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

Editor Note: click here for b-roll and here for photos of the winning vehicles

BELLEVUE, Wash. — According to AAA, driver interest in advanced safety technology is high. When asked which of these systems they want in their next vehicle, two-thirds (67%) of drivers say Automatic Emergency Braking, followed by Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking (63%) and Lane Keeping Assistance (61%). A majority of new vehicle models come equipped with at least one of these systems. To help consumers navigate the marketplace, AAA created its annual AAA Car Guide, which ranks and rates the latest in vehicle technology, including alternative fuel vehicles.  

For the 2021 edition of the Car Guide, the 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range EV SUV has earned the overall top score. The Car Guide provides consumers with reviews highlighting how many advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are included in the vehicle as well as other criteria and information. 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 guide includes comprehensive, easy-to-read reviews of each vehicle, which are based on 13 criteria, including the number of ADAS safety features, emissions, braking, fuel economy, handling, ride comfort and acceleration. These vehicles are tested, scored and placed in one of five vehicle categories by the Automotive Research Center (ARC) of the Automobile Club of Southern California, a member of the AAA federation of motor clubs. 

“We know that consumers are very interested in new vehicle technology for the safety features,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Research Center.  “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.”

Industry analysts forecast that 2021 will be a more robust car-buying year than last year because of new models and pent-up demand by the growing number of vaccinated Americans.  After about a year of learning to sell vehicles during a pandemic, dealers are experienced in keeping employees and customers safe, cleaning and disinfecting dealership facilities and vehicles and safely handling sales operations.

“Compared to even five years ago, today’s vehicles have many more features and systems that a driver must learn, including new vehicle technology and how the vehicle is powered – either gasoline, an alternative fuel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric,” added McKernan. “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.”

Each of the 2021 AAA Car Guide winners have numerous ADAS safety features which generates a higher score. Highest ranked by category are:

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 Cat 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)

The AAA Car Guide also contains an overview of AAA’s recent research of current automotive technologies and topics, such as ADAS, gasoline quality, headlight effectiveness and safely transporting pets in a vehicle.

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

About AAA Washington:

AAA Washington has been serving members and the traveling public since 1904. The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning, to its million plus members. In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public. Additional information is available through the company’s offices in Washington and northern Idaho, at www.AAA.com, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

AAA Washington Media Contacts

Kelly Just | 425-647-1594
Jennifer Cook | 425-301-9075
Twitter: @AAA_Washington
Facebook: AAA Washington