The Honda Civic is not just an icon, but currently one of the top-selling cars in America. At a recent Honda presentation provided to the New England Motor Press Association, managers from American Honda made it clear that the Civic is the backbone of the company's success and responsible in great part for the Accord and CR-V sales that make the company successful. Which is why we find it so odd that the Civic's competitors offer three things that many say are vitally important to their purchase decision.
One very close competitor is the Hyundai Elantra. The Civic and Elantra sedans have passenger volume and cargo volume numbers within one cubic foot of one another. They both offer great small turbo engines with great low-end toque and super fuel economy. Both have outstanding safety scores at IIHS. Both are fun to drive. The Civic has a long history of good reliability. The Hyundai brand has been winning almost every recent quality award.
We recently tested the 2020 Elantra Sport with a price tag just under $27K. We looked closely at the Civic line to compare prices and features and found the two were almost identical. Here are three things that differentiate these two great affordable sedans.
Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic - Transmission
Look at the comments under any story about constantly variable transmissions and you will find an awful lot of angry car buyers. They do not like the CVT. It does not matter what brand. Subaru CVT, Nissan CVT, or the Honda CVT. These buyers are part of the 95% of car buyers who will only buy an automatic transmission and they do not like CVTs. Many of them would opt for a stick shift if their situation allowed for it, but be it a spouse or child that must use the vehicle occasionally and cannot drive stick, or a tough slog of a commute, they need an auto trans. And they just - don't - want - a -CVT. If you want a Civic that is your only option if you are like these many buyers.
However, the Elantra line gives you a choice of a CVT or a dual-clutch transmission (DCT). And not just in one trim. The DCT is a geared automatic and it does not have the feeling or sounds that a CVT does. If you prefer a geared automatic, Elantra has that option available.
Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic - Infotainment Tuner Knob
Why does Honda have to steal your tuner knob? Honda has multiple other knobs in the vehicle. It isn't as if Honda has a stand against knobs in general. The Civic even has a knob on the audio system for volume. But not for changing stations or for seeking stations. Hey, we realize that stations can be changed via the steering wheel controls. And that they can be changed via the >> buttons. But many buyers want that knob. Honda won't let you have it at any price in the Civic. Every Elantra has one.
Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic - 10-Year Warranty
The Honda line comes with a 3-year comprehensive warranty and a 5-year drivetrain warranty. But many owners keep these cars much longer than that. Our Honda Accord, for example, has been used by me (middle-aged), my parents (a bit older than middle-aged) and my college-aged son now drives it. It has been ours for 13 years. A long warranty is now something we value having had some major problems with cars including Hondas. The average time owners keep a car they buy new is 8.4 years, but Honda only covers the drivetrain for about half that time.
Hyundai has a warranty that spans 10 years for the drivetrain and also a five-year comprehensive warranty. Compare both yourself closely and you will see that the Hyundai warranty is one of the longest in the auto business.
Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic - Which Is Best For You
Although we have pointed out three things that the Elantra has that the Civic does not, that is not the end of the discussion. The Civic is a fantastic vehicle. It has the sales to prove it is one of America's top picks. We have tested both vehicles and found they both have a lot to offer. Tell us in the comments below which one appeals to you more and why.
In addition to covering green vehicle topics, John Goreham covers safety, technology, and new vehicle news at Torque News. You can follow John on Twitter at @johngoreham.