Cars move closer to becoming rolling computer platforms every year, as more features and capabilities debut in new models. This trend leads us to consider which of this year’s cars represent the very best versions of new technology, so Design News is naming its Best Engineered Vehicle of the Year for 2021.
We’ve seen unquestionably high-tech new models that are burdened with questionable executions of that technology. It turns out that some of these things are complicated!
We see this in cars whose regenerative braking is poorly blended with the conventional brakes, for example. Automatic engine stop/start systems save fuel, but if the car feels like the shop air compressor just switched on every time the combustion engine restarts, drivers won’t be impressed.
Other cars have problems because of critical decisions that were made about the equipment. Consider those models whose makers still haven’t realized that a physical rotary volume knob is a must for infotainment volume control because capacitive touch sliders take the driver’s eyes off the road.
Possibly the most head-scratching unforced error of 2021 is the company that eliminated separate switches for the rear windows from the driver’s door armrest, thinking that drivers can switch between front and rear modes for the remaining two window switches.
Fortunately, among these mistakes, there are also well-designed, well-executed, and most importantly, well-engineered models that impress us with the thought and effort that went into them. We’ve compiled a list of our ten favorites for 2021, culminating in the Design News Best Engineered Vehicle of the Year. Click through to the end of the slide show to learn which vehicle left us the most impressed this year.