2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Toyota Corolla Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Mar 02, 2021

Compact sedans still make a lot of sense for consumers who want a right-size vehicle that's easy to drive and easy on the wallet. In decades past, small cars were light on comforts and amenities. But in 2021, you can easily equip your entry-level sedan with all the latest convenience, multimedia, and safety features.

No doubt you're familiar with the two most popular cars in this class, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Honda and Toyota sell hundreds of thousands of them every year. Both are built right here in the United States. The Corolla rolls off the assembly line at Toyota's plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, while the Civic sedan is built in Greensburg, Indiana.

If you're shopping for a compact sedan for personal or family use, you'll definitely want to test-drive both the Civic and Corolla. Here's a 2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Toyota Corolla comparison to help with your research.

Price and Value

2021 Honda Civic Touring Sedan Red Front Quarter View

2021 Honda Civic Touring Sedan

Consumers looking at the 2021 Honda Civic sedan will find that it ranges in price from $21,250 to $28,300, not including a $995 destination charge. Trim levels are LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring. The Civic LX and Sport come with a capable 4-cylinder engine, while the higher trim levels have a more potent, turbocharged 4-cylinder.

There's also a four-door hatchback body style that ranges from $22,200 to $29,400 and comes standard with the turbo 4-cylinder engine. For hard-core driving enthusiasts, Honda offers the high-performance Civic Type R hatchback priced at $37,895. It has an even more powerful turbocharged engine. 

Honda offers only basic connected services on the Civic. You can use the Honda Link app to check fuel range and oil life, and schedule service appointments. If your Civic has factory navigation, you can look up destinations on your phone and send them to the nav system. It's likely that the redesigned 2022 Civic will offer more in the way of connected services when it goes on sale in late spring of 2021.

Honda does not offer complimentary scheduled maintenance on the 2021 Civic. Instead, there are prepaid maintenance plans available for purchase.

If you're shopping for a 2021 Toyota Corolla, you'll find that pricing starts at $20,025 and tops out at $28,310, not including a $995 destination charge. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is priced at $23,600.

The basic trim levels are L, LE, XLE, SE, and XSE, but there are also specialty trims, including the SE Nightshade and the Apex versions of the SE and XSE. The Corolla Hybrid is offered only in LE trim.

Like Honda, Toyota offers two different 4-cylinder gasoline engines for the regular Corolla, though neither is turbocharged. The hybrid Corolla gets a hybrid-specific version of the smaller engine along with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. There's also a four-door hatchback version of the Corolla, and it has the larger 2.0-liter engine as standard.

Toyota offers a lengthy list of connected services. Every 2021 Toyota Corolla comes with a free year of Safety Connect, which provides automatic collision notification and quick access to emergency responders. You also get a 3-month free trial for the Corolla's Wi-Fi (2 GB limit).

Higher trims also have access to a 12-month trial subscription to Remote Connect, which allows to you to lock the doors, start the engine, and locate your Corolla in a crowded parking lot. Included with that is a 10-year subscription to Service Connect, which makes it easier to stay on top of maintenance and safety recalls. Finally, if your Corolla has factory navigation, you'll get one year of Destination Assist, a 24-hour concierge service.

Toyota provides complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first 2 years or 25,000 miles that you own your Corolla. 

Advantage: Toyota Corolla

Reliability and Quality

2021 Toyota Corolla XSE Sedan Celestite Blue Front Quarter View

2021 Toyota Corolla XSE Sedan

The Honda Civic did not rank in either the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Civic comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

The Toyota Corolla ranked 2nd (in a tie with Toyota's Prius) among compact cars in the 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study but did not rank in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. Toyota's small sedan comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 10 years or 150,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 2 years or 25,000 miles

Advantage: Toyota Corolla

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Honda Civic Touring Sedan Interior Dashboard

2021 Honda Civic Touring Sedan

A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque is standard in the 2021 Honda Civic LX and Sport. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) drives the Civic's front wheels, and most consumers will find that it behaves like a regular automatic transmission.

Honda previously offered a 6-speed manual with this engine as well, but that transmission is on hiatus for the 2021 model year. (We expect a manual gearbox to return for the redesigned Civic, though availability could be limited to the Civic Si and Type R models.)

If you want more performance, look to the turbocharged, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in the EX, EX-L, and Touring. This engine makes 174 hp and 162 lb.-ft. of torque in the Civic sedan (a 180-hp version is available on the Civic hatchback). A CVT is standard. 

Fuel economy ratings for the 2021 Honda Civic sedan vary by trim level. The Civic LX has an EPA rating of 33 mpg in combined city and highway driving, while the Sport sedan has a 32-mpg rating. The EX trims have the highest rating at 36 mpg combined, while the Touring rates 33 mpg.

The 2021 Toyota Corolla comes with either a 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Standard with L, LE and XLE trim, the 1.8-liter engine generates 139 hp and 126 lb.-ft. of torque. A CVT is standard with this engine, and like the Civic, the Corolla is front-wheel-drive. 

In the Toyota Corolla Hybrid sedan, a 121-hp version of the 1.8-liter engine joins forces with a 53-kilowatt front-drive electric motor and a hybrid-specific CVT. Thanks to the instant-on torque from the electric motor, the hybrid Corolla feels fairly quick accelerating from a stop in spite of its low horsepower rating.

For Corolla sedan buyers wanting more power, Toyota offers a 2.0-liter engine in SE and XSE trim levels. The engine makes 169 hp and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. With most versions of the SE, you have a choice between a 6-speed manual transmission and a CVT. The XSE comes only with the CVT (unless you get the Corolla hatchback).

With the 1.8-liter engine, the Toyota Corolla sedan is rated to return 33 mpg in combined driving (32 mpg for the XLE). You can expect similar fuel mileage with the 2.0-liter engine, as the CVT versions rate 34 mpg in combined driving. With the manual gearbox, the Corolla's combined rating drops to 32 mpg (31 mpg for the SE Apex trim).

Of course, the 2021 Corolla Hybrid is the ultimate fuel miser with an EPA rating of 52 mpg in combined city and highway driving. 

Advantage: Neither. Base-engine versions of the 2021 Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla sedans offer adequate performance and little more. For an upgrade engine, the turbocharged 4-cylinder in the Civic is more satisfying. If maximum fuel economy is your goal, the Corolla Hybrid is the clear favorite.

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Toyota Corolla XLE Interior Dashboard

2021 Toyota Corolla XLE Sedan

Honda Sensing is the name for the advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) in the 2021 Honda Civic

Standard on all 2021 Civics, Honda Sensing includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance (which Honda calls Road Departure Mitigation), and automatic high-beam headlight control. It also includes lane-centering assistance, but Honda calls this aid a Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), which can be confusing when you're comparing features.

With its adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance, the 2021 Civic effectively offers Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance. But even though the adaptive cruise has limited stop-and-go capability ("low-speed follow" in Honda terminology), it's not meant to be used in heavy traffic. Honda says the 2022 Civic will offer an upgraded version of the Honda Sensing ADAS.

The 2021 Honda Civic sedan does not provide blind-spot warning or rear cross-traffic warning systems. Honda's Lane Watch technology, which projects an image of what's in your blind spot whenever you turn on the right-hand turn signal, is standard starting on the EX trim level. But Lane Watch is not a substitute for a true blind-spot warning system.

The Civic has a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall crash protection, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2021 Civic sedan a Top Safety Pick.

Every 2021 Toyota Corolla comes with Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) driving aids. It's basically the same package of features as the Civic's Honda Sensing, though TSS 2.0 doesn't have stop-and-go capability in traffic. But it adds a road sign recognition feature that "reads" signs and displays that information in the Corolla's instrument panel.

In addition, most versions of the Corolla sedan have access to blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning as standard or optional equipment.

Like the Civic, the 2021 Corolla sedan has a 5-star overall NHTSA rating and was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Advantage: Toyota Corolla

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Honda Civic Touring Sedan Red Rear Quarter View

2021 Honda Civic Touring Sedan

Media options are limited in the 2021 Honda Civic LX sedan, which has a 5-inch LCD screen, no smartphone integration (other than basic Bluetooth), and a four-speaker audio system with a single USB port.

The Civic Sport is a worthwhile upgrade, as it comes with a more appropriately sized 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an additional USB input, and eight audio speakers. The EX adds a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.

The Civic Touring has a factory navigation system with Honda HD Digital Traffic and a premium audio system with ten speakers.

Meanwhile, the base 2021 Toyota Corolla L sedan is well equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a six-speaker audio system, and a 3-month satellite radio subscription. The LE upgrades to an 8-inch touchscreen interface and picks up a USB port for the backseat.

A premium JBL audio system with nine speakers is optional on the Corolla's higher trims, as is factory navigation system. When you purchase the nav system, you get three years of over-the-air map updates (after which time you'd have to subscribe to keep getting updates from the cloud). Wireless phone charging is also an option on certain trims.

Advantage: Toyota Corolla

Comfort and Utility

2021 Toyota Corolla XSE Sedan Celestite Blue Rear Quarter View

2021 Toyota Corolla XSE Sedan

You won't go without basic comforts in the 2021 Honda Civic sedan. Automatic climate control and rear heater ducts are standard in even the base LX. The EX and above trims have dual-zone climate control and heated front seats, while the Touring includes heated rear seats.

Likewise, Honda equips the LX with manual seat-height adjustment for the driver and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Cloth upholstery is standard, but if you want leather on the seats, the EX-L and Touring have it. An 8-way power driver’s seat is standard starting on the EX. The Touring alone has a 4-way power passenger’s seat.

Push-button start and a smart keyless system (allowing the remote to stay in your pocket) are standard on the Sport and above.

Trunk capacity measures 15.1 cubic feet (14.7 in the Touring due to its premium sound system). For those occasions when you need more room, the Civic LX has a single-piece folding rear seatback, but all other trims offer a more useful 60/40-split folding seat.

Manual air-conditioning is standard on the 2021 Toyota Corolla L, along with rear heater ducts. Automatic climate control is standard starting on the LE, but you can't get a dual-zone system on any Corolla.

As in the Civic, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are standard fare on the Corolla's lower trims. The LE provides access to a smart keyless system.

The XLE and XSE trims have Toyota's SofTex leatherette upholstery, along with an 8-way power driver’s seat. These trims also have heated front seats and ambient interior lighting, but you can’t get heated rear seats in a Corolla. 

Trunk capacity measures 13.1 cu. ft. in all Toyota Corollas, including the hybrid, which has its batteries packaged under the rear seat to preserve cargo space. A 60/40-split rear seat is standard across the board.

Advantage: Honda Civic

Learn More About the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla

If you’d like to learn more about these compact sedans, be sure to read our expert reviews of the Honda Civic and the 2021 Toyota Corolla. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on March 2, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.

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