Autotrader has named the Hottest Cars of Summer 2021, but with a timely twist. The editors typically define “hottest” as the cars most in demand – specifically the vehicles shoppers most frequently search on Autotrader – but like many things over the last year, for 2021 things are a bit different.
As for which models are likely to be in stock, Autotrader shares the hottest cars, trucks and SUVs this summer.
A well-publicized microchip shortage along with COVID-related production and supply-chain issues have led to many of the most popular cars, trucks and SUVs not being available on dealership lots. To make the Hottest Cars of Summer 2021 list more helpful this year, the editors combined the most-searched vehicles on Autotrader with the most-available vehicles, all based on Cox Automotive data. They also factored in the vehicle brands that have the most available inventory this year. In making their selections, Autotrader’s editors were careful to avoid anything high demand/low inventory (for this list, defining “inventory” as models that are abundant when browsing listings on Autotrader).
“Car shopping looks a lot different this year due to the vehicle inventory crisis, and it was important to ensure Autotrader’s list of the Hottest Cars of Summer 2021 accurately reflected what’s currently happening in the marketplace,” said Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader. “In crossing the data of the most-searched and the most-available vehicles, we got a good look at what in-market car shoppers are facing. It’s also important to note that popularity doesn’t always equal scarcity – for example, the Jeep Wrangler is popular and there are many available right now.”
The following brands currently have plenty of cars for sale, listed as the makes that are most abundant on Autotrader: Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Jeep, Honda, Nissan, Ram, GMC, Hyundai, BMW.
As for which models are likely to be in stock, below are the hottest cars, trucks and SUVs this summer.
If you’re looking for a good compact SUV, the Equinox is one you should add to your shopping list. Think of it as an alternative to small SUVs like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-30. New or used, the Equinox is priced right and there are plenty of models for sale right now.
Full-size pickups are hot no matter how you look at them, and the recently redesigned Silverado is no exception. The Silverado got a complete makeover in 2019, leaving the current truck packed with performance, features and options. Unless you do a lot of heavy towing, we suggest a Silverado 1500 with the 5.3-liter V8.
The Tahoe typically is in the top 20 when it comes to searches on Autotrader, and there are thousands of them for sale right now. Like many of Chevy’s trucks and SUVs, the Tahoe recently got a redesign. It combines truck toughness with family-car comfort. If you’re searching used, note that Chevrolet has an excellent certified pre-owned program.
If you’re looking for a used full-size pickup, there are plenty of F-150s from which to choose. Ford offers a compelling list of engines, but most F-150s you see on dealer lots will be powered by a V8 or turbo V6 gasoline engine, or a Powerstroke diesel engine. In addition, Ford’s Blue Advantage certified pre-owned program has many excellent benefits.
The Accord isn’t as highly searched as some other models, but it is high in availability, and the Honda brand overall is one of the most searched on Autotrader. The Accord is still a relatively new design (redesigned in 2018), and the car is notoriously reliable. Plus, the fact that it is a sedan and not a pickup or SUV means you might find some good deals.
Believe it or not, the Jeep Wrangler is both in-demand and easy to find. Given the number of Wrangler packages, modifications, accessories, and special editions, you might not find the exact Wrangler you’re searching for, but you can come close. If you decide to go with a used Wrangler, the 2018 and newer models are best.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
For 2021, the popular Grand Cherokee now has a version with three rows of seating available for the first time. The Grand Cherokee has a “just right” combination of luxury, all-weather capability, and serious off-road chops. That do-anything spirit is what makes Jeep so desirable – the Jeep brand is the fourth-most-searched brand on Autotrader.
Like the F-150 and Silverado, the Ram 1500 remains popular. In the middle to upper trim levels of the Ram, it outclasses both the Ford and the Chevy in terms of interior design and materials and overall ride quality. The Ram 1500 is both highly searched on Autotrader and high in inventory, so the chances of finding the right one for you are high.
The Camry has aged well – it’s now a stylish midsize car with several distinct versions, including a hybrid and a gasoline-only V6. If you’re looking for a used Camry, we suggest a 2018 or newer model, as that is the year it was last redesigned. While Toyota’s new-car lineup is impressive, the brand also has an excellent certified pre-owned program.
The RAV4 is nothing less than the best-selling small SUV in the United States, a position it sometimes trades with the Honda CR-V. The RAV4 looks good, is nicely equipped and capable, and comes in a variety of flavors including hybrid, upscale Limited, rugged Adventure, and TRD Off-Road, as well as budget-friendly RAV4 LE.