Big wins for Ford and Hyundai Group in the revitalized AutoGuide Awards.
Today, AutoGuide has announced the winners of the bigger, better AutoGuide 2021 Awards. There are six overall categories for 2021, two of which are split into mainstream and luxury sub-categories.
After weeks of deliberation, our team of expert reviewers have narrowed down the best new cars, trucks, and utility vehicles in the US and Canada. These are the vehicles we would recommend to our friends and family, and even consider for ourselves.
With the auto industry in the midst of major changes, and the overall quality of cars being higher now than ever before, we recognize the challenge facing modern shoppers. Together, our team drove well over 100 new models this year, and our goal with the awards is to distill all of that knowledge for the best buyer advice.
Our team judged the 34 finalists on many attributes, including value, innovation, user-friendliness, technology, safety, and more. Beyond that, the overarching theme was fitness for purpose. The best vehicles didn’t just excel in their particular category, they set new standards, even beyond their own class.
AutoGuide 2021 Awards Winners:
Car of the Year: Hyundai Elantra
Utility Vehicle of the Year: Ford Mustang Mach-E
Truck of the Year: Ford F-150
Luxury Car of the Year: Genesis G80
It’s hard to believe Genesis as a brand is only going on five years old. The 2021 G80 mid-size sedan is the second generation of the car that launched Genesis, after all.
As the first clean-sheet sedan design to adopt the brand’s Athletic Elegance look, the G80 drips with style. It has the classic long-nose, short-deck proportions of a sport sedan, and big wheels pushed right to the corners. The G80 demands attention wherever it rolls, looking far more expensive than its relatively modest $48,745 ($66,000 CAD) starting price.
SEE ALSO: Genesis G80 vs BMW 5 Series Comparison
Genesis has nailed the luxury car essentials with the G80 lineup. Two turbocharged engines are available, both putting down more power than the competition’s equivalent four- and six-cylinder options. Rear-wheel drive is standard in the US, with AWD optional (and standard in Canada).
But the G80 does more than tick the necessary boxes. The ride is calm and composed, insulating occupants without isolating the driver. Its interior is a stunning showcase of materials, all quilted leather and open-pore wood you want to reach out and touch. The focus on tactile excellence extends to the revamped infotainment screen; it’s easy to navigate, especially with the iPod-style central rotary knob.
Managing editor Kshitij Sharma sums it all up: “The G80 is a phenomenal car as it strikes the perfect balance between power, drivability and luxury.”
Luxury Utility Vehicle of the Year: Genesis GV80
It’s a one-two punch for Genesis at the AutoGuide 2021 Awards, as the GV80 scoops up the Luxury Utility Vehicle of the Year award. The Korean brand’s first SUV burst onto the scene to immediate praise this year, carving out its own niche in a ruthlessly competitive part of the market.
The GV80 is a breath of fresh air in the mid-size luxury segment, a welcome riposte to the uniform sameness of the typical German offerings. Like the G80, it looks much more expensive than it is, and that extends to the interior: editor Kyle Patrick calls it the “single best interior under $100,000.”
Like the G80 sedan, the GV80 comes very well-equipped in “base” form. This includes a comprehensive suite of driver assists, something that’s still commonly an extra-cost option in the luxury world. Lane-keep assist, automated emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control—it’s all here. Other available goodies include a powerful and crisp 21-speaker Lexicon sound system, trick 3D instrument panel, and active noise cancellation.
All of that would be for nought if the GV80 didn’t deliver from behind the wheel. Needless to say, it does. Even on the optional 22-inch wheels, the GV80 is a serene cruiser. The base 2.5-liter engine is far stronger than its swept volume suggests, and those craving even more get-up-and-go can spec the smooth, torquey 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6.
“At Genesis, we put the customer at the core of everything we do,” said Mark Del Rosso, President and CEO of Genesis Motor North America. “With the all-new G80 and GV80, we’re happy to deliver a refined driving experience paired with the comfort and safety that customers expect. We’re pleased with the positive response from our customers, and we are humbled to receive this accolade from AutoGuide.”
Had it not launched the same year as the Mach-E, the GV80 would have also claimed our overall Utility Vehicle of the Year title. It’s that good.
Family Vehicle of the Year: Chrysler Pacifica
None of our judges fell for the marketing messages proclaiming crossovers are great family vehicles. This category had a few of them vying for the win, but in the end, the answer was always going to be a minivan.
Not just any minivan either; the Pacifica is the latest evolution of the origins of the species. This made-in-Canada people-mover carries the spirit of the original Caravan, loaded with practical, family-friendly features.
“It invented the segment and continues to do so by offering stuff like Stow ‘N Go seating even on the AWD model when its competitors can’t even figure out how to make their middle row of seats disappear,” said contributing writer Matthew Guy.
As our tallest judge mentioned, AWD returned to the Pacifica menu this year, giving the Pacifica added foul-weather capability. Chrysler also added a lux Pinnacle model this year, which dials up the interior ambiance with creamy caramel leather. It even has throw pillows! This year’s update also introduced a revised Uconnect 5 system. This 10.1-inch infotainment system builds on one of our favorite examples in the market, with crisper graphics, quicker responses, and the ability to create multiple user profiles.
The Pacifica’s unmatched blend of practicality, safety, space—and yes, style—edged it ahead of the other minivan in contention, the all-hybrid Toyota Sienna.
Performance Car of the Year: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The latest Corvette presents the biggest change to the nameplate since it debuted almost 70 years ago. When Chevrolet finally confirmed the Corvette was really going mid-engined, the amount of ire hurled its way rivalled the hooplah over the electric Mustang crossover. #NotmyCorvette was a thing.
We say a big, long pfffffft to all that.
The mid-engine Corvette is plenty traditional. It still employs an honest-to-goodness pushrod V8 engine, producing up to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. There’s still room for two people, and golf clubs. But most importantly, the C8 Stingray will still utterly embarrass cars costing much more than its modest starting price. If you ask us, that’s one of the primary tenets of the brand.
Contributing writer Lee Bailie was the man lucky enough to drive the C8 at its launch. He called the ‘Vette C8 “stable, responsive and well-balanced” on the road, praising the new mid-ship layout for its improved outward visibility. The Corvette also moves into this decade with a vastly more modern interior. A 12.0-inch customizable instrument panel sits behind the squircle-shaped steering wheel, with another screen sitting atop the dramatic center console.
Chris Tonn says it all: “Corvette is an icon—and despite the transition to a radically new layout, it retains the essence of Americana while adding a dash of supercar.”
It’s the Corvette’s long-standing value proposition—Evan Williams says the “performance per dollar is unchallenged”—that elevated it over the equally-impressive Porsche Taycan. The Stingray is our 2021 Performance Car of the Year.
Green Vehicle of the Year: Ford Mustang Mach-E
Yes, the Mustang Mach-E picks up another award today. We at AutoGuide not only acknowledge, but appreciate the industry’s move towards a more sustainable future. From a cute, short-range city car to a true-blue (or is that -green?) performance car, this category featured finalists from all across the automotive spectrum.
In the end, Ford’s electric pony won out. Our judges put it just ahead of the Porsche Taycan, largely because it will have more impact on the overall car market at its lower price point. Ford gives customers two different battery size options for the Mustang Mach-E (66.0- and 88.0-kWh), allowing them to fine-tune the package based on their own needs. Both rear- and all-wheel drive are also available. It’s this diversity that our judges praised—even if some of us still have a bone to pick about that name.
“Despite loathing the name, it brings the goods in terms of range and tech—for a segment-appropriate price,” said Matthew Guy.
And that’s the key to the Mach-E’s success: folks come for the name, and they stay for a genuinely great crossover that just so happens to be electric. Going green really can be easy.
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