxury. While the XT6 offers plenty of luxury of its own, along with competent driving dynamics, it falls short of the new Lincoln Aviator in terms of power, dealer experience, and plushness.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
2020 Chevrolet Corvette: For the first time in its 67-year history, the Corvette changes to a mid-engine design, even though the father of the 'Vette, Zora Arkus-Duntov wanted a mid-engine design as early as the 1950s. We've driven it and it's spectacular, but we haven't flogged it on a racetrack. Unfortunately, the UAW strike pushed the first deliveries well into 2020, and that means we'll have to consider it next year.
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 media drive, Las Vegas, October, 2019
2020 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500: The performance figures are undeniable: 760 supercharged horsepower, 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, the quarter mile in 10.7 seconds, a 180-mph top speed, and more than a lateral g of grip. The most-powerful Mustang ever will appear in our competition next year because we couldn't get two editors in it in time for this year's award.
2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque P250 R-Dynamic S
2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: The new Evoque is more refined than the outgoing model, but it remains a stylish choice for luxury buyers. A 296-hp turbo-4 moves the Evoque with purpose on road, and the stylish crossover is capable off-road as its Land Rover name suggests. It's not a track star, but it is a chic, multi-purpose small luxury option.
2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring
2020 Lincoln Aviator: Lincoln is taking luxury in the right direction for today's market by concentrating on building the best, most-coddling SUVs it can. The Aviator adds design flair to the mix, and excels for its interior luxury. The 400-hp twin-turbo V-6 boasts stronger numbers than most rivals, and the Grand Touring hybrid ups the ante to 494 hp. Skip the hybrid, though, as it's not well integrated.
2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Seattle media drive, September, 2018
Mercedes-Benz A-Class: The 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class outclasses the CLA that it replaces in several ways: ride quality, interior amenities, interior space, and overall value. However, it's still a front-wheel-drive based Mercedes that shows signs of cost-cutting in its suspension, sound suppression, and interior materials.
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class: The new CLA is a sibling of the A-Class and it shares many of its strengths and its weaknesses. It's the more stylish of the two and relates to the A-Class like the CLS relates to the E-Class. We haven't driven the CLA yet, and it's front-drive-based architecture and limited power mean it's not the performer we prefer in our winner.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class: The GLE continues to evolve as a smooth-riding, dynamically competent crossover dedicated to passenger comfort. The base 255-hp turbo-4 is perfectly adequate, but the 362-hp turbocharged inline-6, aided by a a 48-volt mild hybrid system, is a treat. Comfort is key here, but performance isn't exceptional.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class: Mercedes touts the large, three-row GLS as the S-Class of SUVs. Its ride and interior may not be quite as dedicated to pure luxury as that car, but the cabin has even more space. It's a great family hauler, but it's not a performer.
2020 Porsche Taycan live shots
2020 Porsche Taycan: The Taycan takes the electric vehicle in a new direction. It's a Porsche, so it's no surprise that direction is pure performance. Acceleration in the Turbo and Turbo S models is sudden and stunning, while handling is sports car-capable. Range is someone limited at 240 miles. It's a great sports car as well as an EV, but we've only had limited access so far.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Volkswagen Jetta GLI: The GLI channels its Golf GTI sibling better than ever, and offers a fun driving experience at a reasonable price. Its new turbo-4 provides a lot more power and torque. It's no match for the likes of a Golf R, though, and that's what we would prefer for this award.