The cars we’re most looking forward to driving in 2021

There’s good stuff coming next year, guys. Roadshow Happy 2021, everyone. With a brand-new year comes a whole bunch of brand-new cars. With that in mind, our editors chose the car, truck or SUV they’re most looking forward to driving this year. Read on for everyone’s picks. 2021 Ford Mustang […]

There’s good stuff coming next year, guys.


Roadshow

Happy 2021, everyone. With a brand-new year comes a whole bunch of brand-new cars. With that in mind, our editors chose the car, truck or SUV they’re most looking forward to driving this year. Read on for everyone’s picks.

A few of my esteemed colleagues have already had a go in Ford’s electric SUV, the Mach-E, with Andrew Krok calling it “pretty darned great.” Of that I have no doubt; the Mach-E looks good and, by nearly all accounts, drives well. However, everyone seems to agree that it isn’t quite living up to that Mustang moniker from a handling standpoint. 

Can the GT fix that? I’m eager to find out. Performance on the base Mach-E is not lacking, with a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds. I’ve seen instrumented testing that drops that into the 4-second range, but the GT in Performance Edition trim promises to bring that down to 3.5 seconds. That’s very near Shelby GT500 territory.

But EVs are generally inordinately quick. The question for me is how it’ll handle. Mustangs traditionally have not been known as great corner carvers, but subsequent generations have been dispelling those preconceptions and both the GT350 and GT500 are excellent fun on the track as well as the strip. Can the Mustang Mach-E be as well? I can’t wait to find out.

— Tim Stevens

I certainly haven’t been alone in my enthusiasm for Ford’s Bronco revival, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that the Blue Oval’s bruiser is the vehicle I’m most pumped to drive in 2021. That said, before I saw the Bronco for the first time, I simply wasn’t prepared to be as excited for this 4×4 as I turned out to be. 

I attended an embargoed backgrounder well before the Bronco’s public reveal, and to be honest, I haven’t been as moon-eyed over a new production vehicle of any kind in many years. Not only does the 2021 Ford Bronco look great, it’s packed with off-road capability and loaded with thoughtful, “Why didn’t Jeep already think of that?” touches. As much as I love the Wrangler and the Gladiator (I almost bought one last year), the Bronco has singlehandedly made Jeep’s development cadence seem a little lazy.

I’m generally a sports car, GT or classic car guy when it comes to my personal vehicle choices, but I’ve been eying adding a body-on-frame utility to my little collection for some time now. I’ve even looked a lot at classic SUVs to scratch the itch. As it turns out, what I’ve been waiting for is a new truck that matches retro-inspired looks with modern tech and capability. I’m ordering a two-door Bronco, and I hope Ford manages to deliver a high-quality launch.

— Chris Paukert

I’m not just stoked to drive the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, I’m stoked to be driven in it, too. Every time a new S-Class debuts, it resets the bar by which all other luxury sedans are judged, and the Maybach variant adds a whole bunch of over-the-top creature comforts that should even make companies like Bentley and Rolls-Royce nervous.

The new S-Class already packs a wallop of new technologies, including a massive upgrade for Mercedes’ MBUX multimedia system, an augmented reality head-up display and one of the best sound systems I’ve ever heard. Take all that goodness, add 7 inches of rear legroom, give me some of the finest, most comfortable rear seats in the world and stock the car’s champagne fridge with a couple bottles of Veuve Clicquot. Traffic jam ahead? Oh darn, guess I’ll take a nap.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a whole bunch of sports cars I’m eager to drive in 2021, but there’s just something about a huge, ultra-comfy S-Class that makes me want to curl up and forget the shitshow that was 2020 ever existed. Bring on the new year. I’ve got massaging leg rests.

— Steven Ewing

There are a lot of fancy cars on this list, but you know what? I’m pretty pumped to drive the 2022 Honda Civic. At first glance, the car looks sort of drab and I started to believe the design would be a real bummer when patent images first leaked. But I stand corrected; this car looks great.

Honda’s mission is clear: A return to basics and the simplicity that made its cars of yore timeless. This car in standard guise looks so clean and fresh, and although we only have a sketch of the interior, it looks downright excellent. I even see a little bit of the Honda E inside, which is a good thing in my book.

Every car on this list will probably be more exciting to drive, but honestly, the masses still need good cars. And when the time comes, we’ll get a new Si and Type R based on this clean design. That has me even more excited for the future of Honda’s bread-and-butter nameplate.

— Sean Szymkowski

Tesla gets all the attention, but plenty of other companies are working overtime to develop high-end electric vehicles. Take Lucid Motors, for instance. The upstart brand’s Air sedan looks poised to hit the pace-setting Model S right where it hurts. This new four-door car is not only stylish and upscale, it should also offer shocking performance, which is why I can’t wait to experience it firsthand.

The Air Dream Edition is the pinnacle model in Lucid’s nascent range and it’s a doozy, offering a claimed 1,080 horsepower. That’s enough secret sauce to rocket this sedan from a standstill to 60 mph in an organ-scrambling 2.5 seconds. Naturally, all-wheel drive is included, along with plenty of other intriguing features. Expect the Dream Edition come with a super-premium cabin, a whole bunch of interior screens and eventually even Level 3 automated driving capability.

Elegantly designed and shockingly potent, the Lucid Air Dream Edition also offers some impressive driving range. If you can resist doing back-to-back-to-back-to-back acceleration runs, this version should be able to go 503 miles between charges, though the slightly less-fancy Grand Touring model beats that, with a projected range of 517 miles. Not too shabby, Lucid, not too shabby.

— Craig Cole

There’s no question in my mind that Genesis is putting out the most exciting designs in the auto industry right now, and the new GV70 crossover is the best one yet. It’s daring, different and just plain gorgeous, both inside and out.

The GV70 sounds like it’ll be great to drive, too. It rides on a new rear-wheel-drive platform and shares the same engines as the GV80, meaning the option of a 375-hp twin-turbo V6. Genesis also says the GV70 will be offered with torque vectoring, a limited-slip diff and adaptive suspension, and the Sport model adds even more goodies.

And more than any of Genesis’ other models the GV70 is poised to become the brand’s biggest success, as the compact luxury crossover market is absolutely booming. So will the GV70 be a hit and live up to my own personal hype? I can’t wait to find out.

— Daniel Golson

Subaru’s been peeking at my notes because the updates to the 2022 Subaru BRZ line up almost perfectly with my thoughts for improving the current model. The new look is perhaps a bit too Lexus F for my taste, but I’m looking forward to seeing the rear-drive coupe in person and getting behind the wheel.

The new BRZ gets a nice and moderate torque and horsepower bump from its larger-displacement 2.4-liter flat-four engine, but Subie was careful not to upset the weight distribution and low center-of-mass by cramming too much gear under the hood. And the best news is that the six-speed manual gearbox returns as the preferred transmission of enthusiasts. 

The ride has been refined, but Subaru promises that it’s just as balanced as before. Meanwhile the cabin features updated — but still fairly simple — tech in the center stack and in the instrument cluster where you’ll find new digital gauges. The 2022 BRZ looks like it fixes all of the current model’s nitpicks, while keeping its soul intact for a new generation.

— Antuan Goodwin

One of my lucky colleagues has already taken it for quite the off-road adventure, but with a production debut slated for mid-2021, I am unbelievably stoked for the Rivian R1T electric pickup.

The R1T doesn’t just look cool, it packs all sorts of useful features, like the C-pillar gear tunnel, which makes great use of a pickup’s massive body without a boatload of mechanical bits underneath. With a footprint about equal to a Honda Ridgeline, it shouldn’t blot out the sun on your driveway, either.

If Rivian holds to its target dates, it’ll be one of, if not the first production electric pickup to hit the market. Considering just how stuck-in-the-mud the pickup segment can be, Rivian’s initial efforts will be the bellwether by which other automakers — legacy or not — measure their own success.

— Andrew Krok

What’s my favorite model in the 911 range? Not the bonkers-powerful Turbo, but the GT3 for its pure, track-focused mission. And unlike the previous 991 GT3, the new model will be offered with a manual transmission right from the get-go, with Porsche’s excellent PDK as an option.

Another thing that’s awesome is that the GT3 will retain its naturally aspirated flat six-cylinder engine. That means it keeps its linear power delivery and sky-high redline along with what’s sure to be a great exhaust note. 

And then there are the handling improvements. Instead of the MacPherson strut front suspension that every road going production 911 has had up until this point, the new GT3 gets a double-wishbone setup that should raise cornering IQ. Toss in the aero improvements such as the swan-neck rear wing and I’m sure it’s going to be a freaking riot. I can’t wait.

— Jon Wong

The Rivian R1S takes everything that’s great about the R1T and makes it better because it looks like a classic Range Rover.

Having seen the interior of the prototype/concept/whatever version at the LA Auto Show a couple of years ago, I can say that this is a total dream car for me for every day use, too. It’s all practical and appears to be hard-wearing and unfussy. Add in the promised range and the serious off-road chops that are unlikely to get lost in the translation from truck to SUV, and there’s a whole hell of a lot to be excited about.

— Kyle Hyatt

I’ve always had a thing for the Wrangler and I’m super-stoked to see how it will behave with an electrified powertrain. The 4xe is a plug-in hybrid that gets 25 miles of all-electric range. I love the idea of being able to save those miles for when I’m out on the trail, without having any range anxiety on the way home.

Electric power is pretty great for off-roading, as you have all that instant torque available as soon as you touch the accelerator. However, I’m curious as to how the electric motors work with the two-speed transfer case and front and rear locking differentials. It’s a whole new dirt world, y’all, and I am here for it.

The 4xe features Jeep’s 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine and total power output is 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Jeep says the 4xe has already completed the 22-mile Rubicon Trail in California on electric power alone, but says that it’s planning a solar charging station on the Rubicon and on select trails in Moab, Utah. 

— Emme Hall

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