You can’t go wrong with either the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. Both are considered to be at the top of their competitive class of economical, small cars. They have similar safety equipment and gas mileage is not only comparable, but the envy of many other gas guzzling vehicles.
The Honda Civic comes out slightly better in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s crash test ratings. It received mainly 5-star crash test rating while the Corolla received a majority of 4-star crash test ratings. But the Civic does not come out ahead when it comes to the selling price.
For the purpose of our comparison we’re going to look at the Honda Civic EX and the Toyota Corolla LE. Both vehicles come with the basics: power windows, locks and side-mirrors, AM/FM/CD player, and automatic transmission.
We also have to swap around a few accessories to make sure that we’re comparing apples-to-apples. Toyota tends to list as optional many features that Honda makes standard. In this case, the Civic EX comes with a few features that buyers have to pay extra for on the Corolla LE. These include items like a moonroof, alloy wheels, 16-inch tires instead of 15-inch, and even cruise control.
The base price of the Toyota Corolla LE is $16,850. The Honda Civic comes in at $20,405. However, when we equalize the options between the two, we find that a comparably equipped Corolla LE has a Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) of $19,180, while the Civic EX comes in at $21,155. There is a difference in sticker price of $1,975.
The difference in selling price is significant for many new, small car buyers. Depending on local tax rates and the buyer’s credit rating, it could add anywhere from $40 to $60 to the monthly payment of a car loan. That’s enough to disqualify some buyers, forcing them to come up with a bigger down payment or to switch to a less expensive vehicle. This means that some buyers who prefer the Honda Civic will be forced to buy a Toyota instead—no matter what their actual preference is.
If that’s the worst that happens, it’s not so bad considering what a great little car the Corolla is.