With summer coming to a close, now might be the right time to find that perfect new or used car. Typically, when Autotrader publishes a “Hottest Cars” list, that simply means the cars that are most popular among shoppers. Specifically, we look at the top-searched vehicles on Autotrader.com and see what makes and models shoppers are looking for most often.
This year is a little different. Because of a variety of factors including a microchip shortage, rental car companies selling many of their vehicles in 2020, and an increase in demand from consumers, new and used cars are not as abundant as they once were. The likely scenario is that you may end up paying more for a new or used car. However, in some instances you just cannot find a car you want at all.
This list is meant to help. Instead of just including the cars that are popular, we also combined those vehicles with ones that are actually available. The good news is that these trends are likely to remain throughout the fall season.
The bottom line is that these cars, trucks, and SUVs are popular AND should be available. These are not ranked and are listed in alphabetical order:
Chevrolet Equinox – The Equinox is a compact SUV that was updated just a few years ago so it has the expected modern safety features. Think of it as an alternative to a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The good news is there are many Equinox vehicles available for sale. If you’re looking for a used car, a decent Equinox can be had for about $20,000.
Chevrolet Silverado – The Silverado is Chevy’s full-size pickup. Like the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, the Silverado is popular but still plentiful. If you are looking for one, we suggest the Silverado 1500 with the 5.3-liter V8. In today’s challenging market, the Silverado is the perfect combination of popular and available. With so many varieties of pickups available, you may have to be flexible when it comes to options and cab configuration.
Chevrolet Tahoe – The Tahoe is one of the last remaining truck-based SUVs. It’s roomy inside, has enough power to tow or go off-road, and is comfortable enough to drive every day. Under the hood, most have the same 5.3-liter V8 that powers the Silverado but there is an optional 6.2-liter V8. If you don’t need tons of extra power, stick with the smaller V8. This versions of the Tahoe, usually in LS or LT trim, will be easier to find and should have a lower asking price.
Ford F-150 – This is another example of how popular doesn’t always equal scarce. The F-Series truck is the best-selling vehicle line in the U.S. and there are plenty for sale. If you’re on a tight budget, look for a used XL or XLT. Most will be powered by a turbocharged V6, Powerstroke diesel engine, or a more traditional V8.
Honda Accord – One way to get a great new or used car is to look at the types of vehicles that are less popular today. Sure, there will always be plenty of Jeep Wranglers and Chevy Tahoes but some other SUVs are harder to find. Sedans, like the Honda Accord, are becoming less popular. Today’s Honda Accord is a sophisticated, near-luxury sedan that has a host of safety features, modern information and entertainment options, and is notoriously reliable.
Jeep Grand Cherokee – For years, the Grand Cherokee has been the go-to for people who want the Jeep mystique but need a little more everyday comfort. For 2021, there’s a new Grand Cherokee L which has three rows of seating, something no Jeep Grand Cherokee has had before. Finding a good used Grand Cherokee is also an option, as there are plenty for sale right now.
Jeep Wrangler – You might be surprised to see this on a list of “available” new and used cars but the Wrangler is popular and there are plenty of examples for sale right now. If you’re looking for a used Wrangler, we suggest a 2018 or newer model as those have the most modern features and components with all the off-road ability you’d expect from Jeep.
Ram 1500 – Another full-size pickup? Yes; we can’t promise ultra-low prices when you find one you like but these trucks are out there. In fact, our data suggests the Ram 1500 is one of the most plentiful full-size trucks on the market. Want something really special? Look for a Ram TRX – it’s a tough-looking, off-road-ready pickup similar to the F-150 Raptor.
Toyota Camry – Everything that’s true of the Honda Accord is true of the Camry. Sedans are becoming less popular today, but the Accord and Camry still sell hundreds of thousands of models each year – they’re just no longer the best sellers for their brands. The Toyota Camry is a very good car but it’s the RAV4 that’s the most popular Toyota. A car like the Camry may be a little easier to find since most shoppers are looking for SUVs and not sedans. Still, the Camry is fun to drive, has a spacious rear seat and is very reliable. If you’re looking for a used Camry, Toyota has a good certified pre-owned program. Toyota certified buyers get a 12 month / 12,000-mile limited warranty plus a 7 year / 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. 24-hour roadside assistance is included too.
Toyota RAV4 – Toyota sells about 400,000 RAV4 models each year. The RAV4 has replaced the Camry as Toyota’s best-selling model. There’s good reason for this. The RAV4 is affordable, fun, and now feels more like a baby version of the 4Runner. Don’t expect the RAV4 to handle serious off-road duty like the 4Runner though – the RAV4 is definitely an on-road, around-town little SUV perfect for running errands, commuting, road trips, and light outdoor adventures. Thankfully, the RAV’s popularity means there are plenty of them for sale and it’s one of the most frequently researched vehicles on Autotrader.
Brian is also a monthly contributor to YurView’s Creative Living show, airing Sundays at 8:30pm, Mondays at 7:30pm, Thursdays at 8pm and Saturdays at 10pm.