In the battle of compact cars, Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla inevitably rates as a worthy comparison. The two perennial competitors are reliable, fuel-efficient, inexpensive to run, and affordably priced. This makes them great choices for millions of consumers searching for a reasonably priced small car that will last for many years.

Of course, there are many other competitors to the compact car category, many of which offer a superior value equation, fresh designs, and terrific fuel economy. Still, comparing Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla should be a consideration for consumers checking out affordable small cars.

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic has been one of America’s most popular-selling compact cars since its 1973 launch. Civic is highly fuel efficient, fun to drive, and offers an impressive list of standard features. Now in its eighth generation (which debuted in 2006 model year), the 2011 Honda Civic is available in coupe and sedan in base and Si trim, as well as Civic Hybrid sedan and Civic GX (natural gas vehicle) sedan. Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) for coupe and sedan range from 15,605-$22,205 and $15,805-$22,405, respectively. Civic Hybrid starts at $23,950 and Civic GX has a starting MSRP of $25,490.

Base coupe and sedan are powered by a 140-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway with standard five-speed manual transmission, and 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway with optional five-speed automatic. Si models get the 197-hp high-revving 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine with close-ratio six-speed manual transmission that achieves 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway.

Civic Hybrid is powered by the combination of a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gas engine and 20-hp electric motor, with total output of 110 horsepower. EPA-estimated fuel economy for Civic Hybrid is 40 mpg city/45 mpg highway.

Civic GX NGV gets its power from a 113-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder that achieves an estimated 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway on clean-burning compressed natural gas. Civic GX, sold in California and a few other states, has been named “Greenest Vehicle” by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes, brake assist,electronic brakeforce distribution, and stability and traction control.

Consumer Guide says (of 2010 Civic): “What no competitor matches is this Best Buy’s particular fusion of engineering, style, value, and reputation for reliability and strong resale value.”

Toyota Corolla

Now in its 10th generation (which debuted in the 2006 model year), the 2011 Toyota Corolla continues its run as the best-selling nameplate in automotive history. Edmunds says: “This is the quintessential economy car. It’s small, inexpensive, fuel-efficient and reliable. Put gas in it, give it the occasional oil change and it will provide dependable transportation well past the 100,000-mile mark.”  Only available as a sedan for 2011, Corolla comes in five trims: base, LE, S, XLE (the most luxuriours trim) and XRS (bigger engine and sport-tuned suspension).

All but XRS are powered by a 132-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that gets EPA-estimated 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway (manual) and 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway (automatic). XRS gets a 158-hp 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine and EPA-estimated fuel economy of 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway in manual or automatic. Starting Corolla MSRPs range from $15,450 (base) to $18,960 (XRS).

Like Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla features standard stability and traction control, ABS with brakeforce distribution and brake assist, and six airbags.

Pros for Corolla include smooth ride, comfortable seats, great fuel economy from 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, simple layout and easy-to-use controls. Cons include limited cargo space, not as sporty as competition, dated design.

Bottom line: in the Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla comparison, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. As always, it’s best to do a back-to-back road test of cars in the final consideration list.

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