Today, we’re looking at a pair of vehicles that manage to be both luxurious and attainable. Both the 2020 Mazda3 and 2020 Honda Civic hatchbacks have their perks — in looks and in functionality — but that doesn’t mean these two are one and the same. This compact hatchback comparison is about to rev up.

Year-long reliability

If you’re someone who lives in both warm and wintry conditions, it’s important to get a vehicle that covers you in sun and snow alike. The Civic’s independent rear suspension does make a difference, but I just don’t think it compares to what the Mazda3 has to offer.

Unlike the Honda Civic, the Mazda3 offers all-wheel drive — something that makes a world of difference when the ice hits. In addition to AWD, the vehicle’s G-Vectoring Control Plus system makes maneuvering the car easier. Split-torque traction brings this ride over the edge (figuratively, of course).

The winner: 2020 Mazda3

Price

Let’s look at the prices of these rival hatchbacks. The 2020 Honda Civic starts at $21,750. Meanwhile, the 2020 Mazda3 has an MSRP of $23,700. The gap isn’t huge here, but I’ll be fair.

The winner: 2020 Honda Civic

Performance

Here’s where the fun begins. The Civic features a punchy 1.5-liter turbo-four that pumps out 180 horsepower and 177 pounds-feet of torque (with the six-speed manual transmission, that is). The car’s speed? 0–60 MPH in just 7.1 seconds.

For the Mazda3, a 2.5-liter I4 engine hits 186 horsepower and 186 pounds-feet of torque. Because of a lack of turbo, acceleration is smoother. This ride’s quicker, if only by a hair — it hits 0–60 MPH in 6.9 seconds. 

It’s worth mentioning that the Civic’s manual transmission is awesome, especially if you’re new to shifting. It’s more accurate than the Mazda3’s and better suited for beginners.

As for braking, the Civic is a smidge lighter in weight, so it stops smoother than the Mazda3. It can stop from 60 MPH in 113 feet, which the Mazda3 does so in 115 feet.

The winner: 2020 Honda Civic

Style

2020 Mazda3

There’s no denying both the 2020 Honda Civic and Mazda3 have got the pizzazz. I’m a huge fan of the sharper angles of the Civic, as well as LED daytime running headlights and C-shaped tail lights that look angry in a good way (anybody else?). On the interior, leather trimming and an ergonomic cockpit are enough to draw me in.

Despite my affinity for the Civic’s bold style, I have to admit that the Mazda3 looks utterly upscale. Unlike its competition, its lines are smooth and it has an air of sportiness about it. Circular exterior lighting and a minimalist yet luxurious cockpit reign supreme.

The winner: 2020 Mazda3

Storage

Thanks to the Civic’s intelligent configuration, this vehicle offers generous interior storage to make any trip easier. With 60/40 rear seats that fold all the way back, you can rearrange your car for the perfect packing job. The hatchback opening is wide and the liftover height is low. Overall, cargo storage is 25.7 cubic feet with the seats up, or 46.2 cubic feet with the seats down.

The Mazda3 has an unfortunately placed C-pillar in the rear that contributes to blind spots and cuts down on cargo space. The hatchback opening is smaller than the Civic, though it does come with 60/40 seats. Cargo storage starts at 20.1 cubic feet with the seats up, or 47.1 cubic feet with the seats down (though the shape of that storage isn’t ideal).

The winner: 2020 Honda Civic

Additional features in the Mazda3 and Honda Civic

Both hatchbacks have smart driver assistance features galore — and they’re standard. This means adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic high-beams and automatic emergency braking, just to name a few. With Honda’s LaneWatch system, the Civic really has it all. But the Mazda3 features blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert on select trims.

Let’s talk infotainment. The Honda’s 7-inch touchscreen is user friendly and available 12-speaker unit sounds stellar. The Mazda3’s available Bose stereo is definitely superior, but its overall infotainment and display doesn’t match up.

The winner: 2020 Honda Civic

The consensus: 2020 Honda Civic, all things considered

Because of the sheer beauty of the 2020 Mazda3, it’s hard for me to deem the Honda Civic as the winner. But the fact of the matter is that it’s just better overall, thanks to its performance, storage, entertainment and price. For a car that will give you the most bang for your buck, I’d say the 2020 Honda Civic hatchback is it. But that doesn’t mean this compact hatchback comparison was easy…

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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    3 Comments

    1. Can’t go wrong with Honda.

    2. I like that the Mazda has more power and optional all-wheel drive, but the styling of the Civic in my opinion is much better.

    3. The all wheel drive hatchback Mazda 3 has been long awaited in the United States. Take some time to check out the Mazda Axela. Unfortunately, until a Mazdaspeed model with AWD is offered you can count me out.

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