- Distinctive looks
- Hilariously fun performance
- Good standard safety equipment
- Great price
- Practical hatchback
- Some budget materials
- Tight back seat
- Style may be too much for some
- Never enough time or road
Fun always comes at a price. Thankfully for the 2021 Hyundai Veloster, fun won’t break the bank.
The 2021 Hyundai Veloster hatchback is the right friend, at the right time, for the right price. Its expressive shapes, quirky demeanor, and punchy powertrain stare us in the face to ask: Why so serious, bro?
The Veloster is all about fun, but its 6.7 TCC Rating is seriously good. Not much is new this year aside from an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic on Veloster N versions. That’s fine. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Like last year, the 2021 Veloster is available in 2.0, 2.0 Premium, R-Spec, Turbo, Turbo Ultimate, and Veloster N trim levels that range from $20,000 to $30,000 for more fun than we should rightfully afford.
The rorty, shorty, three-door Veloster (four, including the hatch) looks like nothing else on the road, and it’s mostly a good thing. The hatchback’s three passenger doors are split between two sides; do the math and there’s always a remainder. The two doors on the passenger side juxtapose the one driver’s side door, and that’s just the beginning of the exterior’s story. It’s clean and quirky, even if we’re not.
Inside, the hatchback covers up budget materials with clean shapes and even more fun including a standard touchscreen with smartphone compatibility.
Underneath that metal, the Veloster is equipped with a trio of 4-cylinder engines, two of which are turbocharged. The base engine is a 2.0-liter inline-4 that’s not screaming fast with 147 horsepower, but still has the looks. A 1.6-liter turbo-4 makes 201 hp and lights up the fronts to the tune of six-second 0-60 mph sprints. At the top is a 250-hp (or optionally, 275 hp) turbo-4 in the Veloster N that thumbs its nose at big-displacement, high-horsepower, top-dollar convention; fun doesn’t need prolific thirst or a profane price tag.
All Velosters can be equipped with a 6-speed manual or 6-, 7-, or 8-speed automatic transmissions, depending on trim level. Our recommendation is to keep it simple: six speeds, shift your own gears, have a blast, and be back for dinner.
Every Veloster holds its own on curvy roads with good steering and a competent ride, but Veloster Turbo and Veloster N models are superb.
Bring a friend—just one—in the Veloster. Although there’s enough room for four on paper, the rear seat is cramped and not great for adults. Behind the second row there’s nearly 20 cubic feet of cargo space, which grows to more than 45 with the seats folded.
The IIHS called the Veloster a Top Safety Pick last year, although federal testers haven’t set their date for official crash-test scores.
Every Veloster gets at least automatic emergency braking, active lane control, 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, power features, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, two USB ports, and Bluetooth connectivity. Up the price and power ladder, Hyundai equips the Veloster with a larger touchscreen, bigger wheels, more power, and more safety features.
Like any worst-best friend we’ve had, it eggs us to go further, faster.
2021 Hyundai Veloster
Have a laugh at the 2021 Veloster; it doesn’t take itself seriously either.
Low on price but high on personality, the 2021 Veloster takes inspiration from the original and polishes the only four-door, asymmetrical hatchback that we’ve ever known. It’s a 7 for looks because we like weird, too.
The Veloster’s big front end is capped with a broad grille with strakes and intakes that visually lower the little hatch. The swept-back headlights reach into the front fenders that flex the car’s front-drive power. Around the sides, flared rear arches come fast and short overhangs pronounce the car’s light-hearted mission: Practicality? Maybe. Quirkiness? Probably. Fun? Definitely.
Inside, the Veloster is just as expressive, albeit in budget moves. There’s plenty of hard, but grained, plastics, but just enough flair to keep us entertained without running headfirst into kitsch.
2021 Hyundai Veloster
Oh, the 2021 Veloster has performance down pat. Trust us.
Perhaps more than any other car on the road, the 2021 Hyundai Veloster’s performance ranges from mild to wild.
Base cars execute their missions as competent—and cute—commuters. Veloster N’s are hotter than a Fox News argument.
Our rating of 6 aligns more with the base cars, which are more popular with buyers. If rated separately, the Veloster Turbo would score higher and the Veloster N would score near the stratosphere.
Base cars are powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 147 hp and 132 pound-feet of torque and powers the front wheels via a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s fine, not thrilling, but delivers the looks some shoppers want with a price they can afford. We get that.
The next step up is a 1.6-liter turbo-4 in the eponymously named Veloster Turbo. It makes 201 hp and 195 lb-ft, shuttled through a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. We advise opting for the manual-equipped version not only because it’s more engaging to drive, but also because the 7-speed autobox isn’t great at slow speeds. (The R-Spec gets a short-throw stick that’s a win-win.)
The Veloster Turbo shuttles up to 60 mph from a standstill in about six seconds, which is brisk for the pint-size prizefighter.
The Veloster N punches up further with a 250-hp turbo-4 (or, optionally 275 hp) that’s uproariously fun. A 6-speed manual is standard (and highly recommended) although an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic is newly optional this year. We haven’t yet driven those automatic versions but will report back once we do.
The Veloster N subs in some performance gear such as a stiffer suspension, bigger brakes, retuned steering, and an electronic limited-slip differential on the front axle that skates wayward wheels through corners with precision and, likely, witchcraft. An optional performance package adds even bigger stoppers, grippier rubber, and unlocks that extra 25-hp punch.
Most Velosters (including Veloster N) pipe in synthetic sound that can be turned off. We prefer the soundtrack of tires howling within an inch of their limits to be crystal clear, not Memorex.
That’s due to steering that’s precise and gets progressively heavier in different modes, but feels a little synthetic compared to other small hatches such as the Honda Civic.
2021 Hyundai Veloster
Comfort & Quality
OK, so comfort isn’t the 2021 Veloster’s first priority.
It’ll be hard to confuse the 2021 Veloster as anything other than a small car, but the little hatchback is well-suited to carry two and gear.
Starting from an average score, the Veloster’s comfort is a wash. What it gets for a spacious cargo hold under the hatch it loses in a back seat that’s less comfortable than hot yoga and requires just as much flexibility. It’s a 5.
The front seats are mostly comfortable and adjustable, although broad shoulders may not fit well into the Veloster’s cabin.
A pool at the office still hasn’t landed on how many “doors” the Veloster actually has, so walk with us for a second here: The Veloster’s asymmetric doors mean there are two doors on the passenger side for front- and rear-seat riders, a longer driver’s side door for driver and occasional passenger in back, and a rear hatch. It could be a three-door hatchback or a four-door hatchback, but it’s not really a four-adult car.
Hyundai says the Veloster has 34.1 inches of rear seat leg room but in the real world, it’s probably less than that. Two adults won’t ride back there comfortably for long, although children may.
Behind the second row, the Veloster offers 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space that expands to 45.5 cubes with the seats folded forward. That’s more than comparably priced sedans and is flexible for myriad errands.
The Veloster does a good job of cutting costs in places you don’t normally see, and ample sound-deadening material smothers untoward engine noises.
2021 Hyundai Veloster
Crash-test data on the 2021 Veloster isn’t yet complete, but what’s in is good.
We’re still waiting on official federal crash-test data, but a thumbs up from the IIHS is good news for the 2021 Veloster.
A Top Safety Pick nod from the IIHS and good standard active safety features help the Veloster climb to a 7 until the feds finish their tests. This score may rise once those results roll in.
Digging deeper into the IIHS data: The Veloster earned top “Good” scores on all its crash tests and earned a “Superior” rating for its standard front crash prevention at 12 mph and 25 mph with another vehicle. (The system included on top spec Veloster N and Veloster Turbo Ultimate models includes pedestrian collision prevention that was rated as “Advanced” at preventing crashes with people.)
The Veloster’s headlights were rated as “Acceptable” or “Poor,” depending on trim level.
In addition to standard automatic emergency braking, all Velosters are equipped with active lane control. Blind-spot monitors are standard on all but the base cars, and adaptive cruise control is standard on only top trims.
2021 Hyundai Veloster
Great features and a long warranty for the 2021 Veloster is just icing on the cake.
The 2021 Veloster wraps a sporty shape around a practical, well-equipped hatchback, and colors those lines in with a sporty variant that is a blast to drive. It starts around $20,000 and climbs up to around $30,000, which is a wide range for a low-price vehicle.
Starting from an average score, the 2021 Veloster earns points for good base equipment, including a good touchscreen, a great warranty, and better options. And by options, we mean: the option to go faster. It’s a 9.
Like last year, the Veloster is available in 2.0, 2.0 Premium, R-Spec, Turbo, Turbo Ultimate, and Veloster N trim levels.
Our recommended pick is closer to the base end for the Veloster, but not because we don’t like the fast ones—we certainly do. We just acknowledge that every day isn’t race day, and cheap cars should be cheap. If you can afford a plucky Veloster with a leaf blower-size turbo, we wholeheartedly endorse that message.
The base Veloster is equipped with a manual transmission, 17-inch wheels, automatic emergency braking, active lane control, cloth upholstery, power features, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, two USB ports, and Bluetooth connectivity. An automatic transmission costs $1,000 extra.
If you’re not scared of a manual transmission, a Veloster Turbo R-Spec offers more power, 18-inch wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, short-throw shifter, and premium audio for about $25,000.
A 2.0 Premium adds a sunroof, upgraded interior materials, keyless ignition, and an automatic transmission paired with the base engine for about $24,000—we couldn’t ask for more from either one.
If we did, it’d look a lot like a Veloster N with a 250-hp turbo-4, premium audio, adaptive cruise control, wireless smartphone charger, sporty front seats, and adaptive cruise control. Add another $2,000 for more power (25 hp), 19-inch wheels, and better brakes and we’re all-in.
Hyundai covers the Veloster with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty that’s unequaled among most competitors.
2021 Hyundai Veloster
Ranked highly in smiles for miles, the 2021 Veloster is fuel-efficient.
The 2021 Hyundai Veloster is dripping with fuel-efficient models; there’s not a thirsty one in the bunch.
We give it a 6 for fuel economy. Base cars with an automatic transmission rate 27 mpg city, 34 highway, 30 combined and the rest are relatively close.
Opting instead for a 6-speed manual dents mileage down to 25/33/28 mpg, according to the EPA. But fun goes up, according to us.
The 1.6-liter turbo-4 nets 26/33/29 mpg with a manual transmission, 28/34/30 mpg when equipped with an automatic.
High-horsepower Veloster Ns also have low thirst, relatively speaking. With a manual transmission the Veloster N rates 22/29/25 mpg. The EPA hasn’t yet rated the 8-speed dual-clutch automatic Veloster N.