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Super Bowl LIV has come and gone. The Kansas City Chiefs, on the back of some clutch plays from Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20. It was the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl title since Super Bowl IV and the game itself was dramatic to the end. That’s great, but we’re not here to talk about Super Bowl LIV. We’re here to talk about what we always talk about this time of the year. We’re here to talk about the car commercials that aired during the game.

There were a lot of car commercials this year, more than in previous years. Automakers like Audi, Toyota, Kia, and Hyundai all spent big to roll out these ads and tout their latest vehicular offerings. One automaker in particular — Volvo — didn’t air a Super Bowl commercial, opting instead to hold a contest that involved a safety being scored in the game.

All told, it was a memorable year for Super Bowl car commercials. There wasn’t one ad that had a timeless vibe to it — think Eminem’s Chrysler commercial and Volkswagen’s Darth Vader commercial from year’s past — but for the most part, all the car commercials achieved the intention behind them. They got people like us to talk about them.

Audi E-Tron Sportback: Let It Go

Talk about spending a lot of money. Audi not only purchased ad time in the Super Bowl, but it also licensed a song from Disney {and} hired a Hollywood A-lister to star in the commercial.

The sixty-second commercial stars Game of Throne’s Maisie Williams and the Audi E-Tron Sportback. It starts with Williams unplugging the electric SUV from a charger and just as she drives down the road, she encounters heavy traffic, angry drivers, and suffocating exhaust gas in the air.

This lethal mix is enough to get the blood boiling, but Williams is undeterred. She takes a deep breath and starts singing Frozen’s Let It Go. Suddenly, the road clears and the mood lightens as everyone sings along to the hit song, including corporate logos and inflatable tube men. The absurdity of it all doesn’t affect William’s ownership of the commercial. As much as Audi wants the E-Tron Sportback to shine in the ad — the “Let’s drive to a more sustainable future” message drives that point home — it’s Williams’ performance that we will probably remember most about this commercial.

It’s still a solid commercial to introduce the E-Tron Sportback in the U.S. market. Audi has big hopes for its electric crossover. It uses a pair of electric motors and a 95-kWh battery pack that produces 402 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque. It boasts a WLTP range of 277 miles and it’s capable of sprinting from 0 to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 124 mph.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 10/10
  • Car Factor: 9/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 7/10
  • Overall Verdict: 8/10

Genesis GV80: Going Away Party

When you’re a young, up-and-coming automaker, the fastest way to get attention is to flaunt your freshness in the face of the old and established. That’s the blueprint Genesis used in its Super Bowl LIV ad for the all-new Genesis GV80, and the automaker even hired power couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen to hammer home that point.

The “young luxury” vs “old luxury” face-off sits at the heart of this commercial for the GV80. In it, Legend and Teigen decide to do away with old luxury. They do it by introducing the Genesis GV80 to a crowd of socialites who fit a lot of the stereotypical tropes associated with “old luxury.”

The entire ad is a 60-second exercise in metaphors where the crowd represents established automakers that have been in the luxury SUV game for a while now. Meanwhile, Legend and Teigen are cut from the new cloth, and their ride-of-choice — the all-new Genesis GV80 — fits in the same mold. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

That’s what Genesis aims to accomplish with the GV80. The luxury SUV made its U.S. debut last week and among all the goodies it’s touting — it’s loaded with new-age technology and powered by a 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that produces 370 horsepower in one of its available specs. This version, according to Genesis, can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 7/10
  • Star Power: 9/10
  • Car Factor: 9/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 5/10
  • Overall Verdict: 7/10

GMC Hummer EV: Quiet Revolution

GMC dropped a bombshell during the Super Bowl. Not only did the automaker unveil a new product, but that product comes from a brand that hasn’t been around for almost a decade.

The Hummer is back, folks, and it’s taking on a new and electrified form.

The GMC Hummer EV is the poster boy for reputational paradox. Long considered one of the most gas-guzzling auto brands in the world — at least when it was around — Hummer is returning to the market with a monstrous pickup that emits zero emissions.

The 30-second commercial touches on that point repeatedly. It touts the Hummer EV’s 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 pound-feet of torque that manifest themselves in silence.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James even makes a cameo, smashing the backboard off a dunk with the volume turned down the zero. GMC’s message is clear and direct to the point. The Hummer is returning, and while some elements of the old Hummer remain — the size of the pickup is massive — the elements that led to its demise won’t be around anymore.

This massive hauler is also capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds. Other details like range and towing capacity will be revealed on May 20, 2020, but this early, GMC is throwing a shot at the rest of its rivals who are also planning to enter the electric pickup market.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 10/10
  • Car Factor: 10/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 8/10
  • Overall Verdict: 9/10

Hyundai Sonata Smart Park Technology: Smaht Pahk

Hyundai’s Super Bowl LIV commercial for the all-new Sonata had everything. It stars Chris Evans, Rachel Dratch, and John Krasinski, three big-time celebrities who have more than a few things in common, including their shared Massachusetts roots. The commercial also stars the new Sonata’s “Smart Park” technology, or “Smaht Pahk,” as the trio calls it.

The technology was on full display in the ad as Evans and Dratch marvel over Krasinski’s demonstration. Of course, being that all three hail from Massachusetts, the iconic Boston accent is also on full display, and while the repeated mention of “Smaht Pahk” becomes a tad grating, the message of the commercial is clear. Hyundai’s Smart Park technology is useful. More importantly, it’s awesome.

Boston Red Sox legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz also makes a cameo, making the commercial a full-on celebration of Boston’s finest.

Hyundai’s Smart Park technology allows a car to maneuver into and out of tight parking spaces without a driver sitting behind the steering wheel of the car. I don’t imagine the tech working as smoothly as the commercial shows, but the tech should work well enough for prospective customers to take notice.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 10/10
  • Car Factor: 9/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 7/10
  • Overall Verdict: 8/10

Jeep Gladiator: Groundhog Day

At this point, you’re probably seeing a trend with a lot of these Super Bowl commercials. They’re all going heavy on the celebrities, and Jeep’s commercial for the Gladiator pickup is no different.

The 60-second ad stars Bill Murray, who reprises his role as Phil from the 1983 movie Groundhog Day. While initially dreading his return to the Groundhog Day universe, Murray catches a glimpse of the Jeep Gladiator and immediately falls in love with it. Just as quickly, his mood shifts. He wakes up everyday excited to see what adventures await him in the Gladiator. He even starts stealing Punxsutawney Phil — the groundhog — and takes him to do all sorts of activities with the Gladiator, apparently enjoying the fact that he’s reliving the same day over and over.

The commercial also spends time highlighting the Gladiator’s many strengths and features. The truck loses its doors and roof. It goes sliding through the snow. It tracks its off-road capabilities. At one point, Punxsutawney Phil actually starts enjoying his time in the truck. Jeep’s decision to use Groundhog Day to showcase the Gladiator is a home run. We easily identify the movie and the modern twist of the Gladiator playing a prominent part in it hammers home the point that Jeep is trying to make. No days really are the same in the Gladiator.

That’s an important selling point for Jeep, which is touting the Gladiator as one of its most important models. We haven’t seen a Jeep pickup since the Comanche was discontinued in 1992, but the Gladiator’s arrival makes that a moot point. The pickup is powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It has a max payload of 7,000 pounds and can tow as much as 7,650 pounds.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 10/10
  • Car Factor: 9/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 7/10
  • Overall Verdict: 8/10

Toyota Highlander ft. Cobie Smulders: Untitled

A Super Bowl wouldn’t be complete without a commercial from Toyota. This year, the Japanese auto giant is promoting the new Highlander SUV, and to keep us interested, it also tapped How I Met Your Mother and Marvel Cinematic Universe star Cobie Smulders to show us that the Highlander can travel anywhere to save people who are trapped in several stereotypical situations from movies.

A chemical leak? No problem. Smulders and the Highlander are here to save the day. A western shootout? Here comes the cavalry. An alien attack? Smulders and the Highlander have your backs. The commercial ends with a young man seeing the love of his life leave him for good. It’s a bit of a corny ending, but we learn later that Smulders is just picking up his son, delivering the kind of “gotcha!” swerve we didn’t expect.

Unlike Jeep’s commercial for the Gladiator or Hyundai’s ad for the Sonata, Toyota’s commercial for the Highlander doesn’t really touch on anything that the SUV can do beyond being in the right place at the right time with a beautiful and famous driver behind the wheel.

With respect to Smulders — she’s beautiful — the ad doesn’t deliver the kind of substance you’d expect from a Toyota commercial during the Super Bowl.

In any event, the all-new Toyota Highlander is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. You can also opt for a hybrid version, which comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a battery pack to deliver 243 horsepower. Either version should appeal to a segment of the population, but in case you’re expecting it, Smulders doesn’t come with either of the two options. She’s already spoken for.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 8/10
  • Car Factor: 7/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 6/10
  • Overall Verdict: 7/10

Porsche Taycan: The Heist

We’ve already seen the extended cut of Porsche’s Super Bowl ad. We already know that the Porsche Taycan is the star of the show and a handful of classic Porsches also feature prominently in the 60-second ad.

There may or may not have been a cameo of the next-generation Porsche 911 GT3. Porsche revealed all of that prior to the Super Bowl so there wasn’t that much of a surprise when we saw the 60-second version of the commercial.

It is interesting that Porsche is one of the few automakers that didn’t tap a celebrity to pitch the Taycan. Perhaps it was leaning more on the appeal and hype surrounding the Taycan. Perhaps it didn’t think that spending money on a celebrity justifies the budget allocated for the commercial. Whatever the case is, it ended up positive for Porsche. Watching the commercial without any celebrities involved was refreshing to see. After all, the Taycan is the star of the ad.

Speaking of which, the Taycan is Porsche’s first-ever, all-electric production car. It runs on a pair of electric motors that produce 616 horsepower, though there is as much as 751 horsepower and 774 pound-feet of torque on tap with the Overboost function. Thanks to a two-speed transmission and an all-wheel-drive system, the Taycan is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 161 mph.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 5/10
  • Car Factor: 9/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 6/10
  • Overall Verdict: 7/10

Kia Seltos: Never Give Up

Kia has become adept at creating Super Bowl commercials that touch our heartstrings more than our funny bones. A year after introducing the people from the town of West Point, Georgia — that’s where Kia builds the Telluride SUV — the automaker tapped Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs to star in its “Never Give Up” commercial.

For those who don’t know, Jacobs grew up homeless in Oklahoma. But that didn’t deter him from pursuing his dream of becoming an NFL player. Through his hard work and dedication, Jacobs earned a scholarship at Alabama and became a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Jacobs’ story is the focus of the Kia commercial, and as he is driving the all-new Seltos crossover, he talks to his younger self, offering advice on how to get out of his situation and make it big.

There are no gimmicks about the commercial. There are no fancy CGIs. It’s just Jacobs, the Steltos, and the message that hard work can get you anywhere. The spot ends with Jacobs out on the field as a Raider, giving weight to his story and commercial’s “Never Give Up” message.

Kia’s involvement in the Super Bowl doesn’t just end with the ad. For every yard gained during the Super Bowl, Kia will donate $1,000 to three charity partners to combat youth homelessness: Covenant House, Positive Tomorrows and StandUp for Kids. The game ended with the Chiefs and 49ers racking up 397 and 351 net yards, respectively. The total added up to $748,000. Not a bad day for Kia.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 8/10
  • Car Factor: 8/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 10/10
  • Overall Verdict: 9/10

Volvo: $1 Million Giveaway

Volvo's Already Getting in on The SuperBowl Fever with The Contest of a Lifetime
- image 881115
OK, so Volvo didn’t exactly air a commercial during the Super Bowl. Instead, the Swedish automaker ran a contest during the game that involved a safety being scored at any point in the game.

If such a score happened, Volvo would be giving away $1 million worth of new vehicles to randomly selected people who entered the drawing.

Fortunately for Volvo, the game ended without a safety being scored so it got to keep its $1 million worth of Volvo models. That’s unfortunate for all those who entered. Then again, it wasn’t preordained that a safety would be scored during the game. Sure, it occurred in back-to-back years in 2014 and 2015, but overall, there have just been nine safeties scored in the 53 Super Bowl games leading up to Super Bowl LIV.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • No Grade

Planters: Road Trip

This commercial isn't from an automaker, but it does feature an iconic vehicle.

This commercial from Planters stars Wesley Snipes, Matt Walsh, Mr. Peanut — Planters’ 104-year old mascot — and, of course, the Nutmobile.

Sadly, the commercial, which we expected to be a nut load of fun, took a tragic turn after Snipes lost control of the Nutmobile, sending the trio over a cliff. Fortunately, all three managed to get hold of a tree branch, but their collective weight meant that one of them had to sacrifice himself to save the other two. Turns out, it was Mr. Peanut who bravely gave his life so Snipes and Walsh could live. The 104-year old mascot plummeted to his demise together with the Nutmobile, which exploded suspiciously on cue.

Turns out, the commercial was Planters’ way of killing off its beloved century-old mascot. It’s unclear how the company will go moving forward, but one thing we can be certain of is that Mr. Peanut and the Nutmobile will no longer be a part of that future.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Peanut and the Nutmobile. Both of you will be missed.

TopSpeed’s Verdict:

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10
  • Star Power: 7/10
  • Car Factor: 8/10
  • Potential for Long-Term Recollection: 10/10
  • Overall Verdict: 9/10
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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