2020 Honda Civic vs. 2020 Volkswagen Jetta

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/04/08

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the Civic deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The Civic’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Jetta’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

Both the Civic and the Jetta have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda Civic is safer than the Volkswagen Jetta:

Civic

Jetta

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Civic the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Jetta last would have qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

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Honda’s powertrain warranty covers the Civic 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Jetta. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the Jetta ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Civic’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Jetta’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

There are over 65 percent more Honda dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Civic’s warranty.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Civic’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Jetta’s camshafts. If the Jetta’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Civic has a 500-amp battery. The Jetta only offers a standard 480-amp battery.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Civic’s reliability 30 points higher than the Jetta.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Honda vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in initial quality. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Honda 15 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The Civic’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 11 more horsepower (158 vs. 147) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder. The Civic’s optional 1.5 turbo 4-cylinder produces 27 more horsepower (174 vs. 147) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder. The Civic Hatchback Sport/Sport Touring’s standard 1.5 turbo 4-cylinder produces 33 more horsepower (180 vs. 147) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Car and Driver the Honda Civic 1.5 turbo 4-cylinder is faster than the Volkswagen Jetta (automatics tested):

Civic

Jetta

Zero to 60 MPH

6.6 sec

7.7 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

16.9 sec

22.5 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.2 sec

8.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

16.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

95 MPH

87 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Civic Sedan 1.5T gets better fuel mileage than the Jetta Auto (32 city/42 hwy vs. 30 city/40 hwy).

The Civic has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Jetta doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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The Civic offers an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Jetta doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Civic stops much shorter than the Jetta:

Civic

Jetta

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Civic has larger standard tires than the Jetta (215/55R16 vs. 205/60R16). The Civic Sport/Touring’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta (235/40R18 vs. 205/60R16).

The Civic LX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Jetta’s standard 60 series tires. The Civic Sport/Touring’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Civic Sport/Touring has standard 18-inch wheels. The Jetta’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For superior ride and handling, the Honda Civic has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Volkswagen Jetta has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Civic has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Civic flat and controlled during cornering. The Jetta’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Civic’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Jetta doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The Civic Sport Hatchback handles at .93 G’s, while the Jetta R-Line pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Civic Touring Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Jetta SEL (26.6 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Civic LX/EX’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Jetta’s (35.4 feet vs. 36.4 feet).

Chassis

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The Civic Sedan is 7.2 inches shorter than the Jetta, making the Civic easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Civic has a liquid-filled front engine mount. The liquid helps further dampen engine harshness. The Jetta uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Civic Sedan a Mid-size car, while the Jetta is rated a Compact.

The Civic Sedan has 3.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Jetta (97.8 vs. 94.7).

The Civic Sedan has .8 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front legroom, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room and 1 inch more rear shoulder room than the Jetta.

Cargo Capacity

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The Civic Sedan has a larger trunk than the Jetta (15.1 vs. 14.1 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Civic Sedan easier. The Civic Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.8 inches, while the Jetta’s liftover is 28.7 inches. The Civic Hatchback’s liftover is only 22 inches.

Ergonomics

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If the windows are left open on the Civic the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Jetta can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Civic’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Jetta’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

Model Availability

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The Honda Civic comes in coupe, sedan and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Jetta isn’t available as a coupe or four door hatchback.

Economic Advantages

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The Civic will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Civic will retain 46.26% to 48.42% of its original price after five years, while the Jetta only retains 42.99% to 45.75%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Civic is less expensive to operate than the Jetta because it costs $500 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Civic than the Jetta, including $390 less for a water pump, $419 less for a muffler, $20 less for front brake pads, $65 less for a starter, $249 less for fuel injection, $22 less for a fuel pump, $210 less for front struts, $31 less for a timing belt/chain and $50 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/04/08

Consumer Reports® recommends the Honda Civic, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Volkswagen Jetta isn't recommended.

The Honda Civic outsold the Volkswagen Jetta by over three to one during 2019.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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