2017 Honda Civic LX Sedan CVT vs 2017 Hyundai Elantra SE 6AT
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Hyundai has certainly made major strides in the last few years. Ten years ago, it was that sad, budget-minded brand that few people would admit to driving. They have reinvented themselves though, and new Hyundai vehicles like the 2017 Hyundai Elantra are positioning themselves in the top range of their class.
That being said, it’s hard to dethrone the king. Sure, the Elantra has been doing nice things over the last few years, but the 2017 Honda Civic is the latest in a line that has been doing great things for decades. Coming off a banner year, where it was named the North American Car of the Year, it hasn’t seen fit to rest on its laurels. Packed with technology and entertainment, the Civic is still a bastion of compact car practicality, and when you compare the Hyundai to it, there’s one clear winner.
Last year, the Elantra thought it finally had the Civic on even ground – offering both a sedan and coupe body style, it was the only Civic competitor that could match up body style for body style. Of course, execution was a bit iffy. The good news for Hyundai is that they noticed that, and instead of continuing with an uninspired vehicle, they axed the coupe for 2017. So now, it’s just a sedan.
Honda was playing with an ace up its sleeve last year though. 2017 marks the debut of the new Honda Civic Hatchback, a five-door compact hatchback featuring the convenience of a wide-opening tailgate, but without a reduction in efficiency or passenger space. It’s not just something that Hyundai can’t match, it’s something that no other car company can give you. So with Honda expanding the Civic line-up, Hyundai contracts the Elantra variants. That’s not a good look if you’re Hyundai.
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Aside from cutting the coupe, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra has also cut a bit of get-up-and-go from their line-up as well. The Elantra still offers two different engines, but they have been neutered in the name of eking out the best fuel economy possible. This means a sluggish 2.0-liter base engine that only kicks out 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. This certainly will not instill confidence on high-speed roadways. The eco-minded turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that is available cuts back on the horsepower, dropping down to 128 horses, but dials up the torque output to 156 lb-ft.
Honda understands the need for fuel efficient engines, but unlike Hyundai, they’ve learned to develop them with plenty of power to please the driver. The 2017 Honda Civic also offers a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine and a smaller, turbocharged piece, but the numbers are vastly different. The base 2.0-liter produces 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque, while the 1.5-liter engine makes 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque.
Every Drop Counts
Stopping for fuel is probably the least enjoyable or rewarding part of driving. And while Hyundai claims they have moved towards smaller, lower-output engines in the name of reducing fuel usage, they haven’t quite figured it out yet.
The base 2.0-liter engine is estimated, at best, to get 29 miles per gallon around town and 38 miles per gallon on the open road. That’s with the automatic transmission at the base SE trim – opting for the six-speed manual, a higher trim level, or even the technology package will reduce the gas mileage. The ECO trim uses the 1.4-liter engine to squeeze out 32 MPG city and 40 MPG country.
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Keeping in mind that the 2017 Honda Civic has better power numbers and responsiveness, you would expect that the fuel efficiency would trail – but it doesn’t. The base 2.0-liter engine has an optimal economy of 31 MPG city and 40 MPG country, not much different than the Elantra’s “economical” mini-engine. While opting for the Civic’s turbocharged engine means you match the Elantra’s around town, the 1.5-liter does get 42 MPG highway. But again, that comes with 46 more horsepower under the hood.
Compact Needn’t Mean Crowded
The compact mindset is all about the footprint, it shouldn’t mean you have to deal with a cramped interior. The 2017 Honda Civic trumps the Elantra across the board. Headroom sits at 39.3 inches for front-seat passengers in the Civic, while the Elantra only offers 38.8 inches. Leg room is similar in the front seats, but for the rear-seat passengers who will be stuck riding along, the Civic offers an extra 1.4 inches of space, which can make a major difference over long hauls.
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They Said It So It Must Be True
“The all-new compact is a return to the kind of car that made the Civic a favorite with generations of Americans: fun to drive, fuel efficient and good looking.” – The Detroit Free Press
“Ultimately, to us, it’s the driving that matters most, and this is where the new Civic acquits itself best.” – Car and Driver
“Consumer apathy toward the redesigned Elantra is unwarranted… However, the Civic exhibits clear superiority when it comes to engineering sophistication.” – New York Daily News
You Get What You Pay For
You can certainly flip over the price tags and cite the fact that the Hyundai is a bit cheaper than the Honda. And we get it, your budget plays a big part in your car shopping experience. But is it worth it?
The 2017 Honda Civic offers stronger engines that can reassure you as a driver that you can make the movements you need to, and that the power will be there when you need to call on it. The Civic offers more mature, forward-thinking design, better equipment and technology at all trim levels, better fuel economy, more advanced safety systems, and fit and finish that is best in class. There’s a reason it wins awards year after year.
Don’t go for the best cheap car you can find, go for the least-expensive great car you can find – the 2017 Honda Civic.
Fuel economy estimates and driving range based on EPA test data. Your actual driving distance will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle. Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors. Complete comparison details can be found at https://automobiles.honda.com/tools/compare/models.aspx. Awards and accolade information can be found at https://automobiles.honda.com/awards/
The 2016 Honda Civic is the 2016 North American Car of the Year. The 2016 Civic has been named to the list of 16 Best Family Cars of 2016 by Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. Each vehicle was praised for impressive comfort, driving dynamics and family practicality.  For more information, visit www.kbb.com. Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. The 2016 Honda Civic Sedan was awarded Car of the Year by Auto Guide1.  For more information, visit AutoGuide.com. AutoGuide.com is a registered trademark of Verticalscope Inc. We’re proud to announce that the 2016 Honda Civic is the Overall Best Buy according to Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com1.  For more information, visit Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc.  For more information, visit Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc.