2021 CarBuzz Awards Finalists: Save The Planet

2021 CarBuzz Awards / 15 Comments

Who needs gasoline when you have these stellar cars?

Reducing our carbon emissions is crucial to leaving a better world for the next generation. The CarBuzz Save The Planet Award goes to the hybrid or electric vehicle that bundles fuel-saving (or eliminating) technology with qualities such as style, performance, and capability. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was last year's winner, and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid won the honor in the award's inaugural year. For 2021, there are zero combustion engines among our three finalists, showing how far EVs have come in only a couple of years.

All of the cars on this list prove that saving the planet doesn't have to be a dismal chore; you can drive an efficient vehicle and look good while doing so. We considered the Ford Maverick Hybrid, Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, and hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai for this honor, but the following three Save The Planet finalists were deemed to have more universal appeal.

2022 Rivian R1T Truck Front View Rivian
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2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Muscle car diehards may scoff at the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E slapping a legendary name onto an SUV, but look past the marketing and you are left with a rather impressive EV. Ford's Mach-E proves an affordable EV can be stylish, quick, fun to drive, and practical. Output ranging from 266 to 346 horsepower coupled with instant acceleration will wow conventional crossover buyers, while the GT model will have enthusiasts raving about its 480-hp powerplant and 3.5-second 0-60-mph time.

Starting at $42,895 (before the $7,500 federal tax credit), the Mustang Mach-E offers a Tesla-rivaling driving range from 211 to 305 miles, depending on battery size and motor layout. Inside, drivers will enjoy one of Ford's most luxurious cabins filled with outstanding technology like a standard 15.5-inch touchscreen. With the Mach-E, Ford proved it could build an EV that's more than a government compliance car.

2021-2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E Forward Vision CarBuzz
2021-2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rear Angle View CarBuzz
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2022 Rivian R1T

For the first time, a pickup truck has snuck onto our Save The Planet Award category. The 2022 Rivian R1T bursts onto the scene as the first all-electric truck that you can actually take home and drive. You may wonder why the Tesla Cybertruck didn't make the list. Well, Tesla hasn't built it yet. Maybe next year? As for the Rivian, it showed off impressive off-road performance during our First Drive review, enough to warrant a finalist spot on our 2021 Off-Road Warrior Award. The R1T packs four electric motors generating 800 hp, enough to rocket this truck to 60 mph in only three seconds.

Pricing is the highest on this list starting at $67,500, but we feel the R1T is easily among the most important EVs released in 2021, so it deserves this finalist spot. Rivian proves an electric truck can function in the real world with 300 miles of range in base guise, and up to 400 miles with the larger battery model. Toss in some futuristic styling, luxury interior, and unique Gear Tunnel, and the Rivian R1T is an awesome alternative to a gas-guzzling pickup.


2021 Volkswagen ID.4

Despite the best efforts from automakers to increase market share, many EVs are still too expensive for the average consumer. The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 aims to change this with a reasonable $39,995 starting price (before the tax credit). Volkswagen's entry-level electric crossover offers 201 hp with up to 260 miles of range. Buyers who want more power and all-weather grip can opt for the dual-motor version, which adds all-wheel drive and a huge output bump to 295 hp. VW managed to make the ID.4 the least expensive AWD EV on the market starting at $44,495, and the range only takes a slight hit at up to 249 miles.

Not only does the ID.4 undercut the Mustang Mach-E on price, but it also offers impressive driving enjoyment not unlike a Golf GTI. Excellent steering, a playful chassis, and ample power in the AWD version combine to make the ID.4 a spirited driver's car. VW's hard pivot away from diesel looks like a success, and the ID.4 is the first sign of what's to come from the German automaker.

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