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Honda's Civic and Toyota's Corolla are two of the top-selling cars in North America today. The 2021 Honda Civic is available as a four-door sedan, a four-door hatchback or a two-door coupe. The 2021 Toyota Corolla can be purchased as a four-door sedan or hatchback. Toyota also offers a hybrid model, while Honda offers a high-performance, hot-hatch version of their Civic.
Both of these Japanese automakers have excellent reputations for building long-lasting and reliable vehicles. Honda, in particular, is known for their durable engines. Toyota is known for building low-maintenance cars with long lifespans. Both companies have loyal fans that appreciate the fine craftsmanship and affordable prices. It's only natural that vehicles from these two manufacturers are often compared.
The base model for the 2021 Honda Civic will have a turbocharged, 2.0-liter I4 engine. This goes for either the sedan or the hatchback variations. This engine is capable of producing 158 horsepower with 138 pound-feet of torque. Models equipped with this engine will get a 2-speed continuously-variable transmission, or CVT for short. All models and trim levels of the Civic have front-wheel drive.
Higher trim levels get a turbocharged, 1.5-liter I4 that can make 174 horsepower with 162 pound-feet of torque. This setup has the same CVT as before. The Touring Sport hatchbacks get the same size and type of engine, but some fine tuning gets it up to 180 horsepower. These models get the option of a 6-speed manual transmission.
Acceleration and braking are strong with any of the powertrain setups for the Civic. This is one of the Honda Civic's strongest selling points. For the high-performance enthusiast, there's also the Civic Type-R. The Type-R has a turbocharged engine that can crank out a whopping 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It comes stock with the manual 6-speed transmission.
The Type-R still manages to get respectable fuel-economy numbers, thanks in part to the smaller turbocharged engine. It's powerful yet efficient. Honda claims that it should get around 28 miles-per-gallon on the highway and 22 miles-per-gallon in the city. The base models have a combined fuel-economy rating of 33 miles-per-gallon. The 175 horsepower models come in at 33 to 36 miles-per-gallon while the 180 horsepower Civics offer 32 miles-per-gallon.
As previously mentioned, Honda vehicles are reliable. In case something does go wrong, however, it's always good to know that a carmaker stands behind their products. Honda offers warranty coverage and roadside assistance for up to three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The powertrain is covered under warranty for five years or 60,000 miles. These numbers are pretty much the industry standard for 2021.
The 2021 Toyota Corolla has three different powertrain options. There's a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with 16 valves and dual overhead cams. This model produces 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. It has a combined fuel-economy rating of 33 miles-per-gallon. It's also paired with a 2-speed CVT, much like the Honda Civic's base transmission system.
Another similarity that the Corolla shares with the Civic is its front-wheel drive. Once again, all models have this type of drivetrain. The second engine choice offered by Toyota is a 2.0-liter I4. This time, the Corolla produces 169 horses with 151 pound-feet of torque for noticeably better acceleration. This setup comes with a 10-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.
Unlike the Honda Civic, Toyota offers their Corolla with a hybrid powertrain. This setup features a 1.8-liter engine with variable-valve timing and dual overhead cams. It's rated at only 121 horsepower, but acceleration is still good, especially when the correct driving mode is selected. This Corolla has Normal, Power and ECO modes for different driving scenarios.
No version of the Corolla is sporty, so the power-assisted and ventilated brakes do their job with no problems. What the Corolla lacks in performance, it makes up for with solid reliability. The Corolla has one of the best track records out there for longevity. The Toyota Corolla basic warranty and powertrain coverage is identical to what Honda has to offer.
When it comes to steering and handling, the Honda Civic wins out against the Toyota Corolla. Steering is tight, accurate and just feels great behind the wheel of any Civic. It gets even better with the sportier models and downright exhilarating in the Type-R. There's no contest when it comes to acceleration and overall speed, either. The Honda wins hands down.
The Toyota is competent in these areas, but it just feels good and never great. The Civic is simply more fun to drive. The Civic interior is modern yet simple. The seats are comfortable even at the starting trim levels. There's plenty of room up front or in back no matter which body style is chosen. It's also reasonably quiet inside of the Civic.
The Civic sedan has between 14.7 and 15.1 cubic-feet of storage space in the trunk. The hatchback models offer 22.6 to 25.7 cubic-feet of space. The rear seats can also be folded down to increase the cargo area up to 46.2 cubic feet.
A Corolla sedan offers just 13.1 cubic-feet of space in the trunk. Hatchback models have around 17.8 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Unfortunately, it can't be expanded as much as the Honda Civic can. Both vehicles have dual-zone climate control to keep the driver and all passengers nice and comfortable in all kinds of weather.
Like the Honda seats, the Toyota seats are also quite comfortable up front. Both vehicles offer a heating feature for the front seats. Toyota offers 6-way adjustments for the driver's seat while the Honda has 8-way adjustments. Both vehicles have good visibility and provide a decent ride quality.
The base model of the Honda Civic comes with a 4-speaker audio system. There's a 5-inch central-display screen and a single USB port. Both 8-speaker and 10-speaker audio systems are available depending on the trim level. Higher trim levels also have more USB ports and connectivity options. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both compatible with the Civic's infotainment system.
At the highest trim levels, the Civic offers a large 7-inch touchscreen display and a full navigation system. All of the infotainment controls are within easy reach of the driver. The 2021 Toyota Corolla has a 7-inch touchscreen for the base model and an available 8-inch screen for the higher trim levels.
Toyota offers a premium audio system with 9 JBL speakers, a subwoofer and an amplifier. Also available is Toyota's Dynamic Navigation System. Bluetooth technology and USB ports allow for connectivity and charging from the infotainment system. Both vehicles have nice audio and media platforms, with Toyota edging out Honda just slightly in these categories.
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The 2021 Honda Civic is packed with both active and passive safety features. Honda uses ACE body construction for added protection of all occupants in their vehicles. ACE is an abbreviation for Advanced Compatibility Engineering. This is Honda's own proprietary technology that uses a unique network of structures. The body and frame are designed to absorb energy from collisions and then to deflect it away from the driver and passengers.
The Civic also has an advanced airbag system up front. There are also side airbags for the front two seats. Side curtain airbags add protection and coverage for the rear passengers. These also have a sensor that detects rollovers. A seat-belt reminder makes sure that everyone is safely buckled in.
Honda uses a 3-point seat-belt system with automatic tensioning. They also employ the LATCH system, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This system allows for child safety seats to be securely fastened in place in the rear seats. Every Civic gets Anti-Lock Brakes and Electronic Brake Distribution.
The Civic has daytime running lamps to make the vehicle more visible. A rear-view camera helps with backing in or out of parking spaces. Brake Assist applies extra braking power when needed. Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control keeps everything nice and stable. Honda's Tire-Pressure Monitoring System ensures that the Civic will always have properly inflated tires.
Every Toyota Corolla comes equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This is a whole suite of safety features and driver-assist technology. The Corolla has a Pre-Collision Warning with Pedestrian Detection. A Lane-Departure Warning lets drivers know if they're getting too far out of their lane, then Steering Assist kicks in to help them to correct the problem.
Road-Sign Assist helps to make sure drivers don't miss important information. Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control makes sure that drivers maintain a safe distance from the vehicles ahead of them. The Corolla also has automatic high beams that turn on automatically when needed.
While the Honda Civics have ACE construction, Toyota uses some similar engineering. Special frame pieces and crumple zones divert crash energy away from the occupants. Toyota also uses high-tensile-strength body panels in key locations. There are a total of 10 airbags to protect the driver and every passenger.
Just like the Honda, the Toyota has a Tire-Pressure Monitor and the LATCH system for child safety seats. There are also 3-point seat belts for every position. A Blind-Spot Monitor with rear Cross-Traffic Alert helps to keep the driver aware of their surroundings.
The IIHS, or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, has named the 2021 Honda Civic a Top Safety Pick. They give the Civic a rating of "Good," in most of their categories. Likewise, the 2021 Toyota Corolla was also named a Top Safety Pick for this year. It received similar marks in the various test categories that the IIHS conducts.
Which Has the Best Value?
The 2021 Honda Civic sedan has a starting MSRP of $21,250. The hatchback starts at $22,200 and the Type-R starts at $37,895. There's a Limited Edition Type-R that will set buyers back by about $43,995, and higher trim levels with all of the options may get higher than that.
The starting price for a 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan is $20,025. Higher trim levels will be upwards of $28,000. Hatchbacks start at $20,665, and the hybrid model has a MSRP of $23,600. All of these can get more expensive with added features and optional packages, but as a general rule, the Toyota is cheaper.
The prices don't differ too much when considering similar trim levels and options. Only when one moves up to the sporty Civic Type-R do things get seriously far apart in price. Since the Honda offers way more power and better handling, it's going to give buyers more for their money. The only exception to this may be the long-term savings from the fuel-efficient hybrid model of the Corolla.
Which Is Better?
Both of these vehicles offer a lot for the cost. Both cars offer good value. Both should last the buyer for a long time with no serious maintenance issues. If something does go wrong sooner than it should, then the buyer will be well covered by the warranties provided by Honda and Toyota.
Which vehicle is better may depend on a few things. The Corolla is certainly cheaper. It's the only choice if the buyer prefers a hybrid model. It's the most environmentally-friendly choice, and it should save owners some on gas costs too. The Corolla also has a lot of high-end features and a fantastic infotainment system.
The Corolla is one of the most common vehicles on the road for good reason. They're just plain dependable and last for years. Honda's Civic, however, is a much more enjoyable car to drive. It has more practicality in the form of extra cargo space too. For a similar cost, one could get much better performance from the Honda.