Drive: The best SUVs and larger vehicles of 2020

Last week, we evaluated the best of the smaller cars and SUVs we reviewed during 2020. This week belongs to the big units - SUVs, pickup trucks, minivans and full-sized sedans - as well as a sporty coupe, high-priced but fun to drive.

Luxury sedan: Genesis G90

When Hyundai first stumbled into the U.S. market with marginal contenders like the Excel, no one could have imagined the Korean automaker some day would bring out a big luxury sedan like the G90. Actually, it's not really a Hyundai; it's the product of a spinoff line called Genesis. “Any automaker can load up its flagship model with luxury and safety features, but the temptation to save money on interior materials, switches and styling has set back many a fine car,” we noted in our review. “But Genesis has not made any such mistakes - not a single one we could discern. The leathers, cushioned surfaces, even the trunk deck cover and side panels, are top quality.” The G90 is a limousine-quality car with a 420-horsepower V-8 engine, and every imaginable amenity, all for $79,195. That may seem pricey to most people, but remember, Genesis is competing with the class of the automotive world, including Audi, Cadillac, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

Midsize SUV: Volkswagen Atlas

While this truly is a crowded category, Volkswagen wins with an SUV that combines taut handling, a comfortable ride, overall refinement and sound ergonomics. Base-priced at $31,555 for 2021, it can be fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 235-horsepower Four or a 276-horsepower V-6. The Atlas is not VW's first foray into the SUV market - the compact Tiguan, still in production, and the midsize Touareg, discontinued with the introduction of the Atlas, never made much of an impression on us in terms of price, styling or functionality. But VW hit a home run with the Atlas, which reached 81,508 units sold in 2019 and continued to sell well in the troubled year of 2020.

Pickup Truck: Jeep Gladiator

Why the Gladiator? It costs more than our personal favorite, the Ram, doesn't handle as well, and has a noisier, harsher personality. What can we say? The Gladiator is basically a Jeep Wrangler with a pickup-truck bed, and the Wrangler, for all its faults, is a lovable vehicle. “Most of the people who got behind the wheel of our test truck - a Gladiator Overland, priced at $55,335 with options - loved it,” we wrote in our review of this new Jeep model. “We immediately noticed the Gladiator's ride was much more smooth and composed than we expected.” Yes, that price might steer more than a few truck shoppers to the Nissan, Toyota, Ford, GMC, Chevrolet or Ram showroom. There's no shortage of pickup trucks in today's market. But there's something special, perhaps even indefinable, about the Gladiator.

Large SUV: Kia Telluride

The Telluride and its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, actually slot between midsize and large. Both are exceptionally well-conceived vehicles. “The Telluride does a lot of things well,” we observed in our review. “It rides serenely, yet handles competently; attains 24 mpg on the highway despite weighing about two and a quarter tons; and pampers its passengers with luxurious accommodations and features.” Predictably, the Telluride also is a price leader in its segment, starting at $31,990 for the well-equipped LX and climbing to $44,090 for near-luxury SX trim. It's also a big vehicle, so there's little benefit from going even bigger except to gain towing capacity: the Telluride and Palisade are good for 5,000 pounds.

Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica

The Pacifica used to be a midsize crossover wagon. Now, however, it's a minivan formerly known as the Chrysler Town & Country. The Pacifica competes with the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona. “(The Pacifica's) greatest strength is its functionality,” we noted in our review. “It's a great vehicle for traveling with family, especially when equipped - as our test car was - with the Uconnect Theater with Wireless Streaming.” Our test car had a sticker price of $49,800, but a reasonably well-equipped example can be had for about $27,000. Notwithstanding the enduring popularity of SUVs, minivans are superior people-movers and cargo vans, and the Pacifica is available with all-wheel drive.

Sports car: BMW 440i xDrive Coupe

“The car's performance was, in a word, spectacular.” That's how we characterized the 2021 BMW 440i xDrive Coupe, a truly special automobile, and one that we really didn't want to give back. The 440i, based on the 3 Series, is fast, comfortable, luxurious and refined. It seats four - realistically, two - handles like a dream and looks fantastic while doing it. Our 440i had the 382-horsepower inline Six with a mild-hybrid system that makes it more fuel-efficient, as well as faster. Our lavishly equipped 440i had a sticker price of $70,470, but the base 430i, with a 255-horsepower turbocharged inline Four, starts at $45,600. In every respect - ride, comfort, handling, performance and style - it gave us more pure driving enjoyment than any car we've driven in recent years.

Steven Macoy ( is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.