We’ll leave the 2020 postmortems for another day because I’m here to talk about cars. Namely the first annual North State Journal Car Awards — a slate of our favorite picks in a number of categories that will surely become highly coveted by automakers for future annals.
I came up with six different picks for the best vehicles I drove in 2020 (out of more than 50!) in the following categories: North State Journal Car of the Year; Green Car, Sports Car, Truck, SUV, and Luxury Car of the Year.
Some of the choices were difficult, but others stood out so much that I couldn’t not pick them — these picks were the most fun to drive, most fun to look at, or turned the most heads when I had them… or all three. Here we go.
NSJ Car of the Year: Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
This was one of the easy picks. The new mid-engined Corvette is such a stunning achievement in design, engineering and, most importantly, pricing. I was blown away by the amount of power and style that was shoved into a car with an entry-level price of just under $68,000.
This was a head-turner everywhere I went, and though it’s sporty and mind-blowingly fast, it’s comfortable and livable enough for everyday use. The Corvette has always been the affordable, everyman sports car and the new version is the best ever built. Bravo.
Green Car of the Year: Toyota Corolla Hybrid
For years, I’ve been recommending the Toyota Corolla to friends and family who ask what the best affordable small car is. The Corolla is simple, affordable, totally reliable in every sense of the word.
And now there’s this hybrid version that takes the tried-and-true Corolla formula and adds the powertrain from a Prius. That means it gets an easy 50 mpg for a bargain price of $24,524 as tested. And it also means that this affordable small car is also affordable at the pump. Does anyone need more car than this Corolla Hybrid? Honestly, probably not.
Sports Car of the Year: Lamborghini Urus
But if you do want more car, you can’t go wrong with the Lamborghini Urus. OK, yes, it’s not exactly a “sports car” but this five-passenger SUV has a Lamborghini badge and carbon ceramic brakes the size of dinner plates and an exhaust note that can shatter eardrums.
It also grabs the attention of ten-year old boys which is the entire point of a sports car, and it has a flip up missile launcher switch to turn the engine on and off. And it’s the most comfortable Lamborghini you can buy, and Lamborghini makes sports cars and phew, this pick is justified. Insane and wonderful.
Truck of the Year: Ford F-150
It might have taken until the last week of the year to find our Truck of the Year pick, but it’s undoubtedly the brand new 2021 Ford F-150. This truck is packed with so much cool tech and smart features that I couldn’t fit them all in my review (see Page B6-7 in this issue).
Between the work-friendly retracting gear shifter and the trailer backup knob and the lie-flat reclining seats, this truck is ready for work or play and will remain a steadfast and loyal companion for years to come. It’s the Golden Retriever of trucks. You just have to love it.
SUV of the Year: Ford Bronco Sport
Ford is killing it this year. Between the Mustang Mach-E electric car and the new Broncos and the new F-150, the Dearborn, Michigan firm is firing on all cylinders. And the new baby Bronco is a worthy winner of SUV of the year. I took the Bronco Sport to the California desert and it easily proved its off-road bona fides, while clever design on the inside showed how useful it would be in every day life as well.
We’ll have to wait and see if the full-size Bronco will win next year’s SUV of the Year prize, but the Ford Bronco Sport is well deserving of the name. Baby or not, this is definitely a Bronco.
Luxury Car of the Year: Lexus LC Convertible
Sometimes you can tell that a car is special just by looking at it. The shape, the curves, the feel of the door handle — the way the button to lower the convertible room is hidden away beneath a tiny little door in the center console.
The LC Convertible is a masterpiece of automotive design and engineering. It’s gorgeous, the interior is one of the finest fitted to an automobile today, and it is just a very special place to sit. Especially if you’re going to take a blast across the desert to Las Vegas for the weekend. I can’t say enough nice things about the Lexus LC in coupe or convertible form, but here’s another: This was the car I least wanted to give back this year. High praise.