2018 Honda Civic

Starting Price: $19,835 | Price Yours

Above Average: Fuel economy, resale value, overall driving manners

Below Average: No volume knob, no tuning knob, no worse than that

Consensus: The spacious, reliable, fun-to-drive segment benchmark


2018 Volkswagen Jetta

Starting Price: $19,495 | Price Yours

Above Average: Driving attitude, efficiency, value, warranty

Below Average: Stark interior, dated styling

Consensus: German engineering at an entry-level price


The 2018 Civic marks the fourth straight year that Honda’s compact car won Kelley Blue Book’s Small Car Best Buy award. The Civic is offered as a sedan, coupe or hatchback with multiple trims and powertrains. The interior offers great design and technologies, and it's wrapped in a sleek exterior. Stylish, fuel efficient, and fun, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta is available in six trim levels: S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, SE Sport, SEL and GLI. Power, thy method is turbocharging, by way of a 4-cylinder family of engines, ranging from the smallish base 1.4-liter with 5-speed manual transmission, to the 2.0-liter in the performance-oriented Jetta GLI. Available XDS Cross Differential System acts as a cross between limited slip differential and inside-wheel torque vectoring. With 15.5 cubic feet of cargo space in the Jetta trunk, this compact’s space is as roomy as a midsize.

Honda Civic Advantages

Filled with the latest tech and safety features. Spacious inside, fuel efficient and a reliable commuter car. High-performance 306-horsepower Type R model. A high-tech screen adds a sense of security when dealing with right-side blind spots. Premium interior materials with top-notch plastics. Efficient use of interior space carries over to the trunk, which offers 15.1 cubic feet in the sedan and 25.7 cubic feet in the hatchback, with the rear seats in the upright position. Fold them forward for an additional 20 cubic feet.

Volkswagen Jetta Advantages

Sporty, fuel-efficient sedan with turbocharged engines that are smooth, powerful and frugal at the pump. New 6-year, 72,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty is better than most of the class. 2018 Jetta styling tweaks modernize the line. Value oriented Wolfsburg Edition adds additional creature comforts like heated leatherette seats and unique front bumper with fog lights. An available Fender premium audio system with stellar bass makes for great in-car entertainment. Fun to drive in a European sort of way. Tight, yet sporty suspension with very responsive steering ups the ante. Both the 1.4- and 1.8-liter turbocharged engines offer good fuel economy while the 2.0-liter delivers more of performance than EPA ratings. Think of the Jetta as a budget-minded Audi A3. Timeless look that, because of its conservatism, should outlast all the new Johnny-come-lately space-age types.


Similar sizes and almost identical EPA fuel economy have these two favorites almost at an even keel. From a sheer power standpoint, the Jetta jets forward, (save for the Civic Type R) but probably not as much as the specs would have you believe. Lack of all-wheel drive may have some buyers looking elsewhere (Subaru).

Final Recommendation

The Honda Civic is not content to rest on its laurels here, even if some of the cars are looking futuristic. If you are interested in bulletproof, reliable family transportation then look no further. If a fun ride with a near-Audi interior and strong 2.0-liter turbo engine, is in your intended wheelhouse, the Volkswagen Jetta is for you. 

  2018 Honda Civic 2018 Volkswagen Jetta
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.0-liter 4-cyl 1.4-liter turbo 4-cyl
Horsepower 158 hp @ 6,500 rpm 150 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque 138 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
Transmission CVT Auto, 6-spd
Fuel Economy 34 mpg (31 city/40 hwy) 32 mpg (28 city/38 hwy)
Also available 1.5L turbo I4, 1.5L turbo I4 (Si), 2.0L turbo I4, man 6-spd 1.8L turbo I4, 2.0L turbo I4, man 5-spd
Warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 6 years or 72,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.3 inches 104.4 inches
Overall Length 176.9 inches 183.4 inches
Width 70.8 inches 70.0 inches
Height 54.9 inches 57.2 inches
Turning Diameter 35.7 feet 36.4 feet
Headroom, Front 38.2 inches 38.2 inches
Headroom, Rear 34.6 inches 37.1 inches
Legroom, Front 42.3 inches 41.2 inches
Legroom, Rear 35.9 inches 38.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.9 inches 55.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 52.6 inches 53.6 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 91.0 cu. ft. 94.1 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 12.1 cu. ft. 15.7 cu. ft.
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