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23rd of July 2018

Automotive



Car Compare: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta and 2018 Honda Civic - Motor Trend

Volkswagen’s best-selling sedan against the segment’s best-seller Share this article in: Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers Change Car GO 1. Vehicle Option

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From 158 to 306 hp and across three body styles, the expansive Honda Civic lineup is quite good. With the 2019 Jetta, Volkswagen reenters the compact sedan class hoping to attract buyers who might actually consider something outside Honda and Toyota dealerships. We tested a $23,005 2019 Jetta SE; keep reading to find out how the VW compares to the best-selling and comparison-winning Civic in a few categories.

Read the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta First Test right here.

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We like how the Civic drives. The model that won a Big Test comparison in 2016 was powered by the car’s base engine that’s good for 158 hp. After a year with a loaded Civic Touring powered by a 174-hp 1.5-liter turbo-four, we came away impressed with how the car drove. The same is true with the 2019 Jetta, which is decent to drive and way quicker than you’d expect of a 147-hp car. In Motor Trend testing, the 2019 Jetta SE accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.6 seconds, right in the middle of a 2016 Civic EX 2.0 hitting 60 in 8.6 seconds and a 2017 Civic Touring 1.5T reaching 60 in 6.8 seconds.

Both cars offer manual transmissions, but as for the automatics most buyers will choose, the Civic uses a smooth-operating CVT and the Jetta goes with an eight-speed automatic.

MPGs—Advantage: Honda Civic

What’s crazy about the Civic 1.5T’s quick 0–60 time is that the Honda accomplishes that while achieving great EPA-rated fuel economy. The 2018 Civic sedan with the base 2.0-liter engine manages 31/40 mpg city/highway. Go with the EX-T, EX-L, or Touring’s 1.5T engine, and those EPA ratings improve to 32/42 mpg. The Jetta’s 1.4-liter turbo-four gets a solid 30/40 mpg—not really a huge difference below the two Civics.

What puts the Civic ahead here—for those who care about fuel economy—is the existence of the also-affordable 2019 Insight. Based on the Civic, the Insight sedan is expected to get an EPA rating of 55/49 mpg for its two lower trims and 51/45 mpg in Touring form. The car’s starting price of $23,725 is much higher than the Civic or Jetta, but the Insight is decently equipped in EX form at $24,995.

Interior Space—Advantage: You

Compact sedans have grown over the years, and you may be surprised by just how much space they offer. Both the 2019 Jetta and 2018 Civic are spacious inside, offering about 95 cubic feet of passenger volume. Rear-seat legroom in both cars is a healthy 37.4 inches, though taller rear-seat passengers will want to watch their heads in both cars. The Jetta’s trunk can hold 14.1 cubic feet of stuff—a respectably sized space, but the Civic has it beat with 15.1 cubic feet in every trim but the high-end Touring, which holds 14.7 cubic feet.

The Jetta’s front center armrest is admirably deep, and we’re fans of the Civic’s versatile and reconfigurable storage area between the front passengers.

Warranty—Advantage: Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen jumped beyond every other automaker in the U.S. when it revealed its impressive six-year/72,000-mile warranty. Exactly twice what you get on a Honda, the Jetta’s warranty is VW’s way of regaining the public’s trust after its diesel scandal. Then again, although no automaker is perfect, Honda has earned a reputation for producing reliable cars. We look forward to seeing whether VW’s long, new warranty becomes a permanent part of the brand, or if it gets reduced after a few years.

Cool Features—Advantage: Volkswagen Jetta

Those who haven’t shopped for a compact sedan in a while might fall out of their chairs when they realize loaded examples can reach $28,000 or higher. But it’s true—just consider what features are available on a $27,795 2019 Jetta SEL Premium. That model includes a very cool 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, available two-tone black and dark beige leather seats, 10-color ambient lighting, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen that’s mounted high on the dash and tilted toward the driver for optimal quick-glance visibility.

The $27,695 2018 Civic Touring can’t compete with those features, but the 1.5T model is quicker and more efficient than the Jetta. Like the Jetta SEL Premium, the Civic Touring includes LED headlights as well as heated front and rear outboard seats, an upgraded sound system, and leather seats, but also adds a four-way power passenger seat (plus a power driver seat).

Cool Features (on a Budget)—Advantage: Honda Civic

If you can’t imagine paying $28,000 for a compact, both cars still provide value at thousands less. The 2019 Jetta, for example, includes automatic emergency braking on nearly every car. Our $23,005 Jetta SE tester featured Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a 6.5-inch touchscreen, LED headlights, a large sunroof, and blind-spot monitoring. Keeping in mind that great basic warranty, it’s a decent equipment list.

At around $23,000, however, don’t forget about the automatic-transmission 2018 Civic EX with a $1,000 safety tech package. That model carries a sticker price of $23,235 and includes a proximity key, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, automatic emergency braking, and a sunroof—like the Jetta. But at this price point, the Honda throws in a second USB outlet (Jettas below the SEL get one USB outlet), adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assist, and an eight-speaker sound system (the Jetta S, SE, and R-Line get four speakers). One other feature to try on a Civic test drive is auto brake hold. Available from many automakers, this feature allows you to give your foot a break as the car holds the brakes at a long red light, automatically lifting once you press the gas.

Which One Should I Get?

The compact sedan class is currently full of entries offering heavy incentives. If your budget is especially tight and you’re willing to potentially sacrifice a high-quality driving experience for a good price, there are some good deals in this segment. As we mentioned in our 2019 Jetta First Test review, the Volkswagen’s sweet spot is the SEL non-Premium trim. That model adds the digital instrument cluster, an improved sound system, and a couple other desirable features. In the higher price range, I’d consider the Jetta for its features and quickness plus the Civic for its all-around excellence and powerful 1.5T engine. Around $23,000, I might be more inclined to favor the Civic, and below that, I’d start seriously considering cars with thousands in incentives.

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