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These two popular Japanese compact sedans are top choices for many buyers. But how do you know which one is better? Is the Honda Civic better? or the Mazda 3? It’s hard to say for sure who comes out on top. Here are 5 reasons the Mazda 3 is better than the Honda Civic. Though they both hold their own in the compact car competition, each one has its strengths and weaknesses.

The Mazda 3 holds its own against the popular Honda Civic. And well. It has its own areas of mastery that overtake the Civic, and it is easily one of the best options in the class. Either way, these are both sporty little sedans that separate one buyer from another.

Handling and drive experience

Each of these compact cars boasts what US News and World Report calls “dialed-in handling, excellent steering response, and comfortable, composed ride qualities.” But Mazda has very intentionally positioned itself with the “long-running ethos of making fun-to-drive vehicles.” The Mazda 3 holds true to this and gains ground over the Honda Civic for handling and drive experience.

a gray Mazda 3 parked in the city
Mazda 3 Sedan

The complete 2019 redesign showed several improvements in terms of handling. Plus, the Mazda 3 has one more distinct advantage over the Honda compact car competition: the available all-wheel drive which sets it apart in its class. Very few cars in its class can be equally equipped.


The Mazda 3 earns 5 out 5 safety scores across the board. The Honda Civic earned only a 4 out of 5 for its Civic Coupe’s frontal crash rating. Additionally, the Mazda3’s standard headlights earned an Acceptable rating which is the second-highest score. Because of this, this compact car was named a 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick. On the other hand, we have the Civic’s standard headlights which were rated only Poor.

Technology and infotainment

The Mazda3 comes standard with an 8.8-inch infotainment display. Modern infotainment connectivity is a standard feature. The higher position of the display has been controversial. However, most consumers agree that the setup on a Mazda 3 is simple to use while driving. Also, this is just one more feature that the Civic can’t beat in terms of the Mazda’s sheer luxury.

2020 Honda Civic Sedan Touring
2020 Honda Civic Sedan Touring | Honda

Interior quality

Each of these compact cars offers soft-touch surfaces to all who enter. US News and World Report says they boast “sleek designs and overall pleasing cabin atmospheres.” The Civic however, incorporates a more disappointing amount of hard plastics throughout their interior. And, though the 2020 Honda Civic doesn’t feel cheap, the 2020 Mazda 3 feels downright luxurious.

Only the Mazda 3 in its entry-level model has cloth seating and everything above that gets synthetic leather upholstery. It adds a lot to the overall feeling of the Mazda’s interior. You can even get real leather in the highest trim, which is the level that contributes most to this little sedan in terms of its luxurious reputation.

bird's eye view of the Mazda 3 hatchback and sedan
bird’s eye view of the Mazda 3 | Mazda

Cheaper hatchback

Though the Honda Civic hatchbacks have a long list of compelling selling points, they are much more expensive than the Mazda 3 hatch. The 2020 Civic hatchback in its performance trim will cost over 35 grand. The Mazda 3 hatchback option has a price range of $23,700 – $29,000. If you really love these cars for the hatch but you don’t want to spend too much, this one wins here.

a gray Mazda 3 hatchback parked in an industrial area
2020 Mazda 3 Hatchback | Mazda

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