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2019 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Which Is Better?

  • The 2019 Honda Civic gets a slight face-lift while the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is fully redesigned.

  • The Civic is available as a sedan, coupe or hatchback and the Jetta can only be had as a sedan.

  • Both are efficient, comfortable compacts, but have a few unique perks you should know about before deciding which one to buy.

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2019 Honda Civic review, and the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta review.

The Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Jetta are both stalwarts in compact cars for good reasons. They both have a reputation as good, solid cars that offer good bang for the buck and that’s still true in 2019. However, when we take a closer look at these compacts, we see their unique identities that set them apart.

The 2019 Jetta is all-new with a new look inside and out and generous standard features. The 2019 Civic gets a slightly revised look and some new tech but hasn’t received a full redesign since the 2016 model. Let’s take a look at what’s similar, what’s different, and which is better between the 2019 Honda Civic and the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta.

2019 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta exterior

Exterior

The untrained eye probably won’t notice, but the Civic has a slightly new look for 2019. It’s a handsome design that looks good in sedan, coupe and hatchback forms, all of which are well proportioned and nicely sized. The sedan and hatchback both have attractive and functional exteriors while the coupe is sufficiently sporty. See the 2019 Honda Civic models for sale near you

The Jetta is totally new for 2019, but still carries over some design cues of the outgoing model. The new Jetta looks a bit more coupe like and has an overall look that is a bit more refined. It’s also a bit bigger than the previous Jetta and very similar in size to the Civic sedan, but with an extra two inches in overall length. The Jetta looks more understated while the Civic is a bit more interesting to look at. See the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta models for sale near you

2019 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta interior

Interior

In terms of space, material quality and design, the interiors of the Civic and the Jetta are pretty evenly matched. The same can be said for the controls, which are ergonomically friendly and easy to use in both cars. The Jetta and the Civic also both have seats that are roomier and more comfortable than you might expect in a compact car.

The big differences between the interiors of these two cars lie in their dashboards. The instrument cluster of the Jetta is more traditional and analog while the cockpit of the Civic is a bit more techy employing more digital gauges and a big digital speedometer front and center. Which one is better depends on your taste and we like both the analog simplicity in the Jetta and the modern, easy-to-read layout in the Civic.

2019 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta mechanicals

Mechanicals

The Civic has three engines available and the Jetta has two. Both cars are front-wheel drive and available with either a manual or an automatic transmission.

2019 Honda Civic Engines

  • 2.0-liter inline four; 158 horsepower, 138 lb-ft of torque; up to 31 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway

  • 1.5-liter turbocharged inline four; 174 hp, 167 lb-ft of torque (205 hp, 192 lb-ft of torque in Si); 32 mpg city/42 mpg hwy (28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy in Si)

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four; 306 hp, 295 lb-ft of torque; 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Engines

  • 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four; 147 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque; 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four; 228 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque; 25 mpg city/32 mpg hwy

The base fuel economy numbers for both of these compacts are pretty similar. We really like the 1.5-liter turbo engine available in the Civic, which strikes a perfect balance between performance and fuel economy. For the driving enthusiast, the Civic Si makes that engine even better with improved performance plus upgraded suspension and a sporty appearance package. The Civic Type R cranks up the Civic to a whole other level of performance with more than 300 hp and styling that refuses to be ignored.

For a sport compact that’s a little more subtle, the new Jetta GLI powered by the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is a good choice and not quite as showy as the performance variants of the Civic. We wish it had a little more power, but its impressive torque rating and various performance upgrades like improved brakes and steering make it a fun sport sedan.

2019 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta tech

Features and Technology

The Civic and the Jetta both come with pretty user-friendly infotainment systems. In the Jetta, it’s the MIB II infotainment system and in the Civic it’s the Display Audio system, which now features a traditional volume knob rather than the frustrating slider that it used to have. Both cars have available features that include premium audio, navigation, and a sunroof.

The Jetta comes with a lot of available safety tech like automatic high beams, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and blind spot monitoring. The Civic, however, comes standard with Honda Sensing on every trim, which is a new perk for 2019. The Honda Sensing safety tech suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. These are driver-assistance features that we love to see as standard equipment.

2019 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta pricing

Pricing

The 2019 Jetta has a starting price of $19,640 and the Civic starts at $20,370 (both of these prices include destination charges). Both cars can easily get into the high $20k range when you get into the higher trims like the Civic Touring and the Jetta SEL Premium. As for the performance models, the Civic Si and the Jetta GLI both start in the mid-$20k range while the Civic Type R is quite a bit more expensive starting at $36,620.

2019 Honda Civic vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta conclusions

Conclusion

The all-new 2019 Jetta is a nice improvement over the outgoing model, but we still prefer the Civic thanks to its better engines, impressive standard safety tech, and more exciting performance variants. We also like that the Civic is available as a sedan, coupe or hatchback. If you’re looking for German engineering in an affordable package, the new Jetta is a strong choice, but the Civic is still the superior compact. Find a Honda Civic for sale or Find a Volkswagen Jetta for sale

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