Many brands hope to develop instant name recognition but few have had their product’s distinct silhouette become synonymous with an entire category. The Prius has earned a place as the symbol of hybrid cars with its efficiency-focus engineering and now, it reaches into the all-wheel-drive arena with a motorized rear axle to better meet customer demand, of which, Toyota states, could make upward of a quarter of Prius sales.
The 2019 Honda Civic is a slam-dunk, benchmark for the class. Its modern looks, expansive interior, excellent chassis dynamics, and powerful and efficient powertrain are a full package that has few faults. The previous-generation Civic took a dark turn after the great recession when Honda believed buyers would prefer a low cost, blend-in with the masses character. Thankfully, that era is behind us, and the current 10th generation will go down in history as one of the best Civics of all time.
Its looks are immediately “Outback”, but this re-design is anything but a phone-in. The 2020 Outback Onyx XT rides on a new platform, carries more advanced features, and a high-class interior that all work together to achieve a more comfortable and livable daily ride that goes without taking away its ruggedness and capability – characteristic traits for this Outback. It’s a tricky formula that others have tried without achieving the same level of success.
This year, the Legacy receives an all-new design inside and out. A quick drive in the top of the line Limited XT was enough for me to get a taste of its many impressive points. No option seemed off-limits or out of consideration and to prove the point are an 11.6-inch touchscreen which is arranged in portrait style and is as modern as it gets, Nappa leather seats that approach near-luxury status, acoustic glass, and rear seat heaters.
The QX50 is Infiniti’s reboot into the five-passenger mid-size crossover. Upping its game with dramatic styling curves and a strong but efficient four-cylinder, the QX50 is far more interesting than its predecessor, though it misses the mark in powertrain refinement and small-item storage upfront. Once underway and situated, those drawbacks fade away and QX50 feels like a luxury crossover.
The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is an off-road capable truck that pulls at my heartstrings. Extra body protection, a small but mighty diesel four-cylinder, and special suspension dampers are packed into a medium-sized package. The price of this ZR2 Bison creates unmet expectations in terms of features while the interior looks more appropriate in base trim, not this version that’s more than twice the price. Still, it raises the bar for off-road all-around capability and its honest character gives it a special feel. To some, that’s invaluable.
Equipped with all of today’s expected features and tech
A large size equates to good storage
Lacks a premium interior feel despite a 2019 update
Four-cylinder turbo goes to work in near silence
The Ford Edge Titanium sits at the top of the trim lineup, save the performance-focused ST model. It packs an impressive feature list yet somehow still has the feeling of being outdated. The exterior’s shape dates back to 2007 – its first year on Ford’s roster, and the Edge’s interior design can be traced back to 2011. Still, this large five-passenger crossover is plenty practical and goes about its business in a confident manner that is unlikely to ever go out of style.