2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Volkswagen Jetta

2021 Honda Civic vs Volkswagen Jetta

Since it first debuted nearly 50 years ago, the Civic has grown to be one of the best-selling and most popular compact sedans to ever hit America’s roadways. Now, in its 10th generation, the 2021 Honda Civic continues to put competitors in this hotly-contested segment in its rearview mirror. And how could it not? With its sporty styling, crisp handling, peppy performance, outstanding fuel economy, cutting-edge technology, an array of standard safety features, and legendary Honda quality and reliability, the Civic is top notch.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of contenders in the compact sedan category who’d like nothing better than to knock the Civic down a peg or two. Like the 2021 VW Jetta, for example. So, let’s see how the 2021 Honda Civic Sport fares against the 2021 Jetta SE.

2021 Civic - Styling


The Bold & The Bland

The 2021 Civic Sport revs up excitement from every angle with bold styling that punctuates its sporty appeal. From its rakish front end and aerodynamic roofline to its dramatic, “C”-shaped tail lights, the Civic exudes a sassy, fun-to-drive attitude that’s sure to put some pizzaz into your daily commute.

The shopworn Jetta shows that it's desperately in need of a makeover. The Jetta’s bland sheet metal takes a more conservative route, with a buttoned-down personality that puts excitement in the back seat.

As Ryan ZumMallen of notes in his review of the 2021 Jetta: “Many of its rivals are big on personality – something the Jetta struggles to match against the Honda Civic…”

2021 Civic - Interior


Contemporary vs Austere

Get behind the wheel of the 2021 Civic Sport and you’ll be immediately impressed by how spacious, quiet, and comfortable it is. The Civic’s chic contemporary interior features quality materials throughout, along with plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the ride. The driver-centric cockpit features a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shifter, digital gauges, and other sporty touches.

You’ll get more interior legroom, headroom, shoulder room, and cargo room in the Civic compared to the Jetta.

As Aaron Cole, Managing Editor of notes in his review of the Honda Civic: “The new Civic is much bigger than before, up to 3 inches longer and nearly 2 inches wider. Interior space and comfort have improved by a big margin, with a low driving position, excellent bucket seats, and very good rear-seat space that serves as its hallmarks.” He adds that the Civic’s “…broad horizontal theme wouldn’t look out of place in a BMW.”

On the other hand, the Jetta suffers from a big dose of Teutonic austerity that gives its appointments a tacky appearance. Passenger room and creature comforts also suffer. Per’s Aaron Cole: “Inside, the Jetta tilts its touchscreen toward the driver, but it lacks imagination… Some of the materials feel thin, and hard buttons look cheaper next to rivals.”

2021 Civic Sport 2021 Jetta SE
Passenger Volume 97.8 cubic feet 94.7 cubic feet
Front Legroom 42.3 inches 41.1 inches
Front Shoulder Room 56.9 inches 55.9 inches
Rear Shoulder Room 55 inches 54 inches
Front Headroom 39.3 inches 37.9 inches
Cargo Volume 15.1 cubic feet 14.1 cubic


Peppy vs Pedestrian

One of the reasons why the Civic pulls way ahead of the competition is that it’s simply a blast to drive. This is especially true when you compare the 2021 Civic Sport against the 2021 Jetta SE.

For starters, the Civic packs powerful performance in a small package with its 2.0-liter, 16-valve, DOHC iVTEC® four-cylinder engine with Eco Assist delivering a punchy 158 horsepower at 6500 RPM*. The engine is mated to a thrifty Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that helps put the “sport” in the Civic Sport’s moniker.

The anemic Jetta lags with its 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine that manages just 147 horsepower at 6000 RPM. Expect a mediocre 0-60 mph time of 8.4 seconds with the Jetta.

2021 Civic - Technology


Civic Tops in Tech

Another area where the Civic Sport pulls ahead of the Jetta SE is in technology. The Civic’s high-tech infotainment system features Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®*, Bluetooth® Streaming Audio*, Apple CarPlay®* and Android Auto™* integration, steering-wheel-mounted controls, a crisp, 7-inch Display Audio with a responsive high-res touchscreen, and Hondalink® smartphone compatibility that lets you control a host of features through your compatible smartphone.

The Jetta offers a smaller 6.5-inch touchscreen display and AM/FM radio. It also offers App Connect® and Bluetooth® capabilities.


Setting New Standards

The Honda Civic Sport’s comprehensive suite of standard Honda Sensing® safety features goes above and beyond what’s offered on the Jetta SE. Honda Sensing’s active driver-assist technologies include Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM®), Lane-Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control, and Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™). Plus, the Civic Sport also features Honda’s exclusive ACE™ Body Structure that’s designed to offer enhanced occupant protection in frontal collisions.

Unfortunately, the Jetta SE doesn’t come close in terms of these advanced safety technologies. It doesn’t even offer standard automatic braking. In fact, you’ll have to pay an upcharge to get it. Plus, such active safety features as adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitoring, rear-traffic alert, and land assist are only available on pricier models.

2021 Civic Sport 2021 Jetta SE
Road-Departure Mitigation Standard Not Available
Lane-Keeping Assist Standard Not Available
Adaptive Cruise Control Standard Not Available
Collision-Mitigation Braking Standard Not Available
ACE Body Structure Standard Not Available
Cargo Volume Standard Not Available

Civic Jets Past Jetta

The 2021 Honda Civic Sport jets past the 2021 VW Jetta in just about every category. But that’s not surprising, considering that the Civic continues to receive accolades from car buyers and car experts alike. In fact, the 2020 Honda Civic recently won’s “2020 Compact Sedan Challenge.” The Civic has maintained its leadership as America’s best retail-selling passenger car for four consecutive years*, and the Civic lineup has been America’s number-one compact car for a decade*.


158 hp @6500 RPM (SAE Net)

Android™ and Android Auto™ are trademarks of Google LLC.

Apple CarPlay is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is under license.

Drive responsibly. Some state laws prohibit the operation of handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle. For safety reasons, always launch your audio application or perform any other operation on your phone or audio device only when the vehicle is safely parked.

Based on Urban Science DataHub™ retail sales for industry-wide passenger car models 2016-2020CYTD June.

Based on Urban Science DataHub™ retail sales in the Compact Car segment 2010-2020CYTD June.