Changes big and small have come to the compact car segment for the 2021 model year. Only one gets a full redesign and there are no all-new nameplates this year, but almost every car in this segment has been tweaked in one way or another to make it more competitive.
2021 Hyundai Elantra
Starting Price: $20,655 | KBB Rating: 4.8
Elantra is all-new for 2021. It has a bold new look penned by a former Lamborghini designer, which is something we never thought we’d be saying about the Elantra. While the outside turns heads, the interior is upscale and high tech with available features including a 10.25-inch touch screen, advanced driver assistance technologies, leather seating, and much more all at a reasonable price point while returning great fuel economy.
2021 Honda Civic
Starting Price: $22,005 | KBB Rating: 4.7
There’s an all-new Honda
Civic on the way for 2022 and the 2021 model gets a few changes for its swan song. The coupe body style and sporty Si variant have been dropped this year. Although we lost a performance variant, we’ve gained a new one in the form of the Civic Type R Limited Edition. This special Type R comes in Phoenix Yellow; a paint color reminiscent of the old Acura Integra Type R. It also benefits from some weight savings, a gloss black roof, and a special intake vent on the hood. Production is limited to 600 examples.
Starting Price: $21,445 | KBB Rating: 4.0
This compact was already pretty sporty when it only had a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four. Mazda
turns up the heat for 2021 with a new 2.5-liter, 250-horsepower turbocharged inline-four. All-wheel-drive comes standard with the turbo. There’s also a new base engine that is only found in the base sedan model. It’s a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four that’s affordable and good on gas but doesn’t offer the thrills of the bigger engine options.
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Few or no changes
2021 Toyota Corolla
Starting Price: $21,020 | KBB Rating 4.4
For 2021, the compact Toyota Corolla gets a new standard feature that’s been making its way through the Toyota
lineup. It now has standard Android Auto in every trim on top of its standard Apple
CarPlay. This opens up smartphone connectivity to Android users to use their favorite apps for music, navigation, and more all on the screen in the center stack to reduce distraction.
2021 Kia Forte
Starting Price: $18,855 | KBB Rating: 4.2
Arguably the best bang-for-the-buck in this competitive segment, the Kia Forte has no changes for 2021. Kia
added an exciting GT model for 2020, which still serves as one of the best-kept secrets in sporty compacts. The non-GT Forte is also highly competitive with abundant standard features, plenty of space for people and cargo, and one of our favorite infotainment systems all at a favorable price point.
More: The best 3-row SUVs for less than $40k in 2021
2021 Nissan Sentra
Starting Price: $20,335 | KBB Rating: 4.1
For 2021, the Nissan
Sentra adds some newly standard tech that makes it more competitive with the top players in this segment. This sedan now has standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on every trim, plus a Wi-Fi hot spot and NissanConnect services are now available on the top SR model.
2021 Volkswagen Jetta
Starting Price: $19,990 | KBB Rating: 3.9
The humble Volkswagen Jetta gets a few small updates for 2021. VW’s
MIB3 infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay has come to the top SEL trim of the Jetta. Also, the GLI Autobahn model adds adaptive cruise control to its equipment list and the base SE model gets a standard power driver’s seat.
Also see: Your guide to off-road midsize pickups
2021 Subaru Impreza
Starting Price: $19,720 | KBB Rating: 3.8
The 2021 Subaru
Impreza continues to be the most affordable new AWD car on the market. It gets some tiny changes for 2021 including black end pieces on the rear spoiler of the Sport hatchback model and the SI-Drive performance management system on the midrange Premium trim.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.