As summers go it's been a unique one when it comes to car sales due to the ongoing microchip shortage impacting production and new vehicle supply. Many popular models have been in short supply on dealer lots. Autotrader took the current situation into consideration this year in naming its Hottest Cars of Summer 2021.
Autotrader editors typically define "hottest" as the cars most in demand – specifically the vehicles shoppers most frequently search on its website. But this year there is a twist. They combined the most-searched vehicles with the most-available vehicles, all based on Cox Automotive data.
Editors also factored in the vehicle brands with the most available inventory this year. In making their selections, Autotrader says its editors carefully avoided anything high demand/low inventory (for this list, defining "inventory" as models that are abundant when browsing listings on Autotrader).
"Car shopping looks a lot different this year due to the vehicle inventory crisis, and it was important to ensure Autotrader's list of the Hottest Cars of Summer 2021 accurately reflected what's currently happening in the marketplace," said Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader. "In crossing the data of the most-searched and the most-available vehicles, we got a good look at what in-market car shoppers are facing. It's also important to note that popularity doesn't always equal scarcity – for example, the Jeep Wrangler is popular and there are many available right now."
The following brands currently have plenty of cars for sale - based on the makes that are most abundant on Autotrader: Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Jeep, Honda, Nissan, Ram, GMC, Hyundai, BMW.
As for which models are likely to be in stock, below are the hottest cars, trucks and SUVs this summer. *Note that the vehicles below are listed in alphabetical order, and not ranked by availability when it comes to specific models.
Autotrader's Hottest Cars of Summer 2021
The Chevy Equinox makes the hottest cars of summer 2021 list. New or used, Autotrader considers the Equinox to be priced right and says there are plenty of models for sale right now.
Full-size pickups are some of the hottest selling vehicles right now. Autotrader lists the Silverado, redesigned in 2019, as one of this summer's hottest. Editors suggest going for the Silverado 1500 with the 5.3-liter V8, unless you do a lot of heavy towing.
Chevy makes the list again with the all-new Tahoe. Autotrader says it's typically in the top 20 when it comes to searches on its site and that currently there are thousands of them for sale. Autotrader notes the Tahoe combines truck toughness with family-car comfort. If you're searching used, it also says Chevrolet has an excellent certified pre-owned program.
Another pickup makes the list - the 2021 Ford F-150. Autotrader says there are plenty to choose from with a bunch of different engines options. Most F-150s you see on dealer lots will be powered by a V8 or turbo V6 gasoline engine, or a Powerstroke diesel engine. (Note, Ford discontinued the Powerstroke diesel option last month.) Autotrader also likes Ford's Blue Advantage certified pre-owned program and says it has excellent benefits.
The Accord may not be as highly searched as some other models, but Autotrader says it's high in availability, and the Honda brand overall is one of the most searched on Autotrader. The Accord was redesigned in 2018 and is notoriously reliable. Plus, Autotrader says the fact that it is a sedan and not a pickup or SUV means you might find some good deals.
Jeep fans won't have trouble finding a Wrangler this summer, according to Autotrader. It's not just in-demand, it's also easy to find. There are a ton of different packages and modifications to choose from, so you may find exactly the Wrangler you're searching for, but you can come close. Going used? Autotrader suggests getting a 2018 or newer models.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
A three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L joins the lineup for 2021. Autotrader calls the Grand Cherokee the "just right" combination of luxury, all-weather capability, and serious off-road chops. Jeep brand is the fourth-most-searched brand on Autotrader.
The Ram 1500 also joins the list as one of the popular trucks this summer. Autotrader says the middle to upper trim levels outclass both the Ford and the Chevy in terms of interior design and materials and overall ride quality. The Ram 1500 is both highly searched on Autotrader and high in inventory, so the chances of finding the right one for you are high.
If you're looking for a new sedan, the Camry makes the list and includes both a hybrid and a gasoline-only V6. If you're looking for a used Camry, Autotrader suggests going with a 2018 or newer model (it was redesigned in 2018.) Autotrader also says Toyota has an excellent certified pre-owned program.
The Toyota RAV4 is typically the best-selling small SUV in the United States, but this year's been a bit different so far with the Honda CR-V taking the lead. Autotrader is a fan of its looks, and calls it nicely equipped and capable. Trims include a Hybrid, a Limited, Adventure, and TRD Off-Road, and if you're on a budget the RAV4 LE.