Honda Civic vs. Hyundai Elantra: Compare Cars

The Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic are two of the most popular compact cars, and both offer a wide range of versions to cover everything from low-cost commuting to serious performance. 

Both of these lineups stand out for offering a lot of value for the money, styling that’s anything but plain, leading-edge tech, and cabin comforts that just a few years ago would have been the domain of upmarket vehicles. 

Four-door sedans are the heart of both lineups, but the Civic remains widely available as a five-door hatchback. Although the Elantra has a single body style, it offers a high-mpg hybrid version. 

The Elantra N made the Best Car To Buy 2022 shortlist from companion site Motor Authority, while the Civic Type R was the 2023 winner. Both are serious performance cars and rewarding cars to drive.

Continue reading to see how the top-selling versions of the Civic and Elantra—and the lineups as a whole—match up against each other. 

2023 Honda Civic

Honda Civic vs. Hyundai Elantra prices and features

  • Elantra starts around $22,000, Civic starts around $25,000

  • Elantra Hybrid ranges from around $26,000 to over $30,000

  • The top-performance Civic Type R costs about $10,000 more than Elantra N

How much is a Honda Civic?

The Honda Civic is offered in hatchback or sedan form. Hatchbacks are offered in LX, Sport, EX-L, Sport Touring models, and span from about $25,000, including the mandatory destination fee, up to about $32,000. Sedans can be had in LX, Sport, EX, and Si versions, ranging from about $27,000 to $31,000. Top-performance Type R hatchbacks start over $44,000. 

Outside of engine and power differences, there are few options, but the walk up trim levels gets you dressier wheels and more comfort features. The base Civic LX model comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, while the Sport model adds alloy wheels. Walking up to the EX sedan or EX-L hatchback, you add blind-spot monitors, a sunroof, and heated front seat, among added items. 

2023 Hyundai Elantra

How much is a Hyundai Elantra?

The Hyundai Elantra is only a sedan, but one of the key dividing lines is whether you want a standard engine or hybrid version. The standard version is limited to four different trim levels for the U.S.: the SE, SEL, Limited, and N Line, with the SE starting just over $22,000 and the N Line nearing $29,000. 

If you’re not getting a Hybrid or an N, we don’t see a lot of reason to upgrade beyond the base Elantra SE, which is a bargain as it includes 15-inch wheels, power locking, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. SEL models add automatic climate control, heated front seats, wireless smartphone charging, and a digital gauge cluster, while Limited models get leather upholstery and adaptive cruise control, with optional Bose audio and a sunroof.

Elantra Hybrids start with the Blue version at nearly $26,000, and they range up to the Limited at over $30,000. Top-performance Elantra N models cost about $34,000.

Advantage: The Elantra, because it packs in more features for the money.

2023 Honda Civic

Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic size, seating capacity, and cargo space

  • Civic and Elantra are virtually identical in overall dimensions

  • Elantra’s roofline and door cuts can make back seat access a little tighter

  • Elantra real-world legroom feels better

To compare the two in sedan form, the Civic and Elantra are virtually identical in size and proportions. The Elantra is about 184 inches long, 72 inches wide, and 56 inches high, and it rides on a 107-inch wheelbase; the Civic is 184 inches long, 71 inches wide, and 56 inches high, and it rides on a 108-inch wheelbase. 

Passenger volume for the Civic is 99.0 cubic feet, while cargo volume is 14.8 cubic feet, while the Elantra is at 99.4 cubic feet and 14.2 cubic feet.

The two models are within an inch in official front and rear legroom, too, although the roofline and the way the seats are positioned may make it easier to pick favorites, depending on your needs. The Elantra’s back seat is harder to get into, because of the door cuts, but once in, the contours feel better for adults and there’s more legroom than in the CIvic, once you have the front seats adjusted for the same size people. As for the Civic, we’d pick it for mounting child seats. But keep in mind neither of these back seats offer much headroom. 

Advantage: The Civic gives a hatchback option and easier seat access. 

2023 Hyundai Elantra

Honda Civic vs. Hyundai Elantra performance

  • Civic’s 1.5-liter turbo-4 has more power, better drivability

  • Civic offers a manual gearbox in Sport versions

  • Elantra Hybrid swaps sluggishness for efficiency

Both the Honda Civic and the Hyundai Elantra are offered in multiple powertrains covering a range of needs. Some of the versions in their lineups are inexpensive, efficient commuter cars and others are pocket rockets—if there is such a thing anymore. 

Much of the Civic sedan and hatchback lineup is powered by a 1.5-liter turbo-4 making 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, while base Sport versions get a 2.0-liter inline-4 making 158 hp and 138 lb-ft. Both engines pair with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and the turbo-4 is smoother and has more drivability in this combination. Civic Hybrid Sport models can be had with a 6-speed manual gearbox, and the more rev-happy base engine is a good companion in this setup. Sporty Si versions have a 6-speed manual and a version of the turbo-4 making 200 hp and 192 lb-ft. 

The Elantra follows a similar “walk” between what’s under the hood—although the Hybrid version is a noteworthy distinction. Base Elantra models come with a 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-4. Hybrids have an Atkinson-cycle, 1.5-liter inline-4 plus a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, with a motor/generator mounted at the transmission’s input, making 139 hp and 195 lb-ft altogether. That’s the same torque rating as the N-Line’s 1.6-liter turbo-4—although the N-Line makes 201 hp. 

Both of these models have focused performance versions that can hit 60 mph in the low five-second range. The Civic Type R hatchback is entirely performance-focused, with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 315 hp and 310 lb-ft on premium fuel, a 6-speed manual gearbox, and an adaptive damper system, as well as a firmer suspension tune, upgraded brakes, and summer performance tires.  

The go-fast Elantra N gets a high-output version of the 2.0-liter turbo-4, making 276 hp and 289 lb-ft, also on premium. It’s paired with either a 8-speed wet-sump DCT or a 6-speed manual gearbox (the only model in the lineup to offer a manual). 

Advantage: Civic has a slight edge.

2023 Honda Civic

Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic driving experience

  • Elantra and Civic feel nimble by today’s standards

  • Even Elantra Hybrid weighs less than 3,000 pounds

  • Civic steering is superior

  • Elantra Hybrid is a standout in drivability, considering mpg

Remember compact cars? The Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra both ride reasonably well, with a low, almost sport-car-like driving position, and they handle with a nimbleness that’s unusual by today’s standards. As vehicles have become taller and heavier, it’s refreshing.

Both of these cars drive light. The base Civic weighs less than 3,000 pounds, and even the Elantra Hybrid tips the scales at less than 3,000 pounds, so those who have been behind the wheel of SUVs or EVs are likely to find the driving experience perky and vivid—although in both of these models a rather high amount of road noise makes it into the cabin. 

In terms of powertrain drivability, it’s a tossup. Both of these small cars, in their mainstream versions, are responsive enough at city speeds but not sprightly on the highway. The Elantra Hybrid is probably the biggest surprise; it feels perkier than its power and gas mileage ratings might suggest, and there’s no lag in responses like earlier hybrids from the brand. 

All Civic models have a strut front suspension with a multi-link rear setup and variable ratio electric power steering, while the Elantra for most of the lineup has struts in front and a torsion-beam layout in back. If the Civic has an ace card here, it’s the steering. The Honda simply tracks better on the road; it tackles the curvy backroads better, too. 

Advantage: Provided we’re not thinking about mpg, the Civic wins.

2023 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic fuel economy

  • Elantra Hybrid models get up to 54 mpg combined

  • Civic sedans get 36 mpg combined at best

  • A Civic Hybrid model is returning soon

Most of the Hyundai Elantra lineup achieves EPA ratings of 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined. Elantra Hybrids are the efficiency stars of the lineup, with ratings of 53 mpg city, 56 highway, 54 combined in the base Blue trim or 49/42/50 mpg in Elantra Hybrid Limited form. The performance Elantra N model is the thirstiest, with ratings of 20/30/23 mpg with the 8-speed dual-clutch automatic or 22/31/25 mpg with 6-speed manual.

Most of the Honda Civic lineup hits combined ratings in the 30s, with the most popular Civic CVT sedans landing at either 31 mpg city, 38 highway, 34 combined, or 33/42/36 mpg for base trims. The latter is the highest rated in the lineup, while the Civic Type R uses the most gas at 22/28/24 mpg on premium gas. 

Advantage: Elantra—in Hybrid form.

2023 Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic vs. Hyundai Elantra appearance and style

  • The Elantra balances a very flamboyant, creased-and-sculpted exterior with rather dull finishes inside

  • The Civic is better balanced, but its exterior reads as conservative in sedan form

  • Civic’s interior design is simple and elegant—and likely, easier to live with

At first glance, it’s the exterior of the Hyundai Elantra that’s shouting, “Look. At. Me!”

Hyundai gave the Elantra quite the bodywork with its last redesign, with jet-fighter angles and creases that feel overwrought at first but seem to make all the right aesthetic sense after you linger on them. 

Our impressions of the Elantra change once inside, though. The combination of busy, curved trims that don’t quite seem to sync up, wide plastic panels, and an overload of digital displays altogether makes this an interior that’s hard to warm up to.

The Civic presents as almost the polar opposite. Its exterior is conservative, with a blunt brow, tall greenhouse, and a minimum of sculpting and lines altogether feeling too formal in sedan form—although hatchbacks find the right look. The cabin makes good, though, with a look that’s simple and elegant, yet racy, with an uncluttered strip of honeycomb-like mesh that swaps climate control vents and establishes a horizon.

Advantage: Civic, for its well-styled cabin.

2023 Hyundai Elantra

Honda Civic vs. Hyundai Elantra interior tech

  • Elantra offers larger touchscreens

  • Digital Key system is an Elantra standout

  • Digital gauge clusters are offered in upper trims of both

The Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra are low-priced cars, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on screen space or connectivity. Both models don’t require stepping up to top-trim versions to easily take your smartphone ecosystem with you.

At around $22,000, even the base Elantra SE includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. SEL models upgrade to wireless smartphone charging and satellite radio, among tech features, while at the Limited level you’ll get a big 10.3-inch touchscreen but, oddly, you’ll need a cable for your phone. The Elantra also impresses with a phone-as-key system and over-the-air updates possible for infotainment maps and software. 

For the Civic, the base 7.0-inch touchscreen has connectivity for both ecosystems with a cable, while it goes wireless and upsizes the screen to 9.0 inches in Sport Touring levels on up. Upper trims of both of these models swap out conventional gauges for a reconfigurable digital screen in front of the driver. 

Advantage: Elantra has a tech edge.

2023 Honda Civic

Hyundai Elantra vs Honda Civic safety

  • Civic achieves top safety scores from both U.S. agencies

  • Elantra matches it, nearly

  • Outward vision is better in the Civic

The Honda Civic is hard to beat. The NHTSA has given the Honda Civic five stars overall, while it’s on the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ honor roll. And its standard equipment includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and active lane control, while blind-spot monitoring are offered on most of the lineup. 

The Hyundai Elantra does nearly as well. Its five-star NHTSA score gets blemished by a four-star rating for frontal impact. Likewise, it has all “Good” scores from the IIHS, and gets a Top Safety Pick award (though a Marginal score on tougher front-impact tests doesn’t bode well for next year’s rating).

Just as with the Civic, automatic emergency braking is standard, while blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control are widely available. We find outward vision just a bit more challenging in the Elantra, due to its steep rear roofline. 

Advantage: Honda Civic.

2023 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra vs. Honda Civic warranty coverage

  • Civic has 3-year/36,000-mile warranty vs Elantra’s 5-year/60,000-mile warrantyCorrosion coverage is five years for Civic, six years for Elantra

  • Powertrain coverage is 10 years/100,000 miles for Elantra, five years/60,000 miles for Civic

The Honda Civic has a 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty on the vehicle, a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty on powertrain components, and a 5-year/unlimited-mileage warranty on corrosion. Roadside assistance is also provided for three years or 36,000 miles.

The Hyundai Elantra gets 5-year/60,000-mile limited coverage on the vehicle, plus 10-year/100,000-mile coverage on the powertrain and 7-year/unlimited-mileage coverage on corrosion. On Hyundai Elantra Hybrid models, the hybrid battery is also covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Roadside assistance is also provided for five years (unlimited mileage). 

Advantage: Versus the Civic, the Elantra offers vastly superior warranty coverage—including two years more of roadside assistance.

2023 Honda Civic

Which is better: Civic or Elantra?

The Honda Civic achieves a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10, while the Hyundai Elantra earns 6.5. And that about sums up how close we see this rivalry. If your priority is hybrid mileage or a head-turning exterior the Elantra might win out for you. But for performance, the driving experience, and day-to-day livability, the Civic’s aim stays true. 

Winner: The Honda Civic.