Compact sedans are an affordable option that offer fuel efficiency, comfort, and convenience. Luckily, with the Corolla and Mazda3, you also get a vehicle that is downright fun to drive.
Toyota introduced the Corolla in North America in 1968 where it quickly became one of the most popular selling sedans. Now in its 11th generation, it continues to pack a lot into a little package. Mazda3 was introduced decades later in 2004 and is in its fourth generation.
Starting at $19,925, the 2021 Corolla L costs less than the Mazda3 2.0 Sedan which has a starting MSRP of $20,500. You also get better gas mileage ratings, standard safety features, plus a variety of interior options.
Both vehicles offer seven trims to choose from, however, only the 2021 Corolla has a hybrid engine option as well. For more standard features like SiriusXM® with a 3-month All Access trial, Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility, the Corolla has got it all. The base trim Mazda3 Sedan misses out on those features.
Continue reading to see how these cars measure up in terms of performance, interior, and safety.
Publish Date: 11/12/2020
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Both the Mazda3 and Corolla have advanced safety technology systems to help keep you and your loved ones safe.
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.
The Toyota Corolla has withstood the test of time, first introduced in North America in 1968. For the current 2021 model year it matches striking, sporty looks with a genuine fun-to-drive experience. Having been introduced in 2004, the Mazda3 can’t compete with the long history of the Corolla.
One of the biggest advantages of the Corolla is its fuel economy. With an EPA-estimated 30/38/33 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating, the Corolla L can go farther for less. The Mazda3 2.0 Sedan has an EPA-estimated 28/36/31 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. Along with the many trim options for the Corolla, Earth-conscious drivers can opt for the Corolla Hybrid LE which has an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating.
Not only do you get a higher fuel economy with the Corolla, you also get more connectivity options and active safety features standard. The 2021 Corolla takes the cake in this sedan head to head, offering more bang for your buck.