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The 2020 Mazda3 somehow outranked both the 2021 Honda Civic and the 2021 Volkswagen GTI on this list. What is Mazda doing to take the lead? Based on the safety features, fuel economy, and overall price, it is no surprise these three cars topped the list.

Is the Mazda3 a good car?

The Mazda3 beat out the Honda Civic and the Volkswagen GTI
The all-new Mazda3 onstage during a Mazda event | Victor Decolongon/Getty Images for Mazda Motor Co.

U.S. News ranked the 12 best compact cars of 2021, and the results were surprising. Overall, the 2020 Mazda3 received a score of 8.5/10 based on various criteria.

One of those criteria is safety. U.S. News gave the 3 a perfect safety score and noted that for 2020, the car had more standard safety features. That means you get a safe car without having to spend extra.

Priced at $21,500, the Mazda3 has a strong four-cylinder engine getting 186 hp. “Taut steering and strong brakes make it fun to whip through turns, while the suspension both absorbs road imperfections and keeps this car planted when the road turns curvy,” U.S. News notes.

Coupled with a high-end interior and plenty of room in the cargo area, the 3 suits many needs.

2021 Volkswagen GTI

The 2021 Volkswagen GTI tied for second with the Honda Civic. The biggest downfall for this hatchback was the fuel economy. While others in its class are getting solid mileage, the GTI is lagging.

Priced at $28,695, it comes in a lot higher than the Mazda3. The 228 hp engine is the only one offered, but it works just fine. It is also offered in an automatic or standard manual.

It offers some upgraded entertainment features like a 6.5-inch touchscreen, WiFi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, USB-C ports, and Android Auto. The hatch also has upgraded safety features like collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and pedestrian detection.

U.S. News gave the GTI a 9.2 for safety, which means it scored pretty high in most categories. The GTI offers room for five and plenty of cargo space for whatever adventure you might take it on. Just plan to stop for gas along the way.

In 2022, the Volkswagen GTI is set up for a big redesign. With that said, you might be able to snag one of these at a reasonable price as we move through the year.

2021 Honda Civic

With a score of 8.4/10, the 2021 Honda Civic tied with the GTI. With a four-cylinder getting 158 hp on the base model, it can keep up. There is also the option of the turbo-four engine getting 174 hp, which comes standard in the hatchback.

Another available option is the Civic Type R with 306 hp. This Civic is generally one of the most popular cars on the road, but that is for a good reason. With a 9.7 safety rating, this is a safe and reliable pick.

U.S. News notes that the infotainment system leaves a lot to be desired. The screen is small and difficult to navigate. It does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which makes up for it.

Priced at $21,050, you can’t go wrong with the Civic. Especially with the available trims and upgrades, there is a Civic for every driver.


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