Serious, funny, and controversial: Every car commercial from Super Bowl 53

You could buy a private jet — and a small airport to land it on — with the money it takes to buy a spot for a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl. Estimates vary, but most analysts peg the cost of a half-minute spot at approximately $5 million. That’s why the companies that buy in all want to hit a home run. With those kind of stakes, ads can be anything except for forgettable.

In 2019, some automakers scored big while a few struck out. If you missed the game, or if you want to relive the best off-field moments, here are the automotive ads that aired during Super Bowl 53.

Audi takes a nut to heaven

At first, Audi’s commercial looks like a real tearjerker. It shows a man visiting his elderly grandpa, and checking out the E-Tron GT concept parked in the garage of a picturesque house in the countryside. He unplugs it – the GT is entirely electric – and prepares to go for a spin when the ad suddenly takes an unexpected turn. The man briefly died and went to heaven after choking on a cashew nut. All hope is not lost: The ad promises a thrilling future on Earth, and announces that a third of Audi’s models will boast some form of electrification by 2025. As Digital Trends already reported, the GT concept that stars in the ad is on its way to production.

Hyundai ranks car-shopping below vegan cuisine

Hyundai acknowledges car shopping is unpleasant at best for most motorists. In its Super Bowl ad, the company humorously places car-shopping below getting a root canal, getting called to jury duty, and attending a vegan dinner party where beetloaf is served on the list of miserable experiences people have to endure. Unless you’re using the firm’s Shopper Assurance program, the ad argues. It promises buyers transparent pricing and a three-day exchange policy, among other perks.

Hyundai’s ad has summoned a dark cloud of disapproval from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Kia gets serious

Kia told the hamsters to stay home this year. Instead, the South Korean company took a considerably more serious approach to showing off its new Telluride eight-seater SUV. Don’t look for celebrities or jokes here.

The ad tells the story of the people who live in West Point, Georgia, where the Telluride is made. It argues their chances of being famous are slim to none; they’re likely not going to compete in the big leagues, and they’re probably not going to get a million subscribers on YouTube or Instagram. And that’s fine – they don’t want to be famous. Instead, they want to be remembered for what they make, including the Telluride.

Mercedes-Benz adds voice recognition to everything

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan comes with MBUX, the company’s latest and greatest infotainment system. Voice-recognition technology is a key part of MBUX. For example, the passengers can say, “hey Mercedes, I’m cold,” to turn on the heater. This commercial imagines what it would be like if voice-recognition technology controlled everything in your life, from the outcome of a football game to the traffic lights in Manhattan. Spoiler alert: Ludacris makes a surprise appearance in the spot.

Ram speaks to other brands

Ram released a repetitive series of short ads highlighting the brand-new 2020 Heavy Duty pickup truck it introduced during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The truck boasts a 35,100-pound towing capacity, meaning it could just about pull Mount St. Helens out of Washington. Footage of the truck on a construction site would be boring, so the ads instead showed the Heavy Duty pulling products other brands advertised during the game. Frankly, we wouldn’t mind seeing a 3500 Heavy Duty pull up in front of our office with a house-sized bowl of guacamole.

Toyota’s Pinball Wizard

Toyota’s first Super Bowl commercial begins with the song “Pinball Wizard” by The Who. You see where this is going, right? To highlight the long-awaited Supra, the Japanese firm placed the coupe inside a giant pinball machine and told the driver to drift until there’s nothing left on the tires. Clearly, Toyota knows the coupe’s target audience.

Toyota’s anti-assumption campaign

The Supra isn’t the only Toyota that enjoyed airtime during the Super Bowl. The company’s second ad drew parallels between the new RAV4 Hybrid and Toni Harris, the 22-year old football superstar who wants to become the first female to play in the NFL. What does Harris have in common with a crossover? Both defy assumptions, according to the ad. Harris is boldly breaking new ground for female athletes, while the ad argues the RAV4 Hybrid, as a gasoline-electric model built for speed, is also defying perceptions.

Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.

Nintendo Direct 2019: Here are all the biggest announcements

Nintendo revealed new information on multiple upcoming Switch games during its February 13 Nintendo Direct. Here are the biggest announcements, including information on Fire Emblem and Zelda.

Someone stared at a Volvo on their phone for nearly 10 hours to win it

Volvo didn't want you to watch the 2019 Super Bowl or the million-dollar ads that pepper it. Instead, it gave those willing to ignore the big game the chance to win a two-year subscription to a brand-new S60.

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.

Report: Amazon and General Motors may invest in electric pickup company Rivian

General Motors and Amazon may invest between $1 billion to $2 billion for minority stakes in U.S. startup Rivian, an all-electric truck company, Reuters reports. Rivian introduced the R1T pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto show.

Ford F-150 recall: Fault could cause vehicle to downshift into first gear

Ford is recalling 1.48 million F-150 vehicles over a potential fault that could cause it to suddenly downshift into first gear. The automaker said it's currently aware of five accidents related to the issue.

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.