Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla

The world of small cars is like a one of those cooking shows where all of the contestants have to make as many dishes as can, showcasing the ingredient of the day. In today’s episode, Honda & Toyota are vying for the golden spatula, using the ‘randomly’ chosen fixin’; Flour. Kitchen Stadium is set, the judges are waiting, Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla, let the cooking begin!

2012 Honda Civic

2012 Honda Civic

Flour is like the cinder block of the kitchen. You can use it to build a variety of dishes, from sweet and juicy peach cobbler, to gritty wheat bread. So Honda needs to be creative if it wants to impress the judges. But Honda isn’t known for being daring (no, the Honda Crosstour doesn’t count), and it appears that Chef Honda has elected to take the safe route, creating a steaming plate of Civic.

Now, the Honda Civic recipe has been tried by every car maker on the planet;
1 Small car
½ cup ride quality
2-3 packages of usable features
5 seats
Sprinkle of pizazz
30-40 MPGs

It sounds like a simple recipe, but many automakers get it wrong. Remember the Chevy Cobalt? It had the same ingredients, and same price point as the Honda Civic, but it tasted like…yard clippings. The same era Civic sold like bottled water at the Boston Marathon. Everybody had to have one. So Honda had a massive audience to impress with their new Civic.

The 2012 Honda Civic is an all-new car. Yep, you read that right. Redesigned from stem-to-stern (except for a few architectural pieces, and the engines). There’s a strengthened body cell, with liberal amounts of high-strength steel. This makes it lighter, and better handling than before. Rear occupants get more legroom, there’s more shoulder room in the front, and the trunk has grown as well.

Sadly though, somebody forgot to tell the styling department that the 2012 Honda Civic had been completely redesigned. They thought it was another mid-cycle refresh, so they gave it exactly the same sheetmetal as before! Sure, there’s some subtle differences here and there. But a car as socially important as the Honda Civic deserves more than just ‘subtle differences’.

As you would imagine, the ‘evolutionary’ theme (they know it’s not a Porsche 911, right?) continues on the inside, where the Playstation dash receives a bit more ‘civilizing’. That silly eyebrow at the top of the dash has grown, allowing one to actually see the information that it contains. This is partly due to the new 5-inch screen that sits in the eyebrow, displaying everything from car system status, to the caller id on your phone.

On the road, Honda’s familiar 1.8 liter 4-pot feels willing to please. All of its 140 horsepowers are delivered in the usual smooth, non-dramatic fashion. And both 5-speed transmissions (automatic/manual) put the power to the ground very un-intrusively. Overall, the 2012 Honda Civic drives and feels like every small car should. It’s not exciting, but it’s not a bad way to get around either.

2012 Toyota Corolla

2012 Toyota Corolla

As Kitchen Stadium heats up, both Chef Honda & Chef Toyota are busy turning today’s ingredient; Flour, into something…interesting. Chef Toyota seems to be making some sort of rue. We’re not sure what he plans to do with it, but the judges should be drunk enough to digest it…

The 2012 Toyota Corolla is to American drivers what Joan Rivers is to red carpeting; Very familiar. There’s no ‘wow factor’ to this car. It’s just a car. Four wheels, some seats, a steering wheel…*yamn*. I’m sorry, what were we talking about? Oh right, the Corolla. Yeah, the 2012 Toyota Corolla is a transportation device in every sense of the term.

The outside is even more anonymous looking than the Civic. If you tart it up with the optional S trim’s bodykit, it just looks like a cow in track shoes. Leave the bodykit out of the equation, and the 2012 Toyota Corolla can blend into any parking lot, or neighborhood in America.

The interior’s safe and sensible too. There’s big knobs, clearly marked switches, and comfy seats. Though it has a little less rear seat room than the 2012 Honda Civic, most humans will still fit comfortably. And that same ‘comfy’ theme plays out in the car’s driving dynamics as well. The ride is reasonably smooth, the electric steering is direct, yet completely devoid of sensation.

The 132-hp 1.8 liter 4-pot gets the job done, but it’s not going to be rushed by anybody. The optional 4-speed automatic shares the engine’s aversion to boisterous behavior. So just go with the 5-speed manual, and forget about becoming a Drifting Champion.

Unlike most of the FashionMobiles in the compact segment, the 2012 Toyota Corolla is a car, simplified. There’s no soft-touchpoints, no heated seats, no dramatic style. It’s just a small, reliable car, that appears to be straight out of the 1990’s. No wonder it’s so popular.

If you want to liken the 2012 Honda Civic & 2012 Toyota Corolla to food made from flour, then the Civic is like a moist loaf of Honey Wheat bread, and the Corolla is like a buttery pound cake. Both cars can be enjoyed just the way they are. But they’re sooo much better with toppings.