Experts pick the ‘Hot Cars for Summer’ that are both popular and available

Photo (c) Karl Tapales - Getty Images

Despite shortages, consumers can find a selection of popular vehicles

Shopping for a new or used car in 2021 presents plenty of challenges. There’s a shortage of new cars, and that’s causing used car prices to go through the roof.

Since used cars currently cost nearly as much as new ones, the best value may be in buying a 2021 model, assuming you can find one at your local dealer. Fortunately, the editors at Autotrader have done a lot of the legwork for you.

In its “Hottest Cars of Summer 2021,” Autotrader has compiled a list by selecting the most popular models -- those that are most searched on its site -- and matching them with available inventory. The result is a list of popular vehicles that may be readily available.

“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.”


Let’s start with the most popular vehicle in America. Autotrader says there are plenty of Ford F-150 pickups on dealer lots. Ford offers a compelling list of engines, but most F-150s you see on dealer lots will be powered by a V8 or turbo V6 gasoline engine, or a Powerstroke diesel engine.

Chevrolet dealers also appear to be well-stocked in the popular Chevy Silverado. The recently redesigned pickup got a complete makeover in 2019, producing even more performance, features, and options. A check of ConsumerAffairs reviews suggests that the Silverado holds up well over the long haul. Lynne of Snellville, Ga., told us she’s had her truck for 20 years.

“Keeping the engine in good shape, the oil being changed regularly, this bad boy is driving just as great as the day I bought it!” Lynne wrote in a post.


SUVs remain popular with car buyers and there are several on the Autotrader list. The Jeep Wrangler is in a sweet spot on the list, checking both boxes as popular and easy to find. 

That said, the Wrangler comes in a wide range of packages, modifications, accessories, and special editions. While you might not find the exact Wrangler trim level you're searching for, you can come close.

The Chevy Equinox and Toyota RAV4 are popular compact SUVs that appear to be readily available at most dealers this summer. The Equinox is in the same class as the RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Mazda CX-30, but it might be more competitively priced.

“The RAV4 looks good, is nicely equipped and capable, and comes in a variety of flavors including hybrid, upscale Limited, rugged Adventure, and TRD Off-Road, as well as budget-friendly RAV4 LE,” the editors write,” the editors write.


Two popular sedans make the list of new vehicles that are readily available this summer. The Honda Accord is high in availability, perhaps because it has lost market share to SUV models. The current model was redesigned in 2018

The Toyota Camry is also available, and Autotrader says it has aged well. Buyers can also select between hybrid and gasoline-powered models.

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