Should You Buy a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla?

When it comes to compact cars, two models have dominated the landscape for years. Both the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla have low-cost ownership, reliability, and good fuel economy. The Honda Civic comes in as the second top-selling car in the United States and the Corolla comes in third (the Toyota Camry is first on the list). Although these models have many things in common, there are some differences that potential buyers should know about if they’re trying to choose between the two.

The Honda Civic vs. the Toyota Corolla

Honda shows off the 2020 Civic Type R the Chicago Auto Show
The 2020 Honda Civic | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The 2020 Honda Civic comes in sedan, hatchback, and coupe models. The 2020 Toyota Corolla has been completely redesigned for this year and is available as a hatchback or coupe. For comparison, we will use the sedan models of both cars. First up is the price. The Civic comes in as a little more expensive with a starting MSRP of $20,650 compared to the Corolla’s starting MSRP of $19,600.

On the outside, the two sedans look quite different now that the Corolla has been redesigned. This gives it a somewhat more modern look than the Civic, with a large, low front-air intake, and distinctive headlight shape. The Civic has a classic sedan look, with lines that sweep back to the rear and prominent taillights. 

The interior and technology of these vehicles offer very similar features. They have central infotainment touchscreens, available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and LED lighting. Higher trims get heated front seats, a sunroof, extra USB ports, and an improved sound system. Both offer a blind-spot warning system, though the Civic has an awkward way of doing it that is being phased out by Honda. However, the Civic has a little more interior room and comfort, with a higher-end feel to the interior materials.

Under the hood, the two compacts again are similar. The Corolla has two engines. The L and LE models have a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and SE models sport a more energetic 2.0-liter engine paired with Toyota’s CVT transmission. The Civic Sport and LX trims have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine while the Civic EX, Touring, and EX-L models have a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

Both the Corolla and the Civic are known for their reliability, and both vehicles have the same warranty – a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The Honda Civic advantage 

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The Honda Civic offers a few more choices for potential car buyers. If they want a little more excitement, they can opt for a higher performance Civic, the Si model. The Si has a 1.5-liter turbo engine, puts out 205 hp, and comes with a 6-speed manual transmission exclusively. It also offers a 2-door coupe model, which the Toyota Corolla does not. The Honda Civic also offers 16-inch wheels and automatic climate control on its base model. 

The Toyota Corolla Hybrid

One thing that sets the Corolla apart from the Honda Civic is that it is available as a hybrid model. The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the very first Corolla hybrid available to buyers. It gets 53 miles per gallon, has a smart key system, an 8-inch touch screen, and a Hybrid Power Mode. If prospective Civic buyers are interested in a hybrid vehicle, they should check out the Honda Insight, which gets up to 55 miles per gallon. 

Overall, the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic are very similar compact cars. Even though it has a very slightly higher price, the Honda Civic offers a few more advantages to drivers than the Corolla. Both famous compacts are solid choices for a practical, reliable sedan.