Consumer Reports 5 Best Cars of 2021 under $35k

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Consumer Reports gathered together a list of the best cars of 2021 for under $35,000. Toyota happens to dominate the Camry, Prius, and Corolla list, but the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-30 weren’t overlooked.

Consumer Reports best small car of 2021: Toyota Corolla

Toyota’s Corolla sedan is one of Consumer Reports best buys | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The 2021 Toyota Corolla topped the Consumer Reports list for the small car pick for a few reasons. The Corolla isn’t the newest or coolest on the market. It is more like Old Reliable. The Corolla is reasonably priced, has tons of features that come standard, and has great fuel economy. That means an EPA-estimated 33 miles per gallon overall.

The compact car ranked number three out of seventeen other cars for the best cars of 2021. It scored a five out of five in predicted reliability, and owners seem satisfied with the Corolla overall.

Price Range: $20,025 – $28,310

Consumer Reports favorite subcompact SUV: Mazda CX-30

The Mazda CX-30 is a smaller SUV that still has enough cargo space to meet the needs of most drivers. While most similar vehicles have continuously variable transmissions (CVT), the CX-30 has a six-speed automatic that makes it fun to drive. The turbo engine doesn’t hurt, either.

The SUV gets an EPA-estimated 27 miles per gallon overall. The 2021 year found itself with a high score for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction, which is a good sign for Mazda.

Price Range: $22,050 – $34,050

For the best hybrid option: Toyota Prius

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The 2021 Toyota Prius Hybrid was cool before Hybrids were cool. The Prius gets an EPA-estimated 52 miles per gallon combined. That’s around 43 miles per gallon in the city and 59 mpg on the highway. Owners would repurchase the Prius, and the predicted reliability gets a score of five out of five. CR ranked the Hybrid number one on the list of five compact cars. Year after year, the reliability score has increased.

There is an all-wheel-drive option this year and a new plug-in option called the Prius Prime. That adds another 25 miles of electric range. Not a bad tradeoff.

Price Range: $24,525 – $32,650

The best small SUV: Subaru Forester

Consumer Reports likes the Subaru Forester so much it has made the Top Pick list for eight straight years. The 2021 Forester is no different. It is easy to drive and has a roomy interior. The doors make it easy to get in and out of, even if you have children. The fuel economy is impressive, and all of the trims come with all-wheel drive.

The 2021 Forester gets an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon. CR scored both the predicted reliability and owner satisfaction at four out of five, which is still impressive.

Price Range: $24,795 – $34,895

CR’s pick for favorite midsize sedan: Toyota Camry

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The 2021 Toyota Camry comes with all-wheel drive for the newest version. Coupled with reliability, a price under $35,000, and solid fuel economy, the Camry won’t leave you with regrets. Like the other Toyota’s listed, the Camry has many safety and driving features that come standard.

Toyota offers a few trims, the SE and XSE, and even a hybrid option. The predicted owner satisfaction scored a four out of five, while the predicted reliability scores five out of five. It gets an EPA-estimated 32 miles per gallon combined. CR calls the Camry a green choice for midsize cars.

Price Range: $25,045 – $35,620

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