Much like the well-known Michelin Guide in the culinary world, American firm Kelley Blue Book is one of the authorities of all things automotive. And this year (much like the past years), the annual Best Buy awards by the automotive industry leader offers interesting reviews into some of the best cars 2021 has produced thus far.
The significance of these awards is not something to scoff at. And it is more than worthwhile to do a rundown of the choices for 2021 in several different cars, SUV, and truck categories — which we will get to in the next section.
The Best New Model of The Year: 2021 Kia Seltos
Just like its compatriot Kia car (Telluride) in 2020, the Rookie of the Year award for 2021 has also gone to a Kia model — the significantly smaller albeit still functionally beautiful Kia Seltos.
Some highlights of the all-new Seltos includes the ever-present comfort, space, urban practicality, as well as fuel economy that the South Korean car manufacturer is well-known for. Whereas the stylish exterior is the cherry on top of the cake.
Here are some specific features that the annual magazine has highlighted:
- Comfortable seating
- Reclining back seats
- Impeccable interior finishing and amenities
- Multimedia functions include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a standard 8-inch screen
- Sufficient cargo space
- Reasonable pricing
- Solid Kia warranty
As you’ll notice, the Seltos is a multi-category winner as it also took home the Best Buy Award for 2021 in the Subcompact SUV category.
Compact Car of The Year: 2021 Hyundai Elantra
While the Elantra line isn’t exactly new, it has recently gone through a massive facelift that has afforded it new fans, along with older admirers of the model due to its near-sporty behaviours, roomy interior, and more. And this year, the Elantra came out on top of the Civic — last year’s champion in the category and a perennial favourite in this particular segment.
This makes two-for-two for South Korean car manufacturers so far. Will we be seeing more?
Highlights of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra:
- High quality and refinement overall
- Sturdier chassis
- Smooth, coupe-esque shape
- Reasonable price point
- Excellent fuel efficiency
- Variants offer different looks such as the sharp-looking N-line variant
- Steady on-the-road handling
Midsize Car of The Year: 2021 Honda Accord
Speaking of the Civic, it may have lost out in its category this year, but its brethren, the Honda Accord, has managed to take the win in another category.
Indeed, the Honda Accord has certainly lost its lustre in recent years, but the 2021 model is looking to overcome this preconceived notion by offering a driving experience like no other. And with spirited handling combined with a smooth, family-friendly riding experience, it’s no surprise to see the Accord start to make waves in this category.
Plus points of the Honda Accord:
- Spacious cabin
- Solid handling but yet still smooth on the road
- Massive trunk
- Great resale value, low maintenance costs
- Still looks great aesthetically for a 3-year old design
- Excellent sightlines for a sedan-type vehicle
Subcompact SUV of the Year: 2021 Kia Seltos
Here we are again with the 2021 Kia Seltos. As we’ve mentioned above, the Seltos is actually more akin to a middle ground between the subcompact and compact size categories.
Then again, it is not only in this regard as the Nissan’s Qashqai, Mazda’s CX-30, and Chevrolet’s Trailblazer are also in a similar scenario. This is why the Seltos’ victory is that much, more significant.
Compact SUV of The Year: 2021 Toyota RAV4
This category is one of the more important ones for many consumers today as compact SUVs offer the perfect balance between space, comfort, functionality, power, fuel consumption, and of course, pricing.
It then comes as no surprise that the Compact SUV of The Year award is also one of the most highly contested vehicle segments here. Likewise, the winner of this category would have to be truly astounding to beat the rest of the field, which according to the magazine, falls to the Toyota RAV4.
Looking at the sales numbers, there’s a reason why this SUV has a stranglehold on the segment and Kelly Blue Book is merely following the trail of money left by the model when deciding on the winner of this trophy for 2021. Its success, in part, is also thanks to the addition of a new plug-in hybrid Prime variant to the line.
- Standard edition comes with a decent amount of accessories
- Plenty of trimming options that range from very refined or very hardy
- Hybrid model available
- Highly comfortable for long trips on the road and for daily commuting
- Safety features
- Generous cargo space and boot space
- High resale value
Midsize SUV (two-row) of The Year: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
On the opposite side of the spectrum, this category isn’t the most active in terms of participants but still, there’s much to be said about the winner of the category. Specifically, the Santa Fe SUV got a nice refresher for the year 2021, and it’s paying dividends for the South Korean manufacturer as the model has now been named as the best in class for its category for 2021.
What the KBB liked about the Hyundai Santa Fe included:
- Powerful base engine
- An even powerful optional turbo engine
- Hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are available
- Beautiful external and internal styling
- Larger onboard screen
- High-end options for seats, upholstery, and more
- Latest infotainment technology
- Safety features
- Reliable warranty
Midsize SUV (three-row) of The Year: 2021 Kia Telluride
Yet another Korean model from the Hyundai-Kia juggernaut, the aforementioned Kia Telluride is next on the list. This three-row vehicle was named the Best New Model last year, so it comes as no surprise that the same model has secured a placing in this category for 2021. Indeed, what the Telluride offers in terms of aesthetics, comfort, and utility is simply unbeatable — even if it has remained relatively unchanged for the entire 2021.
Notable features highlighted by KBB include:
- Bold, unapologetic style and design for the exterior components
- Lux interior with comfortable seating
- Ergonomic layout design
- Massive storage space
- Ample room for cargo
- Powerful engine
- Safety feature
- Reasonable pricing
Full-Size SUV of The Year: 2021 Ford Expedition
In a year full of several top contenders in the SUV department, this veteran car manufacturer still remains at the top of the top. In this case, 2021 is the year of the Ford Expedition as it offers comfort, towing capability, convenience, and safety not unlike anything the American company has produced in recent times.
Features of The 2021 Ford Expedition
- Best in class towing
- Comfort with spacious seating
- V6 engine that is almost as powerful as a V8
- Astounding highway cruiser
- Aesthetically pleasing to look at
- Well-designed interior