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Front Page - Friday, December 25, 2020

Behind the Wheel: Edmunds names its top new cars for 2021

Every year Edmunds’ experts put their heads together to determine the very best new vehicles on sale. Spread across eight categories, the Edmunds Top Rated Awards are given to the cars, trucks and SUVs that rank at the top of their class according to Edmunds’ vehicle testing program.

That means each winner has been tested at the Edmunds test track and thoroughly evaluated over many miles of real-world use.

We’ve highlighted the four first-time winners for 2021, along with a returning champion from last year’s awards. The vehicles are listed in ascending order by manufacturer’s suggested retail price and include destination charges.

Top-rated sedan: 2021 Kia K5

Starting MSRP: $24,455

What Edmunds’ experts say: “The all-new Kia K5 has the style and substance to set it apart from other midsize family sedans. It’s impressively easy to drive and comfortable on longer trips thanks to a smooth ride and an exceptionally quiet cabin.

“Wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is standard, and that’s just the beginning of a rich feature list that somehow manages to undercut the competition on price at every level.”

Counterpoint: The K5’s sloping roofline can make it hard to get in and out for taller rear passengers.

Top-rated truck: 2021 Ford F-150

Starting MSRP: $30,635

What Edmunds’ experts say: “The Edmunds Top Rated Truck must balance capability, comfort, technology, innovative features and value. The Ford F-150 was already one of the best pickup trucks on the market; its significant list of additions and improvements for 2021 could cement its standing for years to come.

“Thanks to a raft of new features and high-end tech advancements, including an optional hybrid powertrain, the F-150 unseats the incumbent Ram 1500 as Edmunds’ top truck for 2021.”

Counterpoint: If you’re looking for a premium feel, the F-150’s cabin might not seem as luxurious as the Ram’s.

Top-rated SUV: 2021 Kia Telluride

Starting MSRP: $33,160

What Edmunds’ experts say: “It seems like Kia went for a ‘baby Land Rover’ look and nailed it. Inside and out, the three-row midsize Telluride has a more premium look and feel than the competition.

“It also boasts an impressively smooth ride, a third-row seat roomy enough for adults and plenty of features for the money. It was Edmunds Top Rated SUV last year, and it’s back in the winner’s circle for 2021.”

Counterpoint: There are fewer storage bins and cubbies than you’ll find in some rival SUVs.

Top-rated luxury EV: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Starting MSRP: $43,995

What Edmunds’ experts say: “In some cases, a non-luxury brand enters luxury territory with an EV offering, and so it is with the all-new Ford Mustang Mach-E. An electric SUV with Mustang-influenced styling, the Mach-E stands out with its premium cabin and easy-to-use controls.

“It lives up to its Mustang namesake, too, with approximately 300 miles or so between charges, depending on configuration, plus a projected 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds in the upcoming GT version.”

Counterpoint: The Mach-E’s front seats can be somewhat uncomfortable for taller drivers.

Top-rated luxury sedan: 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Starting MSRP: $55,300

What Edmunds’ experts say: “A true luxury experience is the main focus of this award, but value is also taken strongly into account. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class delivers on both fronts, with a refresh for 2021 helping it move into the No. 1 spot for this category.

“A particular highlight is the car’s new infotainment system that allows you to operate most of the car’s systems with voice commands. On top of that is the E-Class’ peerless combination of a premium interior, a smooth ride, top-notch construction and excellent advanced driver safety aids.”

Counterpoint: The E-Class sedan’s trunk capacity is small by segment standards, although the available E-Class wagon solves that problem.

Edmunds says

Save time on researching your next vehicle purchase by checking out Edmunds’ Top Rated award winners for 2021. Head over to Edmunds (www.edmunds.com/top-rated) to see the full list of winners, and then go test-drive them for yourself and see if you agree with our picks.

Ronald Montoya is a senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds. Twitter: @ronald_montoya8.