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Civic vs. Corolla: What's the Difference?

July 06, 2017

They're Japanese, they're compact, and their names start with a "c." Are there any significant differences between the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic? Let's take a look, because you're not the only one asking this question.

The Basics

The first thing you should know is that only the Civic is available in 2-door coupe form and in hatchback form. The Corolla is a standard 4-door sedan and nothing else. We'll be comparing the 4-door sedan models of the two vehicles.

Beyond the product line disparity, the Civic vs. Corolla comparison seems rather unworthy of discussion. They look very similar on the inside and from the outside. It's the obscure things that make the difference, but the obscure things aren't so obscure after a few weeks of driving. Therefore, let's take a closer look.


If you're looking for horsepower and nothing else matters, the Civic is your car. It starts at 158 and goes to 174 at the EX-T trim and 205 with the Si trim. Here's how it works:

Civic Trims and Horsepower

LX: 158 LX CVT: 158 EX: 158 EX-T Manual: 174 EX-T CVT: 174 EX-L: 174 Si: 205 Touring: 174

The list above is arranged in order of price, which ranges from $18,740 to $26,000, with the Touring being about three grand more expensive than the Si.

The Corolla does not vary as much. It's not even worth listing the engine options because the total range is only 8 horsepower, from 132 to 140. Base MSRP is around $18,000, like the Civic, with the top-of-the-line trim coming in at $22,600.


Safety ratings are good for both the Nissan and the Toyota. The lowest score in all the tests we know of is the Corolla's score on the IIHS's frontal crash test, which was rated "marginal." However, the car partially (at least) makes up for it with a suite of safety tech that includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with active lane control, and automatic high beams. Honda's comparable safety tech suite is only standard on the top-of-the-line Touring trim.

Odds and Ends

You might be on the fence if you like Honda's higher-powered engines but also like Toyota's semi-autopilot features. And we totally get that. We'll try to help you make a decision.

Maybe the tie-breaker is Toyota's reputation as the leading brand for reliability. In nearly every survey and study of reliability, Toyota and Lexus (a Toyota brand) come out on top of every other automaker. Just search and you'll see.

The other X factor could be the Si, Honda's sporty trim. It's got a good balance of speed, fun and affordability. It's not quite as quick as, say, the Ford Focus RS but it's not a dud. Toyota isn't focused on performance and doesn't offer anything that compares to the Si. However, the Si's performance and looks do come at a price. $23,900, to be exact.

Ready to get behind the wheel? Getting the best possible deal on a new Civic or Corolla starts with comparing quotes from local dealers, and the easiest way to do that is to request them online. Click here to get them for free.

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