Cars

Is the 2020 Mazda3 Sporty Enough to Be Better Than the Honda Civic?

The Honda Civic was the top-selling vehicle in California in 2019. Although the Civic may be dominant, the Mazda3 is holding its own. These two compact cars are both highly rated and both have sporty looks and engaging performances. Here’s a look at how they compare.

Rankings for the 2020 Mazda3 and Honda Civic

The 2020 Honda Civic and 2020 Mazda3 are tied for #2 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Compact Cars for 2020 (behind the 2020 Volkswagen GTI).

The two cars are also tied for #3 in Best Hatchbacks for 2020 (behind the Honda Fit and Volkswagen GTI). They tied for #3 in Best Small Cars for 2020 as well (behind the Honda Fit and Volkswagen GTI).

The Civic was also a finalist for U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Compact Car for the Money award, which the Kia Forte won.

Exterior

The Civic has more body style options since it’s available as a coupe, sedan, or hatchback. The 2020 Mazda3 comes only as a sedan or hatchback. The current Civic generation came out for model year 2016, although the sedan and coupe models got exterior redesigns for 2019, and the hatchback exterior was redesigned for 2020. The Mazda3 was redesigned for 2019.

The Civic offers more powertrain options than the Mazda3

Both cars are fun to drive, but only the Civic has engine choices. The standard engine for the Civic sedan and coupe is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which produces 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque.

The sedan and coupe also have an available 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. The Civic sedan and coupe engines are paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The Civic hatchback also has the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, along with either transmission. With the manual, it gets 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque.

The high-performance Civic Si sedan and coupe have a 1.5-liter turbo-four engine, producing 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. And the high-performance hatchback Civic Type R has a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, producing 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The Civic Si and Type R both have only the manual transmission.

The 2020 Mazda3 has what U.S. News & World Report calls “sharper handling” than the Civic, and it also offers all-wheel drive, while the Civic does not. The Mazda3 has just one engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, generating 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, although a six-speed manual transmission is an option.

Fuel economy

The Civic has great fuel economy estimates, while the Mazda3’s is more average. The 2020 Civic with the manual transmission gets 26 to 29 MPG in the city and 36 to 37 MPG on the highway. The Civic hatchback with the CVT is rated for 31 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway, which is excellent.

The 2020 Mazda3 sedan with front-wheel drive gets 27 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway. The Mazda3 hatchback with the automatic transmission is rated for 26 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway. With the manual transmission that decreases one MPG for both city and highway driving. All-wheel drive decreases the figures slightly as well.

Interior

U.S. News & World Report liked the interiors of both cars, although the Civic offers more space than the Mazda3, both for rear-seat passengers and in the cargo area. Both cars come standard with cloth seats, except for the Mazda3 hatchback, which comes with synthetic leather. Both have leather upholstery available.

The Civic has different cargo space sizes, depending on the body style and trim. Civic coupes have either 11.9 or 12.1 cubic feet in the trunk. Civic sedans have 15.1 or 14.7 cubic feet in the trunk. And Civic hatchbacks have either 22.6 or 25.7 cubic feet in the back and 46.2 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

The Mazda3 has less cargo space when compared to similar Civic body styles, except when the hatchback rear seats are folded down. The Mazda3 sedan has 13.2 cubic feet in the trunk. In comparison, the hatchback has 20.1 cubic feet of cargo room and 47.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

Technology

The Honda Civic comes standard with a five-inch screen, although a seven-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available. U.S. News & World Report calls the Civic’s touchscreen “cumbersome.” The Mazda3 has an 8.8-inch screen, although it’s not a touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is available.

Price

The 2020 Honda Civic is more affordable, with starting prices of $20,650 for the sedan, $21,050 for the coupe, and $21,750 for the hatchback. The 2020 Mazda3 has starting prices of $21,500 for the sedan and $23,700 for the hatchback. With limited differences between the 2020 Honda Civic and 2020 Mazda3, the decision between the two comes down to personal preference.