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Are you looking for a used compact sedan? If your criteria include affordability, reliability, and value, your search may have turned up the Honda Civic and Ford Focus as options. And if a local dealer has 2018 models of both on their lots, you may wonder which used car is the better option.

What the 2018 Honda Civic offers

Both the 2018 Honda Civic and Ford Focus have earned respectable scores from J.D. Power in multiple categories. The Civic’s overall score stems from a combination of driving experience, efficiency, safety, and reliability, with the publication specifically lauding its driving experience.

Of course, J.D. Power’s scores are drawn from owner feedback, not just their own reviews. And on paper, it’s easy to see why owners like the Civic’s performance.

The 2018 model comes equipped with one of three powertrains. The first is a 158-hp 2.0-liter inline-four that comes standard with the base model and gets 28/40 mpg city/highway. There is also a 174-hp 1.5-liter turbo-four engine (31/42 mpg) and a 306-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four (28/39 mpg). The latter is only available with a six-speed manual transmission, while the other powertrain choices come with either the manual or a CVT.

The Civic also earned five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, you have to go several trim levels up to get the Honda’s safety package, Honda Sensing, standard with the Civic. The Sensing package includes lane-keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.

If you can find a used one, opt for a higher-level Honda Civic trim. The 2018 base model LX only sported a 5.0-inch touchscreen, four-speaker sound system, rearview camera, 16-inch wheels, and Bluetooth. By contrast, the top-of-the-line Civic Type R offered 20-inch wheels, a 10-speaker audio system, onboard navigation, heated rear seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a moonroof, and more.

Considering the 2018 Ford Focus?

As with the Honda Civic, Ford offers prospective Focus buyers a few different powertrain options. The base model comes with a 160-hp 2.0-liter I-4, with a five-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The SE trim gets a 123-hp 1.0-liter turbo-three engine, while the Focus ST gets a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four. The ST is a hatch rather than a sedan, as is the Ford Focus RS trim. The RS comes with a 350-hp 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4.

The Focus also earned a perfect NHTSA safety rating, although, unlike most vehicles in the segment, automatic emergency braking is not offered as a standard feature. In fact, the 2018 Focus came without today’s common advanced safety features, so used buyers should check the models they’re considering to see if the prior owners added any.

The Focus base model also included an even smaller touchscreen than the Civic – just 4.2 inches. However, the higher-level Focus trims came with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and amenities like navigation, ambient interior lighting, and a 10-speaker audio system.

Of course, the technical specs don’t provide the full story about either vehicle. Reviewing owner feedback about both vehicles on CarComplaints, you’ll find that several Focus owners have noted the model’s transmission and engine problems.

That model year was also subject to two recalls, one involving the transmission and another involving gasoline storage. However, there are more total CarComplaints complaints from users about Civic issues involving the AC/heater, electrical system, engine, and transmission. The Civic was also subject to four recalls related to these issues.

Which one is better?

If affordability is your primary criterion, you may be better off with a Focus. J.D. Power notes that the range for used 2018 models is $11,632 to $31,086, while the range for a Civic is $16,827 to $23,240. But if you look more thoroughly at each vehicle, you’re probably better off with a 2018 Civic.

The Civic earned higher reliability scores from J.D. Power than the Focus. Also, unlike the Civic, the Focus boasted average scores in the publication’s four subcategories: Quality & Reliability, Driving Experience, Resale, and Dealership Experience.

The Civic earned a Great score in Driving Experience, in addition to an average score in each of the other categories. In addition to reliability, and driving experience, Honda included more advanced safety systems with its trims than the Focus. And in a head-to-head match-up of premium trims, the Civic sedan tops the Focus in power and features.

The 2018 Focus is certainly not a bad vehicle, but it’s probably not your best bet if you’ve got a 2018 Honda Civic available at a comparable price.


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