- The 2020 Honda Civic and the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta are competitive compact cars.
- The Civic can be had as a sedan, a coupe or a hatchback, whereas the Jetta is only available as a sedan.
- Each car offers exciting performance models that are good for enthusiasts who need a practical car.
The Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Jetta are two old stalwarts in the compact car segment. Each has earned a reputation over the years as a good value for a small, reliable car for its own reasons. The Jetta was all-new for 2019 and the Civic got a nice facelift in the same year, so they’re both pretty modern and competitive for 2020.
Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between the Jetta and the Civic in 2020 and see which is better.
One of the biggest differences between the Civic and the Jetta is body style availability. The Civic is the only car in its class still available in three distinct body styles: sedan, coupe and hatchback. The Jetta is only available as a sedan. The two sedans are very similar in size. See the 2020 Honda Civic models for sale near you
The Civic’s look is a bit edgier, and the Jetta looks more conservative. If you want to stand out a little, the Civic’s more interesting look, especially in the coupe and hatchback forms, will likely turn more heads than the more understated Jetta sedan. See the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta models for sale near you
The interior of the Civic and the Jetta are pretty similar in terms of interior space and material quality. In both cars, the controls are nicely laid out and ergonomically friendly. The seats are roomy and comfortable, and each car feels bigger on the inside.
Where you’ll notice a difference between the interiors is on the gauge clusters. The Civic’s cockpit is more digital, and the Jetta’s gauges are more analog. Which one is better is up to your preference. If you like the idea of a big digital speedometer front and center, then you’ll prefer the Civic’s layout. But if you like more traditional analog gauges, you’ll like the Jetta.
2020 Honda Civic Engines
- 2.0-liter inline four; 158 horsepower, 138 lb-ft of torque; up to 31 mpg city/40 mpg hwy
- 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
2020 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 fuel economy for the base engines in these two cars is very similar. The turbocharged base engine in the Jetta has plentiful torque, but the Civic’s base engine has a little more power. If you get a Civic, we recommend upgrading to the turbocharged engine, which improves performance and fuel economy. This engine is more performance-tuned for the sporty Si trim, making it one of the most fun-to-drive sport compacts available. It competes with the Jetta GLI, which is a little more muscular than the Civic Si but can’t match the Honda‘s sharp handling and isn’t as efficient. Finally, there’s Honda’s turbocharged Civic Type R hatchback, which makes more than 300 horsepower, making it a riot to drive.
The Civic and the Jetta each come with a user-friendly infotainment system. In the Volkswagen, it’s the MIB II infotainment system, and in the Civic, it’s the Display Audio system, which, as of 2019, features a traditional volume knob instead of the frustrating slider it used to have. A nice new perk of the 2020 Jetta is a standard Wi-Fi hot spot on every trim.
The Jetta comes with a lot of available safety tech, such as automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning and blind spot monitoring. The Civic, meanwhile, comes standard with Honda Sensing on every trim. The Honda Sensing driver assistance 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.
The Jetta has a starting MSRP of $18,895, and the Civic starts at $19,750. Each car can get to right around the $30,000 mark on the top end. As of this writing, pricing hasn’t been confirmed for the 2020 Honda Civic Type R, but we expect it to start in the mid-$30,000 range.
The recently updated Jetta is a good compact if you’re looking for German engineering in an affordable package, but we still prefer the Civic as the superior compact. We like that the Honda is available in three different body styles and we like its standard safety tech, great fuel economy and greater variety under the hood. Find a Honda Civic for sale or Find a Volkswagen Jetta for sale