07/07/2020

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2021 Cars and Trucks That Are Worth Saving Up for Next Year

Although some automakers are delaying their 2021 models until 2022, the industry as a whole is making a comeback — and model year 2021 is shaping up to be a game-changer. From exciting, three-wheeled electric vehicles that can be had for under $20,000 to six-figure luxury roadsters, sports cars and coupes, there are good things on the horizon for anyone currently saving for a brand new car, truck, minivan or SUV.

There have been great leaps forward in hybrid and EV technology, and the features found both inside and out of the hottest upcoming vehicles are sure to amaze. From superior gas mileage and alternative fuels to infotainment centers and driver safety tech, there’s no shortage of wow in the automotive class of 2021.

In this study, GOBankingRates looked at trusted car experts’ roundups of highly anticipated 2021 vehicles and then found the MSRP, as well as other information like engine specs and fuel options, for each. Then, a few choice features were found that make each vehicle stand out from the very crowded pack, and the vehicles were ranked in order of lowest MSRP to highest.

Some of them are updates on longstanding models, others are brand new and a handful come from upstart manufacturers that few people have likely even heard of. All, however, will be ready to roll in 2021, and this roundup can help you choose which car is right for you and incentivize you to keep saving — you’ll be glad you did when you get behind the wheel.

Here are the sweetest offerings for 2021 as the auto industry bounces back.

Last updated: June 26, 2020

Electra Meccanica Solo

  • Category: Three-wheel
  • MSRP: $15,500
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Electric motor; 16.1-kWh lithium-ion battery; 40-mile range; 0-60 acceleration in eight seconds
  • Notable features: Since the Solo is electric, it’s perfect for people who just need a vehicle to commute but don’t want to spend on parking, gas, etc. It’s important to note, however, that it is not yet DOT approved.

Kia Optima

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $25,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder; 180 horsepower; FWD with the possibility of AWD option; eight-speed automatic; sportier trims to have 290-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Notable features: The Optima is popular for its sporty design and quality interior, which is impressive for the price. It’s also rich in high-tech features, and it boasts plenty of interior room compared to its competitors.

Hyundai Santa Cruz

  • Category: Truck
  • MSRP: $25,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 235-horsepower engine options; FWD standard with AWD option; eight-speed automatic; about 5,000-pound towing capacity
  • Notable features: The Santa Cruz is expected to be bursting with connectivity and infotainment features like touchscreen, smartphone integration and hotspot capability.

Volkswagen GTI

  • Category: Compact
  • MSRP: $30,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Turbocharged four-cylinder; 228 horsepower; manual and automatic options
  • Notable features: The GTI is not just affordable, but it’s also practical and has been lauded for its highly responsive handling. It gets solid fuel economy and although its interior is basic, it’s thoughtfully designed. 

Subaru/Toyota BRZ/86

  • Category: Sports car
  • MSRP: $29,000-$35,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder; 260 horsepower; RWD; manual transmission
  • Notable features: The previous model BRZ/86 was already highly rated, but the fun-to-drive sports car is now even better thanks to a bigger engine on the new model.

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Pictured: 2020 Subaru BRZ

Ford F-150

  • Category: Truck
  • MSRP: $30,000
  • Alternative fuel: Hybrid option
  • Engine specs: Plug-in hybrid option; five gas engine options including diesel; RWD and AWD options; 20-speed automatic; maximum towing capacity of 13,000 pounds
  • Notable features: The perenially popular F-150 is one of the most customizable vehicles on the road. Not only are there a huge variety of luxury and trim options, but drivers have a nice menu of bed and cab options, as well. 

Ram Dakota

  • Category: Truck
  • MSRP: $30,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: 3.6-liter V-6 or 3.0-liter V-6; about 260 horsepower; RWD and AWD; eight-speed automatic; up to 7,650-pound towing capacity
  • Notable features: Smaller and more affordable than the other Ram options, the Dakota is also highly customizable. Those who like the Jeep Gladiator will probably want to get behind the wheel of a Dakota, as well.

Kia Sedona

  • Category: Minivan 
  • MSRP: $31,520
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: 3.3-liter V-6; 276 horsepower; FWD; eight-speed automatic
  • Notable features: With all the functionality of a minivan but the looks of an SUV, the Sedona offers good value, particularly considering the many features that come with the base model. It’s been hailed for offering a smooth and confident driving experience.  

Toyota Sienna

  • Category: Minivan
  • MSRP: $32,000
  • Alternative fuel: Hybrid
  • Engine specs: 2.5-liter four-cylinder plus two electric motors; 243 horsepower; FWD with AWD option; 3,500-pound towing capacity
  • Notable features: Like the Kia Sedona, the Toyota Sienna has an SUV-like appearance. Not only does it offer a well-laid-out and practical interior, but it boasts best-in-class fuel economy. 

Kia Soul EV

  • Category: SUV
  • MSRP: $35,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Electric motor; 64.0-kWh battery; 243-mile range; 201 horsepower; single-speed direct-drive transmission
  • Notable features: The Soul EV’s unusual design makes it stand out on the road while also giving it extra interior room. Don’t let the boxy look fool you, though — it’s a car with some pep. 

Toyota Avalon

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $35,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: 2.5-liter four-cylinder; FWD with AWD option; eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Notable features: Families in need of a sedan with large and roomy back seats won’t be disappointed by the Toyota Avalon. 

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Chrysler Pacifica

  • Category: Minivan
  • MSRP: $35,000
  • Alternative fuel: Hybrid option 
  • Engine specs: Two engine options — 3.6-liter V-6 with 287 horsepower or 3.6-liter V-6 with two electric motors backed by 16.0-kWh lithium-ion battery; nine-speed automatic transmission for gas model and dual-motor eFlite variable transmission for hybrid; 33-mile electric range for hybrid
  • Notable features: The cabin is high-tech and brimming with luxury — among the coolest features is a camera that lets parents keep an eye on their children in the back seats. The Pacifica’s designers made the minivan’s ride quieter than previous models by reducing wind drag. 

Acura TLX

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $35,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Either a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with 272 horsepower or a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with over 290 horsepower with Type S trim; FWD and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) options; 10-speed automatic
  • Notable features: According to Car and Driver, the new Acura TLX has “longer, lower and wider proportions,” which make for an attractive design.

Volkswagen ID.4

  • Category: SUV
  • MSRP: $35,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: 310-mile range; RWD first with AWD models to launch later; 201 horsepower with RWD, AWD model to have 302; “peppy” acceleration
  • Notable features: Lots of space for cargo and passengers are the defining characteristics of the VW ID.4.

Alpha Romeo Tonale

  • Category: Subcompact crossover
  • MSRP: $35,000
  • Alternative fuel: Hybrid option
  • Engine specs: Turbocharged four-cylinder; plug-in hybrid powertrain with rear electric motor option; FWD with AWD options
  • Notable features: Car and Driver fawns over the Tonale’s “curvy bodywork accentuated by Alfa’s sharp-nosed face,” while pointing out that it’s a pleasure to drive and offers a high seating height.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

  • Category: SUV
  • MSRP: $35,000
  • Alternative fuel: Hybrid option
  • Engine specs: Turbo-charged 4-cylinder and hybrid assisted 3.6-liter V-6 options; possibly a plug-in hybrid or diesel option as well; RWD standard with AWD option
  • Notable features: The current model Grand Cherokee is tremendously successful, in part, because of its spacious interior — and that’s not expected to change in 2021.  

Lexus IS

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $40,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Two engine options depending on trim: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 241 horsepower or turbocharged 2.0-liter V-6 with 311 horsepower; AWD; 0-60 acceleration in about 5.5 seconds
  • Notable features: The exterior of the Lexus IS pops thanks to design components like furrowed headlights and sharp accents. Inside, drivers enjoy features like standard dual-zone auto climate control, push-button start and power front seats. Options include power sunroof and leather.

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Genesis G80

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $45,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Turbocharged 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder; 300 horsepower; option for more powerful 375-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine; eight-speed automatic; RWD and AWD options
  • Notable features: The Genesis isn’t priced like a luxury vehicle, but it sure looks and rides like one. It has been lauded for its exceptional design and graceful steering. 

Audi Q4 e-tron

  • Category: Compact crossover
  • MSRP: $45,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: 82.0-kWh battery; range up to 280 miles; 300 horsepower; AWD; 0-60 acceleration in 6.3 seconds
  • Notable features: Compared to the rest of the compact crossover class, the Q4 e-tron offers quick acceleration and a smooth ride. Inside you’ll find tech and gadgetry galore.

Nissan 400Z

  • Category: Sports car
  • MSRP: $45,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6; 300 horsepower; RWD; second-speed automatic and maybe six-speed manual option
  • Notable features: Compared to the older 370Z, this sports car has better luxury features, styling and performance, not to mention plenty of cargo space.

Pictured: Nissan 370Z

Mini John Cooper Works GP

  • Category: Hatchback
  • MSRP: $45,750
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Turbocharged inline-four engine; 300 horsepower; FWD
  • Notable features: Billed as the fastest Mini ever, the John Cooper Works GP is instantly recognizable by its sculptural designs, like a rear wing and flared fenders.

BMW i4

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $50,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Electric motor; 80.0-kWh battery pack; 372-mile charge range; 530 horsepower; RWD and AWD options; 0-62 acceleration in four seconds
  • Notable features: Although it’s a sedan, the BMW i4 looks like a coupe with four doors. Besides a large cargo area, it sports a high-tech interior that offers features like wireless charging, hotspot capability and a standout infotainment system.  

Polestar’s Polestar 2

  • Category: Crossover
  • MSRP: $61,200
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Two electric motors; 78.0-kWh lithium-ion battery; 275-mile range; 402 horsepower; AWD; 0-60 acceleration in less than five seconds
  • Notable features: Eco-friendly drivers will appreciate the vegan fabrics that adorn the clean, sharp interior of the Polestar 2. There’s also an optional subscription service that covers things like excessive wear, maintenance, insurance and use.

Lucid Air

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $62,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Single electric motor with RWD and dual electric motors with AWD and 1,000 horsepower options; 100-kWh and 130-kWh battery pack options; more than 400-mile range; 0-60 acceleration in less than 2.5 seconds
  • Notable features: Lucid is an upstart automaker that cut its teeth making batteries for race cars. It leaned on that lineage to create the Air, an EV sedan that offers a long range compared to its fully electric competitors. The Air’s interior is surprisingly roomy and bursting with luxury. 

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Jaguar F-Type

  • Category: Sports car
  • MSRP: $62,625
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Three engine level options — 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 296 horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 with 380 horsepower, and 5.0-liter V-8 with 575 horsepower; eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Notable features: Racing-inspired design is evident both inside and out on the Jaguar F-Type. It’s a nimble car that corners smoothly while being propelled by a powerful engine.

Toyota Mirai

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $64,000
  • Alternative fuel: Hydrogen
  • Engine specs: Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric motor; 400-mile range; at least 151 horsepower; RWD; one-speed direct-drive transmission; maximum 0-60 acceleration time of 8.9 seconds
  • Notable features: The Toyota Mirai boasts virtually zero emissions and fuel economy in the 60s in terms of miles per gallon. Only available in California and Hawaii, its style and design are Lexus all the way. 

BMW M3

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $68,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine; 473-503 horsepower; RWD and AWD options; 0-60 acceleration in just over three seconds
  • Notable features: The BMW M3 is all about high driver engagement. When it finally arrives, it will likely have tires and wheels of at least 19 inches along with large hoods, oversized air intakes, flared fenders, diffusers and spoilers.

BMW M4

  • Category: Coupe 
  • MSRP: $71,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine; 473-503 horsepower; RWD and AWD options; 0-60 acceleration in just over three seconds
  • Notable features: All of the expectations for the M3 also apply to the M4, but in this case, there will be an option of a power-operated soft-top convertible. 

Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $85,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: 6.2-liter V-8; 650 horsepower; six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic
  • Notable features: This powerful Cadillac sedan is revered not just for its 650 horses, but for its spacious interior. 

Lexus LC500 Convertible

  • Category: Convertible coupe
  • MSRP: $92,300
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: 5.0-liter V-8; 471 horsepower; 0-60 acceleration in 4.7 seconds
  • Notable features: Lexus currently offers a hybrid coupe model, but that option hasn’t yet caught up with this stylish ragtop convertible. It does, however, come standard with lane-keeping and lane-departure warning technology.

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Mercedes-Benz EQS

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $96,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Two electric motors; 300-mile range; 469 horsepower; AWD; 0-60 acceleration in less than 4.5 seconds
  • Notable features: This eco-friendly sedan has a quiet and roomy interior. Outside, it turns heads with a stunning grille and glowing pinstripe.  

Audi e-tron GT

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $100,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Two electric motors; 249-mile range; 590 horsepower; AWD; 0-60 acceleration in 3.5 seconds
  • Notable features: The Audi e-tron GT charges quickly and earns plenty of second looks thanks to its sculpted bodywork. 

Jaguar XJ

  • Category: Sedan
  • MSRP: $100,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: Two electric motors; 90.0-kWh battery pack; range around 300 miles; about 394 horsepower; AWD; “impressive” acceleration
  • Notable features: The Jaguar XJ rides smooth and nearly silent. Billed as the most luxurious Jaguar in the famed automaker’s line, its upscale features are complemented by agile handling. 

Audi RS 6 Avant

  • Category: Station wagon
  • MSRP: $109,995
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine; 591 horsepower; 48-volt mild hybrid system; AWD: eight-speed transmission; 0-60 acceleration in 3.5 seconds
  • Notable features: Although station wagons are rarely thought of as sophisticated or cool, this quick, powerful vehicle breaks the mold. Features like hotspot capability, multiple dashboard screens, power rear liftgate and other modern tech offerings seal the deal on the modern wagon.

Maserati MC20

  • Category: Sports car
  • MSRP: $160,000
  • Alternative fuel: N/A
  • Engine specs: Twin-turbocharged V-6, possibly V-8; 600 horsepower
  • Notable features: The Maserati MC20 is high-end in both the looks and feel departments, but it’s not just a pretty face — the sports car’s power is undeniable. 

Tesla Roadster

  • Category: Coupe
  • MSRP: $200,000
  • Alternative fuel: EV
  • Engine specs: 200-kWh battery; 620-mile range; AWD; 0-60 acceleration in 1.9 seconds
  • Notable features: Though it’s advertised as “the quickest car in the world” for its outrageous acceleration time, the Tesla Roadster has another, equally cool feature: a removable glass-panel roof, which you can stow in the trunk.

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Photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some of the images may not reflect the exact model, year, or trim listed in this article.

Methodology: To find the 2021 cars and trucks that are worth saving up for, GOBankingRates referenced Car and Driver’s “Future Cars Worth Waiting For: 2021-2025,” U.S. News and World Report’s “Future Cars: The Best New Cars Arriving by 2021” and Motor Trend’s “Future Cars: 2021 and Beyond” and “Future Trucks: 2021 and Beyond” roundups of highly anticipated 2021 car and truck models. Then, GOBankingRates used Car and Driver’s preliminary reports on each model to provide their predicted starting price, engine specifications and other notable features that are drawing positive attention. NOTE: Due to COVID-19, many model revamps and releases have been delayed to 2022 and some may still be pushed back. The models listed here are still currently slated for 2021. All data was collected on and is up to date as of June 19-22, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 2021 Cars and Trucks That Are Worth Saving Up for Next Year

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