• The 2018 Honda Accord is all-new, the Civic was redesigned two years ago.
• Both are leaders in their segments.
• Reliability, resale value and safety should be comparably strong.
Honda’s sedans have almost been default choices for 30 years now, earning staunch loyalty from repeat buyers for their renowned reliability, good fuel economy, smart packaging, satisfying driving experiences and generally uncomplicated nature. They were and continue to be good, safe choices. Yet, which of the 2018 Honda Accord and 2018 Honda Civic would be a better choice for you? Read on as we describe the difference between the Accord and Civic to help you decide.
The Honda Accord was completely redesigned for 2018, and much like the Civic’s own overhaul two years ago, radical styling changes were made. Like the Civic, the new Accord adopts a racier, coupe-like roofline, replacing the traditional 3-box shape of every Accord prior. From there, however, the two sedans differ in detailing. The Civic has a lot more going on, with bulgy body work and pronounced vents that don’t actually vent anything. There’s a lot going on. The new Accord is more streamlined, looking almost like a Civic that someone took an iron to. You won’t find any extraneous venting.
In terms of size, both are among the largest vehicles in their respective sedan segments. The Accord, not surprisingly, is the largest of the two. It’s 10 inches longer, which could make a difference in your garage. It’s also 2.5 inches wider and 1.4 inches taller, with a 5.1-in longer wheelbase that contributes to greater back seat space.
It’s important to note that we’re comparing the Accord to the Civic Sedan. There are also the 4-door Civic Hatchback and 2-door Civic Coupe models available. Those body styles are not available on the Accord.
The 2018 Civic has one of the nicest cabins in its segment, with plenty of soft-touch materials, quality switchgear and an attractive overall appearance. It’s also very spacious, with a back seat that offers plenty of room for full-sized adults and a trunk that’s comparable in size to the Accord’s midsize sedan competitors. If you’re wondering if the Civic’s big and nice enough, the answer could easily be "yes."
However, the new Accord does represent a clear upgrade. Much like the exterior, its design is less busy and more refined. In upper trims, it can be considered genuinely luxurious. In terms of space, the Accord has three more inches of back seat legroom than the Civic. It also has an extra half-inch of headroom and 1.5 inches of shoulder room, which should make a difference when carrying three people across. Not only does the Accord have an advantage over the Civic, but its back seat and trunk are also more spacious than its own competitors.
The 2018 Civic LX and EX trim levels come with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (no turbo) that produces 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque — a modest amount, but one that’s average for its segment. Fuel economy is estimated to be an excellent 34 miles per gallon in combined driving with the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
However, things get even better with the Civic EX-T and Touring, which have a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Not only does this engine yield some of the strongest acceleration in its segment, but fuel economy actually goes up to 36 mpg combined with the CVT. It’s also available with a 6-speed manual transmission, but if you’re game for changing your gears, the manual-only Civic Si sedan offers a 205-hp version of the same engine without a substantial fuel economy penalty.
The Accord has the same basic 1.5-liter engine, but it’s retuned to produce 192 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. That, too, is one of the strongest outputs in the segment, and its fuel economy follows suit with an exceptional estimate of 33 mpg combined when paired to the CVT. Should you want more power, the Accord is available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 252 hp and 273 lb-ft, and returns 27 mpg combined with its standard 10-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual transmission is available on the Sport trim with either engine.
Features & Technology
Starting with their EX trim levels, both the Civic and Accord come standard with a touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, multiple USB ports, satellite and HD radios and Honda Link smartphone apps. They sound the same on paper, but in reality, they’re actually quite different.
Not only does the Accord have a larger touchscreen (eight inches versus seven), but it’s a new and greatly improved unit that basically corrects the many functionality issues found in the Civic. It has volume and tuning knobs, whereas the Civic has a touch-sensitive area next to the screen for volume and a virtual tuning button that you must tap incessantly in the touchscreen. The Accord also has a greater number of menu shortcut buttons that are actual buttons as opposed to the Civic’s confusing duo of touch-sensitive icons. In general, the Accord’s is easier to figure out, less frustrating to use once you do, quicker to respond and ultimately the greatest advantage over the Civic apart from interior space.
Beyond the engine bay, there are abundant mechanical differences between the 2018 Civic and 2018 Accord. In total, they amount to the Civic being a nimbler, more involving car than the Accord. Its ride is comfortable for its segment and its interior noise is kept nicely in check, but it certainly can’t match the Accord in those respects. It’s the bigger, more refined and borderline luxurious car. Its steering is also not as communicative as the Civics and Accords of the past, and indeed, owners of those past Accords may feel a little more at home in the Civic.
Standard on every Accord and optional on every 2018 Honda Civic trim (minus the Si) is the Honda Sensing suite of accident avoidance technologies. These include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. The Civic EX and higher trims comes standard with Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot camera, while the Accord EX and higher comes with blind spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic warning system that both provide visual and auditory alerts. Though the Civic’s camera may sound like the more advanced system, we’ve found that the Accord’s simpler warnings are ultimately more helpful.
In government crash tests, both the Accord and Civic received a perfect five stars in each category. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave them top crashworthiness and crash prevention scores, but an Acceptable headlight rating for the Accord resulted in a Top Safety Pick award. The Civic missed out on the same accolade due to a Poor headlight rating. While disappointing, such ratings are common.
The 2018 Honda Civic is now bigger, more refined and ultimately more Accord-like than ever before. We’re guessing that many of the people who purchased Accords in the past would probably be just fine with a Civic today. Having said that, the 2018 Honda Accord represents a substantial raising of the bar. If the Civic is now Accord-like, the Accord is now Acura-like.
In other words, you probably don’t need more than the Civic, but you’re certainly not wasting your money with an Accord.