Few of us will look back on the year 2020 with any relish. Despite its many challenges, the past year proved how essential cars have become in modern life. They are our escape machines, making us forget about our worries as we indulge our passion for the joy of the open road.
Here are 10 vehicles worth taking for a spin in 2021:
2021 Cadillac Escalade
Customers expect Cadillacs to be generously sized, commanding in performance, exceptionally comfortable and convenient, and wrapped in flamboyant, unapologetic attire. The redesigned 2021 Escalade is the first true new Cadillac in decades. It’s an indulgent, intelligent return to form that’s masterfully executed, and brimming with state-of-the-art technology. $77,490
2020 Mazda CX-30
The CX-30 is sublime understatement inside and out, visual haiku that’s strikingly elegant and clever in its design. Better yet, it’s an engagingly fun vehicle to drive. Its sophisticated charisma outshines its many competitors, making it a must-drive alternative in what is otherwise a rather humdrum market segment. $21,900
2020 Hyundai Sonata
The redesigned Sonata exudes a combination of art and understanding that projects an elegant simplicity that feels more premium than it is. Its design is mirrored in its driving demeanor; handling is noticeably better. It makes a compelling case for being the best in its segment. And the hybrid easily returns an astonishing 51 mpg. $23,600
2020 Subaru Legacy
Personifying the finest qualities of life in the middle of the road, the Subaru Legacy is handsome and approachable, exuding a refreshingly refined no-nonsense level-headedness. Agile but not sporty, it doesn’t tempt you into indulging yourself with your right foot. But its sophisticated drive line is effortless to drive smoothly. $23,645
2021 Acura TLX A-Spec
A welcome return to form for a brand that has been far too bland for far too long. All-new for 2021, the TLX is the best iteration of Acura’s midsize sedan since the 2004-2008 Acura TL. Its turbocharged four packs a significant performance punch. You’ll find the new TLX’s cabin to be a fairly rewarding place to pass the miles. $47,275
2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch Hybrid
Ford’s full-size pickup accounted for nearly 1% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. last year. It’s easy to understand why. It’s quiet and comfortable, and features opulent interiors and first-class technology. Something new: a 3.5-liter PowerBoost Full Hybrid V-6 with an EPA rating of 24 mpg. $59,755
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
While its birth was GM’s answer to European sports cars, the newest iteration is perhaps its most radical to date. Try buying a European car with this level of performance, engineering and technology for less than $60,000. You can’t. That why the latest Corvette is the best sports car you can buy. $59,800
2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic All-Terrain
Although its name is vaguely SUV-like, this is a station wagon, albeit with outdoors aspirations. A turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six and a 48-volt hybrid system supplants last year’s twin-turbo V-6. Returning 24 mpg, it has a refined, spirited and fun driving demeanor.
Call it a wagon or not, it’s up to you. $68,650
2021 Genesis G90
In an era when most Americans have become truck drivers, the Genesis is a reassuring nod to tradition — a full-size luxury sedan that’s comfortable, quiet, capable and possessing a unique air equal to its station. It’s the type of car that American automakers once built but no longer do. Thankfully, Genesis does, even if Detroit won’t. $72,950
2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost
In these dissonant times, when tradition is too often met with contempt and suspicion, the freshly redesigned Ghost arrives with its best attributes intact. It still delivers the most seamless driving experience you’ll ever encounter. The Ghost is a dose of reassurance in an age when everything seems to have come unhinged. $332,500
Best vehicles of 2021
These cars, trucks and SUVs rank at the top of their class for 2021, according to Edmunds, an online resource for automotive information.
Top-rated sedan: 2021 Kia K5
Starting MSRP: $24,455
What Edmunds’ experts say: “The all-new Kia K5 has the style and substance to set it apart from other midsize family sedans. It’s impressively easy to drive and comfortable on longer trips thanks to a smooth ride and an exceptionally quiet cabin. Wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is standard, and that’s just the beginning of a rich feature list that somehow manages to undercut the competition on price at every level.”
Counterpoint: The K5’s sloping roofline can make it hard to get in and out for taller rear passengers.
Top-rated truck: 2021 Ford F-150
Starting MSRP: $30,635
What Edmunds’ experts say: “The Edmunds Top Rated Truck must balance capability, comfort, technology, innovative features and value. The Ford F-150 was already one of the best pickup trucks on the market; its significant list of additions and improvements for 2021 could cement its standing for years to come. Thanks to a raft of new features and high-end tech advancements the F-150 unseats the Ram 1500 as Edmunds’ top truck for 2021.”
Counterpoint: If you’re looking for a premium feel, the F-150’s cabin might not seem as luxurious as the Ram’s.
Top-rated SUV: 2021 Kia Telluride
Starting MSRP: $33,160
What Edmunds’ experts say: “It seems like Kia went for a ‘baby Land Rover’ look and nailed it. Inside and out, the three-row midsize Telluride has a more premium look and feel than the competition. It also boasts an impressively smooth ride, a third-row seat roomy enough for adults, and plenty of features for the money. It was Edmunds Top Rated SUV last year, and it’s back in the winner’s circle for 2021.”
Counterpoint: There are fewer storage bins and cubbies than you’ll find in some rival SUVs.
Top-rated luxury EV: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Starting MSRP: $43,995
What Edmunds’ experts say: “In some cases, a non-luxury brand enters luxury territory with an EV offering, and so it is with the all-new Ford Mustang Mach-E. An electric SUV with Mustang-influenced styling, the Mach-E stands out with its premium cabin and easy-to-use controls. It lives up to its Mustang namesake, too, with approximately 300 miles or so between charges, depending on configuration, plus a projected 0-60 mph time of less than 4 seconds in the upcoming GT version.”
Counterpoint: The Mach-E’s front seats can be somewhat uncomfortable for taller drivers.
Top-rated luxury sedan: 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-CLASS
Starting MSRP: $55,300
What Edmunds’ experts say: “A true luxury experience is the main focus of this award, but value is also taken strongly into account. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class delivers on both fronts, with a refresh for 2021 helping it move into the No. 1 spot for this category. A particular highlight is the car’s new infotainment system that allows you to operate most of the car’s systems with voice commands. A smooth ride, top-notch construction and excellent advanced driver safety aids.”
Counterpoint: The E-Class sedan’s trunk capacity is small by segment standards, although the available E-Class wagon solves that problem.