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Honda Civic vs. Toyota Corolla

dennis1dennis1 Posts: 4
edited March 10 in Honda
My daughter graduates college in May and she's looking to buy her first car - either a 2004 Honda Civic LX or a 2004 Toyota Corola LE.

Both cars come highly rated so I don't think there is a "wrong" choice! I've researched prices and actually received some internet bids.

What I would appreciate is any comments, suggestions or recommendations from members. She is looking to buy early to mid-May.



  • While I do highly regard Corollas, I think the Civic is an overall better choice for the following reasons:

    1. The fuel economy is better.
    2. You don't need a tune-up until you reach 110,000 miles (ask a dealer to verify this).
    3. From what I have been told, you don't need to change the oil until every 10,000 miles (again, ask a dealer to verify).
    4. It has a lower depreciation rate.
    5. It has a higher resale value.

    Obviously, the Civic is a worry-free car. It can save your daughter a lot of money (she will need to pay off those university-related expenses).

    It should be pointed out, however, that Corollas are also excellent cars; they have a 130-horsepower engine.

    Some advice: steer clear of popular domestic cars like the Ford Focus (trust me on this). Stay away from Kia too. Also, stay away from Hyundai (they may offer a 10 year or 100,000 mile warranty but believe me, you will probably need it).

    By the way, I too was considering either a Civic or a Corolla after my car was totalled in a car accident in February. After test driving both, I settled on the Civic because of the worry-free features.

    Since your daughter is also about my age, I think it is only fair to warn you that insurance costs may be slightly higher on a Civic. Bear in mind that both Civics and Corollas rank high as the most stolen vehicles in America, thought not nearly as high as the Accord or Camry. But either way, you really can't go wrong.

    I hope this is helpful. Keep us posted on your car shopping.
  • srocks4srocks4 Posts: 13
    I'm leaning towards a honda also, can you tell me what model/options and price you paid?

  • Both cars are good choices for a first time buyer. It all comes down to what your daughter likes best.

    Have her test drive both cars, and I'm not talking about a short drive around the block. Take the cars on the highway, across railroad tracks, through city streets, and girdlock traffic. Have her parallel park the car and back it out of a driveway. Find out what she likes about the cars and what she dislikes.

    There are many pros and cons to both cars:

    Why Civic is better:
    Comes equipped with an anti-theft immobilizer (can't start the car without the coded key).
    Aftermarket parts more readily available
    Long term financing is cheaper
    No real options (makes it harder for dealer to dicker with the price)
    Higher resale value
    No daytime running lamps
    Dashboard gauges stays lit while driving (very beautiful. Not bland like the Corolla's gauges)
    More comfortable seats (subjective)

    Why Corolla is better:
    130 hp engine
    Short term financing is cheaper
    Can order ABS (if you want ABS in a Civic, you'll have to get the EX model)
    Options galore
    Cheaper price comprably equipped
    Low trunk lid makes it easier to see out the back.

    What made me choose the Civic over the Corolla was that the Civic felt more comfortable to me. The seat, steering wheel, and pedals were in the perfect position for me. The Corolla had uncomfortable seats.

    Also, I heard of horror stories about a sewer like smell coming from Corollas and problems with awful gas mileage. This made me think twice about the Corolla.

    My 2003 Civic LX sedan (which I bought new on 12/29/02 for $15,100. $0 down, 1.9% financing for 5 years!) regularly gets 34-37 mpg with my weekly commute. My commute is 70% freeway and 30% stop and go.

    The only problem with my Civic is that the paint scratches and chips easily. I don't think it would be so visible if I had not chosen dark navy blue. White, beige, or silver should hide scratches and swirl marks better.

    Other than the paint, I have no complaints with the Civic.
  • dunworthdunworth Posts: 338
    I will jump into this discussion since it is near and dear to my heart. Keep in mind that the Civic is Canada's most popular car and the Corolla is near the top as well. Both models are built in plants that are about a one hour's drive from Toronto, although many US models also come from plants in Ohio and California.

    I faced this dilemma about two years ago and ended up getting one of each since we needed to replace both of our cars. I have owned our 2002 Corolla for more than 2 years while our 2003 Civic for 1 1/2 years. Many of my neighbours also have this combination in their driveways.

    Both of our cars have been flawless, with superb fuel economy and low maintenance. Dealer service locally is comparable as well - both excellent. Insurance costs are identical for my two cars (my wife and I are in our late thirties and live in the Toronto area).

    Here is what I have experienced as differences.

    The Toyota is more solid and feels heavier, although the two vehicles are comparable in curb weight. The Corolla has a softer more comfortable ride but this makes its handling less crisp than the Civic.

    The Civic fells lighter, despite being slightly larger inside. The Civic is the largest compact in its class for real-world usable space thanks to the flat floor in the rear. This latter feature allows you to put three people in the back seat more comfortably then in the Corolla. Keep in mind my Corolla is the older body style - the new one is slightly larger.

    The Civic would be my choice if you are choosing a stick shift while the Corolla is my choice for automatic. Despite being slightly underpowered, the Civic is more fun to drive while the Corolla feels like a baby Lexus. The switch gear and interior quality for both vehicles are industry benchmarks, although in LE form the Corolla with wood and leather is prettier.

    Like everyone has said, you cannot go wrong with either car. In Canada, the new Mazda3 is giving the Civic a run for its money. For a younger person, the Mazda should be on their list, although our local dealer is not very good and Mazda's quality has not been as consistent as Toyota's and Honda's. Still Mazda's are great cars and it is pretty hard to go wrong with most Japanese cars.
  • Hey there, SRocks! How is the whether up in 'Frisco? It's a little on the warmer end of cool here in LA, but not hot enough for me. Anyway, to answer your question, I have yet to buy my Civic LX. I am waiting for Mercury Insurance Company to pay off the lessor for my totalled car(my accident was on Feb. 24, and Mercury is taking their time).

    I did, however, get a price quote for a Civic LX at about $14,400, which is a little below invoice. I also test drove several cars, including the Civic and Corolla. I prefer the Civic because I like the idea of waiting until I reach 10,000 miles to change the oil. Also, I want a coupe and Corollas only come as a sedan.

    The weird thing is that the Civic looks better as a two-door and a Corolla looks better as a four-door.

    I must say Corollas look great. They have a hint of Jetta with Lexus reliability. And they are pretty fast, thus causing the fuel economy to suffer a bit.

    One thing about Corollas is that the higher-end models - the LE and S - can cost as much, or perhaps even more, than the Civic EX. A well-equipped S is well over $18,000 MSRP; it just depends on the options you want on your car.

    As crazygrrrl suggested, since the Civic has a set amount of options per trim level, the dealer cannot rip you off (well they can, but it may be tougher if you are prepared).

    Overall, you cannot go wrong. Both will last. I do, however, prefer the Civic. Though it would be great to have a Civic and a Corolla like dunworth!

    Shop wisely!
  • mcap56mcap56 Posts: 48
    I like both cars but choose the Civic EX. I felt the manual transmission was smoother and I liked having a set group of options per trim level. Also, I liked the styling a bit more (the corolla looks better to most people though). Some other minor things that set the civic apart were:

    1. Better mileage
    2. Slightly better resale (honda does not sell fleet cars - perhaps this is why).
    3. The steering wheel in the corolla is a bit far from the driver and the front leg room is cramped.
    4. The civic feels roomier
    5. Very good crash results
    6. Some people have been reporting a sulfer smell problem
    7. And most of all, I don't like the look of fake wood trim in an economy car.

    Both are great. I am sure the corolla has many advantages over the civic. Look at the mazda3 also. Another great car and sportier.

  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    What exactly are the EPA figures on the Civic LX auto? I was under the impression that the Corolla actually had the advantage in fuel economy for the automatics.

    The Corolla also offers more hp and torque, and in my opinion, a better ride. The Civic handles more nimbly, no doubt (but not the DX or VP models).

    Lack of ABS on the Civic LX is a big detriment, IMO. Around here, the Corolla LE is on lots with a few option packages that include ABS and Side Airbags for about $17,000 (certainly negotiable). To see how Corollas in your area are typcially equipped, go to

    In terms of crast tests, the Civic and Corolla score almost identically- both have a double 5 star in the frontal NHTSA, a double 4 star in the side NHTSA (which is a poorly designed test with many deficiencies, if youre interested in my opion), and both are Good-Best Picks by the IIHS in the frontal offset (though the Corolla is ranked slightly higher within that designation).

    Resale value is in favor of the Civic, but not by as much as many people may think. Check the December 2003 issue of Kiplingers Personal Finance for exact figures (from ALG).

    dunworth- are you basing your Corolla comments on your 2002 or the the newer generation that is in question?

    If it were the Civic EX we were talking about, Id probably give the nod to that vehicle because Im more impressed by the Civics handling than the Corollas creamy ride. But- we're not. The LX's lack of power, torque, no ABS are bigger detriments for me.

  • mcap56mcap56 Posts: 48
    I agree. However, perhaps this individual should actually compare the EX to the corolla. You can get an EX for about 17. I paid a little over 16 for a 5 spd.

  • The EPA figures on my 2003 Civic LX sedan (automatic) is 29 city, 39 highway.

    I have never gotten less than 32 mpg, even during the break in period. The highest mileage I've gotten was 42 mpg on a long trip from Oakland to Rancho Cordova CA and back.

    My average is 34-37 mpg depending on how bad traffic is, or how leadfooted I get during my commute.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    All Corolla automatics are rated at 29/38 cty/hwy.
    The Civic LX automatic is likewise rated at 29/38.
    The Civic EX automatic is rated at 31/38.
    All Corolla 5 speed manuals are rated at 32/40.
    The Civic LX 5M is rated at 32/38.
    The Civic EX 5M is rated 32/37.
    Car and Driver in the November 2002 issue, had a comparison of the manual transmission Corolla LE and manual transmission Civic LX. A few things have changed on the Civics- most notably the tires are now finally 15 inchers, but it can serve as a reference point nonetheless.

  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,803
    If your daughter is like majority of the girls of her age, she is only interested in a car because of its looks not because of its content. Her first choice is probably a MINI, and second a VW Jetta. And no matter what car you chose for her, she is not going to be happy.

    Either HOnda or Toyota are fine choices, but only if one were to make a decision based on content. Ask your daughter what she thinks of a JEtta, and se her responce. VW may not be the most reliable or most fun to drive, but it has an appeal to sub-25 age category.
  • dennis1dennis1 Posts: 4
    Thanks to all.

    My daughter is very conservative and doesn't care that much about looks. Being 6'-0" tall, she'd never consider a MINI and the Jetta's are about $3,000 higher.

    She's poured over comparisons, checked all the facts and numbers(she's a fimance major), and basically rates both vehicles about even.

    The last pricing she received was about $14,800 for the Toyota and $15,400 for the Honda (both equipped with automatics, and cruise so she is comparing apples to apples). These were out the door prices and included all rebates, taxes, destination charges, title, license, etc. I think the quoted prices were very good.

    Any other comments or recommendations would be appreciated. She will be buying early May unless some rebates expire before then.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Hi dennis1 - if you haven't already, you (or your daughter) might want to peruse the individual discussions we have on both of these vehicles. The Make/Model search on the left will list them for you.

    And of course there's all the edmunds info on each that is accessible via the New Cars tab at the top of the page.

    Hope this is helpful - keep us posted!
  • bd21bd21 Posts: 437
    Unless your state doesn't have much sales tax, your $15,400 is off. The best price you can get an 04 Civic LX 4 door automatic is about $14,700 which only includes destination and is hard to get that low. You need to reference exactly which models and options you are comparing if you want us to give you accurate input.
  • srocks4srocks4 Posts: 13
    Hi qbanspice, weather in SF has been a little odd, but good. The bay area warms up towards the afternoon, happy to see that the sunsets later.

    It was great to hear opinions from everyone. I was going to commit to a civic vp with side air, gotten quotes via net. The quotes were a few hundred $ below Edmund's TMV. I emailed both dealers to test drive at 5pm, both were fine with the time. The 1st dealer left for the day, test drove with another dealer. The 2nd dealer no where to be found, was told he normally has that day off.

    I really don't want to sit and haggle for 4 hours with the salesperson. I was going to work with the quote already give, try and get couple of hundred off or added options at no cost would have done it for me. My goal is out the door for less than $14k

    Question for all, do you get your quote talking face to face or over the email? Thanks.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    I negotiated a deal for my aunt in late February on a Civic LX 4 door no accessories, at a sales price of $14,200 plus TTL. Better than $14,700 is definitely possible. (I posted all the details and progress of that deal on the Civic- Prices Paid thread).

  • bd21bd21 Posts: 437
    Yes that was in Feb when Honda had up to a $1000 dealer incentive on Civics. Now it's only $400, so $14,200 is not realistic. Like I said, currently about $14,700 is about as good as you will do and that will be hard to come by. If you are trading something in, it's a moot point because it just muddies what you are really paying for the car. I read your post and you actually paid over over $15,200, because your trade was worth at least $1,250, if you were able to drive it on the lot. I'm a mechanic and it is easy to sell any Japanese economy car, especially a Honda that runs for over a grand, regardless of age or condition if it runs and is not totally wrecked. It's rarely a good idea to trade a car in, because you can get more off the dealer's price without a trade and you can sell your car for more privately. Trading cars in just makes it simpler for the customer, but in the end you are paying significantly more for this convenience.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    You made some pretty big assumptions.
    Heres what happened:

    We decided against working the trade in the deal, as the value given to us by the Honda dealership was $250. They did take the car off my aunts hands, just because she did not want the hassle of selling it (and neither did I). We negotiated with the salesman for an upgraded security system that would be covered by the 1992 Civic's trade in value. This negotiation was separate from the sales price of the 2004.

    Really, although kbb listed the car at $1250, and it was in decent shape, it needed tires, general maintenance, and had begun stalling after startup on cold mornings (but not after running for awhile, and thus easily disguised). My aunt figured she cut and run before she fixed anything, so the $250 in exchange for the security system as well as easy disposal of the 1992, was worth it, in her eyes.

    So, she paid 14,200 before TTL, and the payment at 60 months and 2.9 is 238/month with 2g's down. Do the math, its based on a sales price of 14,200 (Jersey tax is 6.0%, doc fees were a palatable $99). If you want to contend that we got taken on the trade, fine- my aunt did what she was most comfortable doing, and if that cost her anything, Id chalk it up to a convenience fee.

    But the deal for the 04 Civic was $14,200 before TTL.

  • bd21bd21 Posts: 437
    I didn't assume anything and you just validated everything I stated. I didn't say you had been taken, but no matter how you slice it, you didn't pay $14,200, because as you stated your trade was worth over $1000. Even with the security system, you still paid over $15,000 regardless of the 14,200 price on your paperwork. That was just the dealer making you feel good with the numbers. I garrantee I can take a kids Match box car with me to any dealer and get over $2000 trade in on any new vehicle. It just means they will adjust the real bottom line figure. You have to count that value into the deal. I bought the same car in Feb for $14,700, which included the dealer processing fee and doc fee(no trade)at 1.9 APR. You can't simply ignore your true market trade value in the deal. My main point anyway was most people will have to pay $14,700 or more now to buy the same car. We both got a great car and your aunt got rid of her old car without having to worry about it, so it really doesn't matter. I just like people on this board to have a clear picture of what people are actually paying for a car.
  • gregoryc1gregoryc1 Posts: 766
    Both cars are great, but why don't you surprise her with a 2004 Ford Mustang Mach 1 - 2door Coupe with a 4.6 V8 -310hp engine, 5 speed manual trans, rear wheel drive, rear limited slip differential, twin exhaust pipes with "glass packed mufflers, in "basic black"! Now that is a "car"!
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