AAA Car Guide Offers Inside Track for the Latest in Vehicle Tech

Tesla Model Y Takes Top Honors – Majority of Winners are Eco-Friendly

To help consumers navigate the new-car marketplace, AAA earlier this year released its annual AAA Car Guide, which ranks and rates the latest in-vehicle technology.

“Compared to even 5 years ago, today’s vehicles have many more features and systems that a driver must learn,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Research Center of the Automobile Club of Southern California. “The learning curve and decisions to be made can be daunting, and our evaluations in the AAA Car Guide are designed to help drivers select a safe and comfortable vehicle that meets their needs.”

About the AAA Car Guide

The AAA Car Guide is a complete guide for prospective car buyers to better understand the latest in automotive safety technology. It provides easy-to-read evaluations of these vehicles, based on what matters most to car shoppers. Vehicle reviews focus on 13 criteria, including the number of safety features, emissions, braking, fuel economy, handling, ride comfort and acceleration.

The 59 vehicles included in this year’s guide were all tested, scored and placed in one of five vehicle categories by engineers at the ARC of the Automobile Club of Southern California, a member of the AAA federation of motor clubs.

The majority of the category winners for 2021 are either electric, plug-in electric hybrids or hybrids since manufacturers tend to load up these with the newest in safety technology. The 2020 Tesla Model Y Long-Range EV SUV has earned the overall top score for 2021.

Winners include:

Category Vehicle
Overall 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)
Small 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric)
Midsize 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Large 2020 Volvo S90 T8 (plug-in hybrid)
Pickup 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab SLT (diesel)
SUV/Minivan 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)
Best Under $35,000 2020 Subaru Outback premium (gasoline)
Best $35,000 – $50,000 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric)
Best Over $50,000 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)

Drivers Looking for More Safety Technology

Each of the 2021 AAA Car Guide winners has numerous advanced safety features, which generates a higher score. A new AAA survey revealed driver interest in advanced safety technology is high. When asked which of these systems they want in their next vehicle, AAA found:

  • 67% of drivers want Automatic Emergency Braking
  • 63% of drivers want Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking
  • 61% of drivers want Lane-Keeping Assistance

A majority of new vehicle models come equipped with at least one of these systems.

“We know that consumers are very interested in new vehicle technology for the safety features,” said McKernan. “However, AAA research also shows that drivers don’t always understand the technical limits of these features and the AAA Car Guide is an easy-to-understand resource that can help improve their understanding.”

The AAA Car Guide also contains a compendium of AAA’s recent research of current automotive technologies and topics, such as advanced driver assistance systems, gasoline quality, headlight effectiveness and safely transporting a pet in the vehicle.

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the ADAS technology can be found at

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