The 14 Most Important New Cars We'll Meet in 2021

From newfangled EVs to replacements for geriatric pickups, 2021 should be a landmark year in the automotive world.

rivian r1s r1t
Tony Harmer / Rivian

January is traditionally the time when we cast aside the past year and look ahead. Here at Gear Patrol's Motoring Desk, that means getting excited about all the new cars coming in 2021. We’ve already told you what we’re excited to drive — but there are other cars (like a bevy of affordable electric crossovers) that may not be the most exhilarating to drive but will be massively important for the industry.

Below are the 14 most important cars we’ll meet for the first time in 2011.

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bmw ix on a stone driveway in front of a modernist building

BMW launched one of the first luxury EVs, the i3, back in 2013. This year, we’re finally getting a successor in the form of the iX midsize crossover.

The iX will put out 500 horsepower, deliver a 300-mile range and fast charge to 80 percent in less than 40 minutes. Alas, it is also getting the colossal schnozz of the new M3 and M4.

Ford Bronco
2021 ford bronco sasquatch

The Jeep Wrangler hasn’t had much direct competition — until now, with the new Ford Bronco. The pandemic delayed both the launch and production start date after a protracted tease, but Broncos will finally be spotted on the road, on the trail and at dealers this spring.

Ford Maverick
ford maverick leaked production shot
Maverick Truck Club

Buyers like trucks and SUVs, and pay handsomely for them. Affordable buyers want them too, but are forced to choose from comparably drab econo-offerings (who really wants a Ford EcoSport?).

Luckily, there's light on the horizon for them. All signs indicate Ford will debut a compact pickup truck named the Maverick this year, bringing premium Ford truck appeal to those on a budget.

tyig ev

GMC’s Hummer EV looks set to redefine capability in the truck market. The first edition will offer 1,000 horsepower, 350 miles of range, Porsche-like 0-60 mph acceleration with “Watts to Freedom” (a.k.a. WTF) mode and better off-road specs than a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

Hyundai Ioniq 5
hyundai 45 concept

Hyundai Motor Group has been hitting home runs, taking home nearly every major award of late through its Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands. Next up: launching a new Ioniq sub-brand of EVs.

The first vehicle off the line will be an EV crossover that borrows from Hyundai's stunning 45 concept. We could not be more intrigued.

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Jeep Grand Wagoneer
jeep grand wagoneer exterior

Jeep lacked a three-row SUV in 2020, but the company plans to have several on the road by the end of 2021. The fanciest of them will be the Grand Wagoneer, which will compete with vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade and carry a six-figure price tag to match.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe
2021 jeep® wrangler rubicon 4xe

We love off-road SUVs, but they tend to be among the worst vehicles you can buy for the environment. Jeep wants to change that with the Wranger 4xe (which they claim is should be pronounced "four-by-E," even if that sounds like four-byeeeeeee) plug-in hybrid. It will offer 25 miles of electric-only range and more torque (470 lb-ft) than the EcoDiesel version.

Kia Sorento PHEV
kia sorento hybrid

The Sorento Hybrid treads new ground. It’s a three-row family hauler that is both good-looking and earns about 37 mpg combined. But there’s a plug-in hybrid coming that will have sportier performance, more battery range and fancier finishes, while still keeping a reasonable Kia price tag.

Lucid Air
lucid motors air ev with plane
Lucid Motors

Most car companies are trying to compete with Tesla. Lucid Motors will descend from above with the Air, the world’s most aero-efficient luxury car. Three Air models will arrive in 2021, offering up to 517 miles of range and 1,080 hp.

Mercedes-Benz EQS
mercedes benz eqs

Mercedes will launch four all-new electric vehicles in 2021. The EQS sedan will not be the first one out of the gate, but, like its S-Class combustion counterpart, it'll be the flagship that defines what the Mercedes brand is — and where it's heading.

Nissan Ariya
nissan ariya crossover

Buyers have been waiting for an affordable electric car that looks like a compact crossover, offers Tesla-like 300-mile-plus range, and is, perhaps, a bit fun to drive. Nissan’s new Ariya crossover has a good shot at being that vehicle.

Rivian R1S / R1T
rivian roof options gear patrol lead full

Full-size trucks are the best-selling American vehicles, and three-row family SUVs remain a burgeoning growth market. Rivian will enter both segments with reasonably-priced and super-capable EVs, at a time when many of those vehicles are scrambling to get hybrids launched.

Toyota Tundra
toyota tundra

Toyota has major changes to its awesome-but-aging truck and SUV lineup plan over the next few years. The first to get an overhaul will be the Tundra full-size pickup. Will an updated Tundra — potentially offering a hybrid version — give Big Three buyers something to think about besides Toyota’s reputation for build quality?

Volkswagen ID.4
volkswagen id4

EVs have mostly been expensive luxury cars or not especially appealing sub-compacts so far. VW wants to change that. The ID.4 will spearhead the brand’s electric vehicle onslaught in the U.S. with a reasonably spacious compact crossover that costs about the same as an Atlas Cross Sport.

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