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When searching for a compact sedan, two models are impossible to ignore. Both the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have staked unrelenting territory for small, efficient sedans. These days, the two vehicles offer similar driving experiences. However, comparing them head to head reveals two big advantages that the Honda Civic has over the Toyota Corolla.

The 2023 Honda Civic, despite being Honda's cheapest car, looks composed driving down city streets at night.
Honda Civic | Honda

Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla Performance

Under the hood, the Honda Civic has two choices while the Toyota Corolla gives you just one. Ironically, the Corolla’s powertrain sits between the two options offered by the Honda.

With the Civic, the base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. However, the Civic also offers a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine for more power. According to Motortrend, this setup churns out 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque.

In the Corolla, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder powertrain puts 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque through the transmission. And while none of these engines is exactly a thrill, the turbocharged Civic certainly ups the engagement factor.

Which compact car has better fuel economy?

Economy is the name of the game with these cars, and that is where the Corolla has always had an advantage. Sure, the engine isn’t as powerful as the turbocharged Civic. However, the 32 mpg city and 41 mpg highway give a clear lead to the Toyota model. Even the base Civic engine can only manage 30 mpg city and 37 mpg on the open road, despite considerably less power.

A 2023 Toyota Corolla shows off its compact car styling.
Toyota Corolla | Toyota

The Honda Civic beats the Toyota Corolla on cargo space

One key area where the Honda Civic has an advantage over the Corolla is with trunk space. Unfortunately for the Toyota, this isn’t even a close race. At 14.8 cubic feet of cargo area, the Honda Civic offers nearly two extra cubes of space in the trunk. That’s the size of an average duffel bag, and could make all the difference on a road trip vacation or the next trip to Costco.

Passengers enjoy more room in the Honda Civic

It might be easy to think, then, that the Toyota Corolla has the edge in passenger space versus the Civic. However, the Civic once again beats out the Toyota Corolla. Legroom is identical in both models for front and rear-seat passengers. However, the Honda compact offers 4.2 inches of additional shoulder room than its Toyota competitor. Anyone packing in kids or friends will find everyone has a better time with the added space in the Civic.

Choosing between these compact sedans isn’t easy

In the end, both the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are still near the front of the pack. Efficient, comfortable, and packed with safety tech, it’s hard to split the two at first. That said, if it’s our money on the line we’re taking the new Civic with a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. It is still efficient at 31 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, but much more fun. Plus, the added trunk space makes it a great choice for a long weekend road trip.

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