JD Power

Highest quality cars, trucks, SUVs of 2020 according to JD Power

The Jaguar E-Pace is the only Jaguar model to make the list.

Photo courtesy of Jaguar

JD Power's annual initial quality survey has once again determined which vehicles reign supreme. The survey is considered highly influential when it comes to vehicle purchases.

The 34th annual survey was conducted by JD Power from February through May 2020. It assessed the performance of 2020 model year vehicles within 90 days after they were sold. Owners answered 223 questions and responses for over 87,272 vehicles were recorded.

The highest-rated vehicle of all is the Chevrolet Sonic.

Small Car: Chevrolet Sonic

2020 Chevrolet Sonic

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

All Chevrolet Sonics are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that delivers 138 horsepower. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment on the base-level Sonic LS includes air-conditioning, a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth streaming for two devices, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and an available Wi-Fi hot spot.

Small Premium Car: Audi A3

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2020 Audi A3 is in its last year of the current generation but that doesn't mean it's a slouch. There's bee no major mechanical or technological changes for 2020 but Audi has shuffled the trim level offerings. It continues to deliver an engaging drive and balanced ride.

Compact Car: Kia Forte

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Completely redesigned last year with updated features and a fresh new look, the Kia Forte is powered by a 147 horsepower, 2.0-liter engine that is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission. The list of standard features includes air-conditioning, an 8.0-inch touch screen, a rearview camera with dynamic parking guide, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, forward collision avoidance, lane-departure warning, and driver attention warning.

Compact Premium Car: Genesis G70

Genesis G70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The Genesis G70 is a true sports sedan. It is up for enthusiastic drives and doesn't mean being pushed a little. The car's cabin is well-appointed and the infotainment system is easy to use. Plus, it's far less pricey than its German rivals.

Compact Sporty Car (tie): Hyundai Veloster

2020 Hyundai Veloster Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

An all-new Hyundai Veloster rolled out last year with a refreshed design as well as other improvements. This sporty coupe continues to stand out with its unique three-door configuration: one door on the driver's side, two on the passenger side.

The base Veloster 2.0 is powered by a 147-horserpower engine and comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, a rear spoiler, a 6-speed manual transmission and 17-inch alloy wheels. Forward collision avoidance and lane-keeping assist are also standard.

Compact Sporty Car (tie): MINI Cooper

2020 MIIN Cooper

Photo courtesy of MINI

Americas can non longer get the MINI Cooper with a manual transmission but it continues to have a unique interior design and deliver an engaging drive experience. For 2020, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking became standard.

Midsize Car: Chevrolet Malibu

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Malibu hasn't been changed much over the last few years and Chevy recently ended production of the model. The car has a lot to like if you're in the market for a large, comfortable cruiser sedan.

Midsize Premium Car: Cadillac CT5

2020 Cadillac CT5 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The CT5 is a fresh addition to the Cadillac lineup for the 2020 model year. It's stylish and sophisticated, delivering what buyers are most looking for - a comfortable and smooth ride. The car has a long list of standard and available features.

Midsize Sporty Car: Ford Mustang

2020 Ford Mustang Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2020 model year is all about fine tuning the Ford Mustang. Buyers can now opt for a High Performance or EcoBoost Handling package. There's also a new Shelby GT500 model that gets buyers a free track day at a NASCAR speedway with purchase. Now, all Mustangs come standard with FordPass Connect.

Upper Midsize Premium Car: Cadillac CT6

2020 Cadillac CT6 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac CT6 is a comfortable large sedan. It doesn't deliver the aggressive drive you can get from German luxury sedans but it is (nearly) as stylish and stable on the road. Cadillac recently discontinued the model.

Large Car: Nissan Maxima

2019 Nissan Maxima Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Maxima was recently refreshed but it has few changes for the 2020 model year. The automaker's suite of safety technology, Nissan Safety Shield 360, is now standard. Its V6 is plenty strong and accommodations are roomy and comfortable.

Large Premium Car: BMW 8 Series

2020 BMW 8 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW 8 Series will cost you a pretty penny, but you do get to have the flagship BMW car in your driveway when the check clears. It delivers all the things you'd expect a BMW to - a strong engine lineup, refined interior, and a host of infotainment and safety technology.

Small SUV: Kia Soul

2020 Kia Soul Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Soul is all new for the 2020 model year featuring fresh styling and an array of new features. Even as the Soul retains its iconic shape, it receives a modern look with slim headlights, LED daytime running lights and boomerang-shaped taillights that frame the rear window.

Available in multiple trim levels, the Soul's entry-level LX comes with cloth seat trim, a trip computer, a 7.0-inch color touchscreen display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, one USB outlet, a split-folding rear seat and 16-inch steel wheels.

Small Premium SUV: Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar E-PACE Corsica

Photo courtesy of Jaguar

The Jaguar E-Pace is the little brother of the highly-regarded F-Pace. The model isn't as powerful as the F-Pace, but it has a good amount of cargo space and is agile. Adults may feel crowded in the back seat, but that's par for the course in this size vehicle.

Compact SUV: Hyundai Tucson

2020 Hyundai Tucson

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai sells a lot of Tucsons. The compact SUV, which competes against the Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 is well-regarded as a high-quality model. Though its current generation began in 2015 and the model is gearing up for a redesign, it still delivers a comfortable ride and easy-to-use infotainment system in addition to inoffensive looks.

Compact Premium SUV: Cadillac XT4

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport Photo courtesy of Cadillac​

The Cadillac XT4 is a subcompact size SUV that gives buyers a high-quality interior for a steep price. The XT4 is comfortable and plush with refined aesthetics in the top grade. The SUV is most noted for its large cargo area and spacious legroom for second-row passengers.

Midsize SUV: Nissan Murano

2020 Nissan Murano

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Murano is geared toward empty nesters who don't want to sacrifice comfort or power, but don't want to drive a sedan any longer. The SUV got no major changes for the 2020 model year.

Midsize Premium SUV: Lexus GX

2020 Lexus GX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Lexus GX Is a throwback to the way SUVs used to be. Still, it's a competent off-roader that provides plenty of comfort for its occupants. Lexus has upgraded the model in recent years to make it more luxurious.

Upper Midsize SUV: Kia Sorento

2020 Kia Sorento Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Sorento is about due for a makeover but that hasn't stopped buyers from liking the one dealerships are currently offering for sale. The three-row SUV competes with the Kia Telluride but it has less rugged styling and a more crossover-like body. Still, it comes loaded with a good amount of safety features and tech in its most premium grades.

Upper Midsize Premium SUV: BMW X6

2020 BMW X6

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW X6 was completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. It continues to be offered with potent engines, a refined interior, comfortable seats, and a long list of technology as is typical for the model.

Large SUV: Nissan Armada

2019 Nissan Armada

​Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Armada is gearing up for a redesign but continues to offer comfortable accommodations, good towing capacity, and a strong engine. The SUV's lackluster fuel efficiency and poor cargo space are two major drawbacks.

Large Premium SUV: Cadillac Escalade

2020 Cadillac Escalade

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

A new generation of the Cadillac Escalade will be launched for the 2021 model year but the 2020 hasn't worn out its welcome quite yet. The SUV has a strong engine lineup, plenty of capability, and a well-equipped interior. Buyers can choose to opt for the traditional or extended wheelbase edition.

Minivan: Kia Sedona

2020 Kia Sorento Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Like the Escalade and Sorento, the Kia Sedona will be all-new in 2021. The 2020 model delivers the same comfortable accommodations buyers have come to expect, as well as a good infotainment system and a connected drive.

Midsize Pickup Truck: Ford Ranger

2020 Ford Ranger

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Ranger made a big splash when it was re-introduced, giving American buyers a smaller Ford truck to spend their money on yet again. Though it wasn't a completely new truck when it made its U.S. debut, Ford engineers had significantly modified the model for North American customizers, making it plenty off-road capable and a viable daily driver.

Large Light-Duty Pickup Truck: Toyota Tundra

2020 Toyota Tundra

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

There's a redesigned Toyota Tundra on the horizon but that hasn't stopped Toyotafrom selling a significant number of current model year Tundras. The model has a dated interior and is fuel inefficient, but it's comfortable and has a long list of standard and available features.

Large Heavy-Duty Pickup Truck: Ford Super Duty

2020 Ford Super Duty

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Super Duty is one of the most capable pickup trucks you can buy. Don't let its rugged exterior fool you. The truck's cabin is well-appointed and full of many of the latest tech features, including those you'd find on a typical SUV.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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Updated premium crossover

2022 Infiniti QX50 picks up new standard features

The new QX50 gets more tech and safety features.

Infiniti

Infiniti is one of a handful of automakers that have continued developing and building cars instead of focusing only on higher-profit and much more popular SUVs and trucks. That said, Infiniti's catalog is crossover- and SUV-heavy. Its smallest and least expensive crossover, the QX50 gets a handful of new features for 2022, and today Infiniti announced pricing.

Infiniti offers the 2022 QX50 in five trims: $40,025 Pure, $43,375 Luxe, $47,825 Essential, $52,525 Sensory, and $57,975 Autograph. All trims get Infiniti's variable compression (VC-Turbo) engine that makes 268 horsepower and returns up to 26 mpg combined. The advanced engine shifts its compression ratio to match the driver's behavior. When more power is needed, the compression changes, and when efficiency is the priority, it changes again. It's a marvel of engineering, but it's not as fuel-efficient as a hybrid. Power reaches the front or all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission.

2022 Infiniti QX50 Pricing starts at around $40,000.Infiniti

Beyond the new standard features for 2022, buyers of the new QX50 will have to step up to the Luxe trim to get the most desirable features such as auto-folding exterior side mirrors, power lumbar support, and perforated leather upholstery. Standard comfort gear includes eight-way power front seats, dual-zone climate controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Infiniti stuck with its dual-screen infotainment configuration with the 2022 QX50. The top eight-inch screen handles wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto duties, as well as navigation. The bottom seven-inch screen handles vehicle controls, radio stations, and other settings. Though the system looks great and adds a high-tech feel to the cabin, two screens can be distracting and confusing while driving. The good news is that the QX50 gets an excellent 16-speaker Bose stereo starting with the Luxe trim.

2022 Infiniti QX50 ProPilot Assist and Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are now standardInfiniti

The 2022 QX50 hasn't been crash tested by either major ratings organization yet, but the 2021 model performed well. It earned Good ratings in crash testes and a Superior score for its standard crash prevention systems. The 2022 QX50 comes standard with Infiniti's ProPilot Assist system, which brings advanced adaptive cruise control functions that can center the car in its lane, brake, and accelerate. Other standard tech includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, rear automatic braking, predictive forward collision warnings, and forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.


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