2021 AAA Car Guide Offers Inside Track for the Latest in Vehicle Tech

AAA Mid States

According to AAA, driver interest in advanced safety technology is high. When asked which of these systems they want in their next vehicle, two-thirds (67%) of drivers say Automatic Emergency Braking, followed by Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking (63%) and Lane Keeping Assistance (61%). A majority of new vehicle models come equipped with at least one of these systems. To help consumers navigate the marketplace, AAA created its annual AAA Car Guide, which ranks and rates the latest in-vehicle technology, including alternative fuel vehicles.

What is the AAA Car Guide?

For the 2021 edition of the Car Guide, the 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range EV SUV has earned the overall top score. The Car Guide provides consumers with reviews highlighting how many advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are included in the vehicle as well as other criteria and information. The majority of the category winners for 2021 are either electric, plug-in electric hybrids or hybrids since manufacturers tend to load up these with the newest in safety technology.

The guide includes comprehensive, easy-to-read reviews of each vehicle, which are based on 13 criteria, including the number of ADAS safety features, emissions, braking, fuel economy, handling, ride comfort, and acceleration. These vehicles are tested, scored and placed in one of five vehicle categories by the Automotive Research Center (ARC) of the Automobile Club of Southern California, a member of the AAA federation of motor clubs.

“We know that consumers are very interested in new vehicle technology for the safety features,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Research Center.  “However, AAA research also shows that drivers don’t always understand the technical limits of these features and the AAA Car Guide is an easy-to-understand resource that can help improve their understanding.”

Buying a car in 2021

Industry analysts forecast that 2021 will be a more robust car-buying year than last year because of new models and pent-up demand with the growing number of vaccinated Americans.  After about a year of learning to sell vehicles during a pandemic, dealers are experienced in keeping employees and customers safe, cleaning and disinfecting dealership facilities and vehicles, and safely handling sales operations.

“Compared to even five years ago, today’s vehicles have many more features and systems that a driver must learn, including new vehicle technology and how the vehicle is powered – either gasoline, an alternative fuel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric,” added McKernan. “The learning curve and decisions to be made can be daunting, and our evaluations in the AAA Car Guide are designed to help drivers select a safe and comfortable vehicle that meets their needs.”

The AAA Car Guide 2021 Winners

Each of the 2021 AAA Car Guide winners have numerous ADAS safety features which generate a higher score. The highest-ranked by category are:




2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)


2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric)


2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid


2020 Volvo S90 T8 (plug-in hybrid)


2020 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab SLT (diesel)


2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)

Best Under $35,000

2020 Subaru Outback premium (gasoline)

Best $35,000-$50,000

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric)

Best Over $50,000

2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)


The AAA Car Guide also contains a compendium of AAA’s recent research of current automotive technologies and topics, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), gasoline quality, headlight effectiveness and safely transporting a pet in the vehicle.

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews, and an in-depth analysis of the ADAS technology can be found at AAA.com/CarGuide.