One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is faster, more comfortable than predecessor

The first review of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is in.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It's an icon and a supercar and it's been long-awaited. The eighth generation of this American thoroughbred, dubbed the "C8", has hit the streets for a fortunate few auto testers, however a huge host of passionate enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will be on sale soon.

This Chevrolet Corvette has been radically reimagined for the 2020 model year with a new mid-engine platform, modernized fighter jet-inspired styling, and a collection of new technologies and features that make it not only faster, but more comfortable and fun to drive. Competitors include the Acura NSX, Audi R8, and Porsche 911.

General Motors' halo car boasts its own museum and will continue to attract its core fan base; many have owned several Corvettes and Chevrolet hopes to lure new performance-minded buyers seeking Corvette's pristine weight distribution and the type of agility typically reserved for six-figure supercars.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette The Corvette's looks are inspired by a fighter jet.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It comes in 3 trims; 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. Savvy Corvette owners are already thinking about Grand Sport and ZR1 versions. A convertible version comes next year.

The newest model is lean, muscular, and athletic with canopy-forward exterior styling that adapts many quintessential Corvette design features. Longer, lower and wider, it wears an updated front end that hides a mini trunk for cargo. Side air intakes for engine cooling are the focal point of the profile, while dual LED taillights sport animated turn signals and sit above the quad tailpipes. The rear hatch glass cleverly showcases the engine.

Corvette's next-generation 6.2-liter V8 is the only naturally-aspirated engine in the mid-engine sports car segment. It produces 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque and moves the Stingray Z51 from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds with bigger brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential and performance suspension/traction management. A new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is backed by paddle shifters and can be motivated for six different driving parameters: weather, tour, sport and track, My Mode, and Z Mode.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette engine The Corvette Stingray is powered by a 6.2-liter V8.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The driver-focused upscale interior features a customizable digital instrument panel and slender vertical ventilation slots. Hand-wrapped leather, thick press stitching, real metal, and carbon fiber fill the interior, depending on trim.

There are three seat options, a Corvette-first. Standard are GT1s with eight-way power; GT2 brings heated/ventilated surfaces; Competition and Sport adds bolstering for aggressive motoring.

The 2LT trims get a front curb camera view, heated steering wheel, and available GT2 seats in Napa leather while 3LTs are adorned in a leather-wrapped interior, with 13 colors choices, suede trim and GT2 seats.

A new squared-off, two-spoke steering wheel allows for an unobstructed view of the 12-inch reconfigurable cluster display.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette interior The cabin of the Corvette has been the subject of much consternation.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

A rear stowage area has been carved out to hold two sets of golf clubs.

Corvette's next-generation infotainment system is faster and simpler, with a higher resolution display. Chevy is offering one-touch Bluetooth pairing with Near Field Communication, wireless charging, and improved real-time traffic. Buyers get a choice of two new Bose audio systems: a standard 10-speaker premium system or a 14-speaker Bose Performance Series (2LTs and 3LTs).

The industry-pioneering Performance Data Recorder is an advanced driving analysis tool upgraded with a high-definition resolution camera that joins with the new, in-vehicle user interface to record circuit and point-to-point road courses.

Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, stability control, side-impact airbags, and a security system with an ignition disable device that prevents the engine from starting without the original manufacturer key.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette will be on sale in early 2020 and will start just under $60,000. Buyers who desire the more heightened-race-feel and engineering of the Z51 Performance Package will need to spend an additional $5,000, while enthusiasts that want added luxury appointments should look at top-end models; 3LTs start near $72,000.

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Ford has cowboy up with the new Expedition King Ranch and Platinum for 2020.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

As is true with the 2020 Ford F-150, the 2020 Ford Expedition's King Ranch trim level sits in a sweet spot in the lineup. It's neither too inelegant to appeal to refined palettes nor too fancy to appeal to more rugged types. On top of that, Ford has given the model the type of accommodations that are good for children and adults.

As tested, the 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch came in at $74,885, That includes the $72,895 base price, $595 paint color surcharge, and a $1,395 destination and delivery fee. Granted, that's a lot of money, but it's not nearly as expensive as the Expedition's more premium rivals like the Cadillac Escalade. Out of the Expedition's four trim levels, the King Ranch sits three out of four with only the Expedition Platinum being better appointed and pricier.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The Expedition mirrors the last-generation Explorer in the looks department.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Expedition, for all intents and purposes, is the SUV version of Ford F-Series. While its exterior looks more like the last-generation Explorer than the F-150, it's setting foot in the interior that tells the true story. The entire dashboard, center console, and seat design is straight from the F-150 and Super Duty playbook. This isn't a bad thing. The F-Series lineup is filled with very good trucks.

The exterior of the Expedition King Ranch has a more panache than the trucks. From its standard 22-inch six-spoke painted machined-face aluminum wheels with dark tarnish-painted pockets and King Ranch center caps to the Stone Gray-colored grille mesh, lower bumpers, power running boards, rear bumper skid plate, trailer hitch cover, roof. rack side rails, and side mirror caps, the model wears a bit of its upscale sheen right up front where all those near the Expedition can see it.

The King Ranch theme continues to the interior of the Expedition where Ebony Del Rio leather covers the door trim and Mesa Del Rio leather covers the armrests and steering wheel. Kingsville stitching, named after the town where the historic King Ranch is located in Texas, features on the steering wheel. The center console is a combination of Del Rio leather and Ziricote wood veneer.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The interior of the model is richly appointed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The result is a look that rivals the materials in the redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, the Expedition's chief rivals. The seats in the Expedition's front and second row are just as comfy and small item storage is just as available.

Where the competition has the edge is the Expedition's infotainment system. The standard 8.0-inch screen is small compared to what others in the vehicle's class now offer. That being said, the roster of tech that accompanies the screen is good and includes satellite radio, voice recognition, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Upgrading gets a buyer keyless entry, remote start, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, a Bang & Olufson sound system, HD Radio, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard on all Expeditions. The suite of driver assist and safety technology includes automatic high beams, blind spot warning with cross traffic alert, lane keep alert and assist, pre-collision assist with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Upper tier models gets adaptive cruise control. The system works as advertised and doesn't prove too annoying during daily use.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The leather-wrapped steering wheel features Kingsville stitching.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Driving the Expedition King Ranch is easy but there's no getting around the fact that it's a large SUV based on a truck platform. Driving the Suburban and Yukon is an easier, more connected experience. Still, driving these SUVs is nowhere near as taxing as it was 15 years ago.

The Expedition is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque for use. Acceleration off the line creates confidence, but you won't see the SUV making any speed records any time soon. The larger engines in the General Motors rivals deliver a more inspiring effort but are slightly less fuel efficient (19 mpg vs. 17/18 mpg for the Suburban when similarly equipped).

The 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch is the most premium model you can get without going full Platinum. For daily driving, it's all the Expedition you'll need, coupled with higher-end appointments and sophisticated looks.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The second-row seats in the Expedition are nearly as comfortable as those up front.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

However, if you're looking to spend $70,000 or more on an SUV, it is worth cross-shopping the new Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon. Both offer compelling reasons to choose them over the Expedition. That being said, if you're a Blue Oval family and opt for the Expedition, when you go out to your driveway and hop inside, you likely won't be disappointed.

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The Enclave Avenir is the top-of-the-line trim level of the SUV for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people are extremely adventurous eaters. I joke that the only food I won't eat is bugs that look like bugs. I'll do Indian, Thai, Korean and Ethiopian, sweetbreads, frog legs and endless servings of sushi. French Laundry. Cut. Alinea.

Others are into tamer fare: vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, grilled cheese (with Kraft American Singles) on Wonder bread, steak with ketchup. Cracker Barrel. Dairy Queen. Olive Garden, if you're feeling fancy.

Though the fancy food folks might look down on the Red Lobster-crowd, if you're a carmaker looking to sell big SUVs in Peoria, you best remember they exist — and what sorts of stuff they're into. Culinary adventures are all about trying new and exciting things, which not everyone likes.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The model is elegant, especially in the high-end Avenir grade.Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people — a lot of them, actually — are thrilled with unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. And for them, GM has come up with the Buick Enclave Avenir, the Olive Garden of seven-passenger premium SUVs.

Though Buick might not carry the brand cachet of Volvo or Acura or it's up-market sibling Cadillac, the marque's SUVs (that's all it makes now, sadly) are remarkably popular. The Enclave is the three-rowed big boy, and the Avenir is the top-tier premium trim level. My test unit landed at $59,390 including the Avenir Technology Package which includes adaptive cruise control and improved automatic emergency braking. It's 2020. Both of those should be standard GM. Come on now.

It feels almost like a minivan but with the look of an SUV. Entry and exit is easy and the front and rear captain's chairs are supremely comfortable. The Technology Package adds an improved suspension which is gentle on aging backs and keeps things nicely stable. There are two sunroofs, one in the front that opens and one in the back that does not.

The 20-inch rims are sharp and, while the Enclave does not have the most exciting design in the world, it is inoffensive and soothing. It would look good in grandma's driveway on Thanksgiving Day.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The Enclave has a good amount of cargo space at the rear.Photo courtesy of Buick

The Buick infotainment system is excellent, with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot from AT&T and GM's unmatched OnStar service. The hotspot means that the litany of iPads and iPhones from the passengers in the back (and front) seats will always be able to connect and OnStar means if anything goes wrong, help is just a button press away — unless the air bags deploy, in which case help calls you instead. The Bose Premium audio system does its job well, with active noise cancellation and something called "Buick QuietTuning" to keep outside noise where it belongs.

The front seats are heated and ventilated, and both include a massage function which is a gift from the road trip gods. In my version, the second row seats were heated, but no cooling. The touch surfaces are all lovely and the cabin is light and airy thanks to large windows and those dual sunroofs. Visibility is excellent, and there's a 360-degree camera system to help you park in tight spaces.

The 3.6-liter V6 makes 310 horsepower but stays out of the way, as does the 9-speed automatic transmission. The Buick gearshift is mildly annoying to get used to, but after a week or two, you won't notice it anymore. There are a host of safety features, including rear cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot warning with alert feature if you're going to move into another car on the interstate. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.

There's a remote start system, which is great for both hot and cold days, a power liftgate at the back, and a split power-folding 60/40 third row if you want to haul more stuff than people. It'll even tow up to 5,000 pounds if you want to haul a camper or small boat. But an off-roader this isn't. It's an unpretentious people and stuff hauler that won't draw too much attention to itself.

Unpretentious is probably a fair description for most Buick buyers. They don't need to show off. They just value comfort and roominess and want a car that will take care of them.

That's the Buick Enclave Avenir.

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