Price Range: Less Than
$22,615 mid $194,000
mpg/MPGe Range: More Than
14 mid 132

Top Searches:

Introduction:

To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles over a decade ago in the AAA Green Car Guide, which initially focused entirely on rating fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles.

For the 2021 edition, we've expanded the focus of the guide to include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail—for example, the latest advanced safety features, how to properly maintain your vehicle, and the development of autonomous vehicles.

2021 AAA Car Guide
Chapter 1: Choosing Your Next Vehicle

The tremendous number of vehicles available for sale—the huge number of current models, vehicle types, powertrains, and standard and optional features—can make purchasing a new vehicle seem overwhelming. But with a little planning, it all falls into place. In this chapter, the AAA Car Guide lists the kinds of things you need to consider to determine what type of vehicle is best for you; then it describes various available options according to body type, size, and powertrain.

Read more about different vehicle types in Chapter 1 of the 2021 AAA Car Guide.

Chapter 2: How to Properly Maintain Your Car

Your vehicle not only requires a financial investment, but an investment of your time and attention to ensure it continues to operate at its best. Proper and timely maintenance can help prevent breakdowns and costly upkeep down the line. Understanding general care and regularly scheduled service needs will help keep your vehicle in tip-top shape for years to come.

Read more about vehicle maintenance in Chapter 2 of the 2021 AAA Car Guide.

Chapter 3: The Latest Automotive Safety Technology

Car crashes have traditionally been one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. In an ever-evolving car market, manufacturers are tasked with creating safer vehicles to reduce deaths and injuries on the road. From standardizing advanced safety features, to introducing new and innovative technologies, we cover the latest information and options found in dealerships near you.

Read more about vehicle safety in Chapter 3 of the 2021 AAA Car Guide.

Chapter 4: What's Next?

Automakers face an endless series of challenges as they attempt to meet the changing demands of customers and comply with government emissions and safety regulations. Also, significant changes are occurring in the industry: the rapid development of autonomous vehicles, vehicle electrification, and new models of car ownership. This chapter provides you with snapshots of the latest vehicles coming to market during the next several years.

Read more about future vehicles in Chapter 4 of the 2021 AAA Car Guide.

Chapter 5: AAA's Vehicle Testing

To help AAA members make sense of the changing automotive scene, the Auto Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) evaluates and ranks passenger cars and light trucks. The vehicles the ARC selects for testing are reviewed according to the following 13 criteria: number of ADAS features, fuel efficiency, EPA emission score, acceleration, braking, crashworthiness, handling, ride quality, interior size, ease of entry and exit, visibility, interior noise, and cargo capacity.

Read more about the testing and ranking of vehicles in Chapter 5 of the 2021 AAA Car Guide.

2021 Car Guide Winners
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place SUV/Minivan
2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place SUV/Minivan
More Details
Vehicle Type:  SUV/Minivan
Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 127/114
Price as Tested:  $53,190
92
 out of 130
IIHS / NHTSA: 
Being a pioneer in the EV industry is a high-risk, high-reward proposition, especially if your cars are on the pricey side. So it makes sense for Tesla to establish itself in the red-hot compact SUV segment. Enter the Model Y. Introduced for 2020, it's essentially an SUV version of the successful Model 3 sedan. It's a sharp-looking car-it looks like it's moving even when it's standing still. And, like the Model 3, the Y has class-leading EV range (more than 300 miles) and lots of advanced technology. It drives like a sports car, with instant acceleration and quick steering, but the ride is stiff. The interior is clean and minimalist, dominated by a huge center screen that handles most vehicle functions-and is potentially distracting to use while the vehicle is in motion. The backseat offers passengers more room than the Model 3's. But the Model Y — as is true with many Teslas — is beset with build-quality problems (but not with its electric powertrains). Our test car had misaligned body panels and a trunk lid that wouldn't open properly. Our experiences weren't unique, either — among automakers, Tesla came in last in a recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey for this reason. Despite these challenges, Tesla still maintains a loyal following and ranked high in our performance testing.
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Large
2020 Volvo S90 T8 E-AWD R-Design
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Large
More Details
Vehicle Type:  Large
Fuel Type:  Hybrid
mpg: 28/31
Price as Tested:  $73,840
87
 out of 130
IIHS / NHTSA: 
When you consider European luxury sedans, chances are you're thinking German, not Swedish. That's unfortunate, because high-end four-doors don't come much more refined than the Volvo S90. Start your tour in the roomy passenger cabin, where you'll discover tasteful Scandinavian design and premium materials, including genuine wood trim. The front seats are among the most comfortable you'll find anywhere, making the S90 an ideal road-trip companion. A 9-inch vertical touch screen looks slick but can make even simple tasks like tuning the radio complicated and distracting; there's also a shortage of storage options for small items like cell phones. Under the S90's hood is a 4-cylinder engine that's both supercharged (to boost low-speed output) and turbocharged (which adds power as speed begins to build). Integrated into this powertrain is a plug-in hybrid system with an electric motor and battery pack that give the S90 up to 21 miles of whisper-quiet all-electric range. The combined 400-hp output is impressive, but our tests revealed a slight hesitation when the powertrain switches between gasoline and electric power. Other useful technology includes LED headlights with auto high beams, a head-up display, a 360-degree surround-view camera system, and standard AWD.
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Small
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Small
More Details
Vehicle Type:  Small
Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 127/108
Price as Tested:  $43,735
86
 out of 130
IIHS / NHTSA: 
Although it's not an official psychological condition, range anxiety — the fear that your battery-powered car will run out of juice and leave you stranded — is a very real thing. That's where the Chevrolet Bolt EV comes in; its EPA-rated range of 259 miles addresses what matters most to EV buyers. Add to this the Bolt's fun-to-drive personality, with smooth acceleration and nimble handing, and you've got an EV that can go a long way toward putting range anxiety out of your mind. Would that the Bolt's ride rivaled its handling, though — the little EV's firm suspension will have you bemoaning any patches of rough pavement you cross. Steering wheel-mounted paddles let you adjust the car's level of regenerative braking — how much the car slows when you take your foot off the accelerator — to enable you to drive without touching the brake pedal in many situations. The Bolt's interior is relatively plain — verging on low-rent — for a car costing more than 40 grand (before incentives), but nicely arranged controls and an attractive instrument cluster and infotainment screens manage to give the cabin a high-tech feel. Options on our test car, including a wireless charging pad and premium Bose audio system, added to that impression.
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Midsize
2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Midsize
More Details
Vehicle Type:  Midsize
Fuel Type:  Hybrid
mpg: 45/51
Price as Tested:  $36,430
80
 out of 130
IIHS / NHTSA:  IIHS IIHS
It used to be that getting the most miles out of a gallon of gas meant driving something that looked like an escapee from a Back to the Future sequel. Not so with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid — which isn't to say the midsize Sonata Hybrid, fully designed for 2020, isn't distinctive looking. The new styling is sleek, with a modern design that makes it stand out. The point of driving a hybrid, of course, is to maximize fuel efficiency, and the Sonata Hybrid doesn't disappoint. The 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and electric motor (192 hp total) deliver EPA fuel-economy estimates of 45 mpg city/51 mpg highway/47 mpg combined, a big improvement over the previous generation. An available solar panel roof that charges the car's battery pack adds a small mpg boost on sunny days. The hybrid powertrain delivers more than acceptable performance in everyday driving, although it's a bit slow to accelerate. On the road, the Sonata's suspension adds to the overall pleasing effect, with a smooth ride and confident handling. The Sonata Hybrid also has lots of safety and technology features, such as side-view cameras that display an image of the adjacent lane whenever you activate the turn signals.
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Pickup
2020 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab SLT
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Pickup
More Details
Vehicle Type:  Pickup
Fuel Type:  Diesel
mpg: 23/30
Price as Tested:  $57,595
77
 out of 130
IIHS / NHTSA: 
Although the GMC Sierra 1500 SLT has a relatively high MSRP, it comes packed with many standard and available performance and convenience features, technology, and safety systems that make it a highly capable full-size pickup truck. Examples include a rearview camera system that aids in lining up trailer hitches, a six-function power liftgate, a carbon-fiber cargo box, a bed-view and camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights, front and rear parking assist, and a wide-ranging set of available advanced driver-assistance systems. Our test vehicle came equipped with a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that generates 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque; it's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. This setup contributes to a good overall driving experience, with lots of available low-end torque, quick acceleration, and large towing and payload capacities. The Sierra also has a spacious cab, with excellent front and rear legroom for all passengers; the backseat easily accommodates three adults. For this vehicle class, respectable fuel economy and handling aren't usually expected, but that's not true with this diesel-powered, full-size pickup: The Sierra gets an EPA-estimated 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/24 mpg combined, which is impressive given its size and towing capabilities.
Car Guide Categories:  SUV/Minivan |  Large |  Small |  Midsize |  Pickup | 
All Makes:  Acura |  Audi |  BMW |  Buick |  Cadillac |  Chevrolet |  Ford |  GMC |  Honda |  Hyundai |  Jaguar |  Jeep |  Kia |  Land Rover |  Lexus |  Lincoln |  Mazda |  Mercedes Benz |  Mini |  Nissan |  Subaru |  Tesla |  Toyota |  Volvo | 
IIHS Top Safety Pick Vehicles:  Top Safety Pick |  Top Safety Pick+