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11 of the Safest Buys on the Automotive Market in 2021

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In this weirdest of years (well, the last two if we’re being precise), we shouldn’t be surprised that one of the biggest problems facing car dealerships is coming up with enough supply to meet the demand for new vehicles. Last year demand was at historic lows, for reasons we all know, but this year it’s rebounded with a vengeance. And now that it has, dealer lots sit as empty as some of the water reservoirs in the United States (thank you drought).

Amid all the uncertainty, we figured it would be nice to inject some… certainty. So let’s talk about sure bets, some of the safest offerings on the new vehicle market. We took a look at 11 categories (mass-market segments only, no luxury vehicles allowed) and plucked the surest bet from each.

As in the past, we're not just talking about reliability or build quality here, or even specifically about performance, efficiency or cargo space.

Rather, the goal of this exercise is to determine which vehicles do well in meeting all of the above criteria. Note that only mass-market categories are covered in this year’s list, no luxury vehicles allowed. And if your car model doesn't make the list, that doesn't mean it's not recommendable. These days, in the new-vehicle landscape, true lemons are as rare as Olympic medals by Canadian males (sorry, we couldn’t help it!). Here we go.

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Compact car: Mazda3

Mazda 3 Sport
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Mazda 3 Sport

With the demise of subcompact cars - in favour of subcompact crossovers – let’s agree to just move on to the next sedan category up, namely because it at least still has several noteworthy models. Last year, it was the Toyota Corolla that came out on top, but in 2021, the safe bet is… the Mazda3.

Mazda's beloved 3 has been getting rave reviews since its redesign, although the thumbs haven’t all pointed up, we should add. But while the new look may not appeal to everyone, the overall driving experience, the quality of materials and assembly, and the choice of variants make this 3 one of the best of its time.

With the addition of the Mazda3 Turbo, furthermore, the lineup is very full - although a hybrid version would certainly be welcome, hint hint. Don't hold your breath, though, because it's unlikely such a variant will be greenlit any time soon.

See also: 2021 Mazda3 Turbo First Drive: A Rare Breed

Mazda 3 GT Turbo
Photo: D.Heyman
Mazda 3 GT Turbo
Mazda 3 Sport, interior
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Mazda 3 Sport, interior