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Car and Driver Scores VW Golf Best Compact In America, Consumers Say It's The Honda Civic

In the Car and Driver Compact car wars, the new 2020 Honda Civic comes in second to the Volkswagen Golf. See how consumers are voting with their wallets.


When it comes to the compact car wars, Car and Driver has scored all compact cars in America and come up with their “Worst to Best” list. C&D has scored the Volkswagen Golf number one, and the Honda Civic number two. But if you ask the American buying public to vote, it’s not even close.

Compact car buyers vote with their wallet, and when we checked out sales numbers for 2019, the Volkswagen Golf has sold 22,288 combined of all models sold in the U.S. market. This includes Golf, GTI, Golf R, e-Golf, and Golf SportWagen. Honda Civic has delivered 198,339 models to customers in 2019, nine times as many as the Golf.

2020 Honda Civic

This makes the new Honda Civic the most popular compact car in America by far if you ask consumers. The Civic lineup includes its two-door coupe, four-door sedan, and four-door hatchback body styles. Civic can be had with three engines ranging from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder to a turbocharged 1.5-liter four to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four; and it comes in base, Sport, Si, and Type R trim levels. The Base Civic has a starting price of $20,370.

The Volkswagen Golf much like the Honda Civic offers many options. Shoppers can choose the regular Golf hatchback, the Golf SportWagen; Alltrack, and the sporty GTI; The 288-hp, all-wheel-drive Golf R competes with the Civic Type R in the performance compact segment. The base price on the Volkswagen Golf is $22,740. The SportWagen and Alltrack are discontinued after the 2019 model year.

Volkswagen Golf

All-wheel drive is standard on the Golf Alltrack and optional on the Sportwagen, and every Golf is turbocharged. This is where we see the Golf R with AWD having an advantage. Honda does not offer all-wheel-drive on any Civic models. Honda has chosen to stay with a front-drive configuration even on the Type R.

The top ten C&D rankings from best to worst are the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Volkswagen e-Golf, Honda Insight, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Ioniq, Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Veloster, Volkswagen Jetta. With the arrival of the new 2020 Honda Civic models, we would expect it to remain the top-selling compact car in America. If you ask consumers to vote, it’s the most popular by far.

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Photo credit: Honda USA, Volkswagen USA


Stu (not verified)    September 5, 2019 - 7:57PM

The Golf, because no parts of its body feels like cardboard. The Golf is also a way more practical hatchback, compared to the Civic hatch.

Bert krause (not verified)    September 5, 2019 - 10:40PM

Our family has owned 15 Honda/Acura
cars and am convinced there cars are bullet proof...Traveling the province of BCfor 40 years is my proof. never a break down even 1600 km from home. Our family has owned 15Honda/ Acura still driving A Acura 2019 RDX. What a great SUV. Power galore. what more could a man want ??