The most popular cars of 2021

Craig Duff

Posted December 28, 2021

As the sun sets on 2021, we take a look back at your favourite five cars from a year swathed in innovation, ingenuity, and interference.

COVID-19 hammered the global automotive industry in 2021 with supply chains in disarray at seemingly every point.

Not enough semiconductors, shipping delays and staff shortages has had a devastating impact on vehicle production and delivery. Despite that, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries still projects more than a million sales in Australia this year.

Despite the uncertainty of when buyers will be able to collect their new rides, it hasn’t stopped anyone from enjoying a bit of window shopping.

We’ve rounded-up the top five models that piqued your interest in 2021.

Our readers’ favourite cars

Toyota LandCruiser 300-Series

The most talked about car in Australia this year is a rugged SUV with a starting price of close to $100,000 on the road.

The 300-Series is the first new LandCruiser in 14 years. Part of its appeal lies in its reputation for reliability when heading bush. Plenty of families own a ’Cruiser with every expectation of making it to the Simpson Desert _ one day.

In the interim, its versatility as a tow vehicle for horse floats, boats or caravans and the capacity to carry up to seven people make it a go-to model for those who can afford it.

The LC300 VX is the sweet spot in the range, though there’s no sugar-coating a starting price of $113,990. That money buys heated and ventilated front seats, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen and a car-like finish to the interior.

Check out the full review here.


The LandCruiser 300-Series in its native environment

The LandCruiser 300-Series



The MG ZS and ZST (the latter uses the same platform with more standard gear) is the top-selling small SUV in the country, having shifted more than 16,000 vehicles in the first 11 months.

The British-branded, Chinese-built marque sells by being a bargain buy, with prices ranging from $21,990 to $32,990 (though the $44,990 electric variant is the cheapest EV in Australia).

There’s a solid suite of safety gear and the design inside and out isn’t going to upset many potential owners.

The downside is the driving experience. Basic ZS versions with a naturally aspirated 1.5-litrre engine are underpowered and while the more expensive versions use a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine, it is blighted by turbo lag off the line and struggles with hills.

Combine that with an overly stiff suspension tune and this is a car you are buying to commute in, not enjoy the driving experience.

See the full road test review here.


The MG ZS is Australia's top-selling small SUV

The MG ZST is the best-selling small SUV in the country


Genesis GV80          

Hyundai’s luxury offshoot is shooting for the big time with its GV80 flagship SUV.

The seven-seater can’t be matched for specification at this price, with the rear-wheel-drive 2.5-litre petrol engine starting at $90,476 and climbing to $108,476 for the 3.5-litre turbo petrol. Diesel drivers are catered for with a 3.0-litre turbo engine that costs $103,476 before on-roads.

It’s major Germanic rivals are $5000 to $10,000 more expensive and don’t pack nearly the same level of equipment.

History shows, though, that Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz buyers tend to be “welded on” to the respective brands, so it will take time for Genesis to make inroads into the market even with incentives this enticing.

A five-star ANCAP safety rating is matched with a luxurious interior _ think thick leather and wood grain detailing _ along with a 14.5-inch touchscreen with a complementary rotary controller for those who prefer a traditional interface, huge head-up display and a panoramic sunroof.

See the full review here.


The Genesis GV80 challenges the European interpretation of a luxury SUV

The Genesis GV80 challenges the Euro interpretation of a luxury SUV.


Ford Escape

The mid-sized Escape SUV comes as a front and all-wheel drive model, all powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine. with prices starting at $35,990 and rising to $49,590.

A plug-in hybrid will add a semi-electric option to the range when it lands next year powered by a 2.5-litre engine and a battery pack good for a claimed 56km (based on the WLTP testing cycle). The PHEV extends the Escape’s cost to $52,940

This is the third generation of the Escape and maintains its predecessors reputation for being one of the better drives in the medium SUV ranks. It plays in a tough division, with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Tucson topping the sales charts.

For those who appreciate a sportier SUV, it earned its place as one of your preferred SUVs in the segment.

Check out the full road test review here.


The Ford Escape

The Ford Escape is a popular choice with driving enthusiasts.


Audi Q5 Sportback

BMW invented the modern coupe-styled SUV when it launched the menacing X6 back in 2008.

Since then, every man and his canine have had a crack at it and Audi’s interpretation of the swoopy-tailed SUV is a notable addition. Based on the Q5 - the brand’s second most popular car after the compact Q3 - the Sportback is competing directly against the BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.

As is the case with all vehicles in this segment, there’s a touch more standard equipment than the donor car, but buyers are essentially paying a premium for the look.

The range starts at $77,700 for a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine driving all four wheels, in the 40 TDI, rises to $86,300 for the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol in the 45 TFSI and tops out at $110,900 for the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel in the SQ5.

Despite the sloping roofline there is enough headroom for all but the tallest rear seat passengers and the boot is still a practical 510 litres.

See the full review here.


The Audi Q5 Sportback

The Audi Q5 Sportback joins the ranks of the coupe-styled SUVs.


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