The widely praised Genesis G70 landed a critical victory to mark the start of the annual Los Angeles Auto Show by being named the Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Designed to challenge the likes of the vaunted BMW 3 Series, the G70 is the third new model from the Korean luxury brand spun off by Hyundai barely two years ago.
Separately, the Ram 1500 was named Motor Trend Truck of the Year, while parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles took home a second trophy for the Jeep Wrangler honored as the SUV of the Year. While the Motor Trend Car of the Year trophy has traditionally nabbed the top headlines, these two awards are likely to resonate more broadly with consumers in a market where light trucks now account for about two of three new vehicle sales.
“This year brought many strong contenders to the table, making our job that much more difficult,” said Edward Low, Motor Trend editor-in-chief said at the awards ceremony in L.A. Tuesday night. “Rest assured, the awards are being presented to the best of the best in the industry.”
(The Genesis G70 is a stunning mix of power and comfort. To see our review, Click Here.)
The G70 was unveiled barely a year ago and came to market in mid-2018. It is just the third product line since Genesis itself was launched and entered an extremely challenging segment where the BMW 3-Series is seen as the gold standard.
There are two optional powertrains offered for the compact sports sedan, including a 2.0-liter turbo – which even has an optional, six-speed manual — though the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 is where things get serious, punching power up to 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to take you from 0 to 60 in just 4.5 seconds – nearly a second faster than a BMW 330i.
On high-line versions of the new G70 Genesis offers a variety of sporty features one would expect from the Bavarians, including a Sport Mode that tightens up such vehicle dynamics as suspension, steering, transmission shifts and throttle response. High-trim versions of the G70 also will feature active sound management designed to give it a more throaty roar under hard acceleration.
“It hits all the right notes,” said Angus MacKenzie, Motor Trend’s international bureau chief and former editor-in-chief. “Punchy powertrains and an agile chassis that’s a ton of fun, sporty exterior styling with strong graphics, and a well-appointed interior.”
As for the Ram 1500, the full-size pickup enters an extremely tough segment of the market, especially this year considering General Motors has also launched two new versions of its own trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra. Ford, meanwhile, has added more options for its own F-150.
One of the more intriguing developments introduced with the 2019 Ram pickup is its new “mild” hybrid eTorque system, a technology that manages to accomplish a variety of things simultaneously: powering the Ram’s new, semi-active suspension while boosting performance and improving fuel economy.
(Click Here for more about FCA doubling the output of diesel-powered Rams.)
Ram offers the full-size 1500 with a seemingly endless variety of cab, bed and powertrain configurations. But the Limited pushes into new territory, with a price tag that can easily approach $70,000 once you check all the boxes.
Of course, if you check the right boxes you’ll also get the power to haul a bed full of rocks to decorate the vacation home, or tow a boat and trailer weighing more than 11,000 pounds. Trucker stuff that also can prove useful to a suburban homeowner.
As for the SUV of the Year, the Wrangler is the latest incarnation of a vehicle that helped take utility vehicles into the mainstream market where they now account for roughly one of every two vehicles sold in the U.S.
The iconic off-roader traces its roots back to the original Jeep that helped move American troops across Europe and the Pacific during World War II. But the new Wrangler has some very modern features while still retaining the go-anywhere capabilities that have made it a cult favorite. There are still a wide variety of different versions of the SUV, including two and four-door models, so Jeep aims to appeal to a wide range of individual niches.
FCA actually pulled off a hat trick on Tuesday night, the Euro-American automaker taking a special, third award for Person of the Year. That honor was a bit bittersweet for the company as it went to former CEO Sergio Marchionne who passed away unexpectedly in July after what was supposed to be routine surgery.
His death came barely a month after outlining an ambitious five-year plan for FCA that calls for an increasing emphasis on light trucks while also pushing the company into new arenas such as electrification and autonomous vehicles.
(To see more about the last Wrangler JK rolling off the line, Click Here.)
Marchionne was succeeded in his CEO role by Michael Manley, the executive who had been overseeing both the Jeep and Ram brands.