Looking for the Best Car for the Money in 2021? Go for a Toyota

2021 Toyota Corolla
©Toyota

When it comes to car shopping, the lowest-priced car isn’t necessarily the best value — there’s way more to that than the sticker price.

“With cars, the price tag doesn’t even come close to telling you if a car is a good value or not,” said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News & World Report Best Cars. “You need to look at the total ownership costs — go online and see how much repairs, gas and insurance cost, and make sure that you’re including those numbers in your car budget. There’s also no way that a bad car can be a good value. If the car doesn’t meet your needs or you don’t enjoy owning it, it doesn’t matter how little it costs: it’s not a good value. So in addition to checking ownership costs, make sure the car has the space, features and performance you need. That will get you a car that’s the best value for you.”

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Make Your Money Work for You

Although your personal best car for the money may be different than someone else’s, it’s always useful to get some expert insights. U.S. News & World Report developed its list of the 2021 Best Cars for the Money based on the vehicle’s overall quality — based on expert reviews, fuel economy, cargo space, and safety and reliability — and value — the five-year total ownership costs from Vincentric plus its current pricing.

Based on these metrics, U.S. News & World Report picked six winners in the SUVs and minivans category and five in the car category — and four of those winners were Toyotas.

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“Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs tend to be very reliable, and that makes them less expensive to own than cars from competitors,” Deaton said. “With a reliable car, you’re not spending a lot of time and money on repairs. Toyota also has a large presence in the U.S. market, so they’re easy to get parts for and easy to work on. This not only brings down your repair costs but can also help you save on car insurance, since your insurer will likely pay less for repairs than with other brands. Finally, Toyotas tend to be fairly fuel-efficient, so you save money at the gas station, which brings down your total ownership costs as well.”

Here’s a look at this year’s winners.

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Best SUVs and Minivans for the Money

Best 2-Row SUV: 2021 Honda Passport

  • MSRP: Starting at $32,790

Best 3-Row SUV: 2021 Kia Sorento

  • MSPR: Starting at $29,390

Best Compact SUV: 2021 Honda CR-V

  • MSRP: Starting at $25,350

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Best Hybrid and Electric SUV: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

  • MSRP: Starting at $28,650

Best Minivan: 2021 Honda Odyssey

  • MSPR: Starting at $31,790

Best Subcompact SUV: 2021 Kia Soul

  • MSRP: Starting at $17,590

Read More: The 29 Biggest Car Mistakes That Will Cost You

Best Cars for the Money

Best Compact Car: 2021 Kia Forte

  • MSRP: Starting at $17,890

Best Hybrid and Electric Car: 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

  • MSPR: Starting at $23,600

Best Large Car: 2021 Toyota Avalon

  • MSRP: Starting at $35,975

Best Midsize Car: 2021 Toyota Camry

  • MSRP: Starting at $24,970

Best Subcompact Car: 2021 Hyundai Accent

  • MSRP: Starting at $15,395

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Make Your Money Work for You
Last updated: April 1, 2021

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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