2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Toyota Corolla

2021 Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla

It’s been years since the compact sedan kingdom has seen a ruler not named Corolla or Civic. Having each been voted onto the throne numerous times over the decades, the Civic and Corolla deliver on the grandest promises of fuel efficiency, all-encompassing style, and top-notch features. The same holds true for 2021, as both models return to vie for the crown yet again. Who reigns supreme?

Fuel Economy

With some regular unleaded flowing through their veins, the Civic and Corolla are quite efficient sedans. So efficient, in fact, that their entry-level trims (Civic LX and Corolla L) run neck and neck in the fuel economy race, returning 30 city/38 highway* miles per gallon -- some of the top EPA-estimated ratings in the class.

The ratings at the top tell a different story. Civic EX and EX-L models fitted with a LL-CVT bring in 36 combined mpg (32 city/42 highway), which beats Corolla XLE’s 32 combined (29 city/37 highway) rating.

2021 Civic EX Sedan 2021 Corolla XLE
MPG City 32* 29
MPG Highway 42* 37
MPG Combined 36* 32
2021 Civic - Fuel Economy


Both the 2021 Civic and Corolla can be had with one of two engines.

The Honda car comes standard with 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes 158 horsepower and 138 lb.-ft. of torque. Step up and into the EX or EX-L, and you get a 1.5L turbo-4 that churns through 174 horsepower and delivers 162 lb.-ft. of torque like it’s nobody’s business.

Inside the base Corolla L is a 1.8L 4-cylinder that makes 139 horsepower and 126 lb.-ft. of torque. Sportier Toyota Corolla SE and XSE trims earn an upgrade in a 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes 169 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. Neither Corolla power plant really competes with its comparable Civic rival.

2021 Civic LX Sedan 2021 Corolla L
Horsepower 158 @ 6500 rpm 139 @ 6100 rpm
Torque 138 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm 126 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
2021 Civic EX-L 2021 Corolla XSE
Horsepower 174 @ 6000 rpm 169 @ 6600 rpm
Torque 162 lb-ft @ 1700-5500 rpm 151 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
2021 Civic - Passenger Room

Passenger Room

Who says compact cars should feel compact? The 2021 Honda Civic and, to a lesser extent, Toyota Corolla prove that these so-called compacts offer a great deal more than meets the eye -- the Civic just does so more effortlessly.

With the 2021 Corolla, passengers are granted 88.6 cubic feet of room, which is about average in its class. Front legroom and rear headroom also follow suit, at 42.0 inches and 37.1 inches, respectively. However, its meager 34.8 inches of rear legroom, 38.4 inches of front headroom, and 51.7 inches of rear shoulder room are middling figures.

You get a far comfier experience inside the 2021 Civic. Honda’s sedan offers 97.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, nearly 10 cubes more than the Corolla. Riders also get an inch more front headroom, about three more inches of shoulder room, and over two-and-a-half more inches of legroom. Hallelujah!

2021 Civic LX Sedan 2021 Corolla L
Headroom (front/rear) 39.3 in / 37.1 in 38.3 in / 37.1 in
Legroom (front/rear) 42.3 in / 37.4 in 42.0 in / 34.8 in
Shoulder Room (front/rear) 57.0 in / 55.0 in 88.6 cu ft
Passenger Volume 97.8 cu ft 88.6 cu ft

Trunk Space

What about their junk-fittin’ trunks? Civic does that far better in this department, too, rewarding owners with 15% more cargo volume than the smaller Corolla. If percentages are too abstract, we’ll gladly break it down by the cubic foot: Civic LX sedans offer 15.1 cubic feet in the trunk, while the Corolla L sedan offers just 13.1 cubic feet of cargo area.

2021 Civic LX Sedan 2021 Corolla L
Cargo Volume 15.1 cu ft 13.1 cu ft


You expect a lot from your car. Why not choose a car that exceeds those expectations with a bunch of expectation-exceeding features?

2021 Civic - Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control

Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control

Life’s all about control -- in this Civic vs. Corolla case, climate control. Unlike the Corolla, the 2021 Civic comes with an available dual-zone automatic climate control system, allowing front riders to choose their individual temperature and fan-speed settings. Civic EX and EX-L models include this as standard fare.

Rear-Seat Heater Ducts

Additionally, the Civic also beats the Corolla in rear-seat climate, offering standard rear-seat heater vents. Toyota’s small sedan doesn’t include anything of the sort.

Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto Locks

Although the Corolla can be had with Toyota’s Smart Key System -- this feature enables remote keyless entry and a mixture of lock- and unlock-activation settings -- it can’t truly gain ground on Civic’s convenient Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto Lock system.

With the key fob in your pocket, simply approach your Civic and listen for that glorious unlock sound. You’re in. Then, when you exit the vehicle, hands full of morning java for the whole office, you can rest assured that your Civic will lock on its own as you move out of range. This feature comes standard starting with the Civic Sport.

2021 HR-V - Long Mode

Genuine Leather Seats

If you’re a sucker for authenticity, enjoy standard genuine leather-trimmed seats in the Civic EX-L. It’s a step up from the faux, synthetic leather seats (SofTex®) found in select Toyota Corolla trims.

2021 Civic - 16-inch Wheels

16” vs. 15” Wheels

If you like your car riding higher, the Civic is calling your name. Every Honda Civic LX comes with 16-inch wheels, while EX and EX-L Civics come with 17-inch alloys. By comparison, 2021 Toyota Corolla L models come with standard 15-inch wheels, and 16-inch wheels are fitted onto the axles of Corolla XLEs. That additional inch of visibility is noticeable.

Premium 10-Speaker Sound System

Any audiophile will embrace the Civic and its optional 450W premium audio system. It makes ears happy, with its bass-pounding subwoofer and 10-speaker setup. That’s better than Corolla’s available 9-speaker sound system.

2021 Civic - Sliding Center Armrest & Storage Compartment

Sliding Center Armrest & Storage Compartment

While it might seem a bit superfluous, Civic’s standard sliding center console storage compartment and elbow rest is far more pragmatic than you could imagine. When you need a more comfortable place to rest your elbow, slide the armrest padding to your ideal position. When you need the extra room, pop out the storage tray. When you need a little extra light, let the illuminated armrest accessory guide you. (Again, it’s all about control.)


30 city/38 highway/33 combined mpg rating for LX and Touring trims. 29 city/37 highway/32 combined mpg rating for Sport trim. 32 city/42 highway/36 combined mpg rating for EX and EX-L trims. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors.

158 @ 6500 rpm (SAE net), 174 @ 6000 rpm (SAE net)

138 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm (SAE net), 162 lb-ft @ 1700-5500 rpm (SAE net)