2015 Mazda3
2015 Mazda Mazda3 (Mazda North American Operations)

The Mazda Mazda3 and Honda Civic are perennially near the top of our affordable small car rankings, and the 2015 Mazda3 and 2015 Civic continue the trend. These two critically acclaimed vehicles have a lot in common, but there are some key differences you should keep in mind as you decide which one is better for you.

Under the hood, the Mazda3 has the edge when comparing standard horsepower, but the available Civic Si’s 205-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has more power than the Mazda3’s optional 2.5-liter four-cylinder (184 horsepower). In terms of trunk space, the Civic and Mazda3 sedans are essentially even, but the available Mazda3 hatchback can hold 20.2 cubic feet of cargo with the back seats in use and 47.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

On the road, test drivers say the Mazda3’s strong, responsive powertrain and exceptionally athletic handling make it one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class. The Civic, meanwhile, earns reviewer praise for its comfortable ride and composure around turns, although a few critics think the Civic’s base engine could use more power.

2015 Honda Civic
2015 Honda Civic (American Honda Motor Co., Inc.)

Inside, auto writers say both the Mazda3 and Civic have a premium cabin in look and feel, while a few assert that the Mazda3’s interior build quality rivals that of luxury brands. Controls for climate, audio and navigation in both cars are responsive and easy to use, reviewers report, and they’re particularly impressed with the Mazda3’s available touch-screen infotainment system.

Due to slightly more favorable reviews from the automotive press, the 2015 Mazda Mazda3’s current overall score of 8.8 tops the 2015 Honda Civic’s overall mark of 8.6. That doesn’t mean the Mazda3 is the better option for everyone though. Buyers who value reliability should keep in mind that the Civic has one of the better reliability ratings in the class, while the Mazda3’s mark is below the class average. If you prioritize having fun behind the wheel or want the cargo versatility of a hatchback, however, the Mazda3 is the better option.

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