Start your engines: The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2021 prepares to launch

The calendar year 2020 can’t fade in the rearview mirror fast enough for most of us. The view out front looks promising, with nearly 50 new and redesigned cars transporting us to better days ahead in the digital, electrified automotive age. 

Walls of touchscreens stamp new cars such as the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, and traditional automakers ramp up electrification plans with vehicles such as the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E and 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge. Wireless Apple CarPlay streamlines the gap from pocket to parking lot in many new cars, and active safety features such as automatic emergency braking continue to improve the safety of base models and pedestrians alike. 

There’s a lot to like, and a lot more to choose from. Of the 259 models available for 2021, nearly 50 of the cars, trucks, SUVs, and wagons sold on dealer lots are new or redesigned. Despite pandemic-induced delays, limitations on access to new cars, and new ways for automakers to launch cars remotely to the public, our editorial team at The Car Connection has tested everything hot and fresh for 2021, including some 2020 models that didn’t make it into our garages until later in the calendar year. 

Typically we whittle down the contenders from the pretenders at our annual in-person Best Car To Buy testing in northern Georgia, where the pavement is hot and the pecan pies better. We drive more than a dozen finalists on the track, through twisting roads in the Blue Mountains, around town running errands, and back and forth on highways to replicate how owners might experience their new cars. These last laps of back-to-back testing supplement hundreds of hours during the year driving new cars on automotive programs and in our personal driveways. 

This year, we were limited to the latter and we won’t be meeting in person. Arguments at dinner tables and settled around campfires will, like so many other things, shift to Zoom.

Our editorial team, featuring three NACTOY jurists and nearly 100 combined years of automotive experience, has been busier than ever carving down our Best Car To Buy list to its contenders. For the next month through January 4, 2021, we will weigh the pros and cons of the nominees before we announce our winner. 

Our recent winners, the 2020 Kia Telluride and 2019 Subaru Forester, hold up to the test of time. As we bicker and backtrack, as we scrutinize our rating system and listen to our colleagues, we’ll look back, look ahead, and ask you to weigh in on your Best Car To Buy 2021. We look forward to moving forward with you. 

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