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Among hatchbacks, the 2022 Mazda3 and 2022 Honda Civic are excellent options. They’re great as daily commuter cars while providing ample cargo and passenger space. So, which should you choose?

One of the comparison metrics is car safety, so you might be wondering which hatchback is safer. Fortunately, both cars earned Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ honors and, thus, are safe. The Civic slightly edges out the Mazda3 in the IIHS ratings. However, there’s more to the story.

IIHS car safety criteria and ratings

The IIHS has become the go-to agency for determining car safety because it conducts independent tests and provides unbiased ratings. It recently released its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ winners for the 2022 model year. Both the Honda Civic and Mazda3 won TSP+ safety awards.

Similarly ranked small cars are the Civic and Mazda3 sedans and the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.

Though the IIHS considers Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ winners safe, the latter is slightly safer. That’s due to one minor difference in the rating criteria. According to the IIHS, Top Safety Pick+ winners need “acceptable” or “good” headlight ratings as standard across all vehicle trim levels.

Conversely, acceptable or good headlights should be available for the car model in the Top Safety Pick options. That implies they don’t have to be standard for all trim levels, but they need to be available as an option.

The rest of the criteria for both options are pretty similar. For the 2022 model year, the IIHS requires cars in these categories to achieve good ratings in various crashworthiness tests. Furthermore, the vehicles should have an advanced or superior front crash prevention system.

However, the IIHS says it will make its rating criteria more stringent in 2023. That means some of the 2022 Top Safety Pick+ vehicles could fall from the pedestal.

Mazda3 vs. 2022 Honda Civic: Which 2022 hatchback is safer?

2022 Mazda3 Honda Civic hatchback
2022 Mazda3 hatchback (top) and 2022 Honda Civic hatchback | Mazda North American Operations; American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Both hatchbacks perform exceptionally well in terms of crashworthiness. In fact, they received good ratings in all six crashworthiness tests. They include head restraints and seats, side crash tests, roof strength, and three frontal crash tests.

But the problem for the Mazda3 concerns crash avoidance and mitigation, with the headlights playing a considerable part. The 2022 hatchback received an acceptable rating for the 2.5 S, Select, Preferred, and Carbon Edition trims. That’s due to inadequate visibility on some of the left curves for high and low beams.

Conversely, the 2022 Civic provides optimal visibility in all scenarios, so it’s generally safer than the Mazda3. However, the highest Mazda3 trim levels boast better headlights and road visibility than the Civic.

2022 Mazda3 vs. 2022 Honda Civic: Features and specs comparison

Aside from safety, Mazda lists seven available 2022 Mazda3 hatchback trim levels, including the base-model 2.5 S and the range-topping 2.5 Premium Plus. Starting prices for the trims range from $22,750 to $34,400.

The five lower trim levels have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. And the two higher trims feature a 2.5-liber turbo-four making 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Comparatively, the 2022 Honda Civic hatchback offers four trim levels. According to Honda, the standard LX starts at $23,350. As for the range-topping Sport Touring, pricing starts at $29,850.

The two lower trims pack 158-hp four-cylinder engines, while the top two have 180-hp turbocharged versions. Peak torque is 138 lb-ft and 177 lb-ft, respectively.

Because the Mazda3’s top two trims have better headlights than the Civic, they offer the best in safety and performance. Consequently, if you have the budget, the Mazda3’s top two trims might provide the best value of the two hatchbacks.