The cars we're most looking forward to in 2020

Whether it's driving a hot new car that recently debuted, or finally seeing a long-awaited model, here's what we're looking forward to most in the new year.

CNET Cars staff
6 min read
Tesla Roadster
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Tesla Roadster

Maybe, maybe, maybe we'll get to drive the new Tesla Roadster this year.


It's a brand-new decade, Roadshow readers. If you're like us, the year 2020 certainly sounds and feels like the future, and we've got a whole bunch of forward-thinking cars coming our way over the next few years.

Right now, we're setting our sights on what's expected to debut over the next 12 months. This is going to be a busy year for new car launches; here are the cars we're most looking forward to driving (or just seeing) in the new year.

This is the new Tesla Roadster

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Tesla Roadster 2.0

It seems like 100 years ago that I reviewed the first-generation Tesla Roadster, but it was actually only eight. Still, in the life of a journalist covering , that's a very long time indeed.

The company has evolved incredibly since then. At the end of 2011, Tesla had delivered just over 2,000 cars globally. These days, it delivers upward of 30,000 cars every month. More impressive is what the company has learned about vehicle dynamics since then. The early Roadster was delightfully fun and raw but it felt every bit like the hacksawed Lotus Elise that it was. The new Roadster will be something entirely different, offering a 0-to-60-mph time of 1.9 seconds and a whopping 600-mile maximum range. Those numbers sound ambitious, but when it comes to performance capability Musk's promises for the Models S, X and 3 have ultimately come true.

What hasn't always worked out is the timing, and so while the promised release in 2020 is far from a sure bet, I'm optimistic for a ride sometime in the next 12 months.

-- Tim Stevens

Meet the Mustang Mach-E, Ford's new, all-electric SUV

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Ford Mustang Mach-E

After all the kerfuffle over the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E's pony-car-derived name and styling dies down, at the end of the day, we're going to be left with an electric crossover that's going to have to prove itself.

The preliminary specs -- up to 459 horsepower, 0-to-60-mph time in the mid-3-second range and, most importantly, a range of 300-plus miles -- all suggest this model will have the goods. Me? I think it has the best chance of sales success of any EV not wearing Elon Musk and Co.'s "T" badge, but a lot of important things both small and big will need to coalesce for that to happen. I just can't wait to drive the thing and see if it has a shot.

-- Chris Paukert

2020 Volkswagen Golf
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2020 Volkswagen Golf

The new GTI will be based on this eighth-generation Golf.


Volkswagen GTI

We might not be getting the new Volkswagen Golf in the US, but as far as we know right now, the new GTI is headed this way. I've always loved the GTI for its blend of performance and practicality, with a high-quality interior, great styling and fantastic driving dynamics in an affordable package.

The new GTI doesn't look to shake up this formula too much, but it'll bring better infotainment and driver-assistance tech to the package. Will this still be my daily driver of choice? Hopefully I'll know later this year.

-- Steven Ewing

2021 Kia Seltos is a good-looking, affordable SUV

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Kia Seltos

Offering style with a scale closer to that of Kia's lovable little Soul, the new Seltos' look has really grown on me since its debut earlier this year. With two available engines, I'm most looking forward to the more powerful 1.6-liter turbo model, boasting 195 pound-feet of torque. Optional all-wheel drive should afford the Seltos a bit more all-weather stability than the smaller Soul currently does, plus the compact SUV will roll out with the same excellent UVO dashboard tech and Drive Wise driver-assistance suite.

Kia's been on a bit of a roll with this latest generation of cars, and the Seltos is set to be just as impressive when it hits the road in early 2020.

-- Antuan Goodwin

Ford Bronco R takes on the Baja 1000

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Ford Bronco

Ford announced the coming of a new Bronco way back in 2017 and we've been waiting with bated breath ever since. True, Ford showed us the Bronco R, a racing prototype with the stock powertrain, and entered it into the Baja 1000, but we don't actually know what will power the production SUV.

The Bronco R raced with a solid rear axle and independent front suspension, which may or may not carry over to the production model. Ford has filed patents for removable doors, so hopefully the Bronco will be open air like its biggest competitor, the .

One thing is for sure: the Bronco is an iconic vehicle with fans around the world. If the new Bronco comes into this world as anything but a hardcore off-roader, Ford is going to have an enthusiast riot on its hands. It's a Bronco, Ford -- not a Shetland pony.

-- Emme Hall

2021 Polestar 2 is Sweden's sleek Tesla rival

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Polestar 2

The Polestar 1 is sort of a one-off moon shot, which is why I'm far more excited for 2020 to bring the Polestar 2. This former arm of Volvo, now its own dedicated electrified automaker, intends to roll out an affordable-ish hatchback that takes a unique direction compared to Volvo. It'll have the first iteration of the group's new Android-based infotainment system, and its electric range should be mighty competitive. Plus, I'm a huge fan of rectilinear designs, and the Polestar 2 has it in spades. I can't wait to take it for a spin.

-- Andrew Krok

2021 Chevy Tahoe gets diesel power, independent rear suspension

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Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban

The and its older, larger sibling, the , are receiving a total overhaul for 2021. Not only are these body-on-frame SUVs getting dramatically more premium interiors and completely revamped bodies, engineers have fitted them with a heaping helping of new technology.

The headline feature in this department is an independent rear-suspension design. Yep, no longer will GM's biggest and most profitable utility vehicles soldier on with chassis technology that could have been borrowed from a Roman chariot. The iron log that has supported these vehicles for decades has been tossed in the trash, replaced by a system that's basically guaranteed to deliver superior handling and refinement, whether driven to the office on a Monday morning or taken out for a good thrashing on a boulder-strewn trail over the weekend. Beyond this, magnetic dampers and even four-corner air suspension will be offered.

I'm excited to see just how improved the latest-generation Tahoe and Suburban are, and I won't have to wait too long to find out; these vehicles are slated to go on sale next summer.

-- Craig Cole

2020 Land Rover Defender looks like an angry little bulldog

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Land Rover Defender

Like everyone else, I suspect, I was incredibly skeptical of the new Land Rover Defender when it was initially announced. I mean, the original was so iconic and so clearly from a different time and place that no modern vehicle could hope to recreate its magic. Fortunately, also like everyone else, I was totally blown away by the new Defender when it debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and my admiration for it only increased when I saw it in person at the LA Auto Show.

The new Defender is handsome and retro-inspired without being kitschy. Its interior is perfect and so are the various styling packages being offered. To be totally honest, the biggest mistake I think that JLR made was not offering the thing in Sandglow like the Camel Trophy Defenders of old. I absolutely cannot wait to get the Defender out on the trails of Southern California and see if its driving experience matches up to its looks.

-- Kyle Hyatt

Mercedes-Benz Logo
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Mercedes-Benz Logo
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Mercedes-Benz S-Class

More than maybe any other car on the market, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been the pioneer when it comes to tech and luxury. Every new generation introduces features that have never been seen before, and the upcoming seventh-gen model should be no different. The fact that it's coming at the beginning of a new decade -- and at a turning point in the industry in terms of electrification and autonomy -- is surely not lost on Mercedes. I'm expecting to see sleek looks, a totally new kind of dashboard design, advanced autonomous tech, and even more cossetting luxuriousness, if that's even possible.

As with all S-Classes, what appears on the brand's flagship model will trickle down to the other cars in the Mercedes portfolio, making fresh tech and new styling elements available to a much broader range of consumers. But more than anything else, I want to know how many new massage functions the seats will have.

-- Daniel Golson