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 G70Photo 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 VelosterPhoto 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 MalibuPhoto 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 CT5Photo 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 MustangPhoto 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 CT6Photo 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 MaximaPhoto 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 SoulPhoto 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 SportPhoto 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 SorentoPhoto 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 SorentoPhoto 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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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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