Consumer Reports: 5 Best Cars of 2021 Under $35K

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

Consumer Reports’ best small car of 2021 is the Toyota Corolla

A white 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 standard features, and has excellent 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 high for the predicted reliability, and owners seem satisfied with the Corolla overall.

Price Range: $20,025 – $28,310

Consumer Reports’ favorite subcompact SUV is the 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 driving fun. The turbo engine doesn’t hurt, either.

The SUV gets an EPA-estimated 27 miles per gallon overall. The 2021 year found 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, check out the 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 high scores. CR ranked the Hybrid number one on the list of five compact cars. Year after year, the reliability score has increased.

This year has an all-wheel drive option, 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 is the 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 trims come with all-wheel drive.

The 2021 Forester gets an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon. CR scored the predicted reliability and owner satisfaction above-average, which is still impressive.

Price Range: $24,795 – $34,895

CR’s pick for favorite midsize sedan has to be the Toyota Camry

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The 2021 Toyota Camry comes with all-wheel drive for the newest version. The Camry won’t leave you with regrets with reliability, a price under $35,000, and solid fuel economy. Like the other Toyota cars 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 above-average, while the predicted reliability was even higher. 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

While some of the cars on this list might not surprise you, these vehicles are reliable options. Consumer Reports uses various data points to compose these scores, which make the vehicles on this list a solid choice for a car under $35,000.

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This article was updated on 10/12/2022.