Is the Honda Civic EX Faster Than The 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE?

The 2021 Honda Civic EX has always been a fan favorite for enthusiasts. The Toyota Corolla has always been a favorite for all kinds of drivers. But with the Corolla XSE on the market, has the Civic met its match? It might be too early to determine that, but we can try.

What do we know about the Toyota Corolla XSE?

The 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE is a semi-new and exciting venture for Toyota. This Corolla is not only a hatchback but a manual hatchback. The 2.0L 4-Cylinder (CVT) is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission.

It might not be everyone’s ideal car, but for the price point, it works. The Corolla has a starting MSRP of $25,925. There is also an XSE Apex edition that starts at $28,310.

The EX has a starting MSRP of $24,400. It has a 7-inch display, turbo engine, moonroof and power seats. It is also has a continuously variable transmission (CVT), like the XSE.

The Corolla comes in so many trims and options, we might not have seen this exact style before. It certainly won’t be the last time we get a manual hatch from the company. We hope.

What is the difference between the XSE and the Civic?

Compared to the 2021 Honda Civic EX, the Civic gets better gas mileage (by four!) and has a bit less horsepower. It is about 168 hp at 6,600 rpm for the XSE and 158 hp at 6,500 rpm for the base civic. The Civic EX gets 174 hp.

Kelly Blue Book says that for 2020, the Civic and the Corolla are fairly identical on the outside.

“Both sedans employ a continuously variable automatic (CVT) as their main transmission offering but maintain limited availability of a 6-speed manual. Honda relegates its stick shift to the base engine but offers it in two trim levels, LX and Sport. Toyota pairs its manual transmission with its larger engine in the sport-themed Corolla SE.”

The XSE is available with the 2.0L 4-cylinder, 6-speed manual, or the 2.0L CVT automatic. The Civic has the 2.0L 4-cylinder CVT as well. The Civic EX comes with a 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder that gets 174 hp.

The EX is going to run you about 32 miles per gallon in the city, 42 on the highway, and a combined of 36. The XSE is running about 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on the highway.

Which one is right for you?

We wouldn’t exactly jump to calling the Corolla a hot hatch, but we could jump to that with the Civic. A hot hatch is generally a high-performance hatchback car, and the Civic is not new to that phrase.

On the baseline, the Civic EX has more power. But if you find yourself more interested in Toyota than Honda, the XSE is a good pick. Overall, these cars are fairly matched as far as fast goes.

This one really comes down to style and the manual hatchback option. That might win over some of the customers that would usually pick the Honda Civic over anything else.