Last year we compared the just-introduced 2014 Toyota Corolla against the revised 2013 Honda Civic. Synonymous with value-packed motoring, these two compact cars are the top sellers in the segment thanks to a reputation for giving customers exactly what they want.
After the launch of the 2012 Honda Civic, consumers, dealers and the automotive press panned the car for not being the class leader it had once been. Knowing that Toyota was about to launch an all-new Corolla for the 2014 model year, Honda quickly updated the Civic for 2013 and addressed many of its shortcomings.
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Back to Drawing Board, Again
But that didn’t matter very much because the new Corolla still beat the 2013 Civic in AutoGuide.com’s comparison test last year. Our main complaints with the Civic were its small back seat, comparatively poor fuel economy, higher price tag and unrefined five-speed automatic. Not happy with being second best, Honda went back to the drawing board once again and for 2014, is introducing an unprecedented third straight year of significant revisions to the Civic.
The interior is tweaked once again with new styling and the addition of an available seven-inch Display Audio system, Honda’s “Lanewatch” blind spot camera and smart entry with push button ignition. But the biggest news has to do with the transmission. Much like the Corolla last year, the Civic gains a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) for 2014. Not only does this improve the vehicles refinement, but also bumps up fuel economy as well.
Efficiency Dead Heat
Our tester, a Civic EX-L with Navigation, is now officially rated at 30 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. That is a two MPG improvement in the city over the 2013 Civic EX-L Navi and a one MPG advantage in both categories over the 2014 Corolla S. In real world testing however, the cars are dead even. Both returned a 32.7 MPG mixed driving average after a week in our hands.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Honda Civic Review – Video
Even if it’s a wash in terms of fuel economy, the Civic does hold an edge in power. Already making more power than the Corolla last year, the Civic’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine receives a modest bump of three hp and one lb-ft of torque this year bringing the totals to 143 hp and 129 lb-ft. Although that isn’t a huge advantage over the Corolla’s 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, it is still noticeable. There is a more powerful and more efficient version of Toyota’s 1.8-liter engine, but it is only available on the LE-ECO trim level.
Some of the power advantage the Civic possesses is eaten up by a curb weight 65 lbs. heavier than the Corolla. On the road, we were divided over which vehicle was easier to drive. Both cars feature highly boosted steering but the Civic’s smaller diameter steering wheel makes the car feel more nimble.
Two CVTs, Two Different Behaviors
Honda’s new CVT is designed to feel like a traditional automatic much more than the Toyota CVT does. Noticeable shift points complete with momentary pauses have been programmed into the car’s mapping and probably affects fuel economy if only a little.
In the Corolla S, there are paddle shifters and a sport mode included if you want to pretend that you’re shifting gears. The Civic can also come with paddles, but only in the coupe model.
The Civic does feel more capable in corners and tracts straighter at high speeds. However, neither of these are even remotely sporty automobiles. They are simple to drive, reliable cars for general car consumers and as always, both excel at the task.
Space vs Comfort
Honda could only do so much when refreshing the Civic and rebuilding the entire body was out of the question. That means the Civic still trails the Corolla when it comes to interior space. Rear seat passengers in the Toyota enjoy 41.4 inches of legroom, which is more than a five-inch advantage compared to the cramped Civic. It’s the same story with cargo space: the Corolla has an extra half cubic foot of cargo carrying capacity over the Civic’s 12.5 cubic foot trunk.
Even with less space, the Honda’s ergonomics are better. The seating position and dashboard are better placed for comfortable driving than the Corolla’s ridiculously tall dashboard and comparatively less comfortable seats. Many found the sightlines in the Civic to be better thanks to the side mirrors being mounted to the door and not the A pillars.
|Vehicle||2014 Honda Civic||Advantage||2014 Toyota Corolla|
|Engine||1.8 Liter Inline-4||-||1.8 Liter Inline-4|
|Horsepower||143 hp||Civic||132 hp|
|Max. Torque||129 lb-ft||Civic||128 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||30 MPG city / 39 MPG hwy||Civic||29 MPG city / 38 MPG hwy|
|Observed Fuel Economy||32.7 MPG||-||32.7 MPG|
|Weight||2,930 lbs.||Corolla||2,865 lbs.|
|Cargo Capacity||12.5 cu. ft.||Corolla||13.0 cu. ft.|
|As Tested Price||$25,030||Corolla||$23,570|
Technology vs. Ease of Use
The Civic’s optional LaneWatch side-view camera that is infiltrating its way into every Honda product and we couldn’t be happier about that. Honda’s Display Audio system lacks buttons in favor of an iPhone-like control interface that isn’t as straightforward to use as the Corolla’s system.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Toyota Corolla Review – Video
While on the topic of Display Audio, it allows owners to access to a limited number of applications including a $60 navigation app. Not only is this convenient, but it actually makes the trim of our test car, the EX-L with Navigation, sort of obsolete.
And that brings us to issue of price. The Corolla begins at a price of $17,160 after destination charges which is over $1,500 cheaper than a base Civic’s price of $19,180. As tested, the gap remains the same with our Corolla S Premium featuring the driver convenience package priced at $23,570 compared to the Civic EX-L with Navi commanding $25,030.
Unlike last year, there is no clear cut winner anymore. The 2014 Honda Civic has closed the gap on the 2014 Toyota Corolla. While the Corolla is cheaper and offers more room inside, the Civic is more enjoyable to drive and features more leading edge technology. It really comes down to personal priorities and preferences as to which car makes better sense for you. Neither is a bad choice and it’s safe to say their sales battle will rage on for years to come.
2014 Honda Civic
2014 Toyota Corolla