The COVID-19 pandemic has affected how we evaluate cars here at Motor Authority. Our editors haven't boarded a plane to attend media drive programs since February. Without the track time and twisty roads those programs offer, we've relied on getting personal car loans to test them, with the exception of driving from our homes to a few socially distanced drive programs.

Thankfully, the new-car releases haven't stopped coming from automakers. Plenty of new luxury and performance vehicles have hit the market in the past year. We've just had to figure out new ways to test them.

In a normal year, we conduct our Best Car To Buy testing by assembling at a cabin in northern Georgia to drive the nominees back to back. We rent a track to feel how our finalists stack up when pushed close to their (and our) limits. We then argue over the results around a campfire while complaining that one of our crew ate all the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

This year, we'll go straight to the argument with the knowledge that at least two of our editors have driven each of the finalists.

Our Best Car To Buy competition starts with a list of new or significantly updated cars each calendar year. We drive them, evaluate their price and performance, and whittle the master list down to a group of five or so finalists. Then it's the final knock-down, drag-out argument about which vehicle should win and why. Over Skype, of course. 

We're still getting into these vehicles for week-long loans and still making the cases for our favorites from the 2020 and 2021 models released in the past year. We'll continue our discussion, come to a group conclusion, and name our winner on Jan. 4.

In the meantime, we'll introduce you to past winners, the list of this year's finalists, and cars that didn't make the cut. We'll then profile each of this year's five finalists, and reveal the winner early next year. Stay tuned as we unveil Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy 2021.