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2018 Honda Civic vs. 2018 Toyota Corolla: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill August 2018
  • The 2018 Honda Civic offers three body styles and three engine options
  • The 2018 Toyota Corolla offers standard driver assistance features
  • The Civic achieves over 40 miles per gallon highway in most trim levels

The 2018 Honda Civic Sedan and Toyota Corolla are two of the most trusted and respected compact sedans on the market, and have been for decades. For that reason, either one makes for a sound purchase. But as Honda and Toyota have adopted slightly different timelines when it comes to updating the two model lines in recent years, one feels far newer than the other, and is likely the better buy as a new vehicle in 2018. Below, we'll compare the Civic and Corolla to outline why the Civic is the one to buy in 2018.

Basic Specs

The Corolla was last the recipient of a full redesign for the 2014 model year, and received a mid-cycle update for 2017. The Corolla employs a conservative design, but was given a slightly more aggressive look as part of its 2017 update. The Corolla has a large, in-your-face, mouth-like grille up front. The rest of the Corolla though is reserved and clean, if not overly plain. An even more aggressive front fascia and 17-inch wheels come with the sporty XSE model.

One engine is offered on the Corolla -- a 1.8 liter 4-cylinder, good for 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. While a 6-speed manual is available, the most common transmission is a continuously variable unit. The Corolla earns 32 mpg in combined driving when equipped with the CVT.

The Honda Civic was fully redesigned for the 2016 model year. While the Civic is offered in coupe and hatchback body styles, here we'll be focusing solely on the sedan version. The Civic has a somewhat controversial design, employing numerous scoops, vents and harsh creases throughout its bodywork.

Civic LX and EX models come with a 2-liter 4-cylinder engine making 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. EX-T, EX-L and Touring models offer a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder making 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Either engine comes mated to either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. All models surpass 40 mpg highway, with the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder mated to the CVT being the most efficient, returning 32 mpg city, 42 mpg hwy and 36 mpg combined.

Unlike the Corolla, which keeps things pretty plain across the model range, the Civic offers a bona fide performance model: the Civic Si. With the Si, buyers get a more powerful engine, active shock absorbers and steering and a limited slip differential, along with more aggressive styling inside and out. Si models offer a higher output version of the turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, making 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque and mated exclusively to a 6-speed manual transmission. The Si returns 32 mpg combined in its sole configuration.

Reliability

Given that Honda and Toyota both have earned strong reputations for quality, Civic and Corolla buyers should both see above-average reliability from their vehicles. Both Honda and Toyota offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty; on par with the rest of the industry.

Safety

Both the 2018 Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla receive overall Good scores in crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Corolla is named a Top Safety Pick, while the Civic likely just barely misses this mark due to its Poor score for headlights and the fact that its collision avoidance technology is only optional, as opposed to on the Corolla where this tech comes standard.

Speaking of driver assistance safety features, every single Corolla comes with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. The Civic offers great driver assistance tech as well, although it's offered as a $1,000 option on all automatic transmission-equipped trim levels except for on Touring models, where it is standard. Oddly, these systems are not available on manual transmission-equipped models. The Civic's suite of driver assistance safety features consists of adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. These features are right on par with those offered by the Corolla. Given that the Civic is an overall nicer and more modern vehicle than the Corolla, the $1,000 price premium one must pay for these features is reasonable.

Dimensions

The Corolla has 38.3 inches of front seat headroom and 42.3 inches of front seat leg room. Back seat passengers have 37.1 inches of headroom and 41.4 inches of legroom. The Civic offers more front seat headroom, with 39.3 inches, and an identical 42.3 inches of front seat leg room. Things are a little more cramped in the Civic's back seat, with 36.8 inches of headroom and 37.4 inches of legroom. While this is considerably less legroom than the Corolla, it's still more than what is offered by most other competitors in the segment.

The Civic sedan offers more cargo space than the Corolla, with 15 cu ft. of room versus the Corolla's 13 cu ft.

Interior Design

The Corolla's interior design is clean and conservative, but also dated and lacking refinement. Standard equipment includes a digital readout in the instrument cluster and a center infotainment screen. Heated seats are available on upper trim levels. Overall, the design of the Corolla's interior seems a bit tired unfocused, and the materials and surfaces used are a step below that of the Civic.

Given its recent redesign, the Civic's interior is modern, practical and offers good ergonomics and storage space. Still, it leaves something to be desired when it comes to plastics and seating surfaces. You won't mistake the Civic's interior for that of a luxury car like you may the Mazda3's, but the Civic gets the job done and is a step above that of the Corolla.

Technology & Infotainment

As far as technology goes, the Corolla is pretty humble. LED headlights, 17-in wheels and a spoiler are all available. On the inside, imitation leather and automatic climate control are also offered.

Among the features offered on the Civic are real leather seats, available heated front and rear seats and an available wireless charging pad.

Both vehicles offer automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power seats and an available sunroof.

Standard on the Corolla is a 6.1-in infotainment screen, which is replaced by a 7.0-in unit in upper trim levels. Corolla buyers have to make due with Toyota's dated Entune infotainment system, as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available.

The low-end Civic LX offers a basic, traditional center screen with knobs and buttons, while all other trim levels get a 7.0-in touchscreen unit using Honda's homelink system along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. Controversially, the Civic's high-end infotainment system eschews traditional buttons in favor of full touchscreen functionality, although as a whole, the system has greater functionality than what is found in the Corolla.

Value

While it isn't as nice as the Civic, the Toyota Corolla sells at a considerably lower price point than its Honda counterpart. Fully loaded, the Corolla is only $22,880, while the top-trim Civic Touring costs $26,800. Therefore, the Corolla's shortcomings shouldn't be held against it too much, as it sells for a full $4,000 less than a comparably equipped Civic.

Autotrader's Advice

Hands down, the Civic is the more modern of these two vehicles and therefore gets our recommendation over the aging Corolla. While both of these vehicles offer numerous positive attributes, the Civic's newer design, better infotainment experience, better fuel economy, more engaging driving experience and broader availability of engines and body styles give it the nod. If a safe, modern vehicle is all you require and you're working with a tight budget, the 2018 Corolla is a viable option, but otherwise, go for the Civic.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Honda Civic vs. 2018 Toyota Corolla: Which Is Better? - Autotrader