2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport vs 2017 Honda Civic Touring

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The Honda Civic was AutoGuide.com‘s Car of the Year for 2016 and is now offered as a stylish coupe, sedan or practical hatchback.

With impressive efficiency, practicality, and technology, it’s hard to beat this popular compact car. The Civic has also always had good driving dynamics, but it might be a while until a new Civic Si hits the market. What should prospective sporty compact car buyers do? Hyundai has the answer with the Elantra Sport.

The turbocharged Elantra will remind you of the sporty, fun Civic Si models of the past. It features an aggressive design, a punchy engine, and a unique suspension setup. We lined it up against a turbocharged Civic to see if the Elantra Sport is good enough to get right now or if you should consider waiting for the next Civic Si.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback Review

The Civic is clearly the benchmark in compact car segment. Size-wise, the car is longer than the Elantra, and in terms of design, its sportback shape mimics the shape of the Audi A7, which is a good thing.

On the road, this greater size helps the car feel stable and easy to drive, if a little generic. The steering is light thanks to a variable ratio steering rack. The suspension is also kind of floaty, but to help deter understeer, the car features a brake vectoring system that will help rotate the car when pushed.

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Civic Power

Under the hood is a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder that makes 174 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, and it feels like the car compensates for any turbo lag with a jumpy throttle, which takes some getting used to. One good thing about the CVT is that it settles down at highway speeds, keeping the cabin quiet. The CVT also comes with the added benefit of fantastic fuel economy. We never saw the fuel economy drop below 30 mpg despite driving it almost exclusively in the city. You can expect 32 mpg in urban driving, 42 mpg on the highway and an average of about 36.

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The thing that stands out about the Civic is that it’s made for any kind of driver. It’s easy to see out of, it’s easy to park, it’s comfortable to be in, and it is loaded with excellent technology like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but there’s more than that. Adaptive cruise control, a lane watch camera, and forward collision warning are all advanced safety features that anyone can appreciate. Inside space is also fantastic, and not just passenger room, but there’s so much storage. Pockets, shelves, and cubbies are all available so you can store your phones, tablets, cables, keys, snacks, and change everywhere. It turns the Civic into somewhat of a mobile locker. That’s the kind of thoughtful thinking that makes the Civic so impressive.

Sporty Personality

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But the Elantra Sport has a few tricks of its own that make it stand out against the benchmark Civic. For starters, the way it drives is far more engaging than the regular Honda, though that may change when the Si comes out. Unlike past generations of Elantra, this new one has great steering and doesn’t feature that annoying deadzone that bothered us before. There’s also a moderate amount of feedback, and it feels much more precise and communicative than what you get in the Civic.

Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Those are serious upgrades over the 1.5-liter turbo in the Civic, but there’s no doubt that the Japanese automaker has something even more exciting in mind for its next Si model.

Compare Specs

Honda Civic Touring
vs
Hyundai Elantra Sport
Vehicle Honda Civic Touring Advantage Hyundai Elantra Sport
Engine 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder-1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 174 hp Elantra Sport201 hp
Torque 162 lb-ftElantra Sport195 lb-ft
Transmission CVT-6-speed manual/ 7-Speed DCT
Fuel Economy(MPG) 32 MPG City, 42 MPG Highway, 36 CombinedCivic26 MPG City 33 MPG Highway 29 MPG Combined (DCT)
Fuel Economy(l/100 kms) 7.4 City, 5.6 Highway, 6.6 CombinedCivic 10.7 City, 7.8 Highway, 9.4 Combined
Weight 2,923 lbs.Civic 3,131 lbs.
Fully Loaded Price (USD) $27,435 USDElantra Sport $25,985 USD
Fully Loaded Price (CAD) $29,113 Civic $30,822.75

Paired with the engine in the Elantra Sport test car is a manual transmission. The six-speed is solid and easy to work— it has well-defined throws and a solid clutch feel. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission is also available and is more fuel efficient than the manual, earning 4 more mpg.

The Civic, however, will always return better fuel economy, mostly due to its less engaging but more thrifty continuously variable transmission. With the dual clutch, the best the Elantra Sport can muster is just 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, or a combined average of 29 mpg.

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The Fun Factor

While the Elantra Sport has worse fuel economy, it makes up for it in driving enjoyment. Several components have been beefed up in the Sport model over the regular Elantra. The Sport model has bigger brake rotors, bigger stabilizer bars, and there’s a shorter final drive ratio as well. It also sounds much more interesting, with a unique sound signature that pops, cracks, and burbles, sounding like a rally car.

Finally, there’s the suspension, which is a newly designed multi-link independent setup, which replaces the semi-independent setup in the standard Elantra. With higher spring rates all around and an all new multi-link rear suspension setup, the Elantra Sport is a legitimately sporty compact. Unlike other compact cars, this is a blast to drive, without being overly stiff and obnoxious.

Features

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When it comes to the interior of the Elantra, it lags behind the Civic slightly. It’s much more conservative and has a nice layout, but it features a limited amount of storage space in comparison to the Civic. Both cars offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Elantra is offered with a Premium Package that navigation system, an upgrade sound system, a power sunroof and blind spot detection.

It’s still missing a number of features that the Civic packs, including lane departure warning and forward collision warning, and there’s no comparison for Honda’s super useful lanewatch camera.

The Elantra also has less cargo room in the trunk. It’s also important to point out that the Hyundai packs more slightly head room in the front and back, but less rear legroom. If you’re going to be putting people in the back regularly, the Civic is the car to get.

As tested, the fully loaded Civic came in at just under $28,000 and didn’t leave an option box unticked. On the other hand, the Elantra comes in at just under $26,000 when equipped with the manual transmission.

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The Verdict: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport vs 2017 Honda Civic Touring

It’s clear why the Honda Civic is such a success. It appeals to a wide audience with its eye-catching design, easy to drive demeanor, and excellent fuel economy. It’s also packed with technology, but the Si isn’t here yet, so the driving dynamics leave a bit to be desired.

For drivers looking for a truly sporty experience, the Elantra Sport is what you’ve been waiting for. It’s not only aggressive looking, but it drives very well, thanks to its powerful engine and wonderful suspension. It’s a wonderful bargain, and one that’s tough to beat if you want driving fun to go along with your compact. If you can’t wait for the Honda Civic Si to get here, the Elantra Sport is a fantastic choice.

Honda Civic Touring

Hyundai Elantra Sport

  • kaffekup

    Just the fact that a Hyundai can hold its own with a Honda in an enthusiast publication is a victory. Normally, the Honda fanboys would sneer at something so plebeian as an Elantra.

  • HYUNDAI IS A BULLSHIT! HONDA FTW!

  • bd

    A comparison of the new Civic Si with the upcoming Elantra-N should be a good one.

  • bd

    Honda is a pale form of its former self – many driving enthusiasts have moved on to Mazda.

  • AND MAZDA IS A BULLSHIT, TOO!

  • Ammo

    Everyone is getting a press car with the manual, can anyone share how the DCT drives?

  • Jeff T

    I’m loving these new sporty takes on commuter cars recently. Some of us high mileage drivers desire these over the ST, STI….etc variations. Lets hope Subaru gives us a 2.5L impreza.

  • Phil

    autoguide is the only auto reviewer to have found the civic not engaging to drive,.. and also one of the rare one to be so pleased with this elantra sport …

    would be nice if you guys actually tested the cars with professional tract testing; braking, slalom, sprints … like some other professional reviewers do

  • Tj Bartel

    Sounds like Richard is sad about his small man hood. And it seems the only word he knows is bullshit.

  • bd

    Right – which is why Mazda is pretty much the universal winner for handling in comparison tests.

    Just stay being clueless.

  • bd

    Not really.

    There have been Australian comparisons of the Civic RS to the Elantra SR with the Elantra getting the nod for more entertaining handling (and yes, more communicative steering).

  • Randy Abulon

    Honda has forgotten its roots. After my FA5 dies, I’ll look at ALL other brands before considering Honda again.

  • Dying_in_this_Crap_World

    Elantra has BLIND SPOT DETECTION, mush better than what the civic provides.

  • Dying_in_this_Crap_World

    Elantra Sport will laso be 17-18k in a month.

  • Dying_in_this_Crap_World

    Mazda feels like a souped up corolla.

  • Don Wadd

    Hondas are junks! NEVER buy one again!

  • Edward Bawroski

    Yup I made this same mistake in 2011 to save $3000, do yourself a favor buy the Honda the extra money is worth it.

  • AND YOU ARE A BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!

  • AND YOU ARE A BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AND YOU ARE A BULLSHIT!

  • John S.

    Hyundai has really stepped up their game. I’m okay with this… But fanboys will be fanboys.

  • greg yatko

    Is honda still using the PITA belt driven cam? I swore after changing two of those for people, if for no other reason, I’d never buy a 75k mile engine again using a belt for the cams.

  • Robb49

    My 2010 Hyundai Elantra was great when it was new. But, when it started getting around 40,000 mile on it, the cheap engineering really started to show. Then, when the rear alignment issue came up on mine and thousands of other Elantras, Hyundai bailed instead of standing behind their product. If you only lease a vehicle for a couple of years, the Hyundai might be your thing because it’s cheaper. BUT, if you buy a vehicle for the long term and want it to be fairly trouble free for 100, 000 miles or more, the Honda is much better bet because it’s better built by a company that will usually do something if they made an engineering mistake instead of leaving the owners with a costly repair.

  • Donnie Anderson

    They use timing chains now. Have been since 7th generation at least.

  • greg yatko

    Thanks Donnie. If you guys want to see some neat K20 vids, check out my buddies kid, he’s got an Mr2 K20 on youtube pushing over 900 hp “Andrew M”

  • Cody Beisel

    I own a 2015 Civic si I’d love to see how the Elantra sport stacks up against it

  • bd

    Compared to you, a total LOSER, that’s an improvement.

  • Cody Beisel

    I bought a Honda and their kseries engines are notorious for transmission problems. I’ve been dealing with transmission problems and infotainment problems in my 2015 Civic si build quality is average!

  • Cody Beisel

    Mazda definitely makes a fun to drive and great handling ride. I wish they created a higher output model or added more performance upgrades to their existing models to stay competitive. Very clean and sexy design. This new Elantra is definitely following that same trend. I’m personally very disappointed with my 2015 Honda Civic si in regards to reliability and fit and finish. I’ve already been looking into trading it in for a Mazda 3 GT but now I’m heavily considering the Elantra sport and Nissan Sentra nismo as my next daily

  • Dustin Duncan

    Just got mine on Thursday. I love it! Obviously the manual is a little more fun to drive, but my auto is fantastic.

  • Matthew SD

    So I just drove the Elantra Sport and the Civic EX-T back to back. There is something amazing about the Elantra you won’t understand until you drive it. There is a great video done by Everyday Reviews on this car that describes what I’m talking about in detail. The Elantra’s structure and suspension remind me of an Audi or BMW. The way it handles bad pavement and the overall refinement of the ride make this a better choice. The Civic on the other hand was felt like every bump was creeping up farther in the cabin making a louder thump. I also don’t like the way the Civic engine sounds in comparison. I’d take the Elantra. The head of BMW’s M division helped engineer it and it shows.

  • Pls lovebub

    Just got one today with the DCT for my wife, the shifts in everyday driving cannot be felt seat of the pants=smooth. A little soft from idle to 2k rpm but very smooth. Her 2012 Focus with DCT is very abrupt (it functions fine after 2 clutch replacements).

  • Pls lovebub

    Bought one today, can only compare to a loaded 2012 Focus sel, a 2015 Focus st1 and the 2017 Elantra limited I test drove. Much better than the Focus in every way mechanically, from the DCT to the ride to NVH. Focus st1 is much more of a performance car, stiffer, less body roll. better brakes and way more power especially down low-it has much more power so not a far comparison. The st1 has no leather, no heated seats, no touch screen radio, bare bones. The Elantra limited was a bit less refined in the ride, transmits rear bumps(no irs) and noise much more, squishier brakes and the engine sounds unrefined. It did jump off the line in regular driving with more oomph, i guess no boost to wait for. The car is quiet and the DCT is smooth, I did notice some wind noise at the A-pillar.
    I was able to get a $23920 msrp car that only had the DCT, mats, cargo mat and 1st aid kit for $20741 out the door ttl/fees included. A steal IMO for the hardware it comes with. That is only ~$300 more than the Focus st1 my son got in 2015.

  • Mick

    Damn Hyundai just copies Honda these days.

  • Mick

    Should have got a Honda in the first place.

  • Mick

    They copy Honda.