Honda Civic vs. Mazda Mazda3

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Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - August 31, 2016

Honda established its reputation in the United States with the Civic: a well-built vehicle that delivered exceptional economy and reliability at a surprisingly low price. Now in its 10th generation, the Civic has an all-new look and powertrains that make it better than ever.

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

Mazda's reputation for reliability isn't quite as sterling, but it is known for "zoom zoom" performance. The Mazda3 routinely impresses automotive journalists with its sharp handling and polished road manners. But does it deserve to take a bite out of the Civic's sizable market share?

What the Honda Civic Gets Right

The Civic is now in its 10th generation, and with this comes a brand-new look that borrows its front end styling from the Accord and a fastback rear end that adds a touch of sportiness. In addition to this sharp, new look, the Civic’s larger than ever, putting the sedan and new hatchback variants into the small end of the EPA’s “midsize” segment.

The interior also gets an upgrade that includes a new look, more premium materials, and additional soft-touch materials. The cabin is also larger, giving it nearly 2 inches more rear seat legroom than the Mazda3. What’s more, the new hatchback variant has a few extra cubic feet of total interior room.

Under its hood, the Civic undergoes a big change, as the base 2-liter engine pumps out 158 horsepower and its optional 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder hits a mighty 174 horsepower. For those who opt for the hatchback, there is an available Sport Touring model that pushes the turbo engine to 180 horse. What's more, the 2-liter gets up to 41 mpg highway and the 1.5-liter turbo gets up to 42 mpg highway.

See more sedan comparisons here »

What the Mazda3 Gets Right

While the Civic opts for a more premium design with just a touch of sportiness, the Mazda3 is an aggressive, in-your-face machine that looks like it's speeding even when standing still. Even better is the fact that the Mazda3 has the ability to back up these looks with a taught suspension and two four-cylinder engines that produce 155 and 184 horsepower without turbochargers.

The latest Mazda3 gets a new G-Vectoring Control system that makes the 3 handle better than ever, while tighter body gaps and additional insulation quiet things down a bit.

In addition to its good looks and performance, the Mazda3 also does pretty well in terms of fuel economy at up to 41 mpg in the sedan and up to 40 mpg for the hatchback. The Mazda3 is also a tad less expensive than the Civic, making it a better overall value.

Where the Mazda3 wins?

As a whole, the Mazda3 just isn’t up to the task of taking on the new-generation Civic. It does, however, have a place in the hearts of drivers looking for a more responsive rig that is easy on the wallet.

Our Verdict: Honda Civic

The Civic delivers the goods in nearly every department and now matches the Mazda3’s versatility with its new hatchback variant. Sure, the Civic has slightly less power than the Mazda on the top end, its easy-to-access torque from the 1.5-liter engine makes it a peppier drive.

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

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website