Are there good full-featured base trim models? Yes. Here’s some great base models that won’t force you to level up.

More than Standard Base Trims

2021 Ford F-150s -
2021 Ford F-150s -

With some automakers charging $1,500 and up on convenience options and driver safety assists, it’s a challenge to find a new car you can afford. The incredible sales price sucks you in, but when you arrive, you realize the car is so bare-bones that you almost have to build the car yourself. Then after $15,000 worth of options, there’s no longer the value that attracted you to the car in the first place.

Are there cars out there that won’t bait and switch you at the base trim? Yes. We looked at some models that come standard with lots of features right out the gate that you’ll want without forcing you to level up. Let’s check out some of the top base trims of 2021.

2021 Toyota Corolla L

2021 Toyota Corolla L -
2021 Toyota Corolla L -

The Toyota Corolla L is tops on our base trim list and continues its reign as the best-selling car on this planet. Its contemporary design, better interior quality, gas-sipping base engine, and fun to drive character make it a great choice for a more than the basic car. On top of Toyota‘s 2-year free basic maintenance, you get 10 of Toyota’s 13 safety features as standard, including pedestrian detection, auto high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Inside, you have a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and two USB ports. Also, there’s standard Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, satellite radio, and a six-speaker stereo system. Toyota packs the small Corolla with so many features you won’t need to add anything else.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

2021 Subaru Crosstrek - hardworkrr12 on cars on
2021 Subaru Crosstrek - hardworkrr12 on cars on

The Subaru Crosstrek makes our list by virtue of its standard all-wheel-drive and solid features list. The Crosstrek is an excellent choice for your compact SUV needs, and Subaru continues to prioritize safety. The 2021 Subaru adds adaptive cruise control and lane centering to its standard safety suite, including automatic emergency braking and lane departure prevention. Inside this base trim, you get automatic climate control, a stop-start engine system, and a reminder alert to check the back seat before leaving the vehicle. All this makes the Subaru Crosstrek even more fun to drive through life’s adventures.

2021 Mazda CX-3 Sport

2021 Mazda CX-3 Sport -
2021 Mazda CX-3 Sport -

The Mazda CX-3 is for those who would love an SUV, but still want a car’s drivability and fun. Mazda simplifies trim models into the Sport. This IIHS Top Safety Pick is loaded with standard safety features like adaptive front lighting, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Inside the beautifully designed cabin are a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic climate control, a push-button start, remote keyless entry, and a six-way power driver’s seat. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more full-featured subcompact crossover.

2021 Honda Accord LX

2021 Honda Accord LX -
2021 Honda Accord LX -

Honda’s Accord has been a consistent top performer year after year and continues to set quality standards. The refined and solid Accord gets Honda Sensing’s lane-keeping assist, forward-collision mitigation, auto high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Only a couple of assists are extra-cost options. Inside the well-appointed and quiet cabin, you get LED headlights with auto-on/off, an 8-inch haptic feedback touchscreen, and a multi-angle rearview camera. Also standard is the Accord’s Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control, push-button start, and Eco Assist System. The Accord provides comfort, safety, and efficiency without forcing you to opt-out of your financial comfort zone.

2021 Nissan Rogue S

2021 Nissan Rogue S -

The all-new 2021 Nissan Rogue S comes with a high-quality interior and handsome exterior. You won’t be missing much with its packed standard features list that includes a six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manually adjustable passenger seat, and an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. The Rogue also comes standard with 10 of Nissan’s 18 safety features, including cyclist detection, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring. While you have to pay more for Nissan’s 360 surround view and ProPilot system, the Rogue S will have everything you need to protect yourself on the highway. Nissan has a long list of standard features than its rivals, coupled with its contemporary design and interior make it an easy pick for our list.

2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 XL -
2021 Ford F-150 XL -

The RAM 1500 base model may have an excellent design and a smooth ride, but the newly designed Ford F-150 beats it on standard safety and convenience features. While RAM only offers a backup camera, Ford gives you standard advanced safety like forward collision mitigation, pedestrian detection, and automatic forward braking. Inside, you get cloth upholstery, the SYNC 4 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Also included are USB ports, Bluetooth, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. You can also easily upgrade to the complete suite of Ford’s Co-Pilot360 technology.

2021 Hyundai Palisade SE

2021 Hyundai Palisade SE -
2021 Hyundai Palisade SE -

The Palisade has quickly made competition like the Ford Explorer look old. Its beautifully designed interior with a ride quality that fits a higher-end luxury SUV and not the mid-sized model that it is. Even on the base SE trim, you get keyless entry, cloth seats, 5 USB ports, a nice 8-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. For safety, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade features a long list of features like rear parking sensors, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, and driver drowsiness monitoring. The Hyundai Palisade’s refinement, style, and massive amounts of space are hard to beat.

Buyers are the Winners Here

The auto manufacturers are getting better at putting together what consumers want. Companies like Honda, Tesla, Hyundai, and Ford raise expectations by providing increasingly better quality interiors, complete standard equipment, and less confusion when selecting a model’s features.

Consumer advocates are also pushing to have complete safety suites as standard on all models instead of offering them as expensive options, and some manufacturers are complying. Thankfully, the one who benefits from all of this is the buyer. It’s an excellent time to buy a car.

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Steven Mitchell

Steven Mitchell began his automotive journey with a fully restored Triumph TR3B. After earning a bachelor's degree in Marketing and Television from the University of Texas, Steven used his passion for vehicles at an automotive marketing ad agency, and as the Manager of Interactive Marketing for Mitsubishi Motors, eventually winning an Effie for his advertising work. For the past decade, he's been writing car reviews, covering everything from SUVs and electric vehicles to original equipment manufacturer infotainment user interfaces.

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