2021 Corolla driving fast through the city


  • The Corolla L has a higher EPA-estimated MPG rating than the Mazda3 Sedan and also offers a hybrid trim.
  • Although the base model Mazda3 2.0 Sedan has more horsepower than the base model Corolla, both vehicles offer Sport driving modes.
  • You get the ToyotaCare plan with the 2021 Corolla which offers scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance.

“Fun-to-drive compact sedan?” You ask. Yep. Throughout the years this class of vehicles has alternated between a simple, economical approach and one that is more exciting. For 2021, the Corolla has various trim options that cater to both.

Fuel Economy and ToyotaCare

The 2021 Corolla L has an EPA-estimated 30/38/33 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating which is better than the 28/36/31 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating for the Mazda3 2.0 Sedan or any Mazda3 grade level for that matter. Toyota drivers focused on efficiency also have a hybrid option available with the Corolla Hybrid LE which has an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The Mazda3 does not have a hybrid option available. While the Mazda3 Select model and higher have available AWD, it comes at an even bigger sacrifice to fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 25/33/28 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating.

When looking at performance in terms of horsepower, the Mazda3 2.0 Sedan has 155 horsepower and the Corolla L has 139 horsepower. For a more sport-centric drive, the Corolla SE CVT, SE Nightshade Edition, and XSE have 169 horsepower and the option for both Normal and Sport driving modes. Sport mode enhances throttle response and Electronic Power Steering (EPS) assist. Mazda3's SKYACTIV®-Drive 6-speed automatic transmission with sport mode is comparable to the Corolla's Sport mode option.

To help keep your car running smoothly, both the Mazda and Toyota offer 24/7 roadside assistance. However, the Mazda 24/7 Roadside Assistance Program, which lasts for 3-year/36,000 miles, only covers a tow to the nearest Mazda dealer. ToyotaCare includes factory-scheduled maintenance for 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Plus, Toyota’s Roadside Assistance covers battery jump-starts, lockout protection, emergency fuel delivery, tire service, towing, and winching for two years. Mazda offers Pre-Paid Maintenance plans that vary in cost and coverage.

Interior view of 2021 Corolla


  • The 2021 Corolla has a 3-month SiriusXM® All Access trial subscription, standard Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility.
  • Both the Mazda3 and Corolla have trim options that have leather steering wheels with paddle shifters.
  • You also get automatic climate control on the Corolla LE to stay comfortable while you drive.

Again, this class of vehicles usually covers the bases when it comes to fuel economy and affordability. That usually means comfort and convenience features take a back seat. Thanks to a whole host of standard interior features, this adage is not true for the 2021 Corolla.

Connectivity Options

The 2021 Corolla comes with a 3-month SiriusXM® All Access trial subscription, standard Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® compatibility, plus Amazon Alexa compatibility. The 2021 Mazda3 2.0 Sedan does not include these features at the base level. You would need to upgrade to the Mazda3 2.5 S Sedan or higher to get SiriusXM®, and Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® compatibility. Amazon Alexa is not available on any trim.

To keep you comfortable, the Corolla LE, which starts at $20,375, has standard automatic climate control while the Mazda3 2.0 Sedan does not have automatic climate control. For the Mazda3 dual-zone automatic climate control system you'd have to upgrade to the Select model for a starting MSRP of $22,700.

When comparing the Corolla XLE and Mazda3 Preferred which have similar starting MSRPs, Toyota drivers get Front and Console USB 2.0 ports and available Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging. Mazda drivers get heated front seats, 2 USB audio inputs, but no option for wireless charging.

For a more engaging driving experience, the Corolla Nightshade Edition offers a standard leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic 3-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters and audio. The standard leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters and gear selector is only available with the Mazda3 Premium.

Side-view mirror with blind spot monitor indicator


  • The 2021 Corolla offers more standard active safety features for less with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0).
  • More advanced features like Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) are available options on the Corolla LE and Mazda3 Select or higher.
  • You get 10 airbags with the Corolla.

Both the Mazda3 and Corolla have advanced safety technology systems to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Standard Safety Features

Every 2021 Corolla equipped with a CVT comes packed with the standard active safety features included in Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). TSS 2.0 offers Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). In addition to TSS 2.0, Corolla offers Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) to minimize backward rolling on steep ascents. Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) is also available as part of an options package starting with the Corolla LE. It is standard on the Corolla XLE.

Comparatively, the Mazda3 2.0 Sedan comes standard with a Lane Departure Warning System, Lane-keep Assist, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go, and High Beam Control. However, it lacks similar features to the Corolla's Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD) and Road Sign Assist (RSA). The Mazda Select and higher come standard with Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Aside from driver-assistance technologies, the Corolla has 10 airbags standard. The Mazda3 2.0 Sedan includes advanced dual front air bags, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and side-impact air curtains, and knee air bags.

Conclusion: Corolla vs Mazda 3

A comparison between the Toyota Corolla and the Mazda3 reveals a pair of cars that are fuel efficient, fun to drive, and comfortable. However, the Corolla stands out as the winner with more interior options, better gas ratings, and it comes with more standard active safety features.

  • Only the Corolla offers a hybrid engine option.
  • The Corolla comes standard with more connectivity features, including Amazon Alexa compatibility, Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and SiriusXM® with a 3-month Platinum Plan trial.
  • The Corolla L wins for fuel efficiency with an EPA-estimated 30/38/33 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating.
  • Roadside Assistance from Toyota offers 2-years of protection and includes battery jump-starts, emergency fuel delivery, lockout protection, tire repair service, towing, and winching.
  • The Corolla LE comes with automatic climate control for a comfortable driving experience.
  • The Corolla comes standard with 10 airbags.