Small hatchbacks are surprisingly versatile. Despite their trim exterior dimensions, you can load ‘em up with an entire garage sale’s worth of junk.
Two popular five-door options are the brand-new Subaru Impreza or Honda’s nearly as fresh, and much-hyped Civic. Which of these cars is a better choice? Well, that’s your job to determine… AND VOTE ABOUT!
The Scoobie in this tossup is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder, the only engine offered. It’s rated at a class-appropriate if hardly thrilling 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of twist. A continuously variable automatic transmission is available, as is a five-ratio manual in the most basic model.
One ace up the Impreza hatch’s sleeve is standard all-wheel drive, something the Civic doesn’t even offer. This is a boon for customers residing in areas that actually receive weather, not sunshine every day of the year.
As for Honda’s Civic hatchback, the only engine offered is a creamy-smooth 1.5-liter turbo. It provides an impressive 174 horses (180 in the Sport models) and 162 lb-ft of torque (Sport-trim versions get 177), a good deal more giddy-up than its rival. In other good news, this powerplant can be matched to either a CVT or a proper six-speed manual, for maximum fun.
All-wheel drive notwithstanding, the Civic’s big advantage is efficiency. With the automatic transmission, it stickers at 31 miles per gallon city, 40 highway and 34 combined. A similarly equipped Impreza can muster just 28 MPG in urban driving, 37 on interstates and 31 combined.