Best Car To Buy: What’s coming for 2021

Another year, another month spent debating The Car Connection’s annual Best Car To Buy award. This year, it was the 2020 Kia Telluride. Despite hundreds of vehicles tested over thousands of miles over the calendar year, our quarrelsome editorial team didn’t have much debate this year. Thanks, Kia.

Yet, there were some redesigned or new 2020 models that we didn’t get to consider. They may have cost less than $50,000 and may have gone on sale in 2019, but either weren’t available for our editors to drive in Georgia or were delayed for other reasons. That’s why the Mazda 3 and Toyota RAV4, which were redesigned for 2019 but didn’t come out until late in 2018, were considered this year for our Best Car To Buy 2020. 

Looking ahead to next year’s candidates will be based in part on those candidates we omitted this year, such as the 2020 Toyota Highlander. The redesigned family truckster will likely make our final cut for 2021, even though we just got behind the wheel for the first time in December. There are more: here’s a look at the prospective nominees for Best Car To Buy 2021, some of which we’ve driven, and others that make us optimistic for the new decade. 

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota Highlander XLE

Though the redesigned three-row SUV wouldn’t have outdone the new Kia Telluride or even the Hyundai Palisade, the 2020 Toyota Highlander has one thing going for it the competition can’t beat: 36 mpg combined on the front-drive hybrid model. The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid in rear-wheel drive is 28 mpg, which is the same as the outgoing Highlander Hybrid. 

2020 Hyundai Sonata

2020 Hyundai Sonata

2020 Hyundai Sonata

The redesigned mid-size sedan proves that car design is becoming more daring. The 2020 Sonata looks sharper, handles better, offers the latest tech, and is more efficient. 

2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe 

2021 Chevrolet Suburban

2021 Chevrolet Suburban

America’s biggest family vehicle just got bigger. The 2021 Suburban is an eight-seat full-size SUV with more leg room in the second and third rows. The Tahoe is more than six inches longer, mostly in the cargo area. The Cadillac Escalade will soon follow in the General’s army. 

2021 Ford Bronco

After all the hype of Ford bringing back the rugged SUV, it’ll be hard to match expectations. What we know is it will be a durable 4×4 made for off-roading, and will likely come in 2- and 4-door body styles. And it’s expected in spring of 2020. 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2019 LA Auto Show

Ford’s first battery electric crossover is a thing of beauty, and not just because of its estimated 300-mile range or average cost of about $50,000. The Mustang-inspired sort-of-SUV looks like a luxury vehicle and has a sexy spartan interior that should point the way forward for the brand. 

2021 Ford F-150 electric truck

The best-selling vehicle in America since dinosaurs roamed the earth, the full-size truck is kicking the dinosaur juice for the sweet nectar of electrons. Due in mid-2020 for 2021, the F-150 is reported to come as a fully battery electric vehicle as well as a hybrid, as part of Ford’s $11.5 billion global investment in EVs. 

2021 Nissan Frontier

The only thing more shocking than an electric F-150 would be a fully redesigned Nissan Frontier. Launched during the last presidential impeachment, the mid-size pickup has been redesigned just once (2005) in more than 20 years. Yet in this era of obnoxious safety nannies and giant touchscreens with absurd prices, the Frontier is just a truck, a basic work truck with a 5-speed manual that mints money for Nissan. Will the redesign ruin the charm? Timer is up, Nissan. Your move.

Mercedes-Benz EQC and the Kia Soul EV

File these both under the will-they-ever-arrive category. 

With the Audi E-Tron winning Green Car Reports’ nod as its Best Car To Buy 2020, maybe Mercedes will feel the heat and overcome the two-year delays it’s had in bringing the electric SUV to market. It’s expected to start at about $70,000, but that might be a moot point if Tesla first launches the more affordable Model Y small crossover. 

We’ve been waiting for the redesigned Kia Soul EV since we tested it in Korea last year. At that time, the 243-mile range was really impressive, more than doubling its predecessor and outpacing the competition. Due to limited battery supply and motor shortages, the Soul EV is expected to arrive in 2021. So it may get punted to next year’s list. Again.