A new year can mean a fresh start, and after a tough 2020, we certainly need this. Our list of 2021 cars now entering the marketplace shows an automotive industry in forward motion thanks to ongoing innovation. The following seven models are either all-new or substantially updated to offer a new take on a trusted theme — and they’re getting gearheads and potential buyers excited for the year ahead.
Hottest 2021 Cars
1. BMW M3/M4
Two years after the most recent overhaul, the BMW 3 Series sedan and 4 Series coupe follow with high-performance M versions. The look could be polarizing, as oversized twin kidney-shaped grilles dominate the new front fascias. The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six develops a robust 473 horsepower with the 6-speed manual gearbox. When it’s paired with an 8-speed automatic, this one throws down 503 horsepower.
2. Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
Cadillac’s naming convention may be a bit confusing, but the CT5 is the replacement model for the previous CTS sedan. Its spring arrival will bring a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine with an output of 650 horsepower. Paired with a 6-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic transmission, the Blackwing will go wheel-to-wheel with Europe’s finest, including the BMW M cars.
3. Ford Bronco Sport
The heralded Bronco name returns, and we can’t get enough of this vehicle. Ford will offer this SUV in two themes: a car-based Bronco Sport and a body-on-frame Bronco. The Bronco Sport debuts first, with the Bronco arriving for the 2022 model year. The Bronco Sport looks like a scaled-down version of the larger Bronco, and it may be the best crossover in the mix due to its stellar on-road comfort and excellent off-road capabilities. While it isn’t designed to rock climb like the Bronco, the Sport can handle most trails and ford water — challenges that few competitors outside of Jeep and Subaru can attempt. People who love to accessorize and wrench should keep an eye on these rugged, customizable models as they hit the streets and trails.
4. Genesis GV80
After rolling out three sedan lines, Hyundai’s luxury brand debuts its first SUV, the GV80. This model flexes Genesis’ design strength with a look that’s polished, upscale and thoroughly refined. The GV80 is a midsize, five-passenger SUV with available plush leather seats, the latest tech features and ample driver-assist amenities. It’s also available at a price that’s far below what competitors like BMW and Mercedes-Benz offer for similarly equipped models.
5. Kia K5
After two decades, Kia tossed aside the Optima nameplate for the K5, its latest take on a midsize sedan. This one raises the luxury quotient with handsome styling, ample tech and a cushy ride. And for the first time, Kia is rolling out available all-wheel drive. The K5 is also supplemented by a performance GT version, but the Kia Stinger remains our favorite in this segment.
6. Lexus LC 500 Convertible
Three years after its debut, the LC 500 finally receives the convertible variant we’ve long wanted. This six-figure grand touring model with a sports car persona is now complete, thanks to a soft-top roof that drops in 15 seconds with one-button precision. With its luxury comforts, daring looks, athletic performance and summery sensibilities, we’re all about this Lexus beauty.
7. Toyota Venza
A familiar name returns after a six-year absence. The Toyota Venza of old was a “tall wagon,” but this one is a crossover utility vehicle based on the same platform that underpins the RAV4. What sets this model apart is its standard hybrid drivetrain, and auto journalists have learned that it makes good on its projected 40 mpg average, which outmatches most competitors by at least 10 mpg. This makes it a compelling new entry in a competitive segment of the market.
While opinions on them may differ, these models seem to be the subject of much chatter among enthusiasts and shoppers alike. There are also a handful of electric vehicles on tap, but delays will push the most exciting new electric releases — from Rivian and others — to the 2022 model year. Autonomous vehicle technology should follow soon after, so stay tuned to keep abreast of this fast-moving industry.
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Photos courtesy of Matthew C. Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.