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2021 Auto123.com Awards: Meet the Vehicle of the Year Finalists!

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Once again, Auto123 took a good look around the automotive industry to determine the best vehicles of the year within given categories, as per pour panel of experts. With new models sprouting up all across the industry, not to mention whole new segments, as well the arrival of a growing number of electric models, some of the categories are in flux.

And they will continue to evolve in the years to come. For example, while we're pretty sure a full-size pickup truck segment will continue to exist for a long time to come, there are other niches that are bound to emerge, such as all-electric compact SUVs.

This year, you'll see we merged certain model categories (subcompact and compact cars, for instance), and added new categories such as green vehicles that are eligible for government rebates, as well as models whose purpose is off-road adventuring.

Here are the finalists in our 21 categories. We will be presenting the big winners one week from today.

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2021 SUBCOMPACT / COMPACT CAR OF THE YEAR

Hyundai Elantra - Mazda3 - Nissan Sentra

This year, the former compact and subcompact car categories have been combined, following the virtual demise of the subcompact segment. This has an impact on the vote of our panel members, who all preferred compact cars to subcompacts in their choices.

The new Hyundai Elantra is still in the running thanks to its comprehensive range. For its part, the Mazda3's level of quality and the addition of a Turbo variant are part of the equation, while the Nissan Sentra is probably the car that has improved the most compared to its previous generation.

Hyundai Elantra
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Hyundai Elantra
Mazda3
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Mazda3
Nissan Sentra
Photo: D.Rufiange
Nissan Sentra

2021 MIDSIZE/FULL-SIZE CAR OF THE YEAR

Kia K5 - Toyota Camry - Volkswagen Arteon

Declining sales in the sedan segments - especially that of full-size cars - have compelled us to merge these two categories. The reality is that large sedans are rarely renewed these days. Instead, manufacturers are paying a lot of attention to the mid-size segment, which is more popular with the North American public.

This year, the Kia K5 is set to replace the Optima, and it's fair to say that the designers have had a good go at it, both inside and out. The Toyota Camry distinguishes itself from its rivals by its exceptionally wide range of models (base, AWD, TRD, hybrid, etc.). As for the Volkswagen Arteon, it seduced many of our reviewers with its practicality and European-style behavior.

Kia K5
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Kia K5
Toyota Camry
Photo: Toyota
Toyota Camry
Volkswagen Arteon
Photo: Volkswagen
Volkswagen Arteon