When looking for a brand-new car, it is often quite easy to pay well above your budget. Thanks to endless trim levels and optional extras, a cheap car can turn quite expensive fairly quickly. However, Consumer Reports just released its annual list of best 2021 models.
If you’ve got just $25,000 to spend on a new car or crossover, you’re in luck because we’ll be looking at Consumer Reports’ top-three picks. Thankfully, all of these options reside in different segments of the auto industry.
Crossover pick: 2021 Mazda CX-30
Let’s start this Consumer Reports list with one of the most popular segments in the U.S. market, the crossover. Consumer Reports ranked the 2021 Mazda CX-30 as its top pick for less than $25,000. In fact, this frugal crossover starts at $22,050, meaning you can have a higher trim level for $25,000.
According to Consumer Reports, the CX-30 excelled during its road test, providing a sportier drive than most of its competitors. Additionally, even the base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine offers a six-speed automatic, instead of a CVT like many competitors. There is even a turbocharged model if you want more power, although it surpasses the $25,000 budget.
Aside from the positive road tests, Consumer Reports gave the 2021 CX-30 positive predicted reliability and predicted ownership satisfaction ratings. As a result, this tiny crossover will serve you well for many years to come.
Sedan pick: 2021 Toyota Corolla
Next up, we’ve got a dying breed in the U.S. with Consumer Reports’ top sedan pick. It comes as a surprise to no one that the 2021 Toyota Corolla ended up in the top spot. As far as affordable cars go, the Corolla has been one of the best options for decades. Aside from offering a $20,025 base price, the Corolla is an ultra-reliable and fuel-efficient pick.
According to Consumer Reports, the Corolla even aced the road test, creating a fun experience thanks to its capable chassis, communicative steering, and comfortable ride quality. Additionally, the Corolla reportedly includes more standard safety features than most of its competitors.
Like the CX-30, Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Toyota Corolla excellent predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores. As far as affordable vehicles go, the simple-yet-capable Corolla will easily stand the test of time.
Eco-friendly pick: 2021 Toyota Prius
While most hybrid models tend to carry a premium, Consumer Reports’ top pick for 2021 remains quite affordable. With a $24,525 base price, the 2021 Toyota Prius gets awfully close to the budget. However, since the powertrain is the main draw, you can have excellent fuel economy even with the base model. During Consumer Reports’ testing, the Prius consumed just 43 mpg in the city and 59 mpg on the highway for a combined average of 52 mpg.
Aside from the obvious fuel-efficiency benefits, the Prius is reportedly the most reliable car in its class. Additionally, the Toyota has the highest owner satisfaction rating as well. As a result, going for any of these budget options does not mean you have to skip out on quality.