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The 2021 Toyota Corolla and 2021 Mazda3 are two go-to examples of reasonable sedans in our current car market. These cars are largely seen as respectable and sensible choices for many drivers. However, the Toyota Corolla and Mazda are the only two models in their segment that didn’t earn the “green choice” label from Consumer Reports. 

The 2021 Toyota Corolla in action
2021 Toyota Corolla | Toyota

Why did the 2021 Toyota Corolla and 2021 Mazda3 get left out? 

So much of what Consumer Reports is trying to do is handle all the heavy lifting for the consumer and just provide easy, clear information. If preserving the planet by driving a more efficient car is information you need, the CR “green choice’ label is meant to help you find out if the car you want is up to snuff. This designation is noted by a little green leaf image on the car’s page.

CR says it polled thousands of its users and found that they wanted to find the most earth-friendly cars more easily. According to CR’s analysis, vehicles with fewer greenhouse gas emissions also tend to help consumers save money on fuel.

Of course, the electric car wave plays into this as well. In fact, owners of electric vehicles spend 60 percent less to power their vehicles than owners of conventional gas-powered models.

The long and the short of it is, the Green Choice designation highlights the top 20 percent of vehicles on the market with the cleanest emissions. Unfortunately, neither the 2021 Toyota Corolla nor the 2021 Mazda3 landed this designation. 

Is the 2021 Toyota Corolla a good car? 

Consumer Reports liked the 2021 Toyota Corolla. They gave it an overall score of 78/100. The Toyota Corolla isn’t some sort of hotrod, so why didn’t it do better on emissions. For starters, the Toyota Corolla gets killer mileage at 33 mpg combined. It even did pretty well on the greenhouse gas emissions scoring a 7/10. 

A white 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan against a white background
2021 Toyota Corolla | Toyota

The problem came with the smog score. For some reason, the 2021Toyota Corolla scored a 5/10 on the smog test. CR  defines the smog test as a rating that “represents the amount of health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year.” 

The Corolla’s exhaust is simply not catching as many pollutants as other cars from the segment. 

Is the 2021 Mazda3 a good car? 

It is a similar story to the Mazda3. There is little to point to directly that makes the Mazda3 look bad. It landed a 75/100 overall on CR. It is reliable, nice to drive, and satisfying to owners. Unfortunately, like the Corolla, it didn’t make it into the Green Choice club. 

A dark-colored 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo hatchback traveling on a two-lane mountain highway on a sunny day
2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo | Mazda

However, unlike the Corolla, there is less of a dramatic thing to point to why it didn’t receive the Green Choice designation. It still gets 30 mpg, which is great, but not quite as good as the Corolla. It also scores better on the smog rating with a 7/10 but the greenhouse gas test proved worse than the Toyota with a 6/10. 

This is an example of a death by a thousand cuts. There doesn’t seem to be a glaring issue with the 2021 Mazda3. Instead, it seems that multiple smaller issues led to the lack of the Green Choice award. 

Although both sedans are great cars by CR standards, they are the only two in their class that didn’t get the Green Choice. Deepening on how important this is to you as a consumer, this is a disappointing trait for two otherwise great cars.


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