Can the Toyota Corolla Keep up With the Honda Civic?

Although Ford and Chevrolet have cut their sedan choices severely, SUVs and trucks haven’t completely killed demand for them. And for sedan buyers, the choice usually comes down between Toyota and Honda. The Honda Civic keeps breaking sales records, but the Toyota Corolla isn’t exactly unpopular. The Corolla was redesigned for the 2020 model year; but, even without a redesign, the Civic still beat out the Mazda 3 in a recent comparison. So, which popular sedan is worth your consideration? YouTube team The Straight Pipes wanted to find out.

Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic spec details

To ensure the best assessment possible, The Straight Pipes tested the sedans’ highest trims.

The Toyota Corolla XSE comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, making 169 hp and 151 lb-ft. The Honda Civic Touring, meanwhile, has a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, developing 174 hp and 162 lb-ft. Both cars have a CVT.

The range-topping Corolla and Civic do share some things in common. Both offer proximity keys, for instance, and Apple CarPlay. They also both have heated front seats and advanced driver-assistance features like automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. But the sedans do stand apart in the little details.

Where does the Toyota Corolla beat out the Honda Civic?

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE | Toyota

Although CVTs don’t have actual gears, The Straight Pipes remark that the Corolla’s seems to react faster than the Civic’s at speed. Motor Trend also found the Corolla’s real-world fuel economy better matched its EPA ratings than the Civic’s.

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE interior
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE interior | Toyota

Inside, the Toyota Corolla also has the edge on the Honda Civic in a few areas. The Toyota’s seats, for instance, have power lumbar support, unlike the Civic. The Corolla XSE also gets a heated steering wheel and heated wipers. The Toyota’s backup camera has better resolution, and it has actual blind-spot monitoring, not the Civic Touring’s awkward side-camera stand-in. In addition, the Corolla’s center console not only looks more spacious, it actually has more knee-room than the Civic.

Car and Driver reports that the Corolla XSE’s touchscreen is slightly larger than the Civic Touring’s: 8.0” vs 7.0”. In addition, the Corolla gets an actual radio tuning knob. The Straight Pipes also report the Toyota’s infotainment system is slightly easier to use than the Honda’s.

Finally, the Toyota Corolla XSE is cheaper than the Honda Civic Touring. In the US, the Corolla XSE starts at $25,500. The Civic Touring, though, starts at $27,700.

However, the Honda Civic has some advantages of its own.

Where does the Civic edge out the Corolla?

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring
2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring | Honda

Again, it’s the little things that set the Civic apart from the Corolla. For example, the Honda Civic gets heated seats both front and rear. And while the Toyota may get a physical radio knob, the Civic has a better sound system and standard Android Auto. Toyota doesn’t even offer it as an option. MT also found that, overall, the Civic’s interior has better materials, and is of a higher quality. The Toyota Corolla XSE doesn’t even have real leather, only Softex, like in the Highlander XSE.

2020 Honda Civic Touring interior
2020 Honda Civic Touring interior | Honda

The Honda Civic Touring is also more practical than the Corolla XSE. Both cars have folding rear seats, but the Civic’s can be dropped from the trunk. In the Toyota, you have to open the rear doors first. The Honda also has a slightly larger trunk.

But perhaps where the Honda really shines compared to the Toyota is in its handling. The Straight Pipes, MT, and Car and Driver all agree that the Civic’s ride is better and more composed, and it feels sharper at every speed. Even in straight-line highway commuting, the Honda is simply nicer to drive.

Which is the better buy?

Even though it costs $2200 more, The Straight Pipes preferred the Honda Civic Touring over the Toyota Corolla XSE. So did Car and Driver and MT. The Toyota Corolla is still a good sedan, especially if you really need to stick to a budget. But the Honda Civic is simply a better vehicle overall.

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