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2020 Hyundai Elantra vs Honda Civic

2020 Hyundai Elantra vs Honda Civic

2020 Elantra vs Civic - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

If you are in the market for a sedan that is more than just functional, then you might have some interest in both the 2020 Hyundai Elantra and the 2020 Honda Civic. Both offer a good amount of fuel efficiency and are riddled with standard technology, including those ever-sought-after driver aids that seem to be becoming more advanced over time.

So, what does each of these sedans offer that makes them worthwhile? Considering the fact that sedans are a dying breed, companies like Honda and Hyundai are finding that they either have to go big or go home when it comes to their sedans - expect when it comes to pricing. And, quit honestly, some of their top trim levels rival some entry-level luxury sedans, which, of course, are priced much higher.

The 2020 Honda Civic is a smart combination of excellent fuel economy, a comfy ride quality, a high-quality interior design, and a ton of standard features. However, the blind spot monitoring camera is not quite as user-friendly as blinds-pot monitoring systems on other vehicles, and adaptive cruise control is slow at times.

Meanwhile, the 2020 Hyundai Elantra offers a large array of standard technology, a cozy ride quality, a quiet cabin with controls that make sense, and one of the best warranties in this segment. On the flip side, the base 2.0-L engine has a weak performance, the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) spends too much time searching for gears at slower speeds, and the rear end feels jittery while going over jagged pavement. Oh, and the backseat is a lot smaller than you might hope to find.

Which of these two sedans is the right one for you? Is one better than the other? Read through this comparison review to learn about their powertrains, drivability factors, and safety features and ratings. Once we've gone through all that, we will let you know which sedan has the best value and is the overall better choice.


The Powertrain

Let's get right into things and discuss the powertrain options that you will find on the 2020 Hyundai Elantra and the 2020 Honda Civic. Both offer multiple options, so pay attention to which trim levels come with which powertrain options, as, yes, some are better than others.

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is up first. This sedan comes with a base 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine on its first four trim levels (the SE, SEL, Value Edition, and the Limited). Paired up with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), this powertrain gets 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. On the Sport trim, however, you get a much more powerful and spunky option: a turbocharged 1.6-L 4-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed DCT. Together, this gets 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. A manual 6-speed used to come on the Sport but has recently been discontinued, much to the dismay of those who love driving a stick. If you're looking for something more eco-friendly, there is the Eco trim, which has a 1.4-L turbo engine matched with the 7-speed that generates 128 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque.

The 2020 Honda Civic has several options to choose from as well, starting with the LX and Sport's 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine. Paired with a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT, this powertrain musters up 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. The EX, EX-L, and Touring offer a 1.5-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and CVT, which work to get 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Finally, the Si gives you a beefy 1.5-L turbo engine and 6-speed manual transmission that create an output of 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. For those wanting a stick shift, the Civic is one of the few sedans still offering that as an option.


What makes a vehicle drive-able? It is more than just how powerful its powertrain is, more than the performance you experience from the driver's seat. Drivability encompasses that plus comfort, interior design, tech features, and utility. To fairly assign value to a vehicle, these factors must be considered.

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is really hit-or-miss when it comes to drivability. The vehicle is quick to accelerate but soon loses steam, and it has a sloppy 0-60 time of 9.8 seconds on the base trim - one of the worst times for this segment. The handling is pretty bland, and you will feel the vehicle vibrating as it rolls over broken roadways. The steering is appropriately weighted though, feeling light at slower speeds and firming right up on the highway. It is also easy to maneuver into tight parking spaces and along narrow streets.

The cabin is comfortable enough, but the front seats have flat spots that become uncomfortable the longer you ride in them. The ride quality is just not up to par with its competitors either since the rear end gets very jittery while rolling over jagged pavement. On a positive note, the suspension handles potholes well, and the amount of noise that you get from the wind and road is pretty average for a sedan this size. However, the engine growls a bit obnoxiously at full throttle. But the layout is simple, and dual-zone automatic climate control works well at pumping air out to all occupants.

The interior is very user-friendly with controls that seem intuitive, especially the ultra-functional primary ones. The rear head room is kind of tight if you are over 5 feet 9 inches tall, and the driver's seat cushion is a bit too high for taller folks though the seat has a lot of adjustability. There is good outward visibility given the slender front roof pillars and wide glass. Getting in and out is easy enough up front, but the sloping headline means taller people might have to duck to get into the rear.

As far as technology goes, the infotainment system is straightforward, and smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard. However, the voice control system only performs the most basic functions, and the upgraded sound system lacks the clarity you should expect from an upgraded system.

The vehicle is redeemed with its utility though. Hyundai displays an intelligent usage of space with its deep armrest bin, massive door pockets, large and well-placed cup holders, and optional wireless charging pad. While the trunk is average in terms of cubic feet of cargo space, it is shaped for convenience. The remote release lever folds the rear seats down with ease for additional space. Parents, take note: The rear seat is not suitable for rear-facing child safety seats, and even the forward-facing ones make for a tight squeeze.

Now, let us move on to the 2020 Honda Civic. Its optional 1.5-L turbo engine is swift and still gets a great fuel economy, making it worth the modest price to upgrade. Its 0-60 time is much better than the Elantra's, coming in at 6.7 seconds - very fast indeed! The brakes feel nice and secure, being appropriately firm and easy to modulate. They make quick panic stops. The steering is precise, and the handling makes taking tight turns feel easy breezy.

Comfort-wise, this sedan is akin to the more compact Accord, providing a smooth ride that feels controlled instead of drift-y. Even the rear seats feel cozy, and every seat is well-padded for support. The cabin itself remains quiet, and temperature control works well. There is a little bit of road noise that makes its way in while going over rough surfaces, but it is nothing unusual for this segment.

The Civic's interior is cavernous and immaculate, with quality of materials escalating the higher up you go in the trim level line-up. The sloping roofline does limit rear seat head room like the Elantra's does, but you can certainly fit two adults back there. You do get easy access through the doorways since they have such massive openings, including the rear doors. The cabin is user-friendly overall and has well-labeled controls that work as expected. You also get a good seat position as the driver with an expansive view all around.

Technology is top-notch on the Civic, even though you don't get an actual blind-spot monitor (just the Lane Watch camera). There are two USB ports available on all but the base trim level, which only has one. Smartphone app integration is standard, and even though the 7-inch touchscreen comes off as slightly dated, its graphics are still pretty clear. The Touring trim level's 10-speaker sound system is downright impressive and far outdoes that on the Elantra.

Storage inside of the Civic is basically the best in its class. While the 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space you get with the seats in place might not seem like a lot, you can create a large enough opening by folding the rear seats down (which do not fold flat). The interior storage is cleverly designed, and the two-tier cubbyhole in the center console has a pass-through area for device cords. There is also a lot of room beneath the front armrest, and the LATCH system is easy to use with enough rear seat space for bulky rear-facing seats.

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Safety is an issue that cannot be negated or diminished when going to buy a new vehicle. You want the vehicle that will best protect you and your occupants, right? Knowing which features are included and how the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (better known as NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (whose acronym is IIHS) have rated a vehicle can help you in your buying process.

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra comes with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, a blind spot monitoring system, and rear cross-traffic alert on all but the base trim level. The Limited trim gets equipped with an enhanced pedestrian detection feature and adaptive cruise control.

NHTSA gave the Elantra a 4- (out of 5-) star overall rating. The overall front driver and passenger side tests each got 4-star ratings, as did the overall side rear seat and side barrier: rear passenger. They noted that there was intrusion on the left rear door, as the door panel had struck the torso of the dummy occupant, probably causing a serious spinal injury. IIHS gave it mostly "Good" ("G") scores, but it got a "Poor" ("P") on the SE through Eco's halogen projector lights as visibility was inadequate on the tests of the high and low beams on curves. Consumer complaints involve steering and the transmission braking down after just a few months of ownership. Recalls center on the right rear wheel lug nut possibly coming loose and the lower control arm ball joint coming detached.

The 2020 Honda Civic comes with Honda Sensing, a suite of driver aids including adaptive cruise control, Lane Watch, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. NHTSA gave it 5 stars overall with no stars lost on any individual test. The rollover risk was low at 9.5 percent. IIHS gave the Civic "G" marks on all of its tests.

Which Has the Best Value

How much value does each of these vehicles have, and which one trumps the other? The Elantra gets better-than-average fuel efficiency at up to 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway on a 14-gallon tank. The vehicle is reasonably priced, and the warranty coverage is best-in-class. The build quality is decent, but there are competitors who are besting Hyundai in that regard. But, fully-loaded, it is still less expensive than the Civic.

However, the Civic has an unbeatable reputation of safety, reliability, and comfort. It gets a combined 36 mpg (with 32 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway) and is also competitively priced. It has a far better build quality than the Elantra and comes equipped with a massive list of standard features. That is why we think the Civic offers you the better deal.

Which is Better?

In a dwindling segment, the competition is fierce. The 2020 Hyundai Elantra might have the better warranty and lower price tag, but some of its quality is not up to par with the 2020 Honda Civic. Some of its safety test scores are rather concerning, and the optional upgrades are not always worth the cost. Plus, you cannot get a manual transmission on it. The Civic offers the manual transmission but has a good CVT, and the engines provide ample power. You can upgrade on the Civic without feeling too guilty about the extra expenses since the optional upgrades are really worth it.

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