As we rate more than 200 new vehicles each year, we dole out styling scores in the TCC Rating system. Is it good-looking inside? Point scored. Inside? Another point. Yes but is it really good-looking, inside and out? Point, and point. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
To earn a perfect 10, a car must be exceptional—and for 2020, only three cars earn that merit badge. A slew of vehicles land just a point lower, and any of them would instantly upgrade most drivers’ garage wardrobes.
We look at everything, from proportions to balance, from the finer details to the broad strokes. Color and trim choices play a big role (and would even more so for the ultra-luxury cars we omit here—because they ought to be gorgeous at $200,000 and up). Finally, we give points for freshness: An unbridled imitation of generations past can still look great, but does it break any new ground?
One thing’s for sure: The state of the art for 2020’s best-looking cars is art itself. Here’s this year’s master class in car style.
2020 Acura NSX
Too often, two-seat supercars lapse into trite lines and clichéd cues, and don’t make any sense of the welter of slits and gills and crests and scoops. The second-generation NSX avoided that trap: designers dumped every line from the spartan 1990 original, and knitted together a best-of collection from today’s supercar genre. The NSX’s deeply wedged shape sports massive haunches, a thin line of LED headlights, huge air intakes, and a tapered rear end. It’s been done before—but what other supercar puts the focus on an underappreciated badge so well? We’ll take ours without the carbon-fiber kit and with the chrome yellow, thanks.
2019 Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Dignified and cool, carved only as much as it needs to be, the Range Rover Velar is an ice sculpture of an SUV. The profile clearly connects with the bigger, pricier Range Rovers, but there’s no excessively upright stance or overdone layers of chrome. Other than the door handles, the Velar loses all the usual SUV jewelry—and that’s what makes its shape more modern art than baroque, though copper accents and some of its wood trims stand out strictly for the purpose of standing out. For a truly divine experience, opt into the Velar’s available woven-wool interior—a charming throwback that offsets the Velar’s flourishes of digital screens and rings of chrome.
2021 Lexus LC
Lexus should carve out space in a museum of the future for its LC coupe, a stunning piece of sculpture that just happens to move. The low-slung body wears jeweled stickpins for headlights, and wears a boomerang-shaped crest down its haunches that ends in another set of exquisitely pointy taillights. It’s a stop-and-gawk moment before the door opens into a cabin themed after lotus blossoms, stitched with elegant perfection and offered with eye-searing color combinations or more classic pairings, depending on the mood.
Nines across the board
2020 Audi R8 V10 RWD
Audi’s striking supercar no longer has its inspired side blades, but it’s still all about the drama.
2020 BMW 8-Series (840i)
Stunning in coupe or convertible form, the BMW 8-Series has its kinks in all the right places—and wears cockpit trim like a Rolls-Royce.
2019 BMW i8
BMW’s vision of the future has our attention—and even though the i8 has ended production, the influence of its butterfly doors and flying buttresses will linger on.
2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport (P400e PHEV)
Starched and pressed for action, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport tap the same landed-gentry aesthetic without tripping into obnoxiousness.
2019 Lincoln Navigator
For an American take on the Range Rover look, at almost the same price, nothing suits like a smartly tailored Lincoln Navigator. Crisp body lines give way to an interior that looks just a Pall Mall and a scotch shy of full Brat Pack status, especially in kitschy but captivating blue leather.
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Mercedes puts all its expressiveness into the latest S-Class, which sails into a final model year before it’s replaced with a new car. It’s hard to find where the S-Class has aged; it’s familiar, but the cockpit in particular still is striking, as well as lushly appointed.
2020 Porsche 718 Cayman T
The Porsche sports car that made our list knocks off the 911’s style, but uses its mid-engine layout to say something different about the classic teardrop shape. It’s more lithe and lean—more like the 918.
2019 Porsche Panamera GTS first drive
Porsche flubbed the first Panamera with an awkwardly high roofline, but it’s cured everything with the latest five-door hatchback. It’s gently curved and exquisitely refined—and in Sport Turismo shape, it’s a sleek wagon that still looks lethal.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S first drive - Los Angeles, CA
Porsche’s first electric sedan grabs all the Panamera it wants, and spins it forward with a fanged front end and a four-touchscreen interior. The future never looked so menacing—and good.