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2021 Corolla vs. 2020 Elantra Comparison

For those conscious about their carbon footprint, fuel-efficient cars can help people get to where they want to go while being more eco-sensitive. With the 2021 Toyota Corolla, Toyota gives drivers a combination of style, reliability, and fuel efficiency.

The Corolla has been around in North America since 1966. The Corolla Hybrid, introduced in model-year 2020, uses the same technology as the world's first mass-produced hybrid, the Toyota Prius.

As for the competition, Hyundai debuted the Elantra in 1990. The Elantra does not offer a hybrid variation, but Hyundai reportedly does plan to introduce one for model year 2021. Both the Toyota and Hyundai vehicles fall under the compact car category.

Whether commuting to work or driving on the highway, the Corolla SE 6MT beats the 2020 Elantra Sport with a higher EPA-estimated 29/36/32 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating versus a 26/33/29 (city/hwy/comb) EPA MPG rating on the Elantra. Obviously, the difference in fuel economy increases even further when looking at the Corolla Hybrid LE which has an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating.

The distinction between these two cars doesn't stop at gas mileage estimates or trim options. Let’s continue to compare the 2021 Toyota Corolla vs. 2020 Hyundai Elantra in the categories of safety, performance, and reliability.

Publish Date: 09/22/2020

Interior of 2021 Corolla

Safety

  • The 2021 Corolla comes standard with a suite of active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0).
  • The 2020 Elantra does not include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection (FCA-Ped) or Smart Cruise Control (SCC) as standard.
  • When equipped with LED headlights, both the 2020 Corolla and 2020 Elantra received the IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Loaded with active safety features, the 2021 Corolla is designed to help keep you safe while you drive.

Standard Safety Features

Working behind the scenes, the 2021 Corolla's standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) features are designed to help keep you safe on the road. With a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Road Sign Assist (RSA) standard on all Corollas, you’ll be surrounded by safety features. Plus, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) are available on all Corollas with an automatic transmission.

Compared to the Corolla, the 2020 Elantra base grade does not include the comparable Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection (FCA-Ped) or Smart Cruise Control (SCC) standard. As a matter of fact, only the 2020 Elantra Limited with optional Ultimate Package (MSRP $3,350) would include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection (FCA-Ped). Automatic Highbeam Assist comes standard on the 2020 Elantra Limited and Sport trims.

Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) is available on both vehicles. This feature comes standard with the XLE and XSE and can be found as a package option for the LE, SE, and Hybrid LE models of the 2021 Corolla. For the 2020 Elantra it's standard on the SEL and higher trims.

On top of the standard safety features, the 2020 Toyota Corolla is an IIHS Top Safety Pick when equipped with LED headlights. The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is only a Top Safety Pick when equipped with LED headlights - a feature that is only available on the Sport and Limited trims. Furthermore, NHTSA awarded the 2020 Corolla a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating vs. the 2020 Elantra’s 4-Star Overall Safety Rating.

2021 Corolla driving passed a blur of lights

Performance

  • The 2021 Corolla offers three engine options, including a hybrid engine option.
  • The more powerful Corolla trims have better gas mileage estimates than the Elantra Sport.
  • With an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating, the Corolla Hybrid LE is the best option for fuel efficiency in this comparison.

With the 2021 Corolla, you don't have to sacrifice engine power for better gas mileage ratings.

Horsepower and Hybrid Options

Both the 2021 Corolla and 2020 Elantra offer three engine options. The Corolla's base 1.8L 4-Cyl DOHC 16-Valve engine with Valvematic technology has 139 horsepower. The performance-focused engine on the Corolla is a 2.0L 4-Cyl DOHC 16-Valve with Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). This standard engine for the SE 6MT, SE CVT, SE Nightshade Edition, and XSE has 169 horsepower.

As an added bonus, the 2021 Corolla offers a hybrid version, the Hybrid LE. The Corolla’s hybrid engine is a 1.8L 4-Cyl Aluminum DOHC 16-Valve with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) that has 121 system net horsepower. In comparison, the 2020 Elantra Eco trim has 128 horsepower. All other Elantra trims, except the Sport, have 147 horsepower. The 2020 Elantra Sport gives an impressive 201 horsepower, but this comes at the cost of fuel efficiency.

When comparing base trims, the 2021 Corolla L has an EPA-estimated 30/38/33 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating compared to the 2020 Hyundai L's 31/41/35 (city/hwy/comb) EPA MPG rating. Where the Corolla really stands out is the Hybrid LE which has an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating. The Elantra Eco trim cannot compete with its EPA-estimated 33/41/36 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating. Hyundai will be adding a hybrid trim for the Elantra in 2021.

Person leaning against the side of the 2021 Corolla

Reliability

  • Toyota's reputation for quality and reliability are backed by the 2019 KBB® Best Resale Value: Brand award.
  • The 2020 Corolla also received a NHTSA 5-Star Overall Safety Rating while the Elantra received a 4-Star Overall Safety Rating.
  • Both vehicles offer roadside assistance and factory-scheduled maintenance plans.

Toyota is known for its long legacy of reliability and quality. The 2021 Corolla embodies this commitment to dependability with awards across the board.

Awards and ToyotaCare

Starting with the experts at Kelley Blue Book®, Toyota received the Best Resale Value: Brand award in 2019. Comparatively, Kelley Blue Book® named the 2020 Elantra as the Lowest Cost to Own Among Compact Cars victor. However, when looking at safety ratings, the Elantra only received a 4-Star Overall Safety Rating from the NHTSA, while the 2020 Corolla received the highest 5-Star Overall Safety Rating.

Beyond the awards, both Toyota and Hyundai offer scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance plans. New 2021 Corollas come with ToyotaCare, a factory-scheduled maintenance plan for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, plus 24-hour roadside assistance for two years and unlimited miles. Hyundai offers five years of roadside assistance and Hyundai Complimentary Maintenance for three-years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Close up of the 2021 Corolla headlight

Conclusion: Corolla vs. Elantra

  • The Corolla Hybrid LE has better gas mileage ratings than the 2020 Elantra Eco.
  • With Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0), Corolla drivers get more active safety features than all but the 2020 Elantra Limited with the optional Ultimate Package (MSRP $3,350).
  • The 2020 Corolla also received a higher Overall Safety Rating from the NHTSA with a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating compared to the Elantra's 4-Star Overall Safety Rating.

Compact cars like the Corolla and Elantra are perfect commuter cars with their fuel efficiency ratings and easy handling.

Toyota has continued to improve the Corolla since 1966, adding updated safety features and a hybrid trim for even better fuel economy ratings. With an EPA-estimated 33/41/36 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating, the 2020 Elantra Eco is the most fuel-efficient Elantra trim currently offered, although Hyundai will introduce a hybrid for the 2021 model year.

Of course, the 2020 Elantra Eco doesn't even come near the EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/hwy/comb) MPG rating of the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE. Green Car Journal also awarded the 2020 Corolla the “2020 Green Car of the Year” award, cementing its title as a fierce fuel-efficient competitor.

Additionally, those who want more standard safety features may also prefer the 2021 Corolla over the 2020 Elantra as many features cost extra or are simply not available on many Elantra trims. The 2020 Corolla also received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from the NHTSA compared to the 2020 Elantra’s 4-Star Overall Safety Rating.

For drivers who value more standard active safety features and want to save more at the pump, the choice is the 2021 Corolla.