Commentary: Will 2021 Be A Better Year For Vehicle Content?

Can we still get excited about new vehicles these days?

We sure can! 

Take the buzz around the announcement of the 2021 Ford Bronco trio. Orders have been pouring in off of Ford’s website to the point of a wait list that might roll over in to the 2022 model year. The First Edition models of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX were "sold out" in a few hours after the unveiling. 

In the meantime, the automotive retail business has been working overtime to reinvent itself. They are hungry for inventory, while production is ramping up under safer conditions along the assembly lines. Used cars are becoming scarce, with some auction facilities laying off personnel. However, the rental car companies are trying to reduce excess fleet in the pall of financial issues due to a reduction in travel. 

As an automotive journalist, I am supposed to be more objective than subjective about these new vehicles. And, yet, the automobile is a personal passion. We can still get excited as every other consumer within the cycle of commerce. At least have some license to do so. 

Here we are. On the brink of V&R’s 10th anniversary (and my 20th year as a media professional). Is it still a cause for celebration? Maybe. The temper of the industry and the world are still uncertain. 

With this backdrop of a possible celebration in uncertain times, what am I actually looking forward to?

First of all, there are a lot of new vehicles coming our way for 2021. Some of them have already hit their respective dealer lots. Others are mere months away from doing so. But, I have to admit to a tempered excitement to work with these vehicles in the coming twelve months. 

Obviously, the Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport have become the big headlines of the year. To work with either one – OK, either of the three models – will definitely provoke some engagement from you. I am equally curious about how this "brand" of off-road ready SUVs from Ford will be received by their owners and enthusiasts. They should provide a good story or a few. 

Ford will also have a new F-150 with the PowerBoost hybrid driveline. That alone is a huge story waiting to be told, as Ford is on a campaign to electrify as many of their lineup as possible. The talk on the hybrid driveline is more on curious side than on the practical one. What needs to be done is to demonstrate this truck’s potential capability and the additional usage of this best-selling pickup truck.

In Toyota's court, the new Venza caught my attention as a great story. To enter into the mid-size, two-row SUV segment, Toyota went with a proven hybrid driveline for this new vehicle. That’s not really news, except that it is the only driveline available for this Venza and the new generation Sienna minivan. I am curious how this driveline will work on both vehicles. 

Over at Lexus, the new IS sedan is also on my radar. I had some reservations about some aspects of the last generation model, which I am hoping they were addressed in this new one. If it is roomier than before, easier to use, and exciting to drive – then I see the IS as a great story to tell. After all, the first vehicle I wrote about that was supplied by a manufacturer was the IS 250C. That, in itself, makes for a great 10th anniversary story!

The new Acura TLX was touted as a sporty premium sedan that will take Honda’s luxury brand further out of its doldrums. Initial reviews pointed to how much the vehicle improved. I can sense that the excitement levels will rise further when the 355-horsepower Type S finally arrives. Nonetheless, this is a critical offering for Acura that I cannot wait to get my hands on. 

Speaking of luxury brands, I am actually excited to check out the new Genesis G80 and GV80. These are the new mid-size models that will advance the brand further, keeping with its new design language seen on the G90. The early reviews equate these two vehicles with their counterparts at Mercedes-Benz. Five years ago, that would have been as an audacious statement. Now, it appears to be a real comparative conclusion. Game on, I say!

Hyundai has a new Elantra that takes its cues from the larger Sonata – a #VOTY2020 finalist. From early photographs and impressions, it appears that it might have the edge in the compact sedan market. How it compares to the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Volkswagen Jetta is one theme I want to explore. Add the new N Sport to the mix, and my attention is now on laser focus. 

Over at Kia, the K5 replacing the Optima and a new Sorento are the next 2021 model year products to check out. While mid-size family sedans are trying to make a comeback, perhaps the K5 will add to this momentum with its sleek looks and the hot GT variant. Meanwhile, the Sorento will add to Kia’s highly successful SUV strategy starting with #VOTY19, the Telluride, and the Seltos. It might be the best looking Sorento ever. 

Would you believe that I’m excited to see the newest offerings from Mitsubishi? I’m already curious about the updates made on the Mirage, Mirage G4, and Eclipse Cross. But, the real star of the show would be the 2022 Outlander. Early talk about this model points to a multitude of welcomed improvements to its flagship model. 

What about General Motors? I certainly hope to bring some in for you. It's been tough going in that arena, but somehow I hope I can get to work with some of their vehicles in 2021.

I’m just scratching the surface here. There has to be dozens more new vehicles to bring to this website – and the other outlets I write for. While I did not include all manufacturers in this article, it is my hope that I will welcome them all to this work. 

Bring on 2021! Let’s see if we can witness the end of this pandemic and deliver some great storylines for you!  

All photos by Randy Stern

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