2021 Toyota Corolla vs 2021 Hyundai Elantra

2021 Hyundai Elantra
2021 Hyundai Elantra
$19,650MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 Toyota Corolla
2021 Toyota Corolla
$20,025MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Hyundai Elantra
$19,650MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Toyota Corolla
$20,025MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is 8.8 out of 10, while the 2021 Toyota Corolla scores 7.8 out of 10. Given these ratings, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is the recommended choice. It excels in design, performance variety, advanced technology, and safety features, making it a compelling option in the compact car segment.

Overview

MSRP

$19,650

MSRP

$20,025

Average price

$18,286

Average price

$19,300

Listings

1309

Listings

2292
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

8.8 out of 10

Expert reviews

7.8 out of 10
Pros
  • Fun to drive
  • Impressive technology
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • Potentially polarizing design
  • Interior materials feel cheap
Pros
  • Standard advanced safety features
  • Fun to drive
  • Manual transmission available
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Outdated technology

2021 Hyundai Elantra Reviews Summary

Compact cars are no longer compact. Cheap cars are no longer cheap. And it is no longer necessary to buy a luxury vehicle for performance, technology, and sophistication. The redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra proves it.

2021 Toyota Corolla Reviews Summary

Everybody knows somebody who owns or has owned a Toyota Corolla. Thanks to a deserved reputation for affordability, reliability, and efficiency, the Corolla is what comes to mind when all you want is a cheap, dependable, and thrifty set of wheels.

Over the nameplate’s 55-year history, Toyota built a handful of Corollas that were anything but rolling appliances. But those fun-to-drive gems were relative rarities. Under the tenure of Akio Toyoda, the automaker’s current president and a man who loves to drive, the Corolla has become something more than a bore. It’s a car that makes you want to cruise instead of snooze.

We’re talking about the Corolla SE and XSE, of course. Toyota still makes dull and duller versions of its compact car, but the SE and XSE trim levels add some spice to the basic commuter-car recipe.

This year, the 2021 Toyota Corolla SE and XSE are available in a new limited-production Apex Edition flavor. It’s got a track-tuned sport suspension, a lowered ride height, revised steering calibration, a sport exhaust system, and lightweight 18-inch gloss black aluminum wheels that you can wrap in optional summer performance tires. Unfortunately, it also comes with a “Lookit me, Officer, I like to go fast!” body kit.

Fearing this would be the example Toyota sent to us for review, we instead happily accepted the key fob to a Barcelona Red Corolla XSE and discovered that you don’t need the Apex Edition treatment to enjoy driving this car.

Popular Features & Specs

Engine

2.0L 147 hp I4

Engine

1.8L 139 hp I4

Drive Train

FWD

Drive Train

FWD

Seating Capacity

5

Seating Capacity

5

Horsepower

147 hp @ 6200 rpm

Horsepower

MPG City

31

MPG City

30

MPG Highway

41

MPG Highway

38
2021 Hyundai Elantra
2021 Hyundai Elantra
$19,650MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Toyota Corolla
2021 Toyota Corolla
$20,025MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Hyundai Elantra
$19,650MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Toyota Corolla
$20,025MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is 8.8 out of 10, while the 2021 Toyota Corolla scores 7.8 out of 10. Given these ratings, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is the recommended choice. It excels in design, performance variety, advanced technology, and safety features, making it a compelling option in the compact car segment.

Overview
MSRP
$19,650
$20,025
Average price
$18,286
$19,300
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
5.0
4.3
Expert reviews

8.8 out of 10

Read full review

7.8 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Fun to drive
  • Impressive technology
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • Potentially polarizing design
  • Interior materials feel cheap
Pros
  • Standard advanced safety features
  • Fun to drive
  • Manual transmission available
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Outdated technology
Summary
Compact cars are no longer compact. Cheap cars are no longer cheap. And it is no longer necessary to buy a luxury vehicle for performance, technology, and sophistication. The redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra proves it.

Everybody knows somebody who owns or has owned a Toyota Corolla. Thanks to a deserved reputation for affordability, reliability, and efficiency, the Corolla is what comes to mind when all you want is a cheap, dependable, and thrifty set of wheels.

Over the nameplate’s 55-year history, Toyota built a handful of Corollas that were anything but rolling appliances. But those fun-to-drive gems were relative rarities. Under the tenure of Akio Toyoda, the automaker’s current president and a man who loves to drive, the Corolla has become something more than a bore. It’s a car that makes you want to cruise instead of snooze.

We’re talking about the Corolla SE and XSE, of course. Toyota still makes dull and duller versions of its compact car, but the SE and XSE trim levels add some spice to the basic commuter-car recipe.

This year, the 2021 Toyota Corolla SE and XSE are available in a new limited-production Apex Edition flavor. It’s got a track-tuned sport suspension, a lowered ride height, revised steering calibration, a sport exhaust system, and lightweight 18-inch gloss black aluminum wheels that you can wrap in optional summer performance tires. Unfortunately, it also comes with a “Lookit me, Officer, I like to go fast!” body kit.

Fearing this would be the example Toyota sent to us for review, we instead happily accepted the key fob to a Barcelona Red Corolla XSE and discovered that you don’t need the Apex Edition treatment to enjoy driving this car.

Video
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
2.0L 147 hp I4
1.8L 139 hp I4
Drive Train
FWD
FWD
Seating Capacity
5
5
Horsepower
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
MPG City
31
30
MPG Highway
41
38
Look and feel
2021 Hyundai Elantra
9/10
2021 Toyota Corolla
8/10
In 2021, the Hyundai Elantra's design was unmistakable among compact sedans. It showcased Hyundai's Sensuous Sportiness design language, complemented by Parametric surfacing for details both inside and out. The result was an eye-catching collection of sharp creases and dramatic angles, giving the Elantra a distinctive and highly appealing look. One of the standout features was a Z-shaped dent in the doors, a bold design choice by senior designer Davis Lee. This controversial element aimed to set the Elantra apart by breaking conventional automotive design rules, which contributed to its unique character. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra came in SE, SEL, N Line, and Limited trims, with a hybrid powertrain option available for the SEL and Limited trims for an additional $2,650. Prices ranged from $19,650 to $25,450, excluding destination charges. Hyundai expected no more than 10% of Elantra buyers to opt for the hybrid powertrain. The high-performance Elantra N was set to debut in early 2021, promising serious power and Nurburgring-tuned handling, with an estimated price below $34,000. Inside, the Elantra featured a driver-focused dashboard and center console, with an angled passenger cornering grip that distinctly separated the driver and passenger areas. As one moved up the trim levels, the cabin became more luxurious and tech-savvy. The Limited or Hybrid Limited in Gray were particularly impressive, with light gray seats, dashboard, and door panel trim providing a stark contrast to the otherwise black cabin. This color scheme also helped conceal some of the cheaper plastic panels. Higher-end trims, like the Limited, included Scandinavian-inspired gray stitched fabric door panel inserts, imparting a modern and upscale ambiance. Conversely, the SEL with the Premium Package offered a black interior with leatherette door panel inserts, which appeared drab and highlighted glossy black plastic. On the other hand, the 2021 Toyota Corolla, especially in SE or XSE trims, emerged as one of the most attractive Corollas in recent history. These trims featured sport-design bumpers, a mesh grille insert, a matching diffuser panel, a subtle body kit, a twin-outlet exhaust, and stylish 18-inch aluminum wheels. The Celestite Gray metallic paint, with its beautiful blue undertone, further enhanced the Corolla's appeal. However, there were design quirks, such as the hood shut line running to the headlight assembly and the jutting bumper, which visually truncated the front end and emphasized the car's large grille. The car's rear quarter view was its best angle, but even the standard Corollas had an overly styled rear bumper. The new Apex Edition accentuated these design aspects. For those seeking a more subdued appearance, the Corolla L, LE, or XLE were ideal choices. Toyota also offered a Corolla Hybrid with the same powertrain as the Prius, available only in LE trim, offering an affordable path to 50+ mpg. Prices ranged from $19,925 to $24,325, excluding the destination charge. The reviewed Corolla SE ($22,375) and Corolla XSE ($25,825) were sporty versions with a more powerful engine, different transmissions, a Sport driving mode, and larger wheels and tires. For performance enthusiasts, the Apex Edition started at $25,070. The test car, an XSE with the optional Connectivity Package and floor mats, totaled $28,704, including the $995 destination charge. Inside the Corolla XSE, Toyota excelled in delivering a cabin light years ahead of previous models in terms of materials. The car featured soft leatherette for the dashboard, densely padded upper door panel trim, and robust switchgear, giving a sense of substance. The design was guided by simplicity, resulting in a clean, minimalist look without compromising user experience. However, practical storage for everyday items was limited due to a center console design prioritizing form over function.
Performance
2021 Hyundai Elantra
9/10
2021 Toyota Corolla
8/10
Hyundai's 2021 Elantra offered varied driving experiences across its range of powertrain combinations. The standard engine was a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This setup, available in the SE, SEL, and Limited trims, received mixed reviews. The engine provided sufficient power for urban driving, making the front-wheel-drive Elantra feel nimble in city traffic. However, it struggled during highway merges or passes, resulting in noise without significant additional momentum. The CVT, while responsive, was one of the better ones available in the compact car segment. The EPA estimated fuel economy for Elantras with 17-inch wheels at 35 mpg combined, though we averaged 31.4 mpg mainly in Normal mode. The SEL and Limited trims utilized a beam-axle rear suspension, unlike the Hybrid, N Line, and N trims with a sophisticated multi-link setup. Despite the basic suspension, Hyundai's tuning minimized rear-end bouncing. The SEL Premium, with its 17-inch wheels, likely improved handling but increased road noise on certain surfaces. The Elantra Limited Hybrid featured a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, a starter/generator, and a 1.32-kWh lithium-ion battery, generating a combined 139 horsepower. This powertrain was paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT), offering an EV mode for pure electric driving at low speeds. The EPA rated the Limited Hybrid at 50 mpg combined, but we managed 42.2 mpg due to mountainous terrain affecting fuel efficiency. The hybrid delivered instant torque and satisfying drive dynamics, with a heavy and numb brake pedal feel under regenerative braking. The suspension maintained flat cornering even under stress, and the hybrid components didn't compromise the driving experience. The Elantra N Line, priced at $26,245, featured a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It was equipped with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DCT with paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension, quicker steering, and larger front brakes. With 18-inch wheels and performance tires, the N Line offered an exhilarating drive but fell short of its EPA rating of 28 mpg combined, achieving 23.1 mpg during spirited mountain driving. The high-performance Elantra N, anticipated to cost around $34,000, boasted a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque. Available with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed DCT, it featured an electronic limited-slip differential, electronically controlled suspension, and performance brakes. The Elantra N offered various driving modes and settings for engine response, transmission rev-matching, and suspension firmness. It delivered an exceptional driving experience characterized by instant powertrain response, accurate steering, and impressive braking. Conversely, the 2021 Toyota Corolla SE and XSE were equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 169 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. This engine paired with a Dynamic Shift CVT featuring paddle shifters and a Sport driving mode. The CVT used a mechanical first gear to eliminate the typical CVT slip, maintaining a more engaging driving experience with its ten programmed ratios. The Corolla's TNGA platform, shared with various Toyota models, provided a low center of gravity and enjoyable driving dynamics. Electric steering, vented front brakes, and a MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension contributed to the Corolla's performance. The Corolla XSE, with 18-inch aluminum wheels and 225/40 all-season tires, offered surprisingly engaging and predictable handling. Though not a sport sedan, it demonstrated competent cornering abilities and adequate power, making it a pleasant drive. The EPA estimated fuel economy for the Corolla XSE at 34 mpg combined, while we averaged 31.1 mpg over a mountainous route, utilizing Eco, Normal, and Sport modes, and paddle shifters.
Form and function
2021 Hyundai Elantra
7/10
2021 Toyota Corolla
6/10
According to the EPA, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra was classified as a midsize car, offering ample room for occupants. Each model featured a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, making it easy to find a comfortable driving position. Heated front seats were standard across the range, with the Limited Hybrid adding ventilated front cushions. However, the elimination of the height-adjustable front passenger seat diminished comfort for the front passenger. Additionally, the use of hard plastic for the upper door panels was a notable drawback. The Elantra claimed best-in-class rear-seat legroom, with the SEL Premium's back seat being nearly as spacious as the larger Sonata sedan. While there was sufficient legroom and foot space for adults, the backrest shape lacked upper back support, and rear passengers did not have access to air conditioning vents or USB charging ports. The trunk offered 14.2 cubic feet of cargo space, and a 60/40-split folding rear seat enhanced versatility. Some trims included a hands-free trunk lid release, but the absence of a grab handle inside the trunk was inconvenient. In comparison, the 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE provided several comfort features over the SE trim. These included SofTex leatherette seats with striped fabric inserts, heated front seats, and an eight-way power driver’s seat adjustment. This feature improved comfort, offered better sightlines, and facilitated easier entry and exit. Although the front passenger seat lacked height adjustment, it provided good thigh support. The Corolla's rear seat cushions offered excellent support and sat high off the floor, albeit at the expense of headroom and legroom. Rear passengers also lacked access to air conditioning vents. Nevertheless, the back seat was comfortable on colder days if occupants fit. The Corolla sedan's trunk had 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space, slightly less than the Elantra but competitive in the compact car segment. Unfortunately, like the Elantra, it also lacked an internal grab handle for the trunk lid.
Technology
2021 Hyundai Elantra
9/10
2021 Toyota Corolla
9/10
For 2021, the Hyundai Elantra offered various tech features, starting from the SE, SEL, and N Line trims. These trims came with traditional instrumentation and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with volume and tuning knobs, menu shortcut buttons, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Satellite radio and Blue Link connected services were available on the SEL and N Line trims, with the latter also including wireless smartphone charging. The Limited trim took it a step further, featuring a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation paired with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, both residing under a single piece of glass similar to Mercedes-Benz models. This setup was slightly angled toward the driver, and additional features included a dynamic natural voice recognition system and a 64-color ambient lighting system. Though wireless smartphone integration was lost, full-screen Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were gained. The Limited Hybrid’s voice recognition system showed inconsistencies, which improved significantly with active Blue Link subscription. A new Bose premium sound system also impressed with its quality, and the Hyundai Digital Key offered convenience for Android users. Toyota equipped every 2021 Corolla with an impressive infotainment package. Standard features included Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Safety Connect services with a free year of access. Additionally, a Wi-Fi hotspot was available for three months or up to 2GB of data use. The Corolla SE featured an 8-inch touchscreen larger than the base model’s 7-inch display and came with the option for a nine-speaker JBL premium sound system. The XSE trim added standard Service Connect and Remote Connect, offering a suite of remote engine start, vehicle finder, and other features free for a year. Exclusive to the XSE were dynamic voice recognition, dynamic navigation, and Destination Assist services. The system was user-friendly, with knobs for volume and tuning and physical shortcut buttons for easy navigation. The dynamic voice recognition in the XSE test car worked excellently, responding quickly and accurately to queries. However, the radio knobs could have been more ergonomic, and the JBL sound system, while offering depth, was slightly thin on clarity.
Safety
2021 Hyundai Elantra
9/10
2021 Toyota Corolla
9/10
Hyundai engineered the 2021 Elantra on a new platform designed to channel and disperse collision energy effectively. The standard SmartSense suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) included forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, lane-centering assistance, automatic high-beam headlights, and driver attention warning. Additionally, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, Rear Occupant Alert, and Safe Exit Warning were standard. Safety upgrades included cyclist detection, junction turning assistance, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, rear automatic braking, and Hyundai’s Highway Drive Assist, which delivered smooth and accurate performance in the compact car segment. Similarly, the 2021 Toyota Corolla featured the comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) ADAS suite. Standard features encompassed adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, lane-centering assistance, and automatic high-beam headlights. The 2021 model added rear side-impact airbags and an enhanced blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert. While adaptive cruise control occasionally displayed uneven braking, and lane-centering assistance required manual overrides, the overall performance was reliable. Both IIHS and NHTSA had to re-test the 2021 model due to the addition of new airbags, but the 2020 model had earned top ratings from these organizations.
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