Both the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic are legacy vehicles with long histories. The Toyota Corolla has been around since 1966 and the Honda Civic was first offered in the United States in 1973. Both vehicles have similar base MSRP prices, but the Corolla takes a slight edge in pricing: Corolla L CVT starts at $19,600 vs. Civic LX CVT which starts at $20,350. In terms of safety, Corolla comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense® 2.0 (TSS 2.0) suite of active safety systems, while Civic offers a similar plan with Honda Sensing®. In this legacy sedan head-to-head, we will take a closer look at how these two vehicles compare.
Published Date: 9/16/2019
When the performance of the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic are compared, it becomes clear that the two vehicles are similar, but the Corolla takes the edge in horsepower, torque, and combined MPG when you compare Civic Sport and Corolla SE 6-speed manual trims. Not efficient enough for you? The Corolla offers a hybrid option. The 2019 Civic does not.
The base-grade Corolla L 1.8L 4-cylinder with CVT has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 30/38/33 MPG (city/hwy/comb). The starting grade Civic LX with standard 6-speed manual transmission has a lower 25/36/29 MPG rating. If you upgrade to Civic LX with M-CVT ($800 MSRP), you’ll find it has an identical EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 30/38/33 MPG.
The 2020 Corolla SE with 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission has rev-match downshifting, available mounted paddle shifters, 169hp, and 151 lb.-ft. tq and 29/36/32 MPG. Civic Sport with 6-speed manual has less horsepower at 158 hp, less torque at 138 lb.-ft. tq., and an inferior 25/36/29 MPG. The CVT models for both vehicles offer available paddle shifters, but the Civic’s 6-speed manual transmission does not have rev-match downshifting.
While the Corolla and Civic have similar safety features, both the Corolla and the Civic have safety features that the other lacks.
Corolla comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense® 2.0 (TSS 2.0) suite of advanced active safety systems. The Civic offers a similar suite called Honda Sensing®. For 2020 Corollas w/ CVT, TSS 2.0 features advanced safety features such as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD) with low light pedestrian detection and daytime bicyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA) and Road Edge Detection, Automatic High Beams (AHB), Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist, and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
To compare, Civic LX’s Honda Sensing® includes similar features for the Civic: Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), and Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM). However, it misses out on features like Pedestrian Detection and Road Sign Assist.
Civic does have anti-theft protection and cornering brake control standard, which are features missing from the Corolla. However, Toyota Corolla comes standard with 8 airbags, including knee airbags. The Honda Civic does not have knee airbags and has only 6 airbags in total.
When comparing interior features, the Corolla takes the edge over the Civic with its updated design.
For the 2020 model year, the Toyota Corolla features an all-new spacious interior. The Honda Civic had some restyled features for the 2019 model year, including an updated exterior and an added volume knob on the infotainment system. In terms of comfort, both vehicles have similar legroom in the front (42.0 inches on the Corolla vs. 42.3 inches on the Civic), but Corolla has considerably more legroom for passengers in the backseat with 41.4 inches vs. Civic’s 37.4 inches.
Plus, Corolla offers more for entertainment during your commute. The 2020 Corolla L comes with a 7-inch touch-screen, 6-month Verizon Wi-Fi Connect trial, and 6 speakers standard. The 2019 Civic LX comes with a 5-inch Color LCD display, 4 standard speakers, and no Wi-Fi Connect. In addition, Corolla L comes standard with Apple CarPlay® which is not offered on the comparable Civic LX grade. Plus, the Corolla has a three-year Safety Connect® trial included with the purchase of all new Safety Connect®-equipped vehicles. The comparable HondaLink comes available on only certain Civic trims with a 3-month trial period.
When it comes to performance, safety, and interior features, the 2020 Toyota Corolla and the 2019 Honda Civic share many qualities. However, the Corolla maintains an edge over its competition by offering some functional features that the Civic simply does not have.
Although the Civic LX with M-CVT has an equal EPA-estimated MPG to the Corolla L with CVT (30/38/33 city/hwy/comb), upgrading the Civic LX to M-CVT costs $800 extra. Across comparable sport trims, the Civic Sport with 6-speed manual has an EPA-estimated 25/36/29 MPG and the Corolla SE with 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission has 29/36/32 MPG. Need more efficiency? Only Corolla offers a hybrid option.
Looking at safety features, both vehicles come with a suite of advanced safety features: the Corolla comes with Toyota Safety Sense® 2.0 (TSS 2.0), and the Civic with Honda Sensing®. However, Honda Sensing® misses out on notable features of TSS 2.0 such as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD) and Road Sign Assist. Plus, the Corolla has more standard airbags.
Considering the wealth of features that Corolla offers, it is easy to see why so many people invest in one. Especially when the base MSRP of the Corolla L w/CVT at $19,600 is lower than the base MSRP of the Civic LX w/CVT at $20,350. Plus, the base-grade Corolla comes standard with features like Apple CarPlay® which is missing on the base-grade Civic LX. Higher trim Civics do include Apple CarPlay®. In this legacy sedan head-to-head, Corolla takes the win.