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  1. Utility vehicles continued to dominate the sales charts this year—and here are the best ones. Even in a year as … unique … as 2020, we saw plenty of new and revised utility vehicles launch. Some were good, but these ones were great, and they represent the finalists of the 2021 AutoGuide.com Utility Vehicle of the Year awards. For more 2021 AutoGuide.com Awards information, check out the other categories: 2021 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year: Meet the Contenders 2021 AutoGuide.com Utility Vehicle of the Year: Meet the Contenders Everybody wants crossovers, it seems. Automakers are scrambling to produce enough to match demand, even crafting new categories to drop them in. A few years ago, it was the coupe-style crossovers (“coupeovers”); now, it’s the plus-sized-sub-compact SUV. It’s not quite a compact—a misnomer on its own these days—but it’s not a straight-forward sub-compact SUV either. The 2021 Kia Seltos is the best example of this new breed. It majors on the Korean brand’s longstanding reputation for value, offering more interior space than anything else in this fledgling segment. Up in the plain ol’ compact SUV segment, Nissan has given us a whole new Rogue for 2021. The brand’s best-seller needed to be good, as this is the most fiercely competitive segment in America. A high-end interior and a renewed focus on tech makes it a hugely appealing package. Toyota revived the Venza nameplate this year, sticking it on a new two-row SUV that shares its platform with both the RAV4 and Highlander. In terms of size it slots in between the two, but comes only in hybrid form. It’s a very different proposition to the old, overgrown Camry wagon model: this is a smooth cruiser, with enough luxury trappings to make you think twice about buying that Lexus. Our other two finalists are both domestic offerings, but couldn’t be more different. The Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban are both big, bulky three-row SUVs, sitting on modified truck platforms and powered by equally sizeable V8s. But they also come in diesel form, and a redesigned rear suspension vastly improves ride and interior space. Meanwhile, the Ford Mustang Mach-E is a horse of a different color. This all-electric mid-sizer has a goal of bringing EV motoring to the mainstream, with a dash of the fun that the Mustang name promises. Like our other end-of-year awards, this isn’t a head-to-head comparison. We’re comparing each of these models against the standards of their respective classes. Do they shift the needle? They better, not just within their category but, ideally, across the industry. We’ve also only included vehicles our team has driven. That unfortunately means a few models slipped through the cracks that 2020 caused, like the highly anticipated Ford Bronco Sport. For Car and Utility of the year, we’ve split the award into Overall, Mainstream, and Luxury sub-categories. You’ll find the 10 Utility of the Year finalists below, in alphabetical order. Our team will vote on each category over the coming weeks, and we’ll announce the winners early February. Stay tuned! Utility of the Year (Mainstream) 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban Chevrolet updated its big rigs this year, with both the Tahoe and Suburban getting new looks, a new rear suspension, and even more imposing dimensions. Naturally there’s more room inside now, but it’s the suspension rethink that’s unlocked the lion’s share of the added passenger space. The third row no longer feels like a penalty box for adults, even in the Tahoe. The independent rear suspension also vastly increases cargo space—plus, it makes for a smoother ride. That’s what we call a win-win. SEE ALSO: 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe First Drive Review: Raising the Standard Both of these big boys come with three engine options: two gas V8s and a torque turbodiesel. All three offer serious stump-pulling power: Chevy knows that Tahoe and Suburban buyers use these things for actual towing. The trim options have also ballooned with this generation: the RST, High Country, and Z71 go from being options packages on the previous truck to dedicated trims for 2021. The off-road-ready Z71 currently only comes in V8 form, but Chevy promises the diesel will eventually join the lineup. The Bow Tie predicts the lux High Country and Premier trims will account for most of the sales of these two. That might suggest these rigs could step on the toes of the Escalade—found elsewhere on this page—but Chevrolet says they all cater to distinct parts of the market. The Tahoe definitely has value on its side, starting at barely over $50,000 for a two-wheel drive model, and topping out at $73,000 for the High Country. Loading … 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Everyone has an opinion on the 2021 Mustang Mach-E. How could you not? It’s an EV. It’s a coupe-styled crossover. Oh, and it’s got one of the most beloved automotive badges right there on its nose. Yep, that’ll do it. SEE ALSO: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Review: First Drive The Mustang Mach-E could have been a marketing disaster. But we’ve driven it, and it’s genuinely good. The Mustang ties are admittedly pretty vague right now—wait for the higher-performance GT model for that—but the Mach-E is hardly the anodyne driving experience some might’ve feared. It rides and steers smoothly, with the near-silence only an EV can manage. Power ranges from 266 to 346 horsepower, depending on battery size and rear- or all-wheel drive. Pair the long-distance battery with rear-drive and you’re looking at 300 miles (482 km) of range per charge. DC fast-charging offers up 60 miles (96 km) of range in 10 minutes, or a refill to 80 percent in 45. Ford has also taken a step forward on the infotainment front, fitting the Mach-E with a huge, tablet-style screen in the middle of the dash. Very subtle, guys. A secondary screen sits in front of the driver, carrying all the pertinent information. Next year, the Blue Oval’s own take on semi-autonomous driving will arrive on the Mach-E. All this starts at $43,995 ($52,395 CAD) before any green-car incentives. Loading … 2021 Kia Seltos Kia just can’t miss these days. There was the Stinger. Then the Telluride. This year the Korean brand went smaller for both cars and crossovers, dropping the excellent K5 and this, the Seltos. In an age of ever-growing models, the Seltos asks the serious question: do you really need a “compact” crossover? SEE ALSO: 2021 Kia Seltos EX Review: Where Do Its Priorities Lie? This pint-size model offers nearly as much passenger and storage space as the next class up, in a more manageable footprint. All but a single trim comes with standard all-wheel drive, a feature that’s not as common as you’d think, especially in this end of the market. Kia bundles in plenty of driver assists and amenities too, including an available wireless charging pad, auto climate control, Highway Driving Assist, and the Telluride’s large, 10.25-inch infotainment screen. Despite all these big-car features, pricing starts at $23,110 ($24,790 CAD), and tops out under $30,000 all-in ($34,390 CAD). Again, we ask: do you really need a compact crossover? Loading … 2021 Nissan Rogue Nissan needs the 2021 Rogue to be good. It’s the brand’s best-selling model, competing in the largest, most cut-throat segment in the market. The Japanese brand has thoroughly overhauled this SUV, starting with a stiffer, more modern platform as a foundation. From there it’s layered on better NVH, more assertive styling, a premium-feeling interior, and lots of screen real estate. SEE ALSO: 2021 Nissan Rogue Review: First Drive The Rogue is all about the details. Take the available quilted leather seats: where else are you going to find that in this class? How about the rear doors, which open to nearly 90 degrees, making it easier for the very young and very old alike to get in and out? Nissan has clearly given some thought to how people use their crossovers on a daily basis. A single engine option exists for the Rogue: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, hooked up to a CVT, sending power to either the front axle or both. Pricing starts at $26,745 ($30,328 CAD), including destination, stretching to around $40,000 on either side of the border. Loading … 2021 Toyota Venza Talk about a glow-up. The old Venza was an unloved model arguably ahead of its time: it predicted the oncoming onslaught of car-based crossovers. In that sense, this reborn Venza is more of the same, but it’s traded the ungainly looks of old for a svelte, stylish wrapper. More importantly, it also comes with just one drivetrain option: a hybrid-powered AWD setup. SEE ALSO: 2021 Toyota Venza Review: First Drive With 219 horsepower, the Venza isn’t the quickest of the larger two-row SUV crowd. But you’re unlikely to notice, as this is a ride tailor-made for calm cruising. You’ll probably need to stop for your own reasons before it needs gas too, since the Venza posts an impressive 39 mpg average (6.1 L/100 km). The interior is a great place to spend hours in, thanks to high-quality materials and what is easily the Venza’s coolest feature: the “Star Gaze” electrochromic glass roof, which goes from frosted to clear at the touch of a button. The Venza nails the premium feeling so well we can’t think of a single reason to buy the Lexus NX over it. Pricing starts at $33,645 ($40,330 in Canada). Loading … Utility of the Year (Luxury) 2021 Cadillac Escalade The Escalade has gone widescreen. Cadillac’s de facto halo model benefits from all the same improvements as its proletariat Chevy siblings up-page, but naturally gets its own add-ons to justify the inflated price tag. The easiest to spot inside this beast is the huge 38-inch digital screen, spanning most of the dashboard. It feels suitably high-tech, and easily a match for the systems you find in the German competition. An available night vision setup is invaluable on dark roads, and soon, GM’s industry-leading Super Cruise system will join the Escalade’s bounty of features. SEE ALSO: 2021 Cadillac Escalade Review: Ghost Protocol With a powerful 6.2-liter V8 underhood (a 3.0-liter diesel is also available), the Escalade is the definition of effortless progress. It rides with a level of grace seemingly impossible for something the size of a city condo, thanks to the one-two of the independent rear suspension and the standard air suspension. Pricing starts at a heady $77,490 ($91,998 CAD), but the Escalade feels worth it. As managing editor Kshitij Sharma says, “Cadillac has created something worthy of a standing ovation.” Loading … 2021 Genesis GV80 The year kicked off with the debut of the Genesis GV80, the Korean brand’s first SUV, so it feels poetic to now end on it. Genesis spent the last few years establishing its luxury sport credentials with its sedans, including the G70, our 2019 Car of the Year. It couldn’t avoid the way the industry winds were blowing though, and the GV80 is at least as impressive for its class as that car was for sport sedans two years ago. SEE ALSO: 2021 Genesis GV80 Review: First Drive What’s immediately striking about the GV80 is how holistic it feels. Everything meshes together. The styling—the first clean-sheet example of Genesis’ “Athletic Elegance” look—makes a strong statement on the road, imposing but not brash. The ride is smooth: not as sporty as the competition (and we’re not even talking the M and AMG variants), but calm, collected, and very quiet. A whole new infotainment system ditches the borrowed-Hyundai setup of old, with pretty menus and a low learning curve. Best of all is the interior itself, plush and inviting no matter which perch you find yourself in. Some things don’t change, though: in this case, it’s Genesis’ reputation for value, with the GV80 starting at just under $50,000 ($65,000 CAD). It’s a designer bargain, like a Zegna suit at Zara pricing. Loading … 2021 Land Rover Defender The Land Rover Defender is an icon. It’s no wonder it took the British company what felt like eons to replace it. This new-age Defender is different in a lot of ways, but what hasn’t changed is its ability to make short work of gnarly off-road trails. Under those smoother, modern looks is a gloriously complicated chassis which makes that possible. SEE ALSO: 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 Review: First Drive The interior experience is also bang up to date, thanks to inspired material choices, a clean dash design, and—thankfully—a new touchscreen interface. The Defender feels like a genuinely premium item, which makes sense now that pricing starts over $50,000 ($65,000 CAD). Despite that, you can still hose the interior down after a particularly adventurous trail. A mild-hybrid, twin-charged inline-six engine powers the Defender 110, producing 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. That’s plenty to ford streams with, but more importantly, it turns the Defender into a smooth highway cruiser in-between your amateur cartographer sessions. Loading … 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB Mercedes has plugged the gap between GLA and GLC, both of which are two-row crossovers, with this, the three-row GLB. Are you confused? Yeah, so were we, until we drove it. The GLB makes almost too much sense. The optional way-back is designed for occasional use: a sticker on the rear doors makes it clear those much over 5’6″ shouldn’t even attempt it. That’s fine: those looking to buy this affordable little ‘ute probably aren’t shuttling most of an adult baseball team from A to B. But if they have two kids, and both want to bring a friend? You’ve got a solution, all in a footprint barely bigger than a RAV4. SEE ALSO: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 Review: Scratching the Niche The GLB is just as easy to drive as other smaller Mercs, too. It uses the same basic platform as the excellent A-Class, providing it with a smooth, easy-going road demeanor. Available all-wheel drive (standard in Canada) ensures foul-weather security, too. A turbocharged 2.0-liter sits under the bluff nose, pushing out 221 hp in GLB 250 guise, or 302 hp for the hotter GLB 35 AMG. Fuel efficiency is better than most other non-hybrid three-rows on the market, averaging 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km). Best of all, the GLB is one of the most affordable ways into Merc ownership, starting at around $37,000 ($45,000 CAD). A luxury German model that’s not just practical, but affordable? It’s what makes the GLB so easy for us to recommend. Loading … 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS Mercedes scores not just one but two finalists spots thanks to this, the GLS. The gargantuan SUV saw a full redesign in 2020, finally stepping into the role as the S-Class of the brand’s SUV lineup. SEE ALSO: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 Review: Wafting Wunderkind Sure, there’s an AMG version of this big boy, because of course there is, but don’t fall for it. The GLS is all about pampering. In GLS 580 trim, it pairs a slightly detuned version of the AMG’s turbocharged V8 to a mild-hybrid system, seamlessly providing even more torque when requested. An electronically-controlled air suspension smothers anything the road can throw at it, helping the GLS glide serenely across vast stretches of land. Best of all, the brand’s excellent MBUX infotainment system is present here, offering myriad customization options, quick responses, and lots of eye candy. Pricing starts at a suitably Merc-like $77,000, or just shy of six figures in Canada. Even optioned-up, the GLS feels worth it. Loading … Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here. The post 2021 AutoGuide.com Utility Vehicle of the Year: Meet the Contenders appeared first on AutoGuide.com. Lees volledige artikel
  2. Our annual awards are back, with a new format and more categories! After what felt like the longest year ever, it’s time to separate the merely good from the great. Yes, it’s time for our 2021 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year Awards. For more 2021 AutoGuide.com Awards information, check out the other categories: 2021 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year: Meet the Contenders 2021 AutoGuide.com Utility Vehicle of the Year: Meet the Contenders Cars are still a big deal for a lot of consumers. They’re more fuel efficient, lighter—meaning less wear and tear on parts—and generally more affordable than their crossover siblings. While we said goodbye to a lot of models in 2020, there were also plenty of bright new additions to the humble three-box segment. We saw both the Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra debut in the compact segment. The Mazda3, new for last year, gained a more powerful turbo engine, further emphasizing its march upmarket. A size up, two very different takes on the same essential mid-size sedan platform appeared in the Hyundai Sonata and Kia K5. Both feature plenty of tech, consumer-friendly pricing, and smooth driving experiences. Hyundai went a step further and produced a sportier N-Line model, with a full 290 horsepower funnelling through the front wheels. As always, this isn’t a direct comparison. What matters here is fit for purpose: how each car accomplishes its goals in its respective class, and how much they raise the bar there. Ideally, they even advance the industry standards across the board, be it in value, styling, technology, or performance. Most importantly, we’ve only included cars our team has actually driven. 2020 delayed a lot of product roll-outs, and while that’s unfortunate, it meant cutting a few models we might’ve initially planned to include earlier in the year. For Car and Utility of the year, we’ve split the award into Overall, Mainstream, and Luxury sub-categories. You’ll find the eight Car of the Year finalists below, in alphabetical order. Our team will vote on each category over the coming weeks, and we’ll announce the winners early February. Stay tuned! Car of the Year (Mainstream) 2021 Hyundai Elantra All new for 2021, the Elantra is aiming for no less than class leadership. Longer, lower, and wider than the car it replaces, the Hyundai’s fractal-like styling won’t please everyone, but the ample space it offers inside sure will. The interior is light and airy, and top models feature a combined digital instrument panel and infotainment screen, like a Merc A-Class for 40 percent less cash. SEE ALSO: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Review: First Drive In regular gas-engined trims, the Elantra offers a smooth ride with a big-car feeling. Those wanting even more fuel efficiency can opt for a hybrid model. Rather make performance a priority? A warmer, turbocharged N-Line is available, and a raucous full-on N model will touch down some time next year. The Honda Civic should watch its back. Loading … 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hyundai introduced the new Sonata late last year as a 2020 model, and during the calendar year, continued to flesh out the mid-size lineup. What hasn’t changed are those dramatic looks: like the Elantra, they’re not to everyone’s tastes. It’s certainly distinctive though, with the clever hidden DRLs in the chrome strips on the hood making this an easy car to spot at night. SEE ALSO: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review It’s this year’s new models that really set the Sonata apart in its class. The Hybrid (as seen above) offers a stellar 47 mpg average, a theoretical range over 600 miles, and a very cool solar panel roof. Contributor Chris Tonn called it “one of the best cars I’ve driven for a long day in the saddle.” On the other end of the spectrum is the naughty N-Line model. With 290 horsepower sent through only the front wheels, it’s shockingly fast for what looks, essentially, like a regular sedan. N-Line drivers can revel in one of the year’s most understated performance models, and as ever with Hyundai, it’s a deal, too. Loading … 2021 Kia K5 There’s another Korean car standing in the way of the Sonata’s run for the crown, however. It’s the Kia K5, which shares the same platform. Despite that, the K5 feels completely different from its sibling, in no small part thanks to its unique drivetrain. Kia offers the K5 with AWD (standard in Canada), something the Sonata doesn’t do, which should please those in colder climes. SEE ALSO: 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD Review: A Covetable Mainstream Sedan? The Kia’s daring exterior looks are arguably more appealing to more people, too. There’s a hint of Stinger here, from the low nose to the quasi-fastback profile. Inside, K5 passengers are treated to a stylish, well-thought-out interior with practical solutions to everyday issues and solid quality. A big 10.25-inch touchscreen is as easy to read as it is to use. Just one engine option exists for now: the ubiquitous 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. That changes early next year, when the K5 GT touches down, packing the same 2.5-liter turbocharged four as—yep, you guessed it—the Sonata N-Line. Loading … 2021 Mazda3 Turbo The Mazda3 has felt like a car trying to live two lives since the fourth-gen model debuted last year. It’s incredibly stylish, and the interior does a better job of feeling premium than most actual luxury marques. But even with the top 2.5-liter engine, it didn’t have the power to compete. That changed this year, when Mazda dropped the turbocharged version of the engine in the 3’s low, low hood. Hello 250 horsepower, and a stout 320 lb-ft of torque when running on the premium drink. SEE ALSO: 2021 Mazda3 Sport 2.5 Turbo Review: First Drive Long-time Mazda fans may cry foul here, as the Turbo isn’t a proper follow-up for the wild Mazdaspeed3 of yesteryear. That’s not the 2021 Mazda3 Turbo’s jam: it’s a more mature approach, with stable AWD instead of the torque-steering front-drive setup. It’s composed, yet still entertaining on a backroad, and feels every inch a viable option for those not satisfied with the Audi A3 or BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. Loading … 2021 Nissan Sentra We’ll be straight with you here: the previous Sentra was the butt of a lot of jokes around the office halls. It had few redeeming qualities: it was dull, underpowered, felt cheap, and looked awkward. That’s what makes the new car so impressive: it’s a huge leap forward, and we can actually see ourselves recommending it beyond a massive end-of-year discount. SEE ALSO: 2020 Nissan Sentra Review: Big Car Feel, Small Car Price For starters, the Sentra looks great now. Nissan dropped the roofline and stretched the car’s length and width, resulting in strong proportions. Space is ample front and back, and there’s an enormous trunk out back. A 2.0-liter engine provides a fine amount of thrust (149 hp and 146 lb-ft), with a CVT ensuring high fuel efficiency in the city and on the highway. Higher trims bring in quilted leather seats, which are a rarity in the compact car segment. Loading … Car of the Year (Luxury) 2021 Acura TLX Acura promised a return to fun with the second-generation TLX. While the real fun will arrive next year, with a high-performance Type S, it was important the Japanese luxury brand get the fundamentals right here. Mission accomplished, then. Starting under $40,000 (or around $45,000 CAD), the new TLX has a stronger dynamic profile than before, in large part thanks to its updated SH-AWD system. A standard 2.0-liter turbo engine is par for the class, but it’s a stronger four-pot than most out there, putting out a healthy 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission. SEE ALSO: 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec Review: Making the Grade Luxury buyers demand more than good handling, however. The TLX has a roomy interior—though maybe not as much as its larger exterior dimensions suggest—positively stuffed with high-quality materials. A dramatic new center console makes the car’s mission clear right from the get-go, prioritizing a drive mode select system over pretty much everything else. Fun is back at Acura, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Loading … 2021 Cadillac CT5-V Cadillac is in the midst of (another) revamp, and that includes a new sedan lineup. There’s the smaller CT4, meant to take on the luxury sub-compact crowd, and this, the CT5. We’ve put forward the CT5-V here, a different, more sedate take on the V sub-brand. “Sedate” is a relative term: it’s not packing a fire-breathing supercharged V8 from the CTS-V this car ostensibly replaced, but the CT5-V still has a strong (and sweet-sounding) turbocharged V6. SEE ALSO: 2020 Cadillac CT5-V Review: My Name is My Name At 360 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque, the new engine blends more naturally with the rest of the CT5-V’s package. It allows the chassis more opportunity to shine, with a balance that allows drivers to get more out of the car without travelling at extra-legal speeds. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but Cadillac offers both V-Series sedans with AWD as well. Inclement weather won’t get in the way of having fun in these four-doors. Loading … 2021 Genesis G80 The G80 is the car that launched Genesis. So it’s a big deal that now, four years later, we’re getting a second-generation model. A clean-sheet design, this svelte four-door also adopts the brand’s new styling language, with a swanky, swooping roofline and that unmistakable quad-bar face. Buyers have two engine and drivetrain options for the G80, like its platform-mate the GV80, the brand’s first SUV. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6, both turbocharged, hook up to an eight-speed auto, with power going to either the rear axle or both. Both engines put out competitive power figures (300 hp in the four-pot, 375 hp for the V6), but we’re fans of the bigger engine. It suits the big G80, gifting it with effortless passing power and lots of low-down grunt. SEE ALSO: 2021 Genesis G80 Review: First Drive Arguably the G80’s best features is its interior. Boldly styled, it’s a luxurious place to be for front- or back-row occupants, with acres of leather and open-pore wood. A whole new infotainment system is pretty and easy to use, thanks to multiple input options and snappy responses. And instead of only offering black, gray, or beige, Genesis includes actual color options for the interior. More cars should have blue leather. Loading … Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here. The post 2021 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year: Meet the Contenders appeared first on AutoGuide.com. Lees volledige artikel
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