I can hardly believe it’s that time of year again when I sit down and look through everything we’ve been riding for the past 12 months to see what caught my eye. And what a 12 months it has been, with some highly anticipated new models, including quite a few new battery-electric vehicles. In fact, more than half of my top 10 are BEVs, which says good things about the ever-expanding consumer options. Read on to find out what made an impression in 2021.
1. Hyundai Ioniq 5
Okay, I put myself in this corner earlier this month when I wrote a headline proclaiming that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 was the best EV we’ve driven all year. I haven’t changed my mind in the past week either. Hyundai’s days of dodgy, poorly made cars are long gone, and its electric powertrains were already the best of the non-Tesla rest.
Now it has a brand new 800V platform for bigger, more premium BEVs, and the Ioniq 5 is the first to come. It has razor-sharp styling and TARDIS-like levels of interior space, and it charges quickly in just 18 minutes. And the fully loaded AWD version is still under $55,000 before tax credits or incentives. Check out this space for a more powerful, sportier Ioniq 5 N.
2. Porsche Taycan 4S
I resisted the urge to award the Porsche Taycan first, as the Ioniq 5 is undoubtedly a more relevant car for many more people. But if money were no object (and my co-op finally let us install chargers), there’d be a Porsche Taycan parked in my spot. And it doesn’t even have to be one of the more expensive ones – a Taycan 4S is more than enough. I love the way it looks on the outside, and it can still hit 100mph from a standing start in four seconds.
From the driver’s seat, you’ll feel just as at home as in a 911, with a similar view of curved wheel arches and sloping bonnet. I also prefer the Taycan’s interior over the 911, even if it’s too reliant on touchscreens. I also like the fact that you can drive the car fast without the usual dose of climate guilt that comes with a powerful combustion engine. Porsche wanted to make sure that its first EV was a real Porsche, and it absolutely succeeded.
3. Ford Maverick
Not sure if the Ford Maverick was even on my radar at the start of the year. But the huge and positive response from the public to the reveal made me wonder if it was worth the hype. Reader, that was it. It’s a refreshing antidote to the ever-increasing size and cost of the average North American truck, with a base model under $20,000 and a healthy dose of “can-do, maker” attitude.
A front-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain comes standard and should top 40 mpg (5.9 l/100 km), but even the turbocharged AWD version gets 7 l/100 km at 33.3 mpg. My choice would be the XLT, as I love orange trim, but then I would also need a 3D printer so I could print my own accessories.
4. Ford Mustang Mach-E GT
Ford and Volkswagen share fourth place with some very important electric crossovers – I’m letting Ford go first because F comes before V. I drove a Mustang Mach-E for the first time in February, but that launch edition was a bit of a let down for me. I don’t really want the “is it a Mustang?” debate [too late!]but I was disappointed that the driving dynamics shared so little with all the fine-driving Fords I’ve loved over the years.
That was finally remedied in October when we sampled the Mustang Mach-E GT. You want the performance package, which transforms this BEV with the addition of much better tires and some magnetorheological dampers. I’m still curious to know how much of the improvement is due to the tires alone – quite a bit, I guess – but here’s finally a Mach-E that offers a driving experience worthy of the Mustang badge – more worthy than many Mustangs from the past.