Best Car To Buy, Best Car to Buy 2020

Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2020: The cool stuff from our runners up


Not every car we tested could be Motor Authority‘s Best Car To Buy 2020. That distinction went to the Porsche 911 alone. And we don’t do participation trophies.

But this year, all the cars we tested each had some lovable quality or qualities worth our time and attention. We’d be happy snuggle up to the Veloster’s N Mode, or nuzzle the M850i’s mellifluous exhaust note in the morning.

We’d marry the 911, and there’s not a car on the list we’d want to bury in the smoky hills of northern Georgia. You can figure out what we’re saying from there.

Here are the list of small features we couldn’t get enough of—and some we got enough of, then went back for more.

2019 BMW 8-Series Convertible – Best Car To Buy 2020

BMW M850i xDrive’s exhaust note

Barking V-8s are our sleep soundtrack. Yours isn’t?

The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 in the BMW not only sounds great, it sounds even better from inside the M8 with the seat massagers on, cresting triple-digit speeds.

We’ve always admired the BMW V-8 bellow, but since the M6 convertible’s demise we haven’t had a chance to hear it al fresco. The M8 fixes that, and gives us our fix too.

2020 Toyota Supra - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 Toyota Supra – Best Car To Buy 2020

Toyota Supra’s center tach

A lot of ink has been spilled on the Toyota Supra’s BMW bits—and there are many—but we appreciate the heritage cue in the instrument cluster that didn’t come from Bavaria.

The Supra’s center-mounted tachometer has been around since the Mark III, and it appears in the new car too. A new generation may never know how glorious the Supra’s cockpit was (especially the Mark IV) but at least they’ll see a big round dial in the middle like us olds are used to.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door - Best Car To Buy 2020

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door – Best Car To Buy 2020

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 63 S monoblock wheels

Our staff was split on the AMG’s wheels; one half liked the chunky 21s on the 4-Door Coupe, the other half was wrong.

Polished chrome on blue isn’t the best look, we can all agree, but Mercedes has better wheel game than others in its class. Prime example: monoblock wheels. Mercedes offers them only on the GT 63S in chrome or black. Ostentatious? Yep. Good flex? Yep.

2019 Hyundai Veloster N - Best Car To Buy 2020

2019 Hyundai Veloster N – Best Car To Buy 2020

Hyundai Veloster N Mode

At least this entry in the sport button-arms race doesn’t sound like a dare like “Expert Mode” or “Race Mode.” The Veloster N Modes open up the hot hatch’s personality with sharper throttle response and a stiffer suspension.

It would have been easy for Hyundai to cheap out and give us a sugar pill Sport button—ahem, Mazda—but N Mode makes a big difference, especially in its suspension. The back roads of northern Georgia never felt so much like a paint shaker before.

2020 BMW Z4 - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 BMW Z4 – Best Car To Buy 2020

BMW Z4’s convertible

The best part of the Z4 M40i isn’t its convertible top—its engine is a first-ballot hall of famer, after all.

But the collapsible soft top on the Z4 is a big reason why we fought over the keys. The convertible top also set the stage for what made the Z4 great: open-top cruising along back-country roads. Lose the top and free your mind, man.



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Best Car To Buy, Best Car to Buy 2020

Let’s make the Porsche 911 better


A mere 24 hours ago the Porsche 911 was named Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2020. It’s the car most deserving of a spot in your garage. But the icon isn’t perfect. No car is.

The Porsche 911 could be better.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S, Valencia, Spain, January 2019

It’s confusing

Automakers are having a tough time developing shifters for electronically controlled transmissions. The last-gen 911’s shift lever was easy-to-use and felt right at home, but the new gear selector is confusing. A button puts it in park. Why? Another button puts the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission in manual mode. For reverse, tap the dainty Braun electric shaver-like shifter forward twice (once only puts it in neutral), and pull it back once for drive. This complicated little shifter seems absurd in the benchmark of sports cars.

As dumb as it sounds, even the door handles are hard to use. The door handles sit flush with the body, likely for both aerodynamic and appearance reasons. Should they pop out when you walk up to the car with the keyfob in your pocket? Or, should they pop out when one you tug at the bottom of the handle? Porsche chose the latter, but why isn’t it the former? That seems more intuitive.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S, Valencia, Spain, January 2019

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S, Valencia, Spain, January 2019

It’s too digital

Automakers are also increasingly adopting digital gauge clusters, with varying degrees of success. Four of the gauges in the 911 are digital, even the speedometer. The vehicle information displays are also rendered as round dials. Call me a traditionalist in this case, but this setup looks cheap. Easy-to-read analog gauges are preferred in a sports car capable of triple-digit speeds on a racetrack. Thankfully, the tachometer is still analog and placed front and center, where it should be in a Porsche.

Inside, Porsche has ditched most of the buttons so it could integrate the controls into the touchscreen infotainment interface. Want to control the rear wing on the fly? Better know which menu that function is under on the touchscreen and then hit the virtual button while at speed. Same for the sport exhaust system. What happened here? These used to be easy-to-find buttons on the center console.

2020 Porsche 911 - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 Porsche 911 – Best Car To Buy 2020

Cheap, but not cheap

The 911 isn’t a cheap car. It costs more than $90,000 in its base form and even most of those will reach six figures given the options list is nearly endless. The cockpit features some high-quality materials like leather, soft-touch plastics, and stitched door panel, but Porsche also includes too much cheap-feeling hard plastic. The radio knobs, toggle switches, buttons for the main climate control systems, and even the shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel are all made of plastic that lacks the quality feel of the 991.2. The most-obvious and largest stretch of hard plastic is the trim that extends from the steering wheel to the passenger door on the dash. It’s textured, but it feels low-rent.

Despite automakers’ belief that shiny piano-black trim looks expensive, I disagree. It looks great at first, but feels cheap and starts to look terrible once it’s scratched up by everyday use. The entire center console in the latest 911 is covered in it.

2020 Porsche 911 - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 Porsche 911 – Best Car To Buy 2020

Weird brake light

The 911’s evolutionary design is once again nearly perfect. Except for the third brake light in the rear. The taillights are horizontal. Why is the third brake light suddenly this oddly placed vertical element integrated into the air vent panel below the backlight? It looks out of place, and is an ugly wart on an otherwise clean rear end.

2020 Porsche 911 - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 Porsche 911 – Best Car To Buy 2020

It’s still fantastic

Everything I’ve listed is nitpicky. None of it affects how the 911 drives, which is the most-important thing for a sports car. But I’m OCD and some of these things really bother me. As Senior Editor Kirk Bell will tell you, I can be “ridiculous.”

The Porsche 911 comes about as close to perfect as cars can thanks to its telepathic steering, unflappable stability, and ability to carry more speed on a racetrack than its power ratings indicate. It’s not just another car; it’s the Porsche 911.

Now, Porsche, can we get those interior plastics upgraded, a real shifter installed, and physical buttons for controls often used at speed?



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Best Car To Buy, Best Car to Buy 2020

Motor Authority Best Car to Buy 2020 nominee: Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe


Cars like the Mercedes-AMG E 63 and CLS 63 have offered big power to go with their sinister Teutonic looks, but both have jockeyed with the BMW M5 for large-sedan performance superiority. Enter the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, which is squarely aimed at the M5, though with a different, hatchback form factor.

The AMG GT 4-Door Coupe actually shares its basic structure with the E-Class and CLS-Class, but the folks at AMG strengthened it in several ways to handle up to 630 horsepower and perform on a track.

And, boy, does the big Mercedes-AMG perform! It delivers 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque as the 63 model or 630 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque in the 63 S. The 63 S model draws on its well of power to rocket the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.1 seconds and it tops out at 195 mph. The S hits 60 in just 3.3 seconds and reaches 191 mph. With its active exhaust, it sounds a symphony of barks and snaps and crackles as it rockets the car toward the horizon.

It’s big, heavy, but also fast: the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door fights to be Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2020. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For Motor Authority)

The AMG 4-Door Coupe drives smaller than its size on twisty road or big racetrack, but shows its size and weight when the turns get tight. It’s as big and heavy as a Porsche Panamera and about as capable—provided that Panamera is a Turbo S. The front end washes out if you don’t stomp down hard enough on its big brakes (the available carbon-ceramics are recommended for track duty), and it’s not as agile through quick turns as lighter cars. However, The AMG GT 4-Door Coupe handles well for its size and it’s capable of big speeds in the straights. A lot of technology enables its best handling, including an electronic limited-slip rear differential, torque vectoring, available rear-wheel steering, and a series of drive modes. It looks the M5 in the eye and doesn’t blink.

This contender also has a practical side. Occupants are coddled up front with spacious, comfortable, and supportive seats, while rear passengers (it only seats two back there) will also enjoy the ride, provided they don’t have NBA aspirations. Those who don’t need crazy horsepower can choose the AMG 53 with “only” 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. It’s the least-expensive of the group at $99,995. The 63 costs $141,245 and the 63 S runs a whopping $162,195.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door - Best Car To Buy 2020

The interior of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door coddles passengers and driver, but does it have enough performance to be Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2020? (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For Motor Authority)

Will the 2019 Mercedes-AMG 4-Door Coupe’s balance of luxury, style, performance, and practicality be enough to make it the Motor Authority Best Car to Buy 2020?

Check back with us Jan. 2 when we announce the winner of this year’s award. We’ll also announce the winners from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. The Car Connection will also reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best the cars, trucks, and SUVs for your needs. Finally, be sure to vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is the best in every category.



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Best Car To Buy, Best Car to Buy 2020

Motor Authority Best Car to Buy 2020 nominee: Toyota Supra


The legend has returned. It took 26 years, but a Toyota Supra is finally back in dealer showrooms.

The formula for the fifth-generation car is the same as it was the for the beloved fourth-generation: a turbocharged inline-6 with power going to the rear wheels, room for two adults and some of their things, and a long snout with a short rear deck.

While the car wears the Supra badge, the fifth generation is very different.

2020 Toyota Supra – Best Car To Buy 2020

The differences arise from the development process. Essentially, the new Toyota Supra is a BMW Z4 coupe. It drives like a modern BMW, sounds like a modern BMW, has a BMW engine, and its interior bits are right out of the BMW parts bin. None of this is bad, but when the Toyota badge itself carries a BMW parts number, it’s hard to truly think of the new Supra as a Toyota.

The BMW B58B3001 turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 isn’t a 2JZ, but it’s more powerful. It produces 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque that flows through a smooth and quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. The 8-speed is fantastic, but a sports car should be offered with a 6-speed manual, which isn’t on the options list.

The B58 likely makes more power than its figures suggest. It launches the car from 0-60 mph in a scant 4.1 seconds, according to Toyota, on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Along the way, that high-pitched sound of a turbocharged inline-6 can’t be mistaken for anything but what it is. It may be a BMW engine, but it’s right for a Supra.

The Supra is shorter and wider than it appears. With a short 97.2-inch wheelbase, it’s actually 4 inches shorter than the small Toyota 86 sports car, but it’s about 3 inches wider. The kicker is the 50/50 weight distribution and a center of gravity that is somehow (black magic perhaps?) lower than that of the 86 with its low-slung boxer-4.

Up front, the Supra handles the road through a double-joint spring-strut setup, while the back features a five-link independent suspension. Adaptive adjustable dampers sit at all four corners with two modes: Comfort and Sport. That’s the right hardware to help the Supra corner at the limit with incredible agility and stability.

Brembo rotors measuring 13.7 inches up front are grabbed by 4-piston calipers. The rears can be upgraded from 13.0- to 13.6-inch discs, but both are clamped down upon by single, floating calipers.

2020 Toyota Supra - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 Toyota Supra – Best Car To Buy 2020

Inside, the Supra has a steering wheel that might as well be out of the E39 M5 but with a Toyota badge. The digital gauge cluster and temp and fuel gauges are unique to the Supra. The rest of the controls are straight BMW. There’s even BMW’s iDrive infotainment system.

Priced from $50,920, the Toyota Supra competes in the heart of the sports car market and throws down with everything from muscle cars to European sport coupes.

Does this resurrected icon have what it takes to be become Motor Authority‘s Best Car To Buy 2020?

Check back on Jan. 2 when we reveal our winner, along with the champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection, and Green Car Reports. The Car Connection will also reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best the cars, trucks, and SUVs for your needs. Finally, be sure to vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is the best in every category.



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Best Car To Buy, Best Car to Buy 2020

Motor Authority Best Car to Buy 2020 nominee: BMW Z4


The Z4 traces its roots back to the BMW Z3 that was first released in 1996. It’s been a fun and friendly sports car in coupe and convertible body styles through three generations, but it took a partnership with Toyota to create a fourth generation. That deal left BMW with the roadster and Toyota with the coupe.

BMW takes the premium road and offers higher-end interior appointments, a choice between a turbo-4 or turbocharged inline-6 engines, and the open-air fun of a convertible top. It also costs about $10,000 more to start. The coupe was offered briefly for 2019, although it’s the turbo-6 introduced for 2020 that has its gunsights set on our annual awards.

The Z4 gets a power softtop this time around rather than a retractable hard top. That’s fine by us as the little roadster has less weight to carry around, and a roadster lives its best life with the top down anyway. The design is sleeker—lower, wider, and less visual mass along the sides—though it has an overabundance of cutlines and a larger, wider version of the BMW twin-kidney that will appeal to some and not others.

With thrilling performance in every edition, the 2020 BMW Z4 M40i has its sights set on our annual award. Is it enough? (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For Motor Authority)

In its base form, the Z4 sDrive30i features BMW’s fantastic 2.0-liter turbo-4. BMW says it produces 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque under the long hood of the Z4, but it feels quicker. The engine is capable of launching the car from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Those who like more gusto can choose the M40i model. It is motivated by a thrilling turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 that ups the ante to 382 hp, 369 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60-mph time of 3.9 seconds.

On the road, acceleration is exceptional with either engine. The little turbo-4 overachieves and delivers its likely understated power better than any other 2.0-liter turbo. The inline-6 turns the roadster into a rocket—and it puts many V-8s to shame.

The Z4 comes alive when the road turns twisty, which is the mission of any roadster. Its suspension expertly balances agile moves with a comfortable ride quality. The Z4 is a little tail happy, which can be exacerbated by the inline-6’s ridiculous power. 

2020 BMW Z4 - Best Car To Buy 2020

The new BMW Z4 shuttles power to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled rear differential that can hesitate in hard cornering. Did we mind? Check out the results Jan. 2. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For Motor Authority)

The handling suffers at the limit, too. The rear-end doesn’t feel tied down, and it tends to rock from side to side in high-speed corners as the electronic limited-slip rear differential locks and unlocks. The result is a lack of stability that hurts racetrack performance.

Still, most drivers won’t ever feel that flaw as it requires pushing the car well past what is safe on the street. Most buyers will think the Z4 is a sweetheart that rides and handles like cars of BMW’s 1990s and early 2000s heyday.

Will that be enough to make the reborn BMW Z4 the Motor Authority Best Car to Buy 2020?

Check back with us on Jan. 2 when we announce the winner of this year’s award. We’ll also announce the winners from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. The Car Connection will also reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best the cars, trucks, and SUVs for your needs. Finally, be sure to vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is the best in every category.



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Best Car To Buy, Best Car to Buy 2020

Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2020 nominee: Porsche 911


Not much has changed in more than six decades for Porsche. Then again, nearly everything has changed for the 911, too.

The looks of Porsche’s quintessential sports car have obviously evolved over time, but the power and handling have taken much larger strides forward. The 2020 Porsche 911 continues that upward trajectory.

Now in its eighth generation for 2020, the Porsche 911 has evolved into the perfect sports car. The 2020 model is available so far in base Carrera, all-wheel-drive Carrera 4, and more-powerful S and 4S models, in coupe, convertible, and Targa body styles. More are on the way.

The 2020 Porsche 911 is intstantly recognizable, despite being new for this year. But did it change enough to claim the top spot for Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2020? (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For Motor Authority)

All 911s are now turbocharged and they all make more power than before. The base car makes 379 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque, while the S and 4S spin up 443 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Even the base car hits 60 in about four seconds, while the 4S drops that time to 3.2 seconds. Buyers have a choice between a quick-shifting 8-speed dual-clutch automatic or a 7-speed manual transmission.

Subtle but important changes make the 2020 911 the best yet. Larger wheels aid turn-in response, a wider rear track increases traction and lateral stability, a stiffer structure reacts more quickly to steering and suspension inputs, a quicker steering ratio means faster turn-in response, and new dampers improve both comfort and handling.

On the road and track, these changes translate to unflappable stability, incredible grip, agile moves, and ready power. The S and 4S models we’ve driven feel faster than their horsepower figures suggest. As for handling, the 911 may be too stable in turns; it requires an act of hooliganism to get the rear end to slide. It all inspires confidence and turns a good driver into a great driver.

2020 Porsche 911 - Best Car To Buy 2020

We spy some hard plastics and ergonomic curiosities in the 2020 Porsche 911. Will that be enough to sink it among competitors for the top spot in Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2020? (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For Motor Authority)

The story isn’t quite as positive inside. The new dashboard design evokes earlier 911s, but we spot some hard plastic and oddball cupholders that could be better executed. The dinky automatic transmission lever looks more like a toggle switch than a gearshift. What lies beneath it, however, is the best dual-clutch automatic on sale.

Will the 2020 Porsche 911’s unwavering stability and confidence-inspiring handling, no matter how incrementally changed, be enough to make it the Motor Authority Best Car to Buy 2020?

Check back with us Jan. 2 when we announce the winner of this year’s award. We’ll also announce the winners from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. The Car Connection will also reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best the cars, trucks, and SUVs for your needs. Finally, be sure to vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is the best in every category.



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