2022 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Toyota Corolla: Compare Cars

Between them, they’ve sold millions—and the rivalry between the 2022 Honda Civic and 2021 Toyota Corolla hasn’t been diminished by new competitors or by new kinds of compact vehicles. They’re still two of the bestselling vehicles in the U.S.

Which one’s better? The latest Corolla sedan has newfound verve to go with its excellent value, while the still-cooling Civic emerges fresh from a redesign with better standard safety gear and with more refined style.

We’ll give it away early. The 2022 Honda Civic scores a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10 before it’s been crash-tested, while the latest Corolla checks in at 6.7 out of 10. But the scores don’t tell the entire story, and in at least one way, the Corolla outpoints its longtime foe.

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic

2022 Honda Civic

That doesn’t come in styling. The Civic’s sleek body has been tamed from the exuberant chaos of the last generation. It’s been smoothed in ways that don’t dull its appeal. That’s especially true inside, where a pared-down design wears a metal filigree band that hides air vents and lifts it from game-boy cliché. The Corolla’s now the wild child: It’s a complete role reversal, but the Toyota’s drawn with flares and fillips that don’t exhaust the eyeballs like a C-HR. Its interior’s no longer a Rubbermaid refuge; what it is, is plain. (The Corolla hatchback doesn’t yet have a direct rival from Honda, so we’ll confine our comments to four-doors here.)

Honda puts its 158-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 and 180-hp 1.5-liter turbo-4 in the Civic lineup, and the clear winner’s the turbo-4. It’s stronger, if not quieter, and teams with its CVT for engaging front-wheel-drive fun. The Civic rides very well, too—and from past experience it has more range in its performance envelope.

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

The Corolla trumps the Civic in one key way. While its base cars putter around with a 169-hp inline-4, the Corolla Hybrid apes Prius efficiency and drapes it in the more conventional Corolla shape. We’re fine with the Corolla Hybrid’s shy acceleration in light of its 52-mpg combined EPA gas mileage rating. And though it’s less fluent in ride and handling than the Civic, it’s still a pleasure to drive, never bobbly or heavy.

Both the Civic and Corolla have space for four large people and their stuff. Toyota’s base seats are better than Honda’s, but the Civic’s thickly bolstered leather buckets feel almost perfect (add lumbar support, please?). The Corolla’s trunk is a bit smaller but still plenty useful.

Both the Corolla and Civic have standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control—and both offer blind-spot monitors and parking sensors. Honda’s yet to receive crash-test data; the Corolla’s nearly flawless in that regard.

The Corolla and Civic also offer excellent value, with standard touchscreen infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and power features. We like the mid-$20,000s mid-grade Civic EX—but if fuel economy leads your shopping list, the Corolla Hybrid LE’s the obvious choice, unless you’re willing to select the carryover, Civic-adjacent Honda Insight.

They’re close now, but with safety tests to come, the 2022 Honda Civic will open up a significant lead over the Toyota Corolla. But if efficiency matters, the capable, inexpensive, and high-economy Corolla Hybrid is a wise choice, even with the lower overall TCC Rating. 

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