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2021 Subaru Impreza vs. 2021 Toyota Corolla: Which Is Better?


Both the 2021 Subaru Impreza and 2021 Toyota Corolla are available in either sedan or hatchback body styles, and both boast good reliability and strong resale values. But which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Subaru Impreza comes standard with all-wheel drive.
  • Corolla hybrid earns 52 mpg.
  • Impreza hatchback has 55 cubic feet of space with all seats folded.

2021 Subaru Impreza

2021 Subaru ImprezaBase price: $19,720 / Read our 2021 Subaru Impreza review

What we like: Sedan or hatchback option; standard all-wheel drive; solid resale values.

What we would change: Add a stronger engine option; improve the CVT; offer EyeSight with either transmission.

Overview: Available as either a sedan or a hatchback, the 2021 Subaru Impreza is a versatile compact, with room for five. A four-cylinder engine sends power to all four wheels through either a manual transmission or a CVT, which gives it surefootedness in foul weather and capable handling. We don’t particularly like the droning of the CVT at full throttle, but Subaru’s excellent EyeSight drive assist feature is only available with the CVT option. The Subaru comes well equipped, with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and higher trim levels offer more features. The Subaru Impreza has a reputation for both reliability and good resale values.

What’s new for 2021: Changes to the Subaru Impreza are relatively modest for 2021. Most significantly, the Premium trim gets Subaru’s SI-Drive, which allows the driver to select different engine modes. Other than that, the Sport Trim’s rear spoiler is now black with Crystal Black Silica end panels.

Features and technology: Ranging from about $19K to about $26,800 for the top Limited, the 2021 Subaru Impreza is offered in four trim levels. Hatchback variants cost about $500 more than the sedan. The base model comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, 6-way manually adjustable driver seat, split-folding rear seats, and keyless entry. As mentioned above, the base transmission is manual, with Subaru’s EyeSight system only available on cars with the CVT.

The Premium trim comes with the CVT standard, alloy wheels, an upgraded 6-speaker audio system with a CD player, dual rear USB ports, a 4.2-inch LCD instrument display, and foglights, among other things. Premium trim also includes SI-Drive, and the upper-level Sport model offers a short-throw manual shifter. Sport trims also include active torque vectoring, a sport-tuned suspension, an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, and red stitching on the seats. Other options include leather upholstery in the Limited trim, and an optional moonroof, a navigation system, and an 8-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

What does the future hold: As our biggest gripe with the Impreza involves its CVT, we hope for an improvement. We would also like a bit more power in the base engine, and for EyeSight to be offered standard, regardless of transmission. Find a 2021 Subaru Impreza for sale near you

2021 Toyota Corolla

2021 Toyota Corolla
Base price: $20,780 / Read our 2021 Toyota Corolla review

What we like: Choice of engines, including a hybrid; loads of standard safety features; reliability and high resale values.

What we would change: Not terribly exciting; hybrid’s a bit underpowered; no all-wheel-drive option.

Overview: While it did not necessarily invent the compact sedan segment, the Toyota Corolla has been around for nearly 50 years and is consistently one of the best-selling cars on the market. Aside from Toyota’s well-deserved reputation for reliability, the 2021 Toyota Corolla stands out for its choice of engines (including a hybrid), both sedan and hatchback models, and plentiful standard features. While there is a limited-edition Corolla Apex model with an upgraded suspension and better handling, the 2021 Corolla distinguishes itself not with its sporty performance but with good driving manners, comfort, and confident steering.

What’s new for 2021: Changes to the Corolla tend to be incremental rather than radical, and the 2021 Corolla is no exception. Android Auto is added to the infotainment suite, rear cross-traffic alert becomes available as well as additional rear airbags, and engine start-stop also becomes standard. The newest addition to the lineup for 2021 is the Apex edition, a limited-edition option with a sporty demeanor, an upgraded suspension, and tighter handling.

Features and technology: The 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan comes with a choice of three engines and five trim levels, plus a hybrid. There is also a hatchback model but it is not reviewed here. The base L trim is well equipped, though, with LED headlights, 15-inch wheels, a 6-way adjustable driver seat, and a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and Android Auto compatibility. All trims also include the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of safety features. These include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams, Road Sign Assist, radar cruise control, and Lane Tracing Assist.

The next level up is the LE, for $450 more. This includes an 8-inch touchscreen, 16-inch wheels, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, and premium fabric. The rear-seat armrest also includes cupholders. The next step up is the SE, which includes the upgrade 2.0-liter engine, an optional manual transmission, and 18-inch wheels.

Next beyond that are the XLE and XSE, with such things as a power driver seat, a JBL premium audio system, heated front seats, and SofTex faux leather. They also add blind-spot monitoring.

What does the future hold: Toyota has kept the Corolla consistent over the decades, but fresh with the times. Expect future editions to include more safety and tech features, and possibly improved fuel economy figures. Find a 2021 Toyota Corolla for sale near you

Impreza vs. Corolla: Strengths comparison

Impreza Benefits: Standard all-wheel drive; rear seat space; more ground clearance.

Corolla Benefits: Choice of engines; optional hybrid; better fuel economy.

Impreza vs. Corolla: Which is better?

First and foremost, the 2021 Subaru Impreza and 2021 Toyota Corolla should be commended for their two body styles and their reputations for reliability. There’s much to like about both of them. If all-weather driving is an important consideration, then the 2021 Impreza wins hands down, as the Corolla doesn’t even offer all-wheel drive as an option. For all other reasons, though, the 2021 Corolla has earned its reputation the old-fashioned way: by being practical, offering great standard features at all trim levels, giving buyers a choice of engines, and by delivering good fuel economy. Find a 2021 Subaru Impreza for sale or Find a 2021 Toyota Corolla for sale

2021 Subaru Impreza 2021 Toyota Corolla
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter flat-4 1.8-liter I4
Horsepower 152 hp @ 6,000 rpm 139 hp @ 6,100 rpm
Torque 145 lb-ft @ 4,000rpm 126 lb-ft @ 3,900rpm
Transmission Manual, 5-Spd Continuously variable
Fuel Economy 27 mpg (23 city/31 highway) 33 mpg (30 city/38 highway)
Also Available CVT 2.0-liter I4, 1.8-liter I4 + 53 kW electric motor
Specs
Basic warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years or 60,000 miles 5 years or 60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars n/a
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 105.1 inches 106.3 inches
Overall Length 182.7 inches 182.3 inches
Width 70.0 inches 70.1 inches
Height 57.3 inches 56.5 inches
Turning Diameter 35.4 feet 35.6 feet
Headroom, Front 39.8 inches 38.3 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.2 inches 37.1 inches
Legroom, Front 43.1 inches 42.0 inches
Legroom, Rear 36.5 inches 34.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.7 inches 54.0 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.6 inches 51.7 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 99.8 cubic feet n/a
EPA Cargo Volume 12.3 cubic feet 13.1 cubic feet

Doug Lloyd
Doug Lloyd is an author specializing in comparison tests. A veteran of the automotive press world, Doug started at Sports Car International and Vintage Motorsport magazines and has worked at both Porsche Panorama magazine and Edmunds.com. Doug is also a jazz piano player and a composer for television.

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