3 Affordable Honda Civic Alternatives Under $20,000

There are few cars as iconic and consistently successful as the Honda Civic. The compact sedan was one of the best-selling cars of 2021 per Newsweek, and another 70,000 units were sold in the first half of 2022 alone, according to Car and Driver. The combination of reliability, safety, and fuel economy at an affordable price makes it an excellent option for drivers nationwide. But it is one of many sedan options in a crowded segment in the U.S. If you’re looking for affordable Honda Civic alternatives, here are three sedans worth looking at:

A red 2022 Honda Civic parked outdoors
2022 Honda Civic | Honda

The 2022 Hyundai Elantra is an affordable Honda Civic alternative (MSRP: $20,500)

The 2022 Hyundai Elantra offers a lot of what drivers love about the Honda Civic: great fuel economy, above-average cargo space, a spacious interior, and many standard safety features. Three of the Elantra trims – the base SE, SEL, and Limited – are all powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. Both figures are lower than the Civic’s base engine (158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque.) 

However, the Elantra N Line gets a boost in power with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine (201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque), and the N goes even further with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder making 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque.

There are lots of features across the Elantra lineup, too. All Hyundai Elantra trims come with an eight-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a four-speaker audio system, and a host of standard safety features. Lane-keeping system, driver attention warning, forward collision mitigation, automatic rear braking, and safe exit warning help make the Elantra a Top Safety Pick, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 

Reviewers at MotorTrend praise the Elantra for its improved interior and driving dynamics. Its value and affordable starting price make it a worthwhile Honda Civic alternative, too. But the interior materials are not as high quality as other vehicles in Hyundai’s lineup, like the Palisade. TrueCar ranks the Elantra as the second-best sedan on the market thanks to its interior space, safety features, and warranties. But the lack of power and interior materials are knocks against it there as well.

The new Toyota Corolla starts under $25,000 and is outselling the Honda Civic in 2022 (MSRP: $20,425)

Though the Civic has outsold the Corolla for the last seven years, data from GoodCarBadCar shows the Corolla is outselling the Civic in 2022 (152,682 units to 86,905). There are five trims available: the base L, LE, XLE, SE, and XSE. The first three trims are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine producing 139 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. Those are the lowest power figures on the list. The SE and XSE trims get a boost in power with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. 

Like the Civic, the Corolla has its own safety features as part of Toyota’s Safety Sense suite. Blind spot monitoring, road sign assist, lane tracing assist, and dynamic radar cruise control are all included. The IIHS named the 2022 Toyota Corolla a Top Safety Pick+.

The Corolla’s hallmarks are similar to the Civic’s. Great fuel economy and reliability are mainstays for the compact sedan, making it a great Honda Civic alternative. Head-to-head, reviewers at MotorTrend applaud the Corolla’s reliability and value but overall would rather have the Civic. The Corolla’s base engine is underpowered, and the car falls short in interior space. It does not have outstanding warranties like the Elantra to help its case. However, if the Civic just isn’t the car for you, there’s no denying that the Toyota Corolla is a winning choice in the segment.

RELATED: 4 Advantages to Buying a 2023 Toyota Corolla Over a Honda Civic

The 2022 Mazda3 is a Honda Civic alternative that’s fun to drive (MSRP: $21,150) 

The Mazda3 is an affordable car that’s fun to drive, making it a great Honda Civic alternative. There are three trim options for the Mazda3 – the base 2.0, 2.5 S, and 2.5 Turbo. It’s the closest sedan on the list to the Civic in terms of power, too. The base 2.0 trim has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. The 2.5 S trim bumps the power up to 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The most powerful trim – the 2.5 Turbo – includes a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that gets 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque on regular gasoline or 250 and 320 on premium. All-wheel drive is available for the 2.5 S trim and standard on the 2.5 Turbo.

Inside the cabin, all Mazda3 models come with an 8.8-inch infotainment screen system connected to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an eight-speaker audio system. Bumping up to the higher trims includes optional packages that offer comforts like simulated leather upholstery (the Select package), a sunroof (Preferred), leather seats and paddle shifters (Premium), black-painted wheels and heated mirrors (Carbon Edition), and navigation system and leather upholstery (Premium Plus). 

The Mazda3 comes with Mazda’s i-Activsense suite of safety features, making it no surprise the IIHS rates the Mazda3 a Top Safety Pick+ for 2022. That suite includes front and rear parking sensors, traffic jam assist, frontal collision mitigation, and a drowsy driver monitor.

Of the Honda Civic alternatives, the Mazda3 is the best rated for driving. Car and Driver reviewers call the Mazda3 a “gratifying driving experience” with premium interior materials. They also compliment the looks inside and out with a luxurious feel in the cabin and a sharp-looking exterior. However, it falls short compared to the Civic regarding cargo capacity and passenger space. 

Which Honda Civic alternative is the best?

Each of these Honda Civic alternatives makes excellent options, so it really depends on what you put a premium on. Drivers looking for great fuel efficiency and industry-leading warranties can’t go wrong with the Elantra. The Corolla is an affordable car with similar reliability, fuel economy, and safety as the Honda Civic. Of the alternatives, the Mazda3 is the best-looking and most fun to drive, making it the premier pick for drivers looking for thrills behind the wheel.

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