Cars we're thankful we drove in 2019

Autoblog Staff

We drove a lot of cars in 2019, and there's still a month to go. We drove them in our home office in Michigan, at our remote offices in Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Columbus, Ohio, and throughout the globe on myriad press launches. We could count them, but hey, that seems boastful. 

Instead, we want to be thankful. Not only for the opportunity to do this wonderful task some might describe as a "job," but for the new, shiny cars that brighten our days (and most hopefully yours). We asked our fellow editors which car they were most thankful to drive in 2019 ... here are our answers.

2019 Hyundai Veloster N Performance

Senior Editor Alex Kierstein

Every once in a while a car comes along that changes the narrative on a company or its segment, and everyone scrambles to experience it for themselves. This year, for me, that car’s the Veloster N Performance, perhaps the most transformative car the company’s ever built. Everyone who’s driven it, here and elsewhere, says it captures all those intangibles that make great driving hatchbacks great. And I’m thankful that I got a go in it before all of them left the fleet, because it does. It upends the segment long dominated by the GTI, a car that nails its brief. The N is rowdy and loud, sure, but it also has some of the most deftly tuned suspension I’ve come across in a front driver. My advice: if you’re in the market for something fun and unique, go test drive a Veloster N. I think you’ll be thankful you did.

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2019 Audi E-Tron

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder

I’m pleased that I got to drive the Audi E-Tron. That’s high praise for a year in which I also drove the stellar Jaguar I-Pace. The E-Tron, while not as sporty as the Jaguar, is excellently executed, and feels like a more refined, polished offering. It’s quick, whisper-quiet, comfortable, stylish inside and out, and incredibly sturdy. Some may lament that it doesn’t do much to stand out from ICE vehicles, but I don’t think it needs to. What it does need to do is win over the electro-skeptical, and I think Audi put its best foot forward with a crossover that can do just that, and more. So, yeah, not only am I thankful that I got to drive it, I’m glad that it’s compelling enough that it’ll hopefully make potential customers feel the same.

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2013 Peugeot 508

West Coast Editor James Riswick

My choice totally sucks. It is (and possibly was) a six-year-old rental car in the Azores with 106,000 miles on it. Its interior was peeling away, the T in Peugeot was missing and there was a tiny spider living in the passenger door handle. Even when new, a base-level 508 with a rinky-dink diesel engine wasn't exactly a gem. But you know what? That's the car I'm most thankful for in 2019. Not the LC 500, Porsche 718 Spyder or Polestar 1. Its unique crapiness made my traveling adventure that much better. It enhanced the journey rather than simply being there for transport. And isn't that exactly why we love cars in the first place? Merci ma Peugeot. 

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2020 Toyota Supra

Assistant Editor Zac Palmer

Plenty of fast, new metal passes through the Autoblog fleet every year, but driving the 2020 Toyota Supra was my highlight of 2019. The buildup may have been long and tiresome over the past few years, but that didn’t dampen my spirits one iota after seeing the Renaissance Red two-door in our parking lot. We’re all car geeks around here, and even though it was about a month ago, spending a few days with the brand-new Supra so soon after it launched is something I’m still geeking out about. To this day, I still haven’t seen another new Supra on the roads here in Detroit. Driving one when I did and being able to spill my thoughts about this car to all of our readers is something I’m incredibly thankful for this year. Setting aside the whole BMW controversy, what Toyota ended up with is a superbly capable and comfortable everyday sports car that I’d never tire of looking at. If I could only have one car and bore no responsibility to carry other folks around, the Supra would be high on my list. Only the GT350R I drove on track earlier this year would surpass it, but that car is significantly more expensive than the Supra.

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2020 BMW M340i

Managing Editor Greg Rasa

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to have been in this blue BMW M340i. Not because it was a nostalgia trip, a modern version of a BMW 3 Series I owned long, long ago. Not because it’s the hottest 3 Series you can get that isn’t a full-fat M3. Not for its twin-turbo inline-six with 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and the growl that accompanies it. I’m thankful for its four-piston M Sport brakes.

I was driving along at 40 mph on the inside lane of a Seattle arterial, with my daughter in the car, when two teenagers in a lifted Ram decided to swerve wildly from the right lane over to a left-turn lane, directly off my bow. They should have seen us — and in Sport mode they could even have heard us — but they didn't, or didn't care. I stood the BMW on its nose and kept us and a beautiful press car safe. If we had been in a lesser vehicle, the outcome could have been worse. Let us give thanks for outstanding brakes.

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2019 Mazda3

Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski

I drove a handful of truly interesting and noteworthy cars over the course of 2019. I considered the Jeep Gladiator along with the McLaren 600 LT Spider and 720S Spider. I could have picked any of those three and been happy with the choice. But instead of gushing about one of those glorious supercars — and let's be clear, they are both wonderful and perfectly aimed at their intended targets — I'm going to be pragmatic and heap some praise on something much more mundane: the 2019 Mazda3.

The example I tested was an all-wheel-drive sedan in white, and the worst thing I could think to say about it is that I wish the back seat was a little roomier. I'd probably choose the hatchback variant in a more interesting color if I were buying one for myself, like the bright red example just below, but either way the Mazda3 is brilliant. Everything from the handling to the horsepower is just right, and I think we can all be grateful that all of its inherent goodness is available for less than the average cost of a new car in America.

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