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Toyota Corolla versus the Honda Civic

Updated on February 14, 2013

The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are two of the most reliable and fuel efficient cars available in today’s automobile market. Both models have great reliability records and excellent resale values.

There are three versions of the Corolla currently being offered including the L, LE and S series. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for these vehicles is $16,230, $18,180 and $18,230 respectively.

L model features include 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning and a CD player. The LE comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls and an upgraded stereo with iPod connectivity. The S adds fog lights, sportier body elements, cloth upholstery and interior metallic trim. Other trim options include sunroof, navigation system, satellite radio and Bluetooth.

The L model is powered by a 1.8 Liter 4-cycle engine and automatic transmission providing an average of 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Side and curtain airbags are also included along with stability and traction control. Fuel tank capacity is 13.2 gallons with a range of 356 city miles and 448 highway miles.

The LE and S models feature similar engine and performance characteristics as the base L model. Maximum towing capacity for the Corolla is 1500 pounds. All models have standard three year warranties or 36,000 miles.

The Honda Civic is available in sedan or coupe models. Civic prices range from $15,606 for the 2012 DX coupe to $17,965 for the 2013 LX coupe. The LX sedan is $18,165. Civic 2013 prices haven’t increased much from their 2012 levels even though backup cameras have now been added – a really nice feature. The 2013 Civic has upgraded interior and exterior styling as well as safety, feature, comfort and chassis improvements.

All Civic models except the Si and GX trims are powered by a 140 horsepower/ 6500 rpm with 128 lb-ft of torque. The engine is a 1.8 liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional five-speed automatic.

The Si comes with a 201 horsepower, 2.4 liter inline-four cylinder with six-speed manual transmission while the GX is powered by a natural gas version of the 1.8 liter gas engine and a five-speed automatic transmission.

HF trim provides increased fuel economy with improved aerodynamics, lightweight alloy wheels and low rolling resistance tires. Standard safety features on all Civic models include electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, six airbags, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring.

Tech features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera with guidelines and ECO assist technology on all trims, automatic climate control for EX models, front fog lights for EX-L models and subscription free FM traffic updates with the optional navigation system.

Dimensionally, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic are about the same size. They both take up about the same space in the garage. The Toyota Corolla has slightly more backseat passenger room than the Honda Civic. Front seat headroom and legroom are similar and the same number of people can fit into both automobiles. Both vehicles can also carry about the same amount of cargo.

With similar torque, the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic do an equivalent job of transmitting their engine's power to their respective wheels. The Corolla and Civic have a similar turning radii allowing equal maneuverability in and out of tight spots. The Toyota Corolla has a bit less horsepower than the Honda Civic, so it’s a little slower on pickup. Corolla drivers will need a bit more throttle to get up to speed on the highway.

The Honda Civic has somewhat better gas mileage overall than the Toyota Corolla making it a bit more convenient to drive with fewer gas station stops. The Corolla is rated at 26 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway (29 mpg combined) which isn’t fantastic for an economy car these days, but it’s pretty good. The Civic averages a bit bitter depending on the model with 28 mpg in the city and up to 39 mpg on the highway.

Reliability and dependability remain top notch on the current Honda Civic and despite modest suspension changes, the Civic is still considered to be a sportier vehicle than the Toyota Corolla. It also has Honda's traditional visibility with lots of glass area and an unbeatable forward view due to the sloping hood.

Both the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic models are great economy cars that provide reliability and practicality for cost conscious consumers. Both cars are also competitively priced starting at around $16,000 for a base model. Each car does have specific advantages. The Civic probably looks better on the outside while the Corolla has a more rationally designed interior. Of course, it all depends on personal taste.

Based strictly on manufacturer suggested retail pricing, the Toyota Corolla is probably a slightly better purchase than the Honda Civic. Destination charges are about the same for each vehicle and they have essentially the same basic warranties.

The Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic are both excellent vehicles. It really comes down to a matter of personal choice. I decided to purchase a Corolla because a rebate was offered along with 0% financing during the month I needed to buy a car. If Honda had a similar offer in the same month, I could have just as easily purchased a Civic. Happy shopping!

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