Topics:Car Shopping Tips Best Car Brands 2021 Trends Autonomous Vehicles Car Buying Experience Teen Drivers
Driving has become a rite of passage in American culture. Many teens anxiously await the day when their parents or guardians hand over the car keys. Some parents also look forward to the day when their teen no longer needs daily rides to school or activities. Giving your teen a personal vehicle can make life easier for you and your child but it also brings its own set of worries and frustrations. Compared to other drivers, new drivers have a much higher risk of being involved in a serious motor vehicle crash. Learning to drive takes experience, patience, and proper judgment. Enrolling your child in driver’s education and letting them practice while you are in the car can reinforce safe driving habits. Taking the time to select the right vehicle also has a major impact on your teen driver’s safety. Whether you choose to gift a car for a special occasion or let your teen borrow a family car, consider the specific needs of your child before handing over the car keys. We’ve compiled some of the top considerations from leading automotive, financial, and teen driving experts to help you determine the right motor vehicle for your child. Topics New vs. used vs. hand-me-down Key factors in selecting the best car Safest cars for teens (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Subaru, and Hyundai) Financial and lifestyle considerations Additional resources for teen driving Making the final decision New vs. used vs. hand-me-down A big question for parents is whether to buy a used or new car for their child. Handing over the keys to a shiny, new car to your first-time driver might seem like a huge mistake. Young drivers have a higher likelihood of accidents and don’t always make the best judgment calls. However, a new car can give parents increased peace of mind knowing that their child is driving a vehicle with the best safety features. Buying a new car Buying a new car for your teen or young adult means you get to choose the size, model, trim level, and safety features. New cars come with a factory warranty, so you and your child don’t have to worry about costly maintenance within the first few years. New car models also come with the latest connectivity technology reducing the need for added distraction while calling or getting directions in the car. Some parents may be reluctant to give their teen a new car because of the liability. There is more to lose if your teen crashes a new car versus an old used car. Parents should also consider that new cars are often more expensive than used cars and depreciate quickly when you first drive them off the lot. Buying a used car Some parents choose to purchase a used car for their children. Used cars have a couple of advantages compared to new cars including lower depreciation rates, lower initial costs, potentially lower insurance premiums, and less liability when new drivers make mistakes. If you buy the right type of used car, you don’t have to worry about constant repairs or the longevity of the vehicle. For example, some Toyota models last over 300,000 miles. Other factors to consider include safety, customization, and technology. Depending on how old the vehicle is, the car may not have advanced safety features or updated hands-free calling. These features can help new drivers avoid accidents and distractions on the road. Gifting a hand-me-down Some families have a tradition of purchasing a new car for the parents and then gifting the old car to the newest family driver. This is a great method for parents who want to save money by avoiding another car purchase every time their child turns 16 or graduates. Some kids even think it’s cool to be driving around a nostalgic vehicle that once belonged to their parents. However, similar to buying a used car, a hand-me-down may not last as long, be as safe, or be as cheap to maintain as a new car. Is the car really a gift if your son or daughter ends up with a lot of additional maintenance fees and high fueling costs? These are all factors to consider when deciding between a new, used, or hand-me-down vehicle. Key factors in selecting the best car Car salesmen and other auto experts often have suggestions for parents looking to buy their teens a car. Instead of waiting to talk to a car salesman, we’ve compiled some of the top advice to help you narrow down the perfect car for your teen. Determining a budget Before you start your journey for the perfect vehicle, determine a budget. Your budget may be dependent on your son or daughter’s willingness to contribute. Some parents agree to contribute half of what the teen can pay. Other parents are willing to pay for the car in full. Whatever you choose for your family, aim for a budget that can pay for an economical and dependable car. Buying your child a fancy vehicle has some unforeseen consequences. Expensive cars increase the price of insurance. New drivers are also much more likely to get into accidents even if they are small fender-benders. This is a major reason why parents choose affordable new cars or reliable used cars. In a recent survey conducted by BestCompany.com, around 24 percent of respondents who had either gifted or received a car advised parents to purchase a used car rather than a new car. Respondents also mentioned that parents should find a good balance between a car that is reliable but not “too nice.” Researching vehicle safety ratings and features Safety is a top priority for new teenager drivers. According to Carsurance, “Most of the fatal teen car accidents occur six months after obtaining the license.” Advanced safety features can help prevent fatal accidents by alerting the driver of possible dangers and reducing overall distractions. Pam Fisher, the Senior Director of External Engagement at the Governor Highway Safety Association, provides insight into the top safety features parents should consider when selecting a car for their teen(s). Pam Fischer Teen Driving Safety expert Expert Tip: My number one recommendation is that parents buy the car with the most safety features they can afford because teens have the highest crash risk of any age group on the road. They should also check a vehicle’s crash ratings awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Consumer Reports’ best vehicles for teens. Fisher mentioned several different safety features parents should check: Airbags — Airbags lessen the impact on passengers during a crash. Look for cars that come with plenty of airbags to improve overall safety. Electronic Stability Control — This feature stabilizes the steering on turns and prevents skidding. Cars manufactured in 2012 and after come standard with electronic stability control. Backup Camera — Backup cameras help new drivers avoid hitting objects, people, or other cars behind them. Fisher recommends finding a backup camera with alerts to signal when an object is in the backup path. In-Vehicle Parental Control — Some automakers offer parental controls through a connected smartphone app. Popular parental monitoring technology includes Ford’s MyKey, Chevrolet’s Teen Driver, and Volvo’s Care Key. Parents can set speed caps, radio volume limits, and access teen driving reports. Evaluating options for vehicle size Vehicle capacity and height are two factors to consider when purchasing a car. A vehicle with less seating restricts how many passengers can accompany your new driver. According to the Teen Driver Source, “crash risk doubles when teens drive one peer passenger and triples with two or more teen passengers.” Limiting the number of passengers with vehicle size along with enforcing restrictions can help reduce the crash risk. Vehicle height can influence a driver’s ability to access current road conditions. Sedans are a popular choice for new drivers because of the cost and capacity. However, you may want to consider an SUV crossover if your driver feels too short in a sedan. Taller and heavy vehicles also offer additional protection in the event of an accident. Try to avoid vehicles that may be too large as they can be more difficult to maneuver. Tricia Morrow, a Chevrolet Safety engineer, has more than 20 years of experience at GM and has worked across a wide variety of roles. As a mother of a teen driver herself, she offers advice to parents searching for a car that will suit their child’s needs. Tricia Morrow Automotive Safety Expert Expert Tip: Parents should look to ensure their teens are physically comfortable in the vehicle they will be driving. I taught my daughter Ellie to drive last year, and one of my key consideration points was based on her height. Since she's a bit shorter, I wanted to make sure the vehicle featured a seating position that allowed Ellie to see the road and provided easy access to all of the vehicle's controls. Safest cars for teens Safety is a high priority for new or inexperienced drivers. Organizations such as the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) stay up-to-date with current safety ratings for new and used cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began testing vehicles in 1978. New, high-volume models receive a 1–5 star rating in front-impact, side, and rollover crash tests. IIHS conducts its own crash tests on over 100 new or updated car models every year. Based on the IIHS rating system, cars can earn a Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor rating on each of the six crash tests. The cars that receive a “Good” rating on all six crash tests and “Good” or “Acceptable” rating for headlights become a Top Safety Pick+ for the year. Below are some of the safest new and used vehicles for teens according to IIHS, NHTSA, and Consumer Reports. In addition to top safety ratings, these car models come with electronic stability control and have a weight greater than 2,750 lbs. Some models have recommended trim levels for optimal safety. All of these car brands also fall into the top 10 best car brands on BestCompany.com with reviews highlighting customer experience of purchasing a car for teens. Toyota Toyota is known for its reliability and longevity. Some Toyota car models are still on the road with 300,000 miles or more. Toyota offers top safety features for new teen drivers in its Toyota Safety Sense package. With hybrid options, parents can find fuel-efficient options that will keep costs low for teens with a long commute. Toyota has its own page dedicated to the best Toyota models for teens. Recommend models for teens New: Toyota Corolla (XLE/XSE sedan + Advanced Lighting; XSE hatchback + Preferred package) New or Used: Toyota RAV4 (2015 or newer) New or Used: Toyota Prius Prime (2017 or newer) Used: Toyota Prius v (2015-2017) Customer Review: Mindy Baumann "Great cars that run forever and ever! My teenage daughter drives an FJ cruiser and we feel good about her being in a safe, reliable vehicle." Honda Honda excels in areas of dependability, safety, and affordability. Parents can find new and used Honda vehicles that are comfortable and safe for new drivers. HondaSensing technology offers advanced features such as collision avoidance, road departure system, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Recommend models for teens New or Used: Honda Accord (2013 or newer) New or Used: Honda Insight (2019 or newer) New or Used: Honda CR-V (2015-16, 2019 or newer) Used: Honda HR-V (2017-18) Customer Review: Jaylene "When buying a car for my 16 year old daughter, Honda was a natural choice. Although it scared me that she would be out on the roads driving alone, I knew that putting her in a Honda car would keep her safe. And it proved to be true. Only two years after buying her car, she got in a life threatening car crash, and walked away without a scratch on her. Thanks, Honda." Nissan Nissan is known for its diverse lineup created to fit your budget and needs. New Nissan vehicles start at around $15,000. Nissan offers the following safety features: forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, lane intervention, back-up intervention, around view monitoring, and distance control. Recommend models for teens New: Nissan Altima (SR, SV, SL, and Platinum trims) New or Used: Nissan Rogue (2017 or newer) New or Used: Nissan Murano (2015 or newer) Customer Review: Cristi Stafford "When it was time to buy my daughter's first car last year my husband and I knew exactly what it would be. A Nissan Altima. We knew it would be a good dependable and safe car for our 16, and she has loved it." Chevrolet Chevrolet manufacturers affordable vehicles with a proven reputation. The company takes extra steps to ensure teen driver safety. In 2019, Chevy released the first buckle-to-drive feature that requires drivers to fasten their seatbelt before the car can be put into drive or reverse. As mentioned by Pam Fisher, Chevrolet has teen driver technology that includes speed caps, buckle-up reminders, stereo volume limits, and speeding notifications. Recommend model for teens New or Used: Chevrolet Equinox (2016 or newer) Customer Review: Cathy Sewall "I really could go on forever on how much I love your vehicles! We have 4 in our yard right now, and when my son is old enough to drive... he will get a Chevy too!" Subaru Subaru creates a safe and smooth vehicle with the ability to master any terrain. Subaru cars have one of the highest resale values among car brands. The majority of new Subarus are still on the road ten years after purchase. Although Subaru prices are a little higher than competitors, parents can have peace of mind that their child is driving a safe and dependable vehicle. Recommend models for teens New or Used: Subaru Impreza (2014 or newer) New or Used: Subaru Crosstrek (2018 or newer) New or Used: Subaru Forester (2016 or newer) New or Used: Subaru Outback (built after October 2019) New or Used: Subaru Legacy (2013 or newer) Customer Review: Ryan Larsen "I recently purchased a Subaru Outback for my daughter. It is a great value and great car. I like their safety features and the car is extremely reliable. I would highly recommend a Subaru." Hyundai Hyundai vehicles feature the right balance between safety and style. Hyundai has several models that rise to the top of safety rating sites. The automaker also has the best factory warranty in the country: 5 years or 60,000-mile basic policy and 10 years or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Recommend models for teens New or Used: Hyundai Santa Fe (2017 or newer) New or Used: Hyundai Kona (2018 or newer) New or Used: Hyundai Elantra GT (2018 or newer) Customer Review: John Burnside "Quality is acceptable and the quality for value is very good. I've purchased three other used Hyundai's over the years for my daughters and all have been good vehicles. It's my opinion that Hyundai offers the best value in compact cars. They are hard to beat." Top Car Brands for Teens Learn more about the car brands that offer top vehicle choices for new teen drivers. Read customer reviews from other parents and drivers. Learn More Financial and lifestyle considerations Many teens look forward to the day when they receive the keys to freedom (or in other words access to a car). Some parents give their children a car for their 16th birthday. Other parents make deals to gift a car at a high school or college graduation. Whatever the tradition is in your family, you should take financial and living factors into consideration. Financial factors If you are gifting a car to your child, you are likely not too concerned about the financial costs that are associated with owning a car. However, determining who will pay for gas, maintenance, and insurance before gifting the car can help you avoid any incorrect expectations. Here are a few questions to consider pertaining to vehicle expenses. Can your child pay for upcoming vehicle maintenance? Can your child afford to pay for the gas? Can your child afford the insurance premiums? Some parents require their children to pay a portion of the overall vehicle cost. This method teaches children how to save money and sacrifice time for a long-term goal. You may consider this agreement if you are worried about your child’s level of financial independence and responsibility. Patti Black from the Bridgeworth Wealth Management Group suggests involving your teen in the car buying process to help them learn about personal finance. Patti Black Financial expert Expert Tip: Talk about a budget for buying the car, and also a budget for insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repairs. My son found an old used luxury car that he could afford to buy, but, after talking with other people who owned this brand of car and to our insurance agent, learned he could not afford to insure and to maintain it. Lifestyle considerations Children often plan on going off to college or leaving the house after they graduate from high school. The young adult years bring about spontaneous adventures and unexpected life changes. When purchasing a car for your child, you should consider their 5–10 year plan. This will help you determine if you should hand over ownership early on or wait until they are settled in an area before turning over the title. Here are a few questions to consider concerning living conditions. Will your child need a car if they are going to a college out of state? Will your child be moving to a highly congested city area such as New York or Boston? Will your child be moving to a place that has different weather conditions warranting specific vehicle features or tires? Additional resources for teen driving Outside of choosing the right car, you can find apps and programs to help improve the safety of your new driver. These resources may help you monitor your teen’s driving habits, create safety guidelines for the first year of driving, and prepare your teen for unexpected situations behind the wheel. Location and driving app Some parents use a location app to keep tabs on their new driver. These location apps often have additional features such as roadside assistance and distracted driving reminders. Life360 — Life360 is a free location sharing app that notifies you when people in your circle have arrived or left designated locations. The Life360 app also has crash detection that can alert help when a crash is detected. Paid features include 24/7 roadside assistance, 24/7 emergency dispatch, individual driver reports, and SOS help alerts. Mamabear — Mamabear is an all-in-one parenting app that includes features for monitoring drive activity and location. Receive alerts when your child goes over the speed limit. You can also use Mamabear to chat and send messages. Truemotion Family Safe — This app offers another option for monitoring your teen’s driving behavior. Truemotion Family Safe is a free app that allows you to locate your driver, see their latest drive route, receive notifications if they are texting/calling while driving, and get an overall driving score for everyone on the app. Everyone in your family can join the app and compete for the best drive score. Graduated Driver’s Licensing Program (GDL) Each state has different rules for newly licensed drivers. These are called the Graduated Driver's Licensing Program. For example, in the state of California, new teen drivers are required to complete 50 hours of supervised driving with 10 of those hours being nighttime driving. They must also log at least 6 hours of driving course instruction. After a California teen is licensed to drive, they must wait at least 12 months before allowing a passenger under the age of 20 into the motor vehicle without the supervision of a licensed driver over 25 years old. The teenage driver must also be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 25 if they are driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Each state will have different requirements and guidelines for new drivers. The GDL program was created to safeguard new drivers from distractions and impaired judgment. Before putting your teen behind the wheel, learn about your state’s GDL program. Defensive driving courses Let the professionals teach your new driver about common situations on the road. A defensive driving course can teach teens about what to look for past just checking mirrors and turning on a blinker. These courses can help teens get used to their car and learn safe driving practices. Tire Rack Street Survival is a defensive driving course that offers classes across the U.S. Bill Wade, the National Program Director for Tire Rack Street Survival explains the advantages of signing your child up for a defensive driving class. “We recommend every first-time driver take a driving safety course in their vehicle. It's not enough to just know the logistical rules of the road. Driving relies on your expertise to react appropriately to other drivers' actions — and that's where driving safety courses can give your first-time driver the opportunity to learn in a safe, controlled environment the proper reactions to things like sudden stops, wet traction control, avoiding sudden obstacles at a fast speed and ultimately avoiding accidents. Driving safety courses that allow you to learn those reactions in the actual car you will be driving are best. Every vehicle has different limitations and they need to know how to control their daily driver.” Making the final decision After conducting research and narrowing down your options, you now need to make a final decision. You may choose to consult with a spouse or relative to help you think through the possible options. If you aren’t planning on surprising your teen, you may include him or her in the discussion. Car Insurance for Your Teen Once you’ve chosen a car for your teen, you will need to figure out the insurance logistics. Check out the next article in the series for car insurance recommendations and tips on how to lower your rates. Learn More Survey Methodology: Survey data was collected in March and April 2021 with 137 respondents through SurveyCircle, Survey Monkey, and emailing Best Company reviewers.
Car engines roared to a stop at the announcement of a global pandemic in 2020. Companies employed work-from-home policies to encourage public safety and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Cars sat lying in driveways and garages as rush hour traffic slowly disappeared. The automotive industry faced unique circumstances in 2020. Car dealerships quickly pivoted selling strategies amid government-mandated shutdowns. Automobile factories switched to producing medical equipment rather than vehicles. The year 2020 closed with a 15 percent drop in new vehicle sales in the United States. In the years to come, statisticians and health experts will continue to evaluate the effects of this global crisis. The question many people are asking now is "how will the events from 2020 affect 2021?" What changes and trends can we expect in the automotive industry? Together with leading automotive experts, we’ve outlined some of the biggest trends to impact car brands, dealerships, and consumers in 2021. Trends focus on autonomous vehicle progression, car inventory and sales, the digital vehicle buying experience, electric vehicle advancement, and new vehicle technology. Key Takeaways Although interest in autonomous vehicles continues to grow, fully autonomous vehicles will not be available in 2021. Look for new vehicle incentives later in the year as dealerships restock inventory. Pandemic restrictions have shifted focus towards the digital car-buying experience. Dealerships should evaluate their digital and physical car-buying strategies. New environmental initiatives and government incentives are expected to fuel the electric vehicle market. 5G connectivity on the Internet of Things will help improve automaker processes and provide new connectivity tools for drivers. Slow and steady progress for autonomous vehicles Many car brands have joined the race to create the first autonomous vehicle. However, experts predict that a fully autonomous vehicle will not hit the market for at least another 5to 10 years. Investing in autonomous solutions is expensive and risky especially during uncertain economic times. Ethical issues continue to be a major obstacle for programming an autonomous vehicle to keep car passengers and other road occupants safe. John Vincent, senior reporter for Autos at U.S. News & World Report, comments on the future of autonomous vehicles. John Vincent Automotive Expert Expert Insight "While the phrases 'autonomous vehicle' and 'self-driving car' generate substantial buzz, there are no self-driving vehicles for sale today. Despite the language used by some automakers, there will not be self-driving vehicles available in 2021, or 2022, or even 2023. Today, we have some very sophisticated driver assist systems, such as lane-centering, lane-change assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality. They can work together to help drivers; however, the driver has to remain engaged and ready to assume complete control. That will be the case for the better part of the next decade.” Several new vehicles have autonomous settings such as lane departure, collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, street sign recognition, etc. These features still require your attention but allow for sensors on the road for improved safety. Some auto manufacturers such as Tesla, Cadillac, and Audi currently sell car models with an autopilot feature. Autopilot enables cars to operate independently of the driver within the artificial intelligence guidelines. However, these cars are not equipped to use autopilot in all weather conditions and terrains without a driver behind the wheel. Consumers interested in autonomous vehicles may choose to upgrade to a car with self-driving features. Just be aware that cars with autonomous settings are often much more expensive than the basic models. Replenishing inventory and restoring incentives The 2020 COVID pandemic forced many automakers to shift production towards medical equipment. During the initial spike, car dealerships offered major incentives in fear that economic recession would later impact car sales. However, car sales began to pick back up towards the end of the summer. The low inventory will have a direct impact on both dealerships and consumers. Unlike the recession in 2008, consumers are still buying cars at a steady level. Dealerships will benefit from this trend with a greater overall profit from the cars they do sell. The overall quantity may be lower so the revenue might still be lower compared to previous years. Joe Akers, Director of Operations for Cowles Nissan and Ford in Virginia, address vehicle supply projections for 2021. Joe Akers Automotive Expert Expert Insight “New vehicle inventory, whether traditional or electric, remains an issue. Most new vehicle lines are in short supply. These historically low inventory levels have allowed the manufacturers to get away from extremely aggressive incentives on vehicles that were available at the start of COVID (ie: 0% APR for 84 months). The manufactures simply don't have to offer these incentives anymore since there is a limited supply of new vehicles available, and COVID is no longer as uncertain as it was in April. I suspect we will see appealing or notable buying incentives again as we move into 2021 and inventory levels are finally able to outpace demand.” As of January 2021, major car manufacturers are experiencing a chip-shortage crisis because of a redirect in chip supply to other consumer products such as smartphones and gaming devices. Semiconductor chips are used to power critical vehicle components such as the brakes and power steering. The chips are also used in infotainment systems. High-end models with complex interworking require more semiconductor chips to operate. Many automotive companies will experience a revenue loss due to the chip shortage such as Honda, Nissan, General Motors, and Ford. The total global loss could amount to over $60 billion in revenue for the auto industry. Toyota is the only automaker to report an excess chip supply to cover the next four months of production. Some car companies have had to shut down manufacturing facilities until the chip shortage has been resolved. This will put a strain on automakers seeking to recover from the pandemic sales drop. Consumers can expect to see delays in vehicle launches for new 2021 models. Experts predict that the inventory shortage will be resolved by mid-year. The era of digital car buying A concern for safety is a driving factor of the digital car-buying market. Limiting the amount of face-to-face interaction helps incentivize a safe transaction. However, consumers still need peace of mind that they are making the right decision before buying a car. That’s why car dealerships are diversifying their sales techniques to include virtual showing, online car building, and quick response customer service. Gina Callari, COO of Evox Images and RelayCars, discusses predictions for the future of digital car-buying. Gina Callari Augmented Reality Expert Expert Insight “People will be more reluctant to go to a dealership. By researching cars ahead of time, consumers will be demanding informational and dealer websites to show more of an experience to help them decide on their purchase. I expect to see more engagement and interactivity as far as imagery and content. Just as healthcare, real estate, and e-commerce industries have adopted augmented reality, AR will have a breakthrough with automotive by allowing users to see the cars, full scale, in their driveways and garages.” Even after the vaccine is administered, we are likely to see the digital car-buying market continue to grow because of convenience. The opportunity to find the perfect vehicle without spending hours at a car lot will create demand among millennials. Consumers may spend more of their time online researching vehicle speciations. However, according to an analysis by Mckinsey & Co, car dealership experience is still the number one factor in the car-buying process. Although dealerships should strategically position themselves online, they should also make changes to welcome back customers into the showroom. Until VR or AR can fully replace the physical experience of seeing a car, we may not see a huge shift in how consumers make the final decision to purchase a car. The younger generation may also be more inclined to make the transition from dealership purchase to online. Steering consumers towards electric vehicles According to a recent webinar given by J.D. Power, COVID hasn’t influenced consumers to buy more electric or plug-in cars. Consumers continue to purchase diesel and traditional hybrid vehicles. The electric car market faces obstacles such as a lack of charging stations, high prices, and experimental technology. Currently, government incentives may be the only factor strong enough to help grow the electric vehicle car market. Sustainability initiatives are pushing more auto manufacturers to produce eco-friendly vehicles. Companies producing trucks and SUVs must pivot to produce vehicles that are both large and sustainable. For example, Jeep is releasing a new electric vehicle version of the Jeep Wrangler. Jeep also plans on releasing other hybrid models by the year 2025. However, auto manufacturers must balance these new initiatives with current customer demand to remain profitable. Lauren from the Car Coach foresees a shift in electric vehicle production due to the corporate average fuel economy standards. Lauren Fix Automotive Expert Expert Insight “In 2021, manufacturers will be producing electric vehicles in order to meet the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) as federal fines could be excessive overtime. Manufacturers are not making a profit off of these vehicles, and they’re in business to make money. If they’re not making money and are forced to produce cars that don’t produce a profit, it will only hurt their bottom line which will reduce their advancement in technology and employment.” The new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard is set at a 1.5 percent increase per year. Automakers are expected to increase fuel economy and decrease carbon emission by 1.5 every year. These regulations are set in place from 2021–2026. This new goal is lower than the standards set in previous years. However, the small margin continues to put pressure on automotive companies to create reliable vehicles with fewer environmental impacts. Other emission reduction initiatives are expected to follow the new U.S. presidential administration. The administration plans to deploy close to 500,000 charging stations across the United States to make charging more accessible. Other future initiatives include replacing the federal vehicle fleet with electric models and increasing the electric vehicle tax credit for consumers. A prospective car buyer may want to consider some of the upcoming incentives for electric vehicles. Increased connectivity with the Internet of Things The pandemic sped up the need for better and more far-reaching coverage for businesses and personal communication. Companies are rolling out 5G technology and networks to cities across the United States. More devices can connect to the new 5G network improving the reach and signal of device communication. In the coming year, car infotainment and communication systems will experience major improvements by allowing drivers to access features in more rural destinations. Drivers can expect better integration among their smartphones and car infotainment systems along with increased Wi-Fi availability. Many drivers already enjoy the luxury of controlling their vehicles through smartphones. Through your phone, you can lock, unlock, and start your car. Consumers may witness increased app control and vehicle notifications such as for car maintenance. The ability to monitor your vehicle remotely is another benefit of IoT connectivity. Drivers can receive notifications if someone tries to enter their vehicle without proper authorization. On the auto manufacturing side, the Internet of Things provides an opportunity to improve operational efficiency. Car companies can manage and analyze their production process through connected AI devices. This will help companies pinpoint weaknesses in the supply chain and production plants. Staring at the road ahead Despite a tough year for automakers, top car companies continue to innovate and strategize to combat the unique consequences of 2020. Automakers seek to put drivers in affordable vehicles while minimizing environmental risk. The increased connectivity of IoT and new 5G networks is speeding up the adoption of new vehicle technology. Consumers in the market for a new car should consider the effect of 2021 automotive trends on their car buying experience. The second half of 2021 may be a better time to purchase a new vehicle when automakers can catch up with inventory shortages and dealerships bring back incentives. Top Automotive Brands Now is a great time to start researching some of the best car brands and models. Get started by reading verified customer reviews and learning from expert brand reviews. Discover Your Ideal Vehicle
For many customers, a vehicle is not just a means of transportation. It’s a ticket to adventures, memories, and opportunities. It’s the machine you trust to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones. Picking the best car brand and model is of top importance to support you in your day-to-day tasks. However, narrowing down the perfect vehicle takes time and research. At Best Company, we seek to amplify the voice of consumers through verified customer reviews. Through our unique algorithm, we have identified the top five car brands of 2021: Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan. Each of these brands excels in areas of quality, performance, customer service, and design. We congratulate these companies on their high-performance marks. The review analysis below is based on a random sample taken from over 1,500 reviews. The analysis offers unique customer findings along with the pros and cons of choosing a specific brand. The data in this article can be used to help refine and direct your search for the perfect vehicle. Top Five Car Brands Toyota Honda Ford Chevrolet Nissan Toyota Details Best Company Rank — 1 Overall Score — 9.9 Best Company User Star Rating — 4.7/5 (based on 450+ user reviews) Warranty Length — 2 years or 24,000 miles Types of Models Offered — Sub-compacts, minivans, sedans, pickup trucks, electric, crossovers, and SUVs Time Founded — 1937 Customer Reviews Praise: Toyota tagline “Let’s Go Places” is quite fitting for this brand. Toyota continues to impress the world with its unique green technology and reliable vehicles. Toyota has become one of the largest auto manufacturers worldwide and holds the title for the best-selling car model and best-selling hybrid model. The car company offers several affordable models with options to upgrade. Ninety-seven percent of reviews gave Toyota a 4-star or 5-star rating. Toyota is best known for its quality mark. Over 85 percent of customer reviews mention the quality of Toyota vehicles. This includes references to the longevity, reliability, and design. Customer reviewer, Boston from Utah, highlights Toyota’s dependability in his comments: Customer Review: Boston “Our family had a Toyota for a long time and it ran well for well over a hundred thousand miles and through several small accidents. It was very dependable.” Toyota owners reported dealing with few maintenance issues on their vehicles. For those who did to get repairs done, many reviewers had a positive experience with the Toyota maintenance team. Other reviewers highlighted price value including references to competitive fuel economy and high resale value. Customers were satisfied with the performance of Toyota vehicles because of the smooth drive and handling quality. Complaints: Toyota had few complaints from its customer reviews. Some customers reported vehicle issues as their car got older. Fewer than 2 percent of customers were dissatisfied with corporate communications and customer service at Toyota dealerships. Company Insight According to a Toyota representative, “As the number one retail brand in the United States, and with more than 80 percent of all vehicles sold in the past 20 years still on the road today, Toyota vehicles are known for their safety, quality, durability, and reliability. Additionally, Toyota brand hybrids are the best-selling alternative fuel powertrain vehicles in the industry, and our innovation in advanced technology comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), which is a bundle of active safety features included on many new Toyota vehicles at no additional costs.” Methodology With a total of more than 450 reviews, this analysis consists of a random sample of 204 reviews. The analysis has a 95 percent level of confidence with a 5 percent margin of error. Reviews were unguided so any consistency in themes is a representation of reviewers’ own thoughts and opinions. Toyota Profile Page Learn more about Toyota Motor Corporation by reading additional customer reviews and Toyota offerings. Learn More Back to Company List Honda Details Best Company Rank — 2 Overall Score — 9.9 Best Company User Star Rating — 4.7/5 (based on 400+ user reviews) Warranty Length — 3 years or 36,000 miles Types of Models Offered — Sedans, coupes, hatchbacks, minivans, trucks, and electric Time Founded — 1949 Customer Reviews Praise: Honda is a top contender for the best car brand on bestcompany.com. The car brand's motto "The Power of Dreams" follows its history of continuous innovation and top vehicle technology. Loyal Honda customers are grateful for the safety and quality Honda provides. Around 89 percent of customer reviews mentioned quality vehicles in their reviews. This included references to longevity, reliability, and limited vehicle issues. Many reviewers felt safe placing their family members and loved ones in a Honda vehicle. One reviewer shared a heart-warming story about the safety Honda provided to her daughter: Customer Review: Jaylene Although it scared me that she would be out on the roads driving alone, I knew that putting her in a Honda car would keep her safe. And it proved to be true. Only two years after buying her car, she got in a life-threatening car crash and walked away without a scratch on her. Thanks, Honda." Customers also noted the great price value of Honda vehicles with references to affordability and long-term value. Reviewers were satisfied with the vehicle performance and Honda customer service. Complaints: Honda had few complaints from its customer reviews. Some customers reported vehicle issues and negative experiences with Honda’s maintenance team. Customer service at specific Honda dealership was another complaint mentioned by fewer than 3 percent of respondents. Company Insight According to a Honda Spokesman, “Honda offers a broad range of clean, safe, fun and connected vehicles with the highest fleet average fuel economy and lowest CO2 emissions of any major full-line automaker in America, according to the latest data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Designed and manufactured to exceed the demands and expectations of customers, Honda’s offerings include the Civic, Insight, Accord, Accord Hybrid, Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and Clarity Fuel Cell passenger cars; HR-V, CR-V, CR-V Hybrid, Passport and Pilot sport utility vehicles; the Ridgeline pickup and Odyssey minivan.” Methodology With a total of more than 400 reviews, this analysis consists of a random sample of 191 reviews. The analysis has a 95 percent level of confidence with a 5 percent margin of error. Reviews were unguided so any consistency in themes is a representation of reviewers’ own thoughts and opinions. Honda Learn more about Honda Motor Company by reading additional customer reviews and Honda offerings. Learn More Back to Company List Ford Details Best Company Rank — 3 Overall Score — 9.2 Best Company User Star Rating — 4.4/5 (based on 380+ user reviews) Warranty Length — 3 years or 36,000 miles Types of Models Offered — Sedans, sports cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans Time Founded — 1903 Customer Reviews Praise: Ford Motor Company is an American automaker that revolutionized the car industry with the invention of the assembly line. Ford stands behind its logo “Built Ford Proud” by engineering vehicles with lasting quality and dependability. In Ford’s customer review analysis, 77 percent of reviewers highlight the quality of Ford’s vehicles. One customer recognized the durability of a Ford vehicle even in the event of an accident: Customer Service: Daisy “I absolutely love my Ford Focus. I was unfortunately in a car accident, and my car was barely dented at all. It is extremely durable, and I would recommend a ford to anyone.” The popularity of Ford pickup trucks was also consistent throughout the reviews. Some reviews mentioned choosing Ford pickups for their personal and commercial needs. Reviewers were impressed with the towing capacity and power of Ford trucks. Over 20 percent of Ford reviews mentioned satisfactory customer service. Many reviewers had a positive experience purchasing their new car and taking the vehicle in for servicing. Complaints: Ford had few customer complaints among its reviews. Some complaints about Ford vehicles included vehicles requiring repeated repairs and expensive maintenance. Company Insight No response submitted by Ford Motor Company. Methodology With a total of more than 380 reviews, this analysis consists of a random sample of 171 reviews. The analysis has a 95 percent level of confidence with a 5 percent margin of error. Reviews were unguided so any consistency in themes is a representation of reviewers’ own thoughts and opinions. Ford Learn more about Ford Motor Company by reading additional customer reviews and Ford offerings. Learn More Back to Company List Chevrolet Details Best Company Rank — 4 Overall Score — 8.6 Best Company User Star Rating — 4.4/5 (based on 220+ user reviews) Warranty Length — 3 years or 36,000 miles Types of Models Offered — Sedans, sports cars, SUVs, trucks, vans, and commercial vehicles Time Founded — 1911 Customer Reviews Praise: Chevrolet is a top-performing, American made car brand under the GMC umbrella. Chevy has been recognized by other brands for several awards over the year. Chevrolet continues to “Find New Roads” as the brand seeks to implement unique safety features and performance improvements. In the review analysis, 76 percent of reviewers discussed aspects of Chevy vehicle quality. Customers noted that Chevy vehicles are long-lasting and reliable for family transportation. Customer Review: Steve “We love our Chevrolet Tahoe. It's a great family-friendly vehicle, up to date on the latest technology, and most importantly safe. Definitely planning to buy a Chevrolet again in the future.” Over 20 percent of customers mentioned vehicle features such as extra cargo space, comfortable seating, large gas tank, and multiple USB ports. Customers found that Chevrolet’s vehicle options gave teens, young adults, and families affordable options when purchasing a new car. Complaints: Chevrolet customers had few complaints about their vehicles. Among the few complaints, some customers noted repeated vehicle repairs and poor towing performance. Other customers hoped for better warranty and financing options in the future. Company Insight Steven Majoros, Vice President of Chevrolet Marketing, says “Chevrolet and our Chevrolet Dealer body have been an integral part of American culture and American car culture for over 100 years. We’ve stayed that way by always delivering exactly what our customers want and need — great design, outstanding performance, and purposeful technology — all delivered with foundational quality and value people expect from Chevrolet. And with a world-class line up that spans performance vehicles, sport utilities, trucks, electric vehicles, and more, we’re well suited to deliver whatever lies ahead and wherever the road takes our customers for the next 100.” Methodology With a total of more than 220 reviews, this analysis consists of a random sample of 141 reviews. The analysis has a 95 percent level of confidence with a 5 percent margin of error. Reviews were unguided so any consistency in themes is a representation of reviewers’ own thoughts and opinions. Chevrolet Learn more about the Chevrolet Division of General Motors Company by reading additional customer reviews and Chevy offerings. Learn More Back to Company List Nissan Details Best Company Rank — 5 Overall Score — 8.5 Best Company User Star Rating — 4.5/5 (based on 220+ user reviews) Warranty Length — 3 years or 36,000 miles Types of Models Offered — Sedans, sports cars, SUVs, trucks, vans, and commercial vehicles Time Founded — 1933 Customer Reviews Praise: Nissan is a Japanese automaker known for its style and performance. Nissan lives by its tagline “Innovation That Excites” by continuing to push new models and vehicle technology in the car industry. The car brand hopes to release autonomous vehicle models in the coming years. The customer review analysis revealed that many Nissan customers are satisfied with the quality and price of Nissan vehicles. Over 67 percent of reviewers highlight the vehicle quality in their reviews. Thirty percent of reviews mentioned great price value such as fuel economy and affordability. Customer Review: JaRon “Bought 3 brand new ones, love Nissan brand. Great quality car for the money. Altima is in my opinion the best mid-size car for the money there is.” Around 14 percent of reviews discussed vehicle performance such as easy vehicle handling, smooth rides, high power, and great towing capacity. Customers were also satisfied with vehicle features including the cargo space and comfortable seats. Complaints: Out of the few 1–3 star ratings, some Nissan customers felt that their vehicles had repeated car issues. Other reviewers noted that their car did not handle well in winter weather or had a short turn radius. Company Insight “Nissan has something for everyone — from the Z sports car to the LEAF EV and the TITAN full-size pickup to a full line of SUVs and sedans, and of course the GT-R supercar. This Nissan lineup delivers advanced technology, expressive design, and an exciting driving experience. Our focus on customers means we’re constantly looking to meet their needs, helping to keep drivers and passengers safe and make their rides easier and more fun. The all-new 2021 Rogue is a testament to that — it was engineered to make family life easier with a combination of functionality, flexibility, technology and safety,” said Allyson Witherspoon, vice president, and chief U.S. marketing officer. “Nissan is introducing one of the freshest lineups in the U.S. marketplace. We are in the middle of revealing 10 new products in just 20 months, with six coming to showrooms by the end of 2021. And, to make it easier for customers to shop the lineup, we’ve rolled out [email protected], a revamped online shopping experience that essentially brings the dealer showroom directly to people’s homes.” Methodology With a total of more than 22 reviews, this analysis consists of a random sample of 138 reviews. The analysis has a 95 percent level of confidence with a 5 percent margin of error. Reviews were unguided so any consistency in themes is a representation of reviewers’ own thoughts and opinions. Nissan Learn more about Nissan Motor Company by reading additional customer reviews and Nissan offerings. Learn More Back to Company List