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December 27, 2020

Top 5 Picks for 2020

With pandemic-related community quarantine measures in place since March, one would think that choices for this year’s Top 5 Picks would be slim. Thankfully, that’s not the case. All in all, we managed to test 41 vehicles this year. While this number is slightly down from 2019’s 50, it’s still a sizeable number given we need to trim down the list to just five. 

This is especially true since our Top 5 Picks is done differently from everyone else.

Instead of categorizing and sub-categorizing cars to make everyone a winner, we lump them together to get the five cars that were outstanding throughout the year. 

There are only three criteria for judging: first, it was extensively driven; no around the block test drives, no “first drives”, no ride and drive junkets. Second, it should be fairly mainstream. For that, the list is capped with a maximum MSRP of P 4 million. And finally, it should have been a standout. And when we mean “standout”, it’s a car we think is worthy to actually spend our own money on.

As a refresher, here are the previous winners: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

With that out of the way, let’s see which cars made it to our Top 5 Picks of 2020.

#5. Nissan 370Z NISMO

Nissan’s two-seater sportscar certainly took its sweet time coming to the Philippines, but when it did, it did so in style. It’s a bright spot in an otherwise dreary year for anything four-wheeled. Despite its low-slung appearance and NISMO-tuned suspension, it can be driven daily. That said, it truly comes alive when driven out of the city. It’s a timelessly addictive driver’s car. It doesn’t rank any higher on this list because of two reasons: it’s already a decade old, and it is nearing precariously to our self-appointed ceiling price. Still, this sportscar makes the Toyota GR Supra seemed overpriced, and for that, it deserves its place on this list.

Full review here.

#4. Maxus G50 Premium

It’s hard to get excited about driving an MPV, but this one pushes all the right buttons. Visually, the G50 passes the driveway test with its nicely-chiseled design. Even more important, it’s well-packaged with a roomy interior and a flexible cargo hold. It also comes packing lots of tech (though we wish Apple CarPlay came as standard) that’s relatively easy to use. Round everything up with decent road manners and it’s an MPV that can satisfy both the enthusiast and practically-minded. It’s also priced extremely competitively. It doesn’t place any higher on this list due to its uneven ride, and a less-than-plush DCT gearbox. Still, we loved how Maxus played around with its colorway options.

Full review here.

#3. Kia Seltos 2.0 SX

Boxy and squarish, the Seltos proves that Kia’s got style down pat. Its beauty is more than just skin deep too. That playful styling gives way to a truly practical interior with lots of usable space. In fact, compared to other compact crossovers, it offers more head-, shoulder-, and leg room. Single-handedly, its biggest win though is its trick transmission. It offers better low-speed refinement, and better highway fuel efficiency than a conventional automatic. Drive-wise, the rest of the package matches. It’s a smooth operator—trading sportiness for comfort; and that’s not such a bad thing. Alas, it doesn’t score any better in this ranking for two reasons: the plasticky interior and the lack of driver involvement.

Full review here.

#2. Geely Coolray Sport

This is the biggest surprise of the year, and one that shows why Chinese brands shouldn’t be dismissed. The Geely Coolray’s sharp exterior styling and finely crafted interior are already enough to command attention, but it backs it up with one of the best driving experiences in the segment. Its turbocharged drivetrain means it’s a hot hatch trapped in a crossover body, yet it never feels out of touch with what it is: a family-oriented vehicle. It may be fast and fun through corners, but it’s equally refined, supple, and composed. It’s also roomy, solid, and practical. Well-priced and feature-rich, if only it had perfected its ergonomics, and toned down its exterior styling just a tad, it could have been the year’s Top Pick.

Full review here.

#1. Mazda CX-30 AWD Sport

A crossover off-shoot of last year’s Top Pick, the Mazda3, the CX-30 is proof that lightning strikes twice for Mazda’s newest generation of vehicles. No other crossover at this price point can get even remotely close to its sense of quality and execution. More importantly, it delivers a clear message that trendy high-riding hatchbacks can be classy. It’s also proof that they can set the heart aflutter. Without a doubt, it’s the most beautiful among compact crossovers. Thankfully, it has road manners to match—be it on the open road or in stop-and-go traffic. Even better, it doesn’t forget the practical aspect, and is still a sensible vehicle for a small family. Despite being slightly handicapped by its pricing, it still comes out on top for this year.

Full review here.


  1. Its not carguide if the top 1 isn't a Mazda

    1. Not necessarily. Although Mazda has taken the number one spot for some years (their current generation of models are all good), check out the previous winners...there were other brands like Suzuki, Honda, and more.


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