9 February 2016

2016 Super Bowl car commercials: 3 hits, 3 misses

Many of us look forward to the Super Bowl commercials almost as much as the game itself. Forget the bathroom breaks – we stay put during timeouts hoping to laugh or have our hearts touched in some way.

For car lovers, there was plenty to see in 2016. Kevin Hart was funny as the overprotective father who uses Hyundai Genesis’ Blue Link Car Finder to keep an eye on his daughter, but not funny enough to convince anyone to run to their local dealer. And if you take Christopher Walken out of Kia’s “Walken Closet” commercial, what’s left? Not much. Certainly no lasting impression of the Optima. With that said, neither of those commercials stand out as particularly great or awful. But these do:


Jeep: History runs deep behind the Jeep brand, and Fiat Chrysler’s ad campaign gave the world a reminder of what it’s all about through black-and-white photography and active-life video. It’s not a car, it’s not a truck, it’s a Jeep. And it’s the people behind the wheel — the Jeep culture — who keep the tradition alive.

Acura NSX: The alluring red, white and blue illuminations reveal the NSX’s American origins, creatively combined with David Lee Roth’s solo vocal track “Runnin’ with the Devil.” Pairing the two with stimulating images of the car’s undeniable beauty and the irresistible sound of the revving engine is sure to get any car lover’s motor running.

Mini: It’s one of a kind, just like the people who love it. BMW drove its Mini campaign beyond any stereotypes and invited everyone — young, old, tall or small — to experience all that the vehicle has to offer. And if you don’t believe it, you don’t know about Mini’s history in the World Rally Championship series. A lineup of unexpected celebrities including Serena Williams, Abby Wambach, Tony Hawk, Michael Whinnet, T-Pain, Harvey Keitel, Michai Stephens and Randy Johnson set the bar for defying labels.


Audi: Love the concept, love the effects, love the car, love the musical tribute to Davie Bowie. This ad may have received five stars if not for two things: When we think of the U.S. space program, we think of the 1960s swashbuckling astronauts’ sports car of choice, the Corvette – not a German-built Audi. And it concerns us a bit that the near-comatose former “starman” in the ad seems more senile than depressed. The guy won’t eat, so you hand him the keys to a powerful performance machine (at night?) just to make him smile? The frosting on the cake: this baby can go 205 mph. Houston, we have a problem.

Honda Ridgeline: When you’re trying to break into the competitive pickup truck market, you have to come up with something so incredibly awesome that the world will break down your door. Honda’s answer? Rugged performance? Nope. Good looks? Baaaaaaaaa. The new Ridgeline has a truck-bed audio system! Buy now!! (Perhaps it will inspire your sheep to start singing Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” but we doubt it.)

Toyota Prius: Maybe they’re making fun of themselves? We hope so. These bank-robbing, Prius-stealing morons are the dumbest criminals in the world if they think a Prius is the best choice to elude police. Perhaps they’re hoping the car’s ubiquity in coastal markets will allow them to blend in? Wow, there’s a message worth millions.

Let us know which car-related Super Bowl ad you liked most, in the comments below.

33 Reader Comments

  • 1
    COLONEL77 PALM BEACH, FLORIDA February 10, 2016 at 16:34
  • 2
    Art Wegweiser Allison Park, PA February 10, 2016 at 16:38
    That Hyundai ad was obnoxious. Did Daddy check to see if daughter's chastity belt was still properly locked?
  • 3
    SLGallup Colorado February 10, 2016 at 16:51
    1. Audi R8 2. Jeep 3. Acura NSX
  • 4
    Glenn NC February 10, 2016 at 17:02
    You are totally wrong about the Honda Ridgeline commercial. This was the best one out of them all. I will go look at one just because of this commercial. there are so many stupid commercials on TV these days that turn me off to the point that I refuse to buy that product. This one I love.
  • 5
    Anthony Pueblo West, Colorado February 10, 2016 at 17:21
    I disagree. The commercials aren't just about whether or not you're going to buy the car as much as just getting the name out. I wouldn't pick my beer based on the fact that a horse or dalmatian delivered it. That being said, I think that the Prius commercial was the best of the day given the fact that it held my attention and I'll definitely remember it.
  • 6
    Linda Becker Olympia February 10, 2016 at 17:39
    Wild West Chevrolet on You Tube has been circulating on facebook as one of the best super bowl ads. No one I know saw it until facebook but it is a great ad. Too bad no one saw it!
  • 7
    bruce DC February 10, 2016 at 17:59
    I actually liked the Prius commercial, which was entertaining while (I think) also telling people that they're not as slow and boring as most people think.
  • 8
    Jack Wisconsin February 10, 2016 at 18:23
    I didn't get the Ridgeline commercial first time, now I get it. Was doing almost 80mph on the freeway the other day, AND got passed by a Prius. Made me laugh.
  • 9
    Ole-1974xke Annapolis February 10, 2016 at 18:32
    Sorry, you got it all wrong. Relax and focus on the positive and fun in these commercials. They all amuse and makes us smile. My wife immediately wanted the R8, until I gave her the ball park price :-)
  • 10
    Chris Huntington Beach Ca February 10, 2016 at 18:33
    The Audi R8 was by FAR the BEST!!! Best music, car visuals and screaming V10 Sound! Yes it would have more depth if it was a Z06 Corvette however the Italian/German Audi is very exciting, they won my business!
  • 11
    Martin Colorado February 10, 2016 at 19:11
    I agree with the positive comments on the Jeep and Acura ads but disagree with the other four ads. I would not run out and buy a new Ridgeline or a Prius because of the ads, but thought that they were "cute" and the last two on the Audi and Mini, I don't even remember them.
  • 12
    Robert E. Myron Owosso, MI February 10, 2016 at 19:45
    Mybe you were out of the room during thr Buick com.
  • 13
    Jim M Seattle, WA February 10, 2016 at 19:45
    I'm sorry, I think that all of these car commercials are excruciating to watch. Perhaps advertisers should just hire Richard Hammond to drive around and enjoy the experience.
  • 14
    John Michigan February 10, 2016 at 20:57
    Prius ad was overdone. The only people I know who own these cars are one of two things. 1) Do major commuting and driving and don't want to drain the bank account buying fuel. 2) Making the "Social Statement" of owning a Green Mobile. Neither group buys this car for performance or out running law enforcement.
  • 15
    Bob Hamilton Florida February 10, 2016 at 22:25
    What about the little Buick convertible?
  • 16
    Mike Plymouth, MN February 10, 2016 at 22:33
    I own a 1953 M38A1, it's great to see the respect that a vehicle can earn.
  • 17
    Bill Boise Id February 11, 2016 at 16:55
    I agree with Hagerty! I have owned a lot of cars and the one I keep coming back to is the Jeep. I have owed one since 1966 given to me by my grandfather which I still have. The Jeep ad is patriotic. The others don't make me want to run out and purchase any of their junk.
  • 18
    Robert Adonizio Clarks Summit, Pa February 11, 2016 at 06:20
    Audi Commander
  • 19
    AJ ORLANDO February 11, 2016 at 18:37
    Jeep was the BEST IT'S "AMERICAN MADE IN TOLEDO" a Chrysler product! the rest are all foreign junk the money goes to Tokyo! KEEP THE MONEY AT HOME! So IF YOUR HUNGRY? OUT OF WORK? EAT YOUR IMPORT!
  • 20
    Honcho PA February 11, 2016 at 08:49
    I thought the Buick Convertible was presented well.
  • 21
    Peggy Moody Tallahassee, FL February 11, 2016 at 08:49
    Audi R8 all day!! Then Honda Ridgeline
  • 22
    Dentmaker Washington, DC February 11, 2016 at 09:32
    I agree with SLGallup's ranking. I thought the Audi R8 ad was one of the best of the Superbowl. You're overthinking it Hagerty. I didn't even remember that the astronauts drove Corvettes and I'm guessing that most people (even car people) don't. The ad was emotional, not cerebral, and it worked on that level.
  • 23
    Charles Boone, NC February 11, 2016 at 09:38
    I have to agree with the person who talked about brand memory; that is, which commercial lingers in the mind; on the surface, it may seem somewhat ditzy but I bet people will remember the Prius ad because it was so ridiculous at first glance. My favorite, however, was the Audi R8; as a senior who just went out and test drove BMW's, Audi's and others, I can identify with the reaction of the senior citizen; for those who are not there yet, just wait--and then look for an R8 or whatever is hot at the time--you'll understand!
  • 24
    John Michigan February 11, 2016 at 09:44
    I thought the Prius commercials were actually the most entertaining of the bunch. I was definitely amused by seeing one in police pursuit guise- making the car look far less dumb than in civilian form. Have to disagree on the Mini commercial. I only recognized about half of the "celebrities" in the ad and thought their appearances detracted from viewing some pretty decent looking cars.
  • 25
    Brian Mass. February 11, 2016 at 09:54
    I agree with Linda, although only played regionally, Wild West Chevrolet on youtube https://youtu.be/H0tzeXzPvUs
  • 26
    GR OC February 11, 2016 at 10:24
    Personally, I liked the Audi ad. I think you're trying to read too much into it. The day before the commercial aired, I let my 75 year old father drive my Shelby for the first time. The smile on his face looked a lot like the smile of the former astronaut. I also thought the Ridgeline commercial was OK. The only people I know that only Ridgelines are women. Honda knows that there are a lot of women watching the SB. Those Ridgeline owners I know don't care about horsepower or off-road capability, but they do like cute animals
  • 27
    Andy Fuhrman Richmond, VA February 11, 2016 at 11:42
    Buick Cascada - wedding commercial. Just a peek, but I've been watching this car and like it!
  • 28
    James San Francisco February 12, 2016 at 15:40
    You guys need to lighten up and get a sense of humor - the Prius commercial was funny - and I loved the visual references to the original Blues Brothers chase scene through downtown Chicago.
  • 29
    DG Warner Hatboro, PA February 12, 2016 at 12:04
    The astronaut is Buzz Aldrin
  • 30
    Sherri Texas February 13, 2016 at 12:03
    I missed the car commercials ya'll are talking about, but my favorite was Hyundai's "Ryan-ville" because Ryan Reynolds was pulled over by the cops in what I think was a '67 Camaro Convertible...I own a '68 Camaro Convertible, so I LOVED it! Thanks for the nod to a CLASSIC Chevrolet, Hyundai! :D
  • 31
    Mark Boston February 14, 2016 at 10:50
    I think the Audi ad was the best ad in the entire super bowl series of ads, car and others. Jeep was visually nice but their cars are horrible, so lipstick on a pig did not work for me.
  • 32
    Roy Mississippi February 15, 2016 at 14:47
    I have 2 loves Corvette and Avalanche. Have owned one of each, ever since I've been old enough to buy my own vehicle. I considered the Honda Ridgeline as a replacement for the Avalanche, because it has always been a cute Avalanche wannabe. But now it's just another Ugly ass Japanese pickup!
  • 33
    Rick greensboro N.C. February 18, 2016 at 12:11
    the jeep ad was awsome .

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