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 Mazda Mazda3

Starting Price: $18,970 | Price yours

Above Average: Driving dynamics, styling

Below Average: Overall roominess

Consensus: The fun, fashionable option in a crowded segment


The 2018 Honda Civic has become the compact by which others are measured, and has earned KBB’s Small Car Best Buy award four years in a row. Offered as a sedan, coupe or hatchback, and with seven trim levels ranging from base LX to the Civic Type R performance model, with a choice of engines, transmissions, tech options and more, there is something for everyone. Oh, and did we mention Honda’s history of reliability and resale value? Well, there’s that, too. The 2018 Mazda3, one of the most engaging, fun to drive cars in the segment, is available in 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback configurations, with two engine and two transmission choices along with three trim levels including Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. It’s a car you can be passionate about.

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 added to the lineup. 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.

Mazda Mazda3 Advantages

Sporty hatchback styling keeps the Mazda’s cult of personality intact. Ride is smooth, compliant, and sporty without adding to road harshness as do some of its athletic competitors like the VW GTI or Ford Focus ST. One of the best 6-speed manual transmissions and interiors in its class, the Mazda3’s looks are warm and refined. All controls on the seven-inch display screen are operated by an easily located rotary dial on the central console.


Four- and five-door compacts with good reliability records and sporting pretensions that generally deliver.

Final Recommendation

The class of the compact segment, the Honda Civic offers reliability and styling in spades, while the Mazda3 seems to offer a much more engaging ride. If horsepower is an overall buying factor, then it’s a no-brainer to go for the Civic Type R. If full-time ride engagement at all trim levels and attractive looks are more important, then the Mazda3 is the clear choice.

  2018 Honda Civic 2018 Mazda Mazda3
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.0-liter I4 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower 158 hp @ 6,500 rpm 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 138 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm 150 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission Continuously Variable Automatic, 6-spd
Fuel Economy 34 mpg (31 city/40 hwy) 31 mpg (28 city/37 hwy)
Also Available 1.5L turbo I4, 1.5L turbo I4 (Si), 2.0L turbo I4, man 6-spd 2.5L I4, man 6-spd
Warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.3 inches 106.3 inches
Overall Length 176.9 inches 180.3 inches
Width 70.8 inches 70.7 inches
Height 54.9 inches 57.3 inches
Turning Diameter 35.7 feet 37.1 feet
Headroom, Front 38.2 inches 38.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 34.6 inches 37.6 inches
Legroom, Front 42.3 inches 42.2 inches
Legroom, Rear 35.9 inches 35.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.9 inches 57.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 52.6 inches 54.4 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 91.0 cu. ft. 96.3 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 12.1 cu. ft. 12.4 cu. ft.
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