Good Luck Deciding Between the 2021 Honda Civic and the 2021 Mazda3

The Honda Civic and the Mazda3 keep the compact car class spicy. Both models shine for their engaging, fun-to-drive dynamics without many sacrifices. That’s why choosing between these two can seem incredibly challenging.

The 2021 Honda Civic and the 2021 Mazda3 offer tons of flavor 

A red 2021 Honda Civic on the track.
The 2021 Honda Civic in action | Photo via Honda

You could say that the Civic and the Mazda3 have something for everyone. Their standard setups make for an enjoyable driving experience and are budget-friendly. These models also provide extra power for those who want it. Both are available as a sedan or hatchback. Though, some say the Mazda3 has a firmer ride quality, while the Civic is more cushiony. 

As with the outgoing model, the 2021 Civic comes with a peppy 158-hp four-cylinder and a continuously variable automatic (CVT). Unfortunately, Honda sunsetted the coupe body style variant and the Civic Si. There aren’t any other significant changes here, though. The Civic has an available turbo-four that makes 174-hp or 180-hp depending on the trim level. Separately, there’s the Civic Type R, which a six-speed manual and turbo-four that generates 305-hp. 

A grey 2021 Mazda3 Hatchback driving down a highway road
The 2021 Mazda3 Hatchback in action | Photo via Mazda

While the Honda tooketh away from the Civic lineup, Mazda giveth on the 2021 Mazda3. The Mazda3 now comes with a new 155-hp four-cylinder. Next up is a 186-hp four-cylinder that unlocks the available all-wheel-drive system, as Car and Driver highlights. AWD variants get a six-speed auto. The Mazda3 has an available six-speed manual, but only for front-wheel-drive models. For the most potent Mazda3 experience, there’s the brand-new 250-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder on the top-trim

Both sedans present clever car cabins 

The front row of of the 2020 Honda Civic with leather-trimmed seats.
Honda Civic Sedan Touring | Honda

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Like most of the competition, the Civic and the Mazda3 can seat up to five people. Both models present classy cabins with high-quality materials. The sedan variants have decent trunk space, but you’ll want to go with the Civic Hatchback or the Mazda3 Hatchback for extra cargo room.  

You can upgrade either model leather-trimmings and amenities such as heated seats. The Mazda3’s cabin looks more modern since it was redesigned in 2019; the Civic’s last redesign was for 2016. Furthermore, the Mazda3 offers more ways to customize your cabin experience through package options.

Front seats of the 2021 Mazda3.
2021 Mazda3 Turbo interior | Honda

This Honda and Mazda offer similar in-car tech. The Civic and the Mazda3 come with active safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assistance. However, neither comes with many standard infotainment features. You have to step up from the base Civic and the base Mazda3 to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. 

How would you decide between the Civic and the Mazda3?

A red Honda Civic Hatchback on display at an auto show
A Honda Civic displayed at an auto show | Vachira Vachira/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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The 2021 Mazda3 starts at $20,500, and the 2021 Civic starts at $21,050. Deciding between these two is challenging because of their similar offerings. Still, there a few important distinctions to consider. 

A Mazda3 on display at an auto show
A Mazda3 on display | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Honda still has the advantage with a stronger resale value, so the Civic makes more sense if that’s important to you. The Civic’s ride quality is arguably more comfortable too. If you’re interested in a small car with AWD and extra luxe options, the Mazda3 could be right for you.