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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Attila

19 years of experience
906 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
He is very good—offered all the significant details we needed from the inspection. Helped us figure out what needed to be fixed.

Shawn

12 years of experience
285 reviews
Shawn
12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
320 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
GMC Savana 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Golden, Colorado
I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

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