Once favorite among the U.S. buyers, the good old sedan is struggling to make ends meet across all segments. Sales have plummeted in the past five years or so and there’s no sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. Sedans will, however, continue to soldier on in spite of the fact some of them have been axed in recent years. Ford, for instance, has scuttled most of its passenger car lineup, leaving only the Mustang intact. Although they probably won’t do anything as radical, some of blue oval’s competitors will likely pull a similar move and end up discontinuing some of their long-running sedans before 2021 arrives. Yet, plenty of good choices will remain and we’ll now focus on some of the best 2021 sedans that are heading our way.
With around 5.5 million passenger cars sold in the U.S. during 2018 (of 17.3 vehicles in total), the segment’s market share has now dropped to 31 percent. Considering it amounted to almost 50 percent just a few short years ago, it’s easy to see how tough the life has become for sedans, hatchbacks, and minivans (vast majority of them being sedans, of course). In fact, passenger cars U.S. sales had dropped by more than 13 percent in just one year considering how 6.3 million of them were sold throughout 2017.
With crossovers and SUVs gaining more and more in popularity, this negative trend is expected to continue for a while yet. It’s still too early to speculate on 2021 figures, but projections aren’t great for the sedan. Still, that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of quality vehicles on offer and here are – in our opinion – some of the best sedans 2021 will bring to market.
Bear in mind that we’ll only consider conventional sedans (regardless of their price range) as hybrid cars and electric cars have already been accounted for separately.
08. 2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class
We’ll start off with one of the most luxurious sedans money can buy at the moment. The German automaker’s flagship sedan hasn’t been properly updated since late 2014 and MY 2021 marks a perfect occasion to change that. Those were the Stuttgart-based car maker’s thoughts exactly as the next-gen S Class has already been caught wearing camouflage.
As always, the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S Class is expected to set a template for luxury flagships for the next decade or so. It would appear that the new S Class is switching to a huge center display which should control most of the sedan’s connectivity, entertainment, and information-based features. Also, expect a lavish level of refinement we’ve become accustomed to when it comes to the S Class. There’s still no word of any next-gen technologies, but we’re certain the Germans will cook something up.
As far as the next-gen S Class’ exterior design goes, don’t expect any radical changes. The Germans will do just enough to distinguish it from the outgoing models, but there’s very little they can do to make us end drawing comparisons between the two.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class is expected to adopt the company’s new 3.0L twin-turbo inline-six as its base engine. Paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, this setup already generates a strong 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. Later on, the W223 S Class lineup will be joined by a more powerful 4.0L twin-turbo V8 engine that’s currently making 463 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque but will undoubtedly receive a boost in ratings. The high-performance AMG models likely won’t arrive prior to 2022.
Official presentation will likely take place in Detroit, in early 2020, with production models arriving to dealerships later that year. Expect a slight increase in prices, but entry-level models are still expected to start from under $100,000.
07. 2021 Cadillac CT4-V
Cadillac’s answer to the sedan segment’s troubles was to completely overhaul its lineup. Not only did the ATS and CTS have to go in order to do that, but their replacements, the CT4 and CT5 are comparably smaller and more in line with their direct competitors. Not to mention they’re both cheaper than their predecessors.
While the larger CT5 is making its debut in late 2019, the CT4 arrives in 2020. The smaller of the two is actually some 4 inches longer than the outgoing ATS despite having the same wheelbase. It’s also slightly taller, around 85 pounds heavier, and narrower than its predecessor. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering how both cars (including the CT5) share the same Alpha platform.
Design-wise, the new compact executive sedan clearly resembles both its predecessor and its larger sibling. Also, every model comes with a Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 and a limited-slip rear differential. Prices are expected to start from under $40,000 but there’ll be plenty of room for them to grow.
Cadillac is willing to do its utmost in order to accommodate as many performance categories as possible. The base CT4 uses a 2.0L turbo four capable of making 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Those in need of more power will get to opt for the CT4-V which uses a 2.7L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 320 horsepower. Both models are available in both the rear and all-wheel drive configurations and are paired with a modern 10-speed automatic transmission.
Further down the line, Cadillac is expected to offer an even more powerful version of its compact executive sedan, as well as doing the same with the larger CT5. The latter will almost certainly be powered by the new Blackwing twin-turbo V8 but it remains to be seen what the ultimate CT4 version will go for.
06. 2021 BMW M3
The archetype performance sedan hasn’t been itself these past decade or two, but all that is about to change when the G20-generation M3 finally hits the roads in late 2020 as a 2021-year model. The next-gen M3 has been thoughtfully planned with its past shortcomings in mind, and promises to once again become an enthusiasts performance compact luxury sedan – as far as modern day and age limitations allow it, that is.
For starters, the next-gen M3 will be lighter than 3,500 pounds which means it’ll shed more weight than the previous generation’s lightweight M3 CS. This will allow it to once again start exhibiting the same fun driving dynamics of its distant predecessors, and that’s everything the BMW enthusiasts have ever wanted. Expect plenty of carbon-fiber in the new M3 in order for that to happen, including a full carbon-fiber roof.
As always, the 2021 BMW M3 will be distinguishable by its larger air intakes, more aggressive fender flares, unique rear diffuser and front splitter, and specially tailored interior to match.
The all-new BMW M3 will draw breath from the 3.0L twin-turbo S58 inline-six mill which will make 473 horsepower to begin with. That’s not all, however, as the performance-oriented Competition models will apparently develop 503 ponies.
The remainder of the configuration in the hot and hotter M3 will differ, however. While the regular versions are supposed to be rear-wheel driven, the more powerful models should be offered exclusively with an all-wheel drive setup – similar to that of the larger M5. As usual, a 7-speed dual-clutch and a 6-speed manual should take care of transmission.
05. 2021 Hyundai Sonata
The eighth-generation Hyundai Sonata was officially revealed at the 2019 New York auto show and will go on sale later in the year as a 2020-year model. It’s expected to stop, or at least slow the sales bleeding which hit the previous generation models hard. Hyundai was selling around 215,000 of its mid-size sedans in 2014 and 2015, but 2018 sales stopped short at 105,000 units.
The next-gen Hyundai Sonata is a stunner. There’s no going around that. Even after the Koreans presented the Le Fil Rouge concept in Geneva a year before, we knew that the production model would turn up to be something special from design’s standpoint. Not only does it mesmerizes with its look, the new designed dubbed Sensuous Sportiness represents an important turn in the new direction. This new design strategy means that neither of the subsequent Hyundai sedans will look alike and the new Sonata is only the first model to adopt it.
Technology-wise, the next-gen Sonata offers a great value for money. Three radar sensors, five cameras, and 13 ultrasonic sensors control all manner of advanced driver aids like adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and lane-following assist – all of which are standard from the get-go. The entry-level Sonata starts from around $23,500, while the range-topping models require around $33,000.
One of the precious few shortcomings the new Sonata possesses, is its bland and anemic powertrain lineup. The entry-level models make do with a 1.6L turbo four making 180 horsepower, while the more powerful 2.5L 4-cylinder produces 191 horsepower. The latter does possess a few aces up its sleeve, however, such as the efficient Atkinson cycle, and both port and direct fuel injection.
This is expected to turn into an impressive combined fuel economy rating of 33 miles per gallon. What’s more, the Sonata lineup will have been bolstered by hybrid models by the time 2021 is upon us. Every 2021 Hyundai Sonata will be paired to a contemporary 8-speed automatic transmission.
04. 2021 Dodge Charger
Although there still are no official details about the long-awaited eighth-generation Dodge Charger muscle sedan, we all know it’s coming. After all, the current models date back to 2011 while their platform dates back to now almost forgotten 2005. Yet, it would appear that the FCA is content on milking the last drop out of the seventh-gen Charger and Challenger which are still selling strong. Challenger actually recorded its best year in 2018 with 66,716 units while Charger’s sales dropped from 88,351 in 2017 to 80,226 models in 2018.
It’s still not clear whether the 2021 Dodge Charger will make a switch to the new company Giorgio platform or retain the old Deimler-Chrysler underpinnings, but the latter seems more likely. Of course, the next-gen models will receive a heavily reworked version of the old LD platform which will be able to accommodate all the contemporary gear including, possibly, a future electrified powertrain.
Obviously, we’ll have to wait for the official reveal date to find out more, and considering how the future Charger and Challenger haven’t yet been caught testing, this could take a while. In fact, the next-gen Charger might arrive in late 2021 as a 2022-year model.
Future Dodge Charger’s powertrain lineup is arguably the most interesting bit about the full-size muscle sedan. Expect the V6 and V8 engines to remain Charger’s core, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if some of them receive some sort of a hybrid assist. What’s more, a downsized turbocharged 4-cylinder wouldn’t hurt the muscle car’s versatility either. Luckily, it already has a place to look for some of these engines as Jeep has already started implementing similar setups in their models starting with the new Wrangler.
As mentioned above, it’s still too early to tell what the future will bring, and only thing we can do at the moment is to speculate.
03. 2021 Subaru WRX STI
The next-generation Subaru WRX STI might be the most important car Subie has made in the last decade or so. Although the recent trend would make you believe the former was true for the freshly introduced Ascent SUV, Subaru simply can’t afford to let its most iconic model die on the vine.
The fifth-generation Impreza upon which the WRX is based has been running mostly unchanged since 2016, and by the time 2021 arrives, it will have served its 6-year stint. Furthermore, Subaru has only recently redesigned the larger Legacy sedan, so they can now peacefully focus on the smaller car.
The 2021 Subaru WRX STI is expected to remain similar in terms of design, but still adopt a new or at least heavily modified platform in order to accommodate a possible hybridized powertrain in the future. Sport-tuned suspension and standard all-wheel drive won’t go anywhere, but paired with an even lower center of gravity, they should provide for handling and driving dynamics unparalleled in the segment.
Since the next-gen WRX is still far away, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact details about a possible hybrid powertrain or its eventual arrival date (probably not 2021). It’ll likely end up being a traditional Boxer 4-cylinder with a help from an electric motor. Otherwise, the regular WRX STI models are expected to adopt the Ascent’s 2.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder mill, albeit with some extra power.
It’s still too early to speculate, but the all-new Subaru WRX STI could make its debut sometime in 2020 and arrive to dealerships later the same year with prices similar to those of the current models. Whan it finally does arrive, it should instantly become one of the most interesting 2021 sedans out there.
02. 2021 Genesis G70
The newfound South Korean luxury brand isn’t wasting any time. Their initial lineup of G80 and G90 sedans has recently been expanded with a compact G70. What’s more, Genesis is expected to introduce two new crossovers by 2021, thus rounding off its early portfolio. The G70 which is already the young automaker’s best-seller is expected to remain so for a while yet, however.
For a price point of $36,000, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more refined or better appointed car. The compact executive sedan represents one of the best deals on the market, and its immaculate styling is only an added plus. Although it falls short of its German competitors in terms of performance (including the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C Class), the Korean wonder pretty much beats everyone else.
The G70 offers one of the most generous warranties and correspondingly rich array of standard features. Named a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS, the G70 comes with standard blond-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. Precious few of its competitors manage to match that in their entry-level grades.
Speaking of the entry-level G70, it draws motivation from a 252-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired either with an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox. There’s also a more powerful $45,000 G70 powered by a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 engine capable of putting up 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. The latter is only available with the automatic, though.
The 2021 Genesis G70 will change a little, but nothing significant is expected to take place. Then again, being under pressure to establish themselves as a legitimate luxury choice on the market, the Koreans might decide to surprise us.
01. 2021 Audi A8
The fourth-generation Audi A8 made its U.S. debut during MY 2019. Although the 2021 Audi A8 isn’t expected to change in terms of overall design (mid-term facelift is expected in 2022), there are plenty of segments in which the full-size luxury sedan has a room for improvement.
One of such improvements will be ab all-new ultra-luxury model scheduled to appear during MY 2021. The Germans are apparently contemplating of pulling the long-retired Horch name out of the grave and naming their new flagship in honor of their founder. You see, it was August Horch who had founded the Horch brand 115 years ago – a brand that would later merge into Auto Union and materialize as Audi a few decades later.
Even without the lavish interior the newfound flagship is expected to bring, the A8 is already one of the most refined vehicles in its class. Not only does it offer a host of advanced electronic features including both the safety and convenience ones, the Audi A8 also sports adaptive suspension which raises sedans ride quality to another level.
Performance-wise, the 2021 Audi A8 sports a healthy selection of two powerful engines. Base models rely on a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 with 335 horsepower paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and a mandatory Quattro all-wheel drive system. As of 2020, buyers get another choice – a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 that cranks up as much as 563 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of twist. Needless to say, this model comes with the S8 moniker instead of the regular A8.
The forthcoming Audi A8 Horch will likely adopt the S8’s powertrain, but a more powerful engine befitting the ultra-luxury class shouldn’t come as a surprise either. We’ll have to wait and see but additional details should be known soon enough. Regardless of how things pan out, the A8 and S8 will be some of the best 2021 sedans out there.