Top 10 Cars You Couldn’t Get Enough Of in 2021
Ron AskewCar and Driver
There were lots of exciting developments in the automotive industry in 2021. We were there to cover it all, and you were eager to read about the hot new sheetmetal. Ford’s revived Bronco finally reached customers, the Toyota Tundra received its first redesign in over a decade, and we named our first EV of the Year, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is also one of the top-selling electric vehicles on sale. As the year closes, we have assembled this list of the cars that our readers clicked on the most. Nearly all of these high-interest models are available for sale now, with the only exception being a retro electric van that’ll arrive soon.
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VW has been talking about bringing the Microbus back for decades now, so it’s not surprising that there’s still a lot of interest about the revival of this icon. We now know that the Buzz will be part of Volkswagen’s electric ID lineup and we have seen both spy photos of a prototype and a teaser that VW released (pictured here) previewing the production model’s bodywork. It’ll be offered in the U.S. starting in 2023 as a 2024 model. The U.S. is likely to get only the passenger version (cargo models exist elsewhere) in its long-wheelbase form.
The world is trending toward super SUVs with Aston Martin, Bentley, and Lamborghini now offering crazy go-fast sport utes. Even Ferrari will soon join the fold, and BMW recently announced a 750-hp plug-in-hybrid behemoth. Of these, Lamborghini’s Urus remains the most popular among our readers. It offers the enticing combination of a 641-hp twin-turbocharged V-8, exotic looks, and new vibrant paint colors that were added last year.
Tesla Model Y
It’s only logical that the current crossover craze would translate to the EV market. Soon after Tesla launched this SUV version of the Model 3 sedan, the Model Y became its bestselling vehicle. It is also the top-selling electric vehicle in the U.S. this year. The Model Y’s impressive range numbers and quick acceleration are its big draws, although we don’t think it drives as well as the Model 3 and the examples we’ve tested have had interior quality issues. It has also gotten significantly more expensive over time; Tesla’s prices are constantly fluctuating, and at time of publication the Model Y’s base price sat over $60,000.
Of course the Toyota Tundra received a lot of attention this year, as it’s the first new model in nearly 15 years. Toyota went all in for its full-size pickup’s third generation, giving it a whole new platform with a coil-spring rear suspension setup, an available twin-turbocharged V-6 hybrid powertrain, and a tech-filled cabin with a 14.0-inch touchscreen. These improvements make it more competitive with trucks from Chevy, Ford, and Ram, but we’ll have to wait until next year to see if it can compete with those domestic trucks in terms of sales numbers.
Not much was new with the GV80 this year, and it was upstaged by its little sibling the GV70 that hit the scene more recently. But it remained a high-interest luxury SUV for many shoppers who are probably still figuring out exactly what the Genesis brand is. We can tell you this much: for thousands less than many of its competitors, the mid-size GV80 offers a sumptuous interior, strong four- and six-cylinder powertrains, and a plush ride. A previous 10Best award winner, its combination of elegance and value is tough to beat in the crowded world of premium-badged crossovers.
Despite production delays and supplier issues, the new Ford Bronco finally arrived this year. See that photo above? Yeah, that’s Car and Driver testing director Dave VanderWerp going full send sans doors and roof at Michigan’s Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Not only did it take flight, it won a comparison test against the Jeep Wrangler, and we named it to our 10Best list for 2021. You could say Ford nailed it.
The CX-5 is not only Mazda’s best-selling model, it’s also our favorite compact crossover. Our readers were curious about it too, and that was likely motivated in part by its update for 2022. The new model year brings refreshed styling, a bit of extra horsepower for the optional turbocharged engine, and a new assortment of trim levels including 2.5 S and 2.5 Turbo.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
We named the Ford Mustang Mach-E our inaugural EV of the Year in 2021, and it’s one of the best-selling electric vehicles of the year so far. Much of the buzz surrounding this new model might be due to Ford’s decision to call it a Mustang, but this EV crossover provides plenty of other things to talk about. It offers up to 480 horsepower and a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.7 seconds in its GT Performance model.
Tesla Model 3
Tesla entered new territory with the Model 3 when it launched several years ago, as this entry-level model was significantly cheaper than any of the startup’s previous vehicles. It doesn’t look much different than it did when it first debuted, but a fair amount has changed underneath in the ensuing years thanks to software updates and powertrain changes. It’s now available in a Performance configuration that offers quicker acceleration and an upgraded chassis. But the price has also risen as of late, with the rear-wheel-drive Standard Range model starting at $47,690.
The Kia Telluride is our favorite three-row SUV. It’s so good that we’ve named it to our 10Best list every year since it went on sale for 2020. It offers luxury vibes at a decidedly non-luxury price, starting at $34,015 for the base LX model. Even the top SX AWD trim level with all the bells and whistles comes in under $50,000, which counts as a bargain when considering the Kia’s esteemed place in today’s crowded SUV market.
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