Motor Authority's annual Best Car To Buy award is a knock-down, drag-out fight in which the year's new luxury and performance vehicles fight for supremacy. In a year like no other, the nominees range from sports cars and sport sedans to SUVs, pickup trucks, and luxury crossovers.
This year's qualifiers cover a deep bench with new and returning names. Each, for the most part, deserves their own moment in the sun for one reason or another.
The list started with 18 vehicles, but we've whittle it down to the final five nominees after some hearty debate.
We'll detail those five nominees in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 4, 2021 reveal of Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy 2021.
In the meantime, here's a brief look at each vehicle that didn't make the final cut and why.
2021 BMW 4-Series
Simply put, the 4-Series is just now launching and we couldn't get enough butts in seats to even test the thing. More importantly, if a 4-Series is going to win our award it's going to be the M4, which hasn't launched yet. Maybe we'll see it, and its extremely large nostrils, next year.
2020 BMW X5 M Competition
A performance SUV has never won in the award's history. Few have even made it to the finalist lightning round. The X5 M is a fast, powerful, and brutal yet luxurious beast, but it's going to take a truly exceptional SUV to beat sports cars in this battle of enthusiast favorites.
2020 Cadillac CT4-V
The CT4-V is a refined ATS with a truck engine. It sounds wrong, it's too coarse, and we miss the ATS-V's twin-turbo V-6. That's not a combination to compete for Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy award regardless of how much torque it has.
2020 Cadillac CT5-V
Sure the CT5-V fixes the CTS's rear seat leg room issue, but it's more of a Vsport (remember those?) than a real V. We'll see if the CT5-V can make our finalist list when the Blackwing arrives with its supercharged V-8.
2021 Cadillac Escalade
The new Escalade is the best one yet. It's a true luxury SUV, and it deserved our consideration. But nobody will ever take one on a racetrack. It's hard for luxury rigs like the Escalade to get their day in court when there are better values in the luxury segment and better performing contenders.
2021 Ford Bronco
Simply put, the Bronco hasn't launched yet. It's due to arrive in the spring of 2021 despite its summer 2020 reveal. We'll see you next year, Bronco.
2021 Ford F-150 Platinum off-road
The new Ford F-150 has been revealed and is about to hit dealerships, but the high-performance, off-road capable Raptor model is yet to break cover. Ford said a Raptor will exist for the 2021 model year, and the old F-150 is now out of production, so a new model will arrive soon. We'll see you in 2021, Raptor.
2021 Genesis G80
If the Genesis GV80 crossover SUV didn't exist then the G80 luxury sedan might've made the cut. A gorgeous exterior and interior aren't enough to compete when its pretty, high-riding sibling breaks new ground among luxury crossovers.
2020 Land Rover Defender 110
The new Land Rover Defender hits all the right notes. It looks the part, it can go anywhere, and it's affordable for a Land Rover. However, it's more expensive than the similarly capable Jeep Wrangler and the forthcoming Ford Bronco. It's also hard for an off-roader to stir our passions like a track car.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The luxury car standard would have likely made the finalist list this year, if only it had launched on time. The new S-Class hasn't hit the market yet and we haven't slid behind the wheel. See you next year, S-Class.
2021 Ram 1500 TRX
FCA's taken the "Hellcat-all-the-things" mantra to the next level with the Ram 1500 TRX. It's the first true Ford F-150 Raptor competitor and it arrived guns blazing. But it's mega-expensive, incredibly thirsty, and it has the same off-roader issue as the Defender.
2020 Polestar 1 first drive
Have you seen the price tag on this plug-in hybrid? It's somewhere between $150,000 and $177,000. Not to mention Polestar said it only planned to build 500 units a year for three years. It's too expensive, too limited in production, and too few of us have driven it. It's off the island, though it is stunning.
2021 Polestar 2
With less range than a Model Y, interior packaging that isn't as efficient as the Tesla, and a price point higher than the competition, the Polestar 2 may be a fine electric vehicle, but it isn't really a performance car. We like more spice in our winners.