Decades of strong Civic and Accord sales have helped Honda become a globally-recognized carmaker. Both nameplates enjoy a well-earned reputation for reliability and engineering quality in the United States and abroad, but today’s models are very different than their predecessors. They’re bigger and more complex, they’re more stylish than ever in recent memory, and they’re reasonably enjoyable to drive. Here’s how they compare on paper.
The Civic and Accord share the same basic platform, and Honda tried to give them a familial resemblance in exterior styling. Each car has some unique styling elements, but others, like the chrome monobrow above the headlights, are shared. Both cars are currently in their 10th generation. The current-generation Civic dates back to the 2016 model year, while the current Accord was launched as a 2018 model and updated for the 2021 model year.
The Accord is available only as a four-door sedan. The Civic is available as a sedan or as a five-door hatchback because Honda dropped the Coupe model for the 2021 model year. It doesn’t sound like it will make a comeback, either. The Civic is a size down from the Accord. It’s considered a compact car, while the Accord is a midsize.
Comparing apples to apples, the 2020 Accord is 9.5 inches longer, 2.4 inches wider, and 1.4 inches taller than a 2020 Civic sedan, with a 5.1-inch longer wheelbase. However, the two sedans are fairly close on passenger space. The Accord has a scant 0.2 inch more of front headroom. Front legroom is identical, although the Accord offers a generous 3.0 inches of additional rear legroom. At 16.7 cubic feet, the Accord also has 1.6 cubic feet more trunk space than the Civic sedan. However, the Civic hatchback offers 25.7 cubes of cargo space with the rear seats in place.
Called LX, the entry-level Civic trim settles for a 5.0-inch screen, and it’s not compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sport models and higher get a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity.
As of October 2020, every Accord comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus an 8.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. Moving up in the trim hierarchy unlocks features like a wireless phone charger, a head-up display, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition.
Even the cheapest Civic offers Honda Sensing, which is a suite of electronic driving aids that bundles adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking. Automatic high beams are standard as well, while EX and higher trim levels get LaneWatch, which uses a camera to compensate for blind spots. However, LaneWatch is expected to be discontinued in the near future.
The Accord gets the same standard Honda Sensing features as the Civic, but with traffic sign recognition and a low-speed follow function for the adaptive cruise control. Automatic high beams are standard as well.
The base Civic engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can also upgrade to a 1.5-liter turbo-four with 174 hp and 167 lb.-ft. in the sedan and 180 hp and 177 lb.-ft. in the hatchback Sport model. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are the only drivetrain options available because Honda discontinued the six-speed stick in October 2020 due to a lack of demand.
Honda also offers the Civic Type R, which uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 306 hp and 295 lb.-ft. It’s the exception to the rule: It’s exclusively offered with a six-speed manual transmission.
The Accord offers fewer powertrain choices. The base engine is the same 1.5-liter turbo inline-four used in the Civic. In the Accord, it makes 192 hp and 192 lb.-ft. of torque and shifts through a CVT. Higher trim levels get a 2.0-liter turbo-four that is essentially a detuned version of the Civic Type R’s engine. It makes 252 hp and 273 lb.-ft., and it’s bolted to a 10-speed automatic. Honda previously offered a six-speed manual option for both engines, but it was discontinued for the 2021 model year. Like the Civic, the Accord is front-wheel drive only.
Both cars are at their most fuel-efficient with the 1.5-liter engine and the CVT. With that combination, the Civic sedan is rated at 36 mpg combined (32 mpg city, 42 mpg highway), while the Accord is rated at 33 mpg combined (30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway). Honda also offers an Accord hybrid model, rated at 48 mpg combined (48 mpg city, 48 mpg highway), as well as the Insight, which is a Civic hybrid in all but name. The Insight is rated at 52 mpg combined (55 mpg city, 49 mpg highway), although Touring models get slightly lower mpg.
Both the Civic and Accord received a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and both cars missed out on the highest Top Safety Pick+ rating due to poorly-rated headlights. That safety rating applies to both sedan and hatchback versions of the Civic, but not the Type R performance model.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Civic sedan and hatchback a five-star overall rating but did not rate the Civic Type R. The Accord received a five-star overall rating as well, and both models received five stars in all individual crash tests.
The 2021 Civic sedan starts at $21,050, and the hatchback costs $22,000, but you can spend a lot more. The fully-loaded Touring model starts at $28,100, while the sporty Type R is priced at $37,495 before destination.
2021 Accord pricing ranges from $24,770 for the entry-level LX to $36,700 for the Touring. If it’s the hybrid you’re after, plan on spending $26,370 for a base model or $36,240 for the top-of-the-line Touring trim level.
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