2012 Mazda 3 vs. 2012 Honda Civic: Which One Should I Buy?

Compact cars are well-known for their cost-effectiveness, value and affordability as well as their small stature. In general, they make great commuter cars and are especially good for first-time cars for kids or college students heading out for the first time or families with only one child. While putting a car seat in the back might be a bit of a challenge, it will be worth the struggle for the cost savings.

The Mazda 3 and the Honda Civic both provide a reasonable price-point and are eco-conscious choices that drive nicely but also tend to be a bit on the bland side. The handling and stability of the Mazda 3 are prized as well as the class-leading feel of the steering and nicely configured interior. The Civic offers just a tad more interior room and comfort, has a smooth and absorbent ride and a roomy trunk.

honda civic 2012
2012 Honda Civic

Interior Options

The Honda Civic is a bland and basic offering, with hard plastic dash materials and limited interior add-ons – with everything in a very basic and plain look, including rubber front and rear floor mats instead of carpet and the lack of rear cup holders. The Mazda 3 does have some additional options such as 1-touch windows up and down at least for the driver; which are not even offered in the Civic. The steering wheel of both trimmed-down vehicles is made of plastic and vinyl, which is unlikely to be described as luxurious. Most options are either manual or missing; these two cars represent basic transportation at its best.

Fuel Economy

One of the differentiators in this almost-smallest car class is the fuel economy, and it doesn’t disappoint – at least in the Civic. The Honda Civic has a 36 mpg highway rating with a 28 mpg city rating; while the Mazda 3 lags behind with a 33 mpg highway and 25 mpg city rating – both of which feel significantly lower than the Civic. Both fuel tanks are small, but the Mazda 3’s wins that battle with a 14.5 gallon tank versus only 13.2 for the Civic.

Safety Ratings

When you’re driving every day, you need to know that your vehicle is as safe as possible, and here’s where the Mazda 3 really falls down. The Civic’s safety ratings are superior overall, with only a few stars lost throughout the ratings structure. However, you probably don’t want to be a passenger in the Mazda 3 – side crash and side barrier ratings are dismal – 2 or 3 stars out of 5.

While on the surface the cars seem comparable, check the safety ratings before you make a decision.


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