Super Bowl LIV is in the books, and with it, another year chock-full of car ads.
Car companies remain one of the staples of the big game, alongside big tech and snack food. This year no less than eight brands took part. Not all ads are equal though, especially with an estimated price tag of $5.6 million for a 30-second spot.
We’ve ranked every 2020 Super Bowl car commercial from worst to best here. From wicked smaht to whack-a-mole, heists to Hummers, here’s everything that aired Sunday evening.
Worst: GMC Hummer EV
Look, don’t take our low ranking of the reborn Hummer as a judgment on the whole move. We’re very curious to see what GMC has in store for its new, 1,000 hp halo model. It’s ballsy to relaunch the brand as an all-electric pickup, yet given the likely premium price tag and heft, it oddly makes a lot of sense. At least, it makes as much sense as it could in a world where the Cybertruck already has thousands of deposits. The sound design of the ad in particular was a clever way to convey the advantages of an EV.
But the ad showed us nothing, outside of the (admittedly cool) light-up grille. Teaser ads can work, but with the GMC Hummer EV set to get its reveal in May 2020—and an on-sale date late 2021—this felt a little too early.
Seventh: Audi E-Tron
Audi has had some fantastic ads in the past. Who could forget the R8 ad from Super Bowl 50, with its well-timed (and timely) addition of David Bowie’s “Starman”? Or the talking t-rex from the same year?
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Upcoming EVs of 2020
Unfortunately this year’s ad can’t match those high-water marks. Featuring Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones fame, the spot focuses on the E-tron Sportback, one of our most anticipated EVs of 2020. Williams is stuck in traffic, surrounded by traditional internal-combustion engines. Visibly fed up, she launches into “Let It Go”, that earworm of a song from Frozen. Just when you thought it had finally faded away too.
Sixth: Toyota Highlander
Toyota’s big ad was for the all-new 2020 Highlander. Cobie Smulders stars here, helping those selfless folks you find telling others to go on without them in action movies. At the end of it all she picks up her son, and it’s here we learn she’s got a penchant for these sorts of things.
It’s a fun enough spot, largely thanks to Smulders’ pitch-perfect delivery. Also helpful: sticking these rescues in the second and third rows shows off the Highlander’s ample space.
But given where most of these sorts of vehicles are typically found, we think Toyota missed a huge opportunity to revive Robin Sparkles’ “Let’s Go To The Mall”.
Fifth: Genesis GV80
We got a bit of a sneak peek at this one, as part of the Genesis GV80 North American reveal event in Miami. Power couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend front Genesis’ first big-game ad, as the two bid adieu to “old luxury”.
The celeb selection is on point here: Teigen and Legend should be well-liked by the sorts of people the GV80 will appeal to. The real challenge for Genesis was the enemy within: both its Kia and Hyundai sister brands had strong ads this year. Not only that, but we’d argue the teaser trailers for this were funnier.
Still, the GV80 should continue Genesis’ disruption of the luxury segment when it touches down later this year.
Fourth: Kia Seltos
We’re ranking Kia’s ad so high this year because it dared to do something different: be serious.
The spot stars Josh Jacobs, running back for the Las Vegas Raiders. Jacobs dealt with homelessness during his childhood in Oklahoma, yet dedicated himself to football with such passion he was a first-round draft pick last year. Over the course of the season he racked up numerous rookie records for the team. The ad shows Jacobs giving advice to his younger self as he drives the new Kia Seltos, aligning with Kia’s “Give it Everything” tagline.
What’s better is that Kia pledged $1,000 for each yard gained during the big game towards three charities that help America’s homeless: Covenant House, Positive Tomorrows and StandUp for Kids. By our maths (with stats from AJC) that ended up being nearly $250,000 for each charity.
Third: Porsche Taycan
Porsche got the jump on everyone by releasing its spot super early this year. The German brand, which hasn’t taken part in the big game for two decades, showcased all manner of its models, both new and old. Or, as our friends at Car and Driver first spotted, even future models, like the 992-generation 911 GT3.
The action unfolds at the Porsche Museum itself in Stuttgart. A thief bags the Taycan and the security is soon on the hunt, taking everything from a 917 to a Porsche tractor. When it looks like the thief is finally well and truly pinned down, we learn everyone is in on the game. We give this one the bronze for showing lots of fun driving—though we’d like to know where the giant handbrake factory option is for the 992.
Second: Hyundai Sonata
Say it with us now: smaht pahk.
Hyundai’s Boston-centric ad drew big laughs and big numbers this year. (At the time of writing, it was closing in on 38 million views on YouTube.) Featuring Chris Evans, Rachel Dratch and John Krasinski—who would also show up, briefly, in the trailer for A Quiet Place 2—the spot highlights a useful feature in the new Sonata sedan and gives the actors plenty of chances to drop their Rs.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Review
What really elevates this one is Hyundai’s dedication to the bit. The modified tagline (“Bettah Drives Us”) is just a teaser: when shoppers head to the Sonata’s page on the official Hyundai website, they have the option of applying a Boston filter to the whole thing. We’re reasonably sure this is the first use of “frickin'” on a car maker’s site, and that makes us grin.
First: Jeep Gladiator
It’s almost cheating to use Bill Murray in your Super Bowl commercial. Almost.
Banking on the added significance of the Super Bowl’s date—February 2, otherwise known as Groundhog Day—this FCA spot drops Murray back into one of his most famous roles. The supporting cast is all here too, except for one big difference: the Jeep Gladiator.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Review – Video
Phil’s happy demeanor has him kicking off the sheets every morning and taking the Gladiator out for fun, usually in the company of the weather-prognosticating woodchuck. We even get a hint of Jeep’s EV bicycle which, true to brand, looks off-road ready.
This struck such a perfect tone, and despite only hitting YouTube yesterday it’s already racked up over 23 million views. Well done, FCA.
Honorable Mention: WeatherTech
We mention this short-but-sweet ad because chances are you have something in your car from WeatherTech, the big car accessory company. That, and you’ve likely seen Scout, the golden retriever in some of the company’s ads.
Scout is company founder’s David MacNeil’s furry best friend. Last year Scout collapsed, and instead of giving up, MacNeil took Scout to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Fast-forward to today and Scout has survived his heart cancer.
“There’s so many companies selling this snack or this beer,” MacNeil told NBC, before asking himself “what can I do to help the university and the school?” The answer: spend millions of dollars on a personal thank you to the University of Wisconsin, and encourage others to donate, as much of what is learned treating pet cancer can help us learn more about cancer in humans. Did someone just start cutting onions in the office?