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The Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra are very popular vehicles in the compact sedan segment. However, it is still a crowded group, despite the automaker exodus to build SUVs and crossovers. In addition to the Honda and Hyundai, the Kia Forte, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, and Volkswagen Jetta share that small car space and vie for the crown. MotorTrend pitted the compact sedans against each other to crown an all-around winner, although they couldn’t get a Toyota Corolla or Subaru Impreza. So in the wee car wars, which compact sedan is king?

Mazda3 tied the Kia Forte GT in a sprint to 60 mph compact sedan race

Wee Car Wars: 2022 Honda Civic and 2022 Hyundai Elantra Battle With Compact Sedan Rivals
Mazda3 | Mazda

The 2022 Mazda Mazda3 AWD that MotorTrend received for testing is quick. It jumped to 60 mph from a standstill in just 6.4 seconds. The 2022 Kia Forte GT also matched the Mazda3’s dash to sixty, albeit losing to the Mazda3 by .1 second in the quarter-mile. However, the results make sense, given that turbocharged 16-valve inline four-cylinder engines power both sedans.

Meanwhile, the rest of the compact sedan pack was more lethargic with the dead sprint. The Volkswagen Jetta made the run in a respectable 7.6 seconds. Then the 2022 Honda Civic with the 1.5L turbocharged engine got to 60 mph in precisely 8.0 seconds. Further, the Hyundai Elantra with the 2.0L engine ran to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. Finally, the Nissan Sentra lumbered to 60 mph in a sluggish 9.7 seconds.

The Kia Forte GT is the least expensive car in the group, followed by the Hyundai Elantra

Wee Car Wars: 2022 Honda Civic and 2022 Hyundai Elantra Battle With Compact Sedan Rivals
2022 Hyundai Elantra | Hyundai

Despite matching the agility of the Mazda3, the Kia Forte manages to be the least expensive car in the group at a reasonable $26,870. The Hyundai costs nearly as much as the Forte at $27,080. Next, the Nissan Sentra comes in at $27,475, a price that MotorTrend claims to be a great value. The Jetta and Civic are similarly priced at $29,185 and $30,360 respectively. Finally, the Mazda3 is the priciest car in the group, coming in at $34,115.

When it comes to tech, the Volkswagen Jetta is cutting edge in the compact sedan segment

Wee Car Wars: 2022 Honda Civic and 2022 Hyundai Elantra Battle With Compact Sedan Rivals
Volkswagen Arteon | Michael Brochstein, Getty Images

All of the cars tested feature safety and infotainment tech. MotorTrend found that the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) on the Civic, Elantra, and Forte were the best out of the group. Furthermore, the Volkswagen Jetta scored top marks with its IQ.Drive, if not as well as every other car in the group.

The Honda Civic scored top marks in safety, style, and comfort

2022 Honda Civic | Doug DeMuro

Only the Civic delivered a balance of exceptional handling and a comfortable ride. Pair that with segment-leading interior materials, and the MotorTrend crew was smitten with the driving experience in the Honda Civic. Finally, while the Mazda3 also took home IIHS’ top awards in safety, the Civic managed to do so while saving the consumer money.

At the end of the test, the all-around winner of the compact sedan battle was the 2022 Honda Civic

MotorTrend decided that the winner of the 2022 sedan slug-fest was none other than the Honda Civic. Here are the final standings:

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Hyundai Elantra
  3. Nissan Sentra
  4. Mazda Mazda3
  5. Kia Forte GT
  6. Volkswagen Jetta

The evaluators at MotorTrend felt as though the Jetta had fallen from the grace of what it once was. Also, the bland looks and faulty transmission kept Forte from capitalizing on speed and value. Additionally, the Mazda3’s price hampered the Hiroshima sedan from achieving a podium finish. The Sentra and Elantra were impressive podium finishers but not quite up to Civic standards. The Honda Civic secured the win with attractive styling, good value, and sharp driving attributes.


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