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10 Hottest Cars of Summer 2021

Every year Autotrader publishes a list of the hottest cars for summer. Usually, when we say “hottest,” we mean cars in demand — specifically the new and used vehicles most frequently searched for on Autotrader.

This year, it’s a bit different.

Because of COVID-related production issues and a well-publicized microchip shortage, the most popular cars, trucks, and SUVs may or may not be available when you search on your iPhone or visit your local dealership. We recently visited a huge Toyota/Lexus dealership in Southern California. They had plenty of cars for sale, but it was only a third of their usual inventory.

To make this list more helpful, we’ve combined the most searched vehicles on Autotrader with the most available vehicles, all based on Cox Automotive data. We also factored in the overall makes — that’s the brand, like Chevrolet or Honda — that are most abundant this year. One thing we tried to avoid: High-demand, low inventory. For this list, we’re using the word “inventory” to indicate which models are abundant when browsing listings on Autotrader.

These Brands Have Plenty of Cars for Sale

If you’re the kind of shopper who must have a specific brand of car, here are the makes that are most abundant on Autotrader right now. Is there a brand you like and trust? Popularity doesn’t always equal scarcity — the Jeep Wranger is popular, and there are many available right now. There’s likely to be plenty of models for sale this summer from these brands:

  1. Ford
  2. Chevrolet
  3. Toyota
  4. Jeep
  5. Honda
  6. Nissan
  7. Ram
  8. GMC
  9. Hyundai
  10. BMW

Interestingly, not all of these are represented on our list, as we combined high search volume and high availability. Brands like BMW, Hyundai, and Nissan might represent an excellent opportunity to find a vehicle you want at a reasonable price.

Which Models Are Likely to Be in Stock?

Here are the hottest cars, trucks, and SUVs this summer, listed in alphabetical order, not ranked by availability when it comes to specific models.

1. Chevrolet Equinox

2021 Chevrolet Equinox in Red

The Equinox is not as well known as some of Chevrolet’s other SUVs (like the Tahoe), but there seem to be plenty of Equinox models for sale right now. If you’re looking for a good compact SUV, the Equinox should be one you add to your shopping list. New or used, the Equinox is priced right. Think of the Chevrolet Equinox as an alternative to small SUVs like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Mazda CX-30. In terms of availability, Equinox is in the top 10, so you’re likely to find one for sale in your area. See Chevrolet Equinox models for sale

2. Chevrolet Silverado

2021 Chevrolet Silverado HD 1500 in Pearl White

Full-size pickups are hot no matter how you look at them, and the recently redesigned Silverado is no exception. The Silverado got a complete makeover in 2019, leaving the current truck packed with performance, features, and options. Unless you do a lot of heavy towing, we suggest a Silverado 1500 with the 5.3-liter V8. Yes, the available 6.2-liter V8 sounds fantastic and can pull just about anything you want, but it’s also thirsty. Various special packages include a Duramax diesel engine. Look for a Trail Boss version if you frequently go off-road. Silverado LT is a nicely equipped truck for a reasonable price. Silverado RST has a sport-truck appearance and a few added features (like 18-inch wheels and less chrome trim). Finally, the Silverado LTZ is more luxurious and offers advanced trailering features, extra chrome trim, and nicer leather seating. See Chevrolet Silverado models for sale

3. Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country

The Tahoe is typically in the top 20 when it comes to searches on Autotrader, and there are thousands of them for sale right now. Like many of Chevy’s trucks and SUVs, the Tahoe got a redesign. It combines truck toughness with family-car comfort. Starting price for a new Tahoe is about $50,000. But there are plenty of used Tahoes available if you want a durable, rugged, truck-based SUV for a more budget-friendly price. Also, Chevrolet has an excellent certified pre-owned program. It includes a 6-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, a 1-year/12,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty, roadside assistance, and 2 years or 24,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance. See Chevrolet Tahoe models for sale

4. Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 Front Grill in Black

If you’re looking for a used full-size pickup, there are plenty of F-150’s to choose from. Ford F-150 versions include the quick Raptor, the luxurious King Ranch and Lariat, value-oriented XLT, basic but rugged XL, and the ultra-premium Platinum trim. Ford offers a compelling list of engines, but most F-150s you see on dealer lots will be powered by a V8 or turbo V6 gasoline engine or a Powerstroke diesel engine, especially in the 250, 350, and 450 series trucks. Like Chevrolet’s certified pre-owned program, Ford’s Blue Advantage certified program has many excellent benefits. See Ford F-150 models for sale

5. Honda Accord

2021 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T

The Accord isn’t as highly searched as some other models, but it is high in availability and, Honda as a brand is one of the most searched on Autotrader. Plus, the car is notoriously reliable, and the fact that the Accord is a sedan and not a pickup or SUV means you might find some good deals. The current Honda Accord is still a relatively new design, and the 2.0T Touring is as cool-looking and fun as any high-dollar European sedan. If you’re on a tight budget, look for a pre-2018 model since that’s the year the Accord was redesigned. See Honda Accord models for sale

6. Jeep Grand Cherokee

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee in charcoal.

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2021, the popular SUV now has a version with three rows of seating, something no Grand Cherokee has had before. The Grand Cherokee has always had a “just right” combination of luxury, all-weather capability, and serious off-road chops. That do-anything spirit is what makes Jeep so desirable. In fact, Jeep, as a whole, is the fourth most searched brand on Autotrader. Add to that a model that’s been popular for decades, and you have a recipe for one of the hottest vehicles you can get this summer. See Jeep Grand Cherokee models for sale

7. Jeep Wrangler

2021 Jeep Wrangler Front in Silver

Believe it or not, the Jeep Wrangler is both in-demand and easy to find. Given the number of Wrangler packages, modifications, accessories, and special editions, you might not find the exact Wrangler, but you can come pretty close. If you decide to go with a used Wrangler, the 2018 and new models are best. The new Jeep Wrangler 4xe is also impressive. It’s a plug-in hybrid that allows you to save up battery power so you can drive on just electricity once you arrive at your favorite remote trail. See Jeep Wrangler models for sale 

8. Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500 Front Left Side in Blue

Like the F-150 and Chevy Silverado, the Ram 1500 remains popular. As full-size trucks go, the Ram is a good one. In the middle to upper trim levels of the Ram, it outclasses both the Ford and Chevy in terms of interior design and materials and the overall ride quality. If you want an F-150 alternative, the 702-hp Ram TRX is an excellent choice. The Ram 1500 is both highly searched on Autotrader and is high in inventory, so your chances of finding the right one for you are high. See Ram 1500 models for sale

9. Toyota Camry

2021 Toyota Camry Profile in Black

The Camry has aged well. It started life as a compact sedan but is now a stylish midsize car with several distinct versions, including a hybrid and a gasoline-only V6. We like the XSE V6 for a combination of sport and comfort. Toyota’s new car lineup is impressive, but they also have an excellent certified pre-owned program. When it comes to certified pre-owned searches on Autotrader, Toyota makes up 40 percent of all those. The terms of Toyota’s plan are generous. You get a 12 month/12,000-mile warranty plus a 7 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Toyota certified buyers also get 24-hour roadside assistance for the duration of that powertrain warranty. If you are looking for a used Camry, we suggest a 2018 or newer model as that was the year the Camry was last redesigned. See Toyota Camry models for sale

10. Toyota RAV4

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure in Lunar Rock

The RAV4 is nothing less than the best-selling small SUV in the U.S., a position it sometimes trades with the Honda CR-V. The RAV4 is a nicely equipped, capable, small SUV that looks good and comes in a variety of flavors, including hybrid, upscale Limited, rugged Adventure, and TRD Off-Road, as well as budget-friendly RAV4 LE. All Toyota SUVs continue to be popular, and both the 4Runner and Land Cruiser are worth considering. However, more RAV4 crossovers are for sale on Autotrader than 4Runner and Land Cruiser SUVs combined. Find a Toyota RAV4 for sale. See Toyota RAV4 models for sale

10 Hottest Cars of Summer 2021

  1. Chevrolet Equinox
  2. Chevrolet Silverado
  3. Chevrolet Tahoe
  4. Ford F-150
  5. Honda Accord
  6. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  7. Jeep Wrangler
  8. Ram 1500
  9. Toyota Camry
  10. Toyota RAV4


Brian Moody
Brian Moody is an author specializing in transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used, and certified pre-owned advice. He also specializes in liking ridiculous cars like the Buick Reatta, Studebaker Lark, and the GM A-Body wagons from the late 80s and mid-90s. Why? You'd have to ask him. Brian graduated from Cal State Long Beach and has been creating written... Read More about Brian Moody

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