Are Cars Still Getting Better?

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Photo: Robyn Beck/Getty (Getty Images)

Lately I’ve been bopping back and forth between press cars, my old Lexus, and the GTI. (reviews coming, promise!) One question that’s crossed my mind a couple of times is whether cars are still getting better. They’re definitely changing, and I think objectively they are getting better in a lot of ways I care about, but I don’t know if I feel that in my bones.

On one hand, I really want to drive a new Bronco, on the other hand, I’d rather burn to death in a car from the 40s than pay for a subscription to a 2025 model’s onboard fire extinguisher.

On the other other hand, that Genesis G80 I drove last week was mind-blowing—a massive improvement over the last one, which was excellent.

So I’m not going to say I don’t appreciate the advances automakers have made in just about every facet of designing and building cars over the last decade or so…I dunno, maybe I’m inured to a lot of them? Maybe they’re mostly improving in ways I don’t care about?

I think I could go back pretty far before we arrived at cars that I couldn’t live with day to day, like 1910s-20s. But that’s not the question. Cars absolutely improved by every measure after that. The answer to this is going to have to be a year in the last ten to fifteen years in my opinion.

What do you think? Are cars still getting better? Are we on a plateau before an electric sea change? Is there a particular year where things stopped improving and started just changing? If you were going to freeze car development in a particular year, what year would it be? And don’t just answer with a year, that’ll give poor Lawrence something to work with on the AOTD front.

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