Honda Civic vs. Mazda Mazda3

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - June 25, 2019

When it comes to compact cars, Japanese brands remain among the front-runners. The Honda Civic has topped sales charts for years thanks to its combination of practicality, value, and fun, but the Mazda Mazda3 has been gaining ground thanks to a stylish exterior and an engaging drive. Fresh off a 2019 redesign, the Mazda3 is sharper than ever. Does it have what it takes to dethrone its Japanese brethren?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Civic & Mazda3 »

What the Civic Gets Right

The Honda Civic’s first victory is financial. With a starting price of $20,345 including destination, the Civic beats out the Mazda3 on base affordability by $1,575.

A larger disparity comes in fuel economy. The Civic comes in many combinations of body style, engine size, and transmission, but nearly all of them are more efficient than the Mazda3. A Civic sedan gets up to an EPA-estimated 36 miles per gallon combined, and base models earn 33 mpg combined. Even the thriftiest Mazda3 models are only rated at 30 mpg combined.

The Civic’s final win is on space. The Civic hatchback can fit 25.7 cubic feet of cargo behind the seats, and even sedans can fit 15.1 cubes. That’s better than the Mazda3 in both body styles, with the Mazda carrying 20.1 and 13.2 cubic feet, respectively.

The story is the same in the passenger cabin. The Civic feels roomy for its size, and it has an extra 2.4 inches of leg room over the Mazda3 in the second row.

What the Mazda3 Gets Right

The redesigned Mazda3’s biggest edge is an uncommon one in economy sedans: it's available with all-wheel drive. Mazda’s all-wheel-drive system can predictively shuffle torque to all four wheels, giving it all-weather capability the Civic can’t match.

Although the Mazda3 starts at just over $1,500 more than the Civic, it comes with a much more powerful base engine. The Mazda3’s 2.5-liter engine produces 186 horsepower compared to just 158 hp in a base Civic. Adding power to the Civic requires a higher trim and an extra $4,000, and even that 1.5-liter turbocharged engine falls short of the Mazda3’s power.

With the 2019 redesign, the Mazda3 improved on an already sophisticated package. Every Mazda3 has an updated interior with an upscale feel and a large 8.8-inch infotainment screen. Looks are subjective to a point, but we think many buyers will appreciate the Mazda3’s style, inside and out.

Different Bang for the Buck

Both of these cars are a good value, come with good safety technologies, and are excellent to drive. The differentiating factors come in where each brand has stretched your dollar.

The Honda Civic provides excellent value, good fuel economy, and above average space for a practical compact car. The Mazda Mazda3 is slightly less spacious, but it’s a stylish and premium-feeling car with the power and handling to walk the walk.

Our Verdict: Mazda Mazda3

Although frugal buyers will appreciate the Honda Civic’s thrifty engines, the Mazda Mazda3 is the more likable car in our eyes. It embraces its compact-car mission with character, style, and all-weather versatility. That said, we’re not worried that the Civic will fall out of favor. For sedan and hatchback shoppers, it’s hard to go wrong here.

Take a closer look at the Honda Civic »

Take a closer look at the Mazda Mazda3 »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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