New Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla, Which Compact Car Belongs In Your Garage
If you are looking for the best compact car, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are two of the top models. In a head-to-head comparison of top rivals Civic and Corolla we’ve chosen the best of the compact sedans. We drove the top trim 2019 Honda Civic 1.5T Sedan Touring and the all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE sedan for a week. Which car is the best for you?
Price as tested on similarly equipped compact sedans, total MSRP including destination on the Civic Touring tester: $28,220. MSRP including destination on the Corolla XSE: $29,168.
The all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE gets a new 2.0-liter engine producing 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a specialized CVT automatic with paddle shifters. A six-speed manual is available on lower trims. EPA estimated fuel mileage comes in at 31/38 city/highway mpg and 34 combined mpg. The 2.0-liter has more power than the outgoing 1.8-liter engine, but we would choose the Civic’s turbo over the naturally aspirated Corolla.
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The refreshed 2019 Honda Civic 1.5T Sedan Touring is powered by an upgraded turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission is the only available gearbox in the Touring trim. Fuel economy for the turbocharged Civic is an EPA estimated 30/38 city/highway and 33 combined mpg. We think it’s worth getting with its turbo power especially at altitudes.
The Civic wins hands down in the fun-to-drive meter. The Civic with the 1.5-liter turbo engine is higher on the fun-to-drive meter than the Corolla. We were surprised at the power and the fuel mileage it gets. We averaged close to 35 mpg and we were pushing the Touring hard all week. We were also surprised at how well the CVT automatic transmission works. The Corolla is not nearly as responsive. The Civic is not a sports sedan, but it handled well in the mountain curves and stayed fairly flat when we pushed it hard around the tight corners.
The top-of-the-lineup 2019 Civic Touring cabin feels more up-class and sophisticated than the Corolla XSE. Even with its odd horizontal dash, the Civic wins the interior battle. Generally, the quality of materials throughout the cabin are superior, as are the leather seats.
2019 Honda Civic Interior
Headroom 38.0 / 37.1 (Corolla) vs 37.5 / 36.8 (Civic) and legroom front/rear 42.3 / 37.4 ( Corolla) vs 42.3 / 37.4 (Civic) are close but the Corolla XSE AT has more rear legroom with 41.4 inches while the Civic Touring CVT has 37.4 inches. So if you are hauling passengers around for extended trips the Corolla would be a better fit. There's about 2 cubic feet more trunk space in the Honda, so Civic wins in cargo-carrying ability.
Overall, we would give the nod to the refreshed 2019 Honda Civic over the all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla. The Civic offers a more dynamic driving experience, feels more upscale inside, has a bigger trunk, and has sportier looks. It’s a close battle between the compact sedan rivals, but Honda wins this round.
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Photo credit: Honda USA, Toyota