Best small car under $21,000: Nissan Sentra
The Nissan Sentra is Lesley Wimbush's choice for best small car under $21,000.
Top pick: Nissan Sentra, $20,083
If this were a horse race, a tattoo check might be in order. So clearly does the Sentra outclass the competition, it could well be accused of being a ringer.
The new 7th-generation Sentra trades its traditional jelly-bean looks for a more sophisticated image, with standard LED head and tail lamps and a cabin that features soft-touch materials and premium gauges. Rear legroom increases to 950 mm ? more than Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic or Mazda3. Most importantly, a new 130 hp, 128 lb.-ft., 1.8 L engine and CVT combination help Sentra achieve a class-leading 5.8 L/100 km combined fuel economy.
-Well-executed cabin punches well above its weight, with soft-touch materials and premium-look Electroluminescent gauges
-Quiet, composed and completely drama-free, the Sentra goes where you want it in a completely respectable manner
-Standard LED head and tail lamps add an upscale touch
Mazda3 Skyactiv, $20,895
Mazda?s venerable 3 returns, equipped with fuel-saving SkyActiv technology that helps it achieve 6.1 L/100 km. The Mazda3 has long been a segment favourite.
-Joyous, nimble handling and great steering
-Impressive technology delivers great fuel economy
-Roomy cabin, straight-forward, well-designed
Dodge Dart, $20,895
A fusion of Italian character and Detroit attitude that?s one of the first fruits of the Chrysler-Fiat collaboration, the Dart blends a surprisingly upscale drive experience with a modicum of fun.
-Stiff chassis, neutral handling and surprisingly decent steering feedback
-Steel shifter ball fits perfectly in the palm of the hand
-Nicely equipped for an entry-level car, with a spacious, comfortable cabin.
Toyota Prius C, $20,950
The forerunner of the hybrid segment is reworked as a handy little hatchback, with sharp, fun styling belying its conservative roots.
-Outstanding fuel economy and the reduced emissions
-Reasonably priced for a hybrid compact car
-Pleasant driving experience with utility of a hatchback
Kia Rio LX, $16,695
The Rio has evolved from a humble econo-box into a value-laden, yet stylish, compact.
-European esthetic to the cabin?s uncluttered design.
-Eco system remaps throttle response and shift points for better fuel economy.
-Sharp styling re-shapes expectations for this segment