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It’s hip to be frugal these days, but that doesn’t mean that a compact hatchback has to be merely an appliance.
They aim for the same buyer—someone who wants to spend between $20,000 and $30,000 on a car that balances fuel economy with practicality. A little driving zest doesn’t hurt, either, which is why both models come in the sport trims seen here.
The recipe is basically the same. Sport models of both include larger wheels buttoned-down suspensions. They’re not quite Porsches, but they are definitely zippy.
DON’T MISS: Read our full review of the 2017 Subaru Impreza
Don’t assume that both the Civic and the Impreza are cut from the same mold. For one, the Honda is front-wheel drive and it’s rated at 180 horsepower. The Impreza, as is tradition for Subaru, comes standard with all-wheel drive. But it has just 152 horsepower. Predictably, the Civic runs circles around the Impreza—as long as it’s not snowing.
Both models are decently equipped from the get-go with stick shifts, but tick all the boxes and you’ll wind up with leather seats, moonroofs, seat heaters, fancy stereos, and all sorts of safety equipment.
If you’re buying a hatchback over a sedan, it’s probably because you want to carry more. To that end, it’s a mixed bag. The Civic has nearly 26 cubic feet of cargo space with its second row upright compared to just 21 for the Impreza. But in terms of maximum capacity, the Subaru comes out way ahead with 55 cubes versus 46 for the Civic.
That’s a virtue of the Impreza’s roomier passenger compartment. There’s more stretch-out room here than in the Honda, but neither is a punishing place for four or even five passengers in a pinch.
Both have comfortable space and great visibility for drivers. We give the Honda the edge for its interior styling and small item storage, but Subaru’s infotainment system is far more advanced than the standard radio on the Civic seen here. Even Honda’s extra-cost touchscreen infotainment doesn’t quite compare to the Impreza’s classy setup.