Car and Driver’s Best Images of 2021

2021 ford bronco

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

Photographs are the closest scientists have come to developing a time machine. They are tangible proof that, at one time, light existed within a space, even if just for a fraction of a second. Although not as visceral as being sucked through a phone booth and spat back out into the 1980s, photos are proof stuff happened. So looking back at the Car and Driver photo album, we’d argue there’s some good evidence it has been an exciting year for the automotive industry.

This year, our staffers tested the most powerful electric vehicles ever made and drove the quickest cars we’ve ever tested. We let the cars do some of the driving this year, only to discover that maybe it’s too early to retire the opposable thumbs. We said goodbye to 25 discontinued models that won’t join us for 2022, and we took what could be our final thrill ride in a segment not long for this world. Here’s what else happened this year, in photos and illustrations:

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New Cars for 2022

The people have been eagerly awaiting a new Z car for a while, and now that Nissan has shown the prototype of its newest iteration with 400 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission, the people are cheering louder. Built on a highly modified version of the current 370Z platform, the Z will join an also mostly new Frontier in the digital age. Okay, do the Xterra next.

Cat Nip

Criminals are jerks. And, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the jerks were busy stealing 2347 catalytic converters in a year (2020 data). As seen in this dramatized illustration from our September 2021 issue.

Drift Analyzer

The 473-hp BMW M3 will score your sideways smoke show using an onboard M Drift Analyzer. Grades are published out of five stars based on time, distance, and steering angle. We’d like to think the Michelin barbecue in the mirrors is a good enough indicator.

Ford’s Bucking Bronco

We said welcome back to a familiar Ford by jumping this two-door Bronco over sand dunes along Lake Michigan. It made a safe landing, shrugging off the fall of 4975 pounds like it was nothing. Finally, the Jeep Wrangler has a worthy competitor, and every off-roader will certainly benefit from it.

EV of the Year

What good is an electric vehicle with enough driving range to get you from Cincinnati to the Smoky Mountains if it’s unpleasant to drive? We’ve named the Ford Mustang Mach-E our first EV of the Year because it’s fun and practical.

New Frontier

Electric vehicles are no longer some weird damp closet the AV team hides in anymore. They’re what’s new, what’s hot, and the main focus for brands across the world. And while automakers promise to transform their lineups into a fully electric team of superheroes here to save Planet Earth, many of the electric options today can’t make it 200 miles without plugging back into the wall. It’s a wild new frontier, but we promise to wrangle the herd with our new annual EV 1000 electric-car comparative-driving test.

Little Rev Corvette

The Corvette that gets to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and starts at a modest $62,195 just got a lot cooler. The Z06 will use a 670-hp 5.5-liter V-8 in place of the Stingray’s 490-hp 6.2-liter. If you’re like us, and craved more music behind the ears while driving a C8, the flat-plane-crank engine that revs to 8600 rpm should suffice.

Iceberg, Right Ahead!

A Lamborghini SUV seems like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Quite the opposite: the Urus is the quickest SUV we’ve ever tested. That’s very Lamborghini-like. This Aston Martin DBX also rides that weird line between exotic sports-car brands and, well, what the majority of people want: an SUV. The DBX’s 60-mph launch was just 0.6 second away from the last Vantage we tested.

Sedan of Epic Propulsion

The Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is one of the best sports sedans ever made. It sounds and drives like it was thought up by automotive enthusiasts, and that’s because it was. Sadly, this rear-drive sports sedan with a 668-hp supercharged V-8 and six-speed manual transmission is the last of a dying breed.

Does Anyone Remember Laughter?

Good Dog

Whatever you have to do to look past the rather distracting kidney grille of the new BMW M4, do it. The 473-hp twin-turbo inline-six in this thing rips, and its pendulum of comfort and crazy swings far enough to offer a practical daily-driving experience and track-day excitement. Dogs love it too.

Losing the Land Cruiser

It has been able to drive itself out of damn near anything since the 1970s, yet the Toyota Land Cruiser couldn’t tread through the muck of disappointing U.S. sales. It will continue to be sold globally, but a return stateside is doubtful. A redesigned Lexus LX will still be sold here, using the bones from the new Land Cruiser that’s still available to the rest of the world.

How’s This Work?

Semi-autonomous tech has made us dangerously comfortable with playing with fire. While we wait for the promised fully autonomous car, some pretend that tricking driver-assistance features is a safe workaround. Like driving with the seatbelt behind your back, bypassing safety features is a deadly game to play.

Quick Communicator

No audio gimmicks are needed to add any flavor to the already spicy naturally aspirated flat-six symphony from the Porsche 911 GT3. The throttle response is epic, and the massive stopping power turns braking zones into mere suggestions. It stops from 70 mph in just 133 feet, and from 100 in 262. Plus it revs to 9000 rpm.

Tunnel Vision

Why spend millions erecting an aerodynamics lab to simulate airflow to measure drag for vehicle development when there are empty tunnels from more than a century ago still around?

Why Should I Care about EVs?

We’ve answered 20 of your most important questions about electric vehicles. We help you navigate the BEV, PHEV, CHAdeMO acronym soup. We tell you all about charging, how much range you actually need, what happens when the battery dies. For instance: According to a AAA study, range drops by an average of 41 percent when the temperature falls from 75 degrees to 20.

That’s a Supra!

Our 40,000-mile long-term test with a 2020 Toyota Supra is nearly over. We don’t want to stop driving it. A road trip from Michigan to Florida is no problem behind the wheel of something so immediately fun to drive.

The Great Escape

Ford’s small crossover wears that legendary Bronco name, but make no mistake: It’s really a sheep in wolf’s clothing compared to its big brother. But don’t let the fact that the Bronco Sport shares its underpinnings with the Escape keep you from playing in the dirt. It didn’t stop us.

The Driver’s EV

Porsche’s all-electric sports sedan has more than earned its place under the Porsche umbrella of exciting sports cars. This is the 562-hp Taycan 4S, which doesn’t move as urgently as the 750-hp Taycan Turbo S but is still an absolute pleasure to captain. The 4S we tested matched the 997-generation 911 Turbo‘s acceleration time, in a package that produces no tailpipe emissions.

Running on Empty

It’s the most abundant element in the universe, so you’d think it’d be a lot easier to find hydrogen. Nope. In California, it can be nearly impossible to find when you need to refuel vehicles like the Toyota Mirai or the Hyundai Nexo.

Ship Happens

We took a closer look into the events that led to the doom of the Golden Ray when it beached itself, with about 4200 vehicles onboard, onto the Saint Simons Island shoreline off the Georgia coast. Spoiler: fixing a 38,600-ton mistake is costly, and those cars were all (soggy) toast.

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