2022 Honda Civic vs. Mazda 3: Is FWD or AWD Better?

For as long as I can remember, Honda has eschewed the “wrong-wheel-drive” stereotype that surrounds FWD cars. In contrast, the 2022 Mazda 3 presents AWD to a segment where it’s usually absent. Obviously, only one of these drivetrains, and the cars surrounding them, is the best.

The Mazda 3 hasn’t changed much since 2019, but that’s not a bad thing | Doug DeMuro

The Civic promises a fresh new architecture and great features, but Mazda has been quietly killing it on their end. However, only one is right for your needs.

Will the 2022 Honda Civic’s new car smell tempt you?

A grey FWD 2022 Honda Civic hatchback shot at night from a high 3/4 angle
The 2022 Honda Civic showcases Honda’s new minimalist design | Honda

It’s no secret the 2022 Honda Civic is the hot new FWD sedan (or hatchback) right now. I can’t scroll through my newsfeed without seeing it. Reviews of the new Civic promise the new sedan is as good as it looks. And boy, does it look good. The price is good too, starting at around $22,000 MSRP.

Aside from sedan or hatch body styles, you can also choose between an automatic or manual transmission. However, that stick is only available on some trims. That said, a stick is something the Mazda 3 just doesn’t offer. However, the Mazda 3 does offer a few things the Civic just doesn’t (at least right now).

Which is better? FWD or AWD?

The AWD grey Mazda 3 at its launch a few years back, shot under a light box from the front 3/4
The new AWD Mazda 3 can also be had with a turbo | Victor Decolongon via Getty Images

For starters, the Mazda 3 can be had with AWD, something the Civic doesn’t have. Moreover, the Mazda can also be had with far more power than a Civic (barring the current Type R of course). While the top-trim Civic stays around 200 hp, the new 3 can be had with up to 250 hp, per Car and Driver.

That’s not all the 3 has on the Civic either. The interior on the Mazda 3 is widely held as one of the best cheap car interiors, and the whole car certainly feels like more of a premium product than the 2022 Honda Civic. Obviously, all this does come at a price. If you want more than the standard 180 hp in the 3, you’ll need to fork over $31,000.

Only one sedan can fit your needs, and it might be the Mazda 3

A grey Mazda 3 AWD hatchback shot from the front on a canyon road at sunset
The new Mazda 3 does minimalism better than the Honda | Mazda

The 2021 Mazda 3 Sedan Is the Answer to Your Chip Shortage Woes

Really, this whole thing is a rhetorical question for you, the reader. If snow is a factor in your life, both will manage with some snow tires, but the Mazda will be more sure-footed. If price isn’t too much of a concern, the Mazda comes out on top again. However, the Civic does offer enticing value. If you can swing the price difference, take the Mazda. But if not, you’ll be perfectly happy in a Honda Civic.