It’s safe to say that 2020 was no regular year. Yet, despite all the doom and gloom, the world’s automakers still managed to put out some exciting new vehicles.
In fact, we’d say 2020 was one of the better years for new car debuts in recent history, so let’s take a look at some of the best cars, trucks, SUVs, and crossovers that have been unveiled in the past 12 months.
10. Volkswagen Golf R and GTI
The eighth-generation VW Golf will only be available in Canada in the sporty GTI and R guises. We’ll mourn the loss of the standard Golf variant, of course; but the two performance models are no mere consolation prize.
The GTI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine good for 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, which is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The Golf R, meanwhile, has the same 2.0-litre engine, except it makes a stout 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The Golf R also has standard all-wheel drive with drift mode, a more powerful braking system with larger cross-drilled brake rotors and 19-inch wheels.
9. Nissan Z Proto
The Nissan Z Proto is technically a concept car, but it is largely representative of the 400Z production model that will arrive in Canada in the not-too-distant future, so it’s worth getting excited about.
The Z Proto has retro styling inspired by previous Nissan Z sports cars like the 240Z and 300ZX, along with a completely redesigned cabin. Under the hood is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine, which is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional seven-speed automatic. Figures for horsepower and torque output, along with performance measurements like the 0–100 km/h acceleration time, have not yet been announced.
The new BMW M3 and M4 sent a ripple through the automotive industry for all the wrong reasons. With a, uh, creative interpretation of BMW’s well-known twin kidney grille, these compact performance cars have been the butt of many jokes throughout 2020.
Still, there’s no denying that the arrival of a new BMW M model is a big deal, and we’re happy to report that these two deliver where it counts. The standard twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline-six makes 473 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque and sends power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or optional eight-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is also offered as an option on the M3/M4 for the first time.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E represents the Blue Oval’s first foray into the burgeoning world of battery-electric crossovers. We’re told EVs will one day take over the automotive industry, so the Mach-E is an extremely important product for Ford.
The range-topping GT Performance Edition model has standard all-wheel drive and makes a whopping 480 hp and 634 lb-ft of torque, enabling it to hustle from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds. Less powerful models with all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive will also be on offer.
6. GMC Hummer EV
The GMC Hummer EV is General Motors’ answer to the other new electric trucks like the Rivian R1T and Tesla Cybertruck. This big electric off-roader, which will go on sale late next year, is available with an impressive dual-motor powertrain producing over 1,000 hp, which enables it to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in around three seconds. The 200-kWh battery pack provides an estimated driving range of around 350 miles. It also features removable roof panels, off-road wheels and tires, and adjustable air suspension.
The next-generation Cadillac Escalade debuted earlier this year and will begin to arrive at Canadian Cadillac dealers shortly. The latest version of the extra-large luxury SUV picks up where the old one left off, featuring familiar styling and a similar body-on-frame platform that incorporates a new independent rear suspension setup. Under the hood is a standard 6.2-litre V8 engine, which produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, although an efficient 3.0-litre inline-six diesel is available as well. Both engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive, with four-wheel drive available as an option. Some tech highlights include standard Magnetic Ride Control dampers, available air ride suspension and a standard 38-inch widescreen infotainment display.
4. Volkswagen ID.4
The Volkswagen ID.4 is an electric crossover that will go on sale in Canada next summer. Base models with rear-wheel drive produce 201 hp, while the dual-motor all-wheel-drive models produce 301 hp. An 82-kWh lithium-ion battery provides an estimated driving range of up to 400 km.
The electric crossover also supports DC fast charging, which can fill the battery from five per cent to 80 per cent capacity in under 40 minutes. Canadian models will also be well-equipped for our harsh weather conditions, featuring heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a heated windshield as standard.
3. Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in Canada, so it goes without saying that it’s always a big deal – especially when a new generation lands. While the truck looks mostly the same as before, this is actually an all-new iteration of the iconic F-Series, boasting brand-new content from nose to tail.
It will be available with a wide variety of engines, including a 3.3-litre V6, a 5.0L V8, twin-turbocharged 2.7-litre V6, twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 – also available as a hybrid – and a 3.0-litre diesel V6. A new Raptor off-road performance model will eventually arrive, along with a battery-electric version, too. The 2021 Ford F-150 is expected to begin arriving at Canadian dealerships before the end of the year.
2. Honda Civic Prototype
The Honda Civic Prototype previews the all-new Honda Civic that will make its official debut next year. Like the F-150, the Civic is one of the best-selling vehicles in its segment, so it’s easy to get excited about a new iteration, even in concept form.
Compared to the current Civic, this eleventh-generation model is lower, wider, and has simpler, more straightforward styling. Honda’s keeping mum on the car’s powertrain for now, but it did confirm that the new Civic will be joined by new sporty Si and Type R variants. It will also be available as either a sedan or a hatchback only, as Honda has decided not to bring the slow-selling coupe model back.
1. Ford Bronco
It’s hard to think of a recent vehicle debut that was as highly anticipated and as well-received as the new Ford Bronco. This boxy off-roader won’t officially go on sale until next year, but it already seems like a solid alternative to the Jeep Wrangler.
Under the hood is a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. A 2.7-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine is available as well, which is good for 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Most folks will go for the 10-speed automatic transmission, though a seven-speed manual is available too.
The Bronco also has locking front and rear differentials, available Bilstein dampers, and available beadlock wheels with huge 35-inch off-road tires, among other go-anywhere goodies. The standard removable roof panels and doors aim to give Bronco owners the same open-air driving experience that Jeep owners have been enjoying for ages now. Look for this rugged-looking SUV at Ford dealers in Canada next spring.