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Honda has carried this year’s Civic compact to the top of many reviewers’ lists as one of the best cars to consider in 2023. With handsome styling, engaging drivetrains, and four or five-door configurations, it’s great for average owners and enthusiasts alike. Further down in ranking from some is the revered Volkswagen GTI. The seasoned hot hatchback has impressive features, melding versatility with speed and balanced handling. But it has stiff competition this year. In a few particular ways, the 2023 Honda Civic has its German GTI competitor licked.

1. Better gas mileage

A blue Honda Civic hatchback driving by trees
2023 Honda Civic Hatchback | Honda

The 2023 Volkswagen GTI will achieve an EPA-estimated 23-24 mpg in the city and 32-34 mpg on the highway. Differences lie in the six-manual and the dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmissions. The figures are on the low side for the compact segment. Civics with the same engine displacement (a 2.0-liter turbo-four) will provide far better fuel economy (apart from the manual five-door hatchback).

When the Honda Civic’s 1.5-liter turbo-four is under the hood, its efficiency allows it to go much further than the GTI. EPA estimates show that the most efficient configuration will provide 33 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway.

2. More balanced performance

The Volkswagen GTI stands out as one of the sportiest offerings in the midsize sedan segment. With a well-balanced chassis, agile steering, and responsive acceleration, it 241 horsepower is enough to feel eagerly athletic. Golf R variants get 315 horsepower and all-wheel drive, but its capability is now seemingly commonplace in the segment. Moreover, other class competitors offer ride and comfort in a more balanced manner.

With a level of sophistication and performance infrequent at such a price point, the 2023 Honda will impress. Although it’s racier than its predecessors, the Civic still is one of the more comfortable vehicles in the segment. Furthermore, the Civic returns with the revered Type R this year. Its effervescent 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder will net 315 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque. Unfortunately, there’s no stick-shift in the sedan.

3. Lower starting price

A red Volkswagen GTI drives in the desert
2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI | Volkswagen

The 2023 GTI has a starting price of $30,530, per Volkswagen. It’s much higher than the class average, but the range-topping models are nearing $40,000.  

Although the base Civic LX was discontinued, the entry-level Civic Sport has an MSRP of $25,050. With over $5,000 in difference, it’s a significant point to consider for a new car. Even the top-of-the-line Luxe variant is under $30,000. Prices have yet to be released for the Civic Type R, but it could be less than the most expensive Golf variant.

Where does the Civic fall to the GTI?


2023 Honda Civic Si vs. 2023 Acura Integra: A Real-World Comparison

In terms of cargo area, the Honda Civic has better than average space for the compact class. The four-door sedan version has 14.8 cubic feet, but the five-door hatchback has 24.5 cubes. Moreover, the rear liftgate’s wide opening makes it easy to load and unload bulky items, U.S. News says. With the 60/40-split-folding row in the hatchback, it’s got enough room to swallow a mountain bike. But the Golf GTI will offer much more space, with 19.9 cubic feet. Its seats fold to unveil even more room for groceries, luggage, and sporting equipment, with 34.5 cubes.

If getting the most amount of passenger room and cargo space is the top priority, the Golf GTI will also satisfy those needs. While the rear seating row of the Honda Civic is comfy and has enough room for adults, headroom is compromised for styling sake.