2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Hyundai Elantra Comparison

One of the most striking developments of the 21st century is the metamorphosis of the compact sedan.

Small cars of years past promised transportation on the cheap, and buyers sought only basic comforts and safety features. Fast-forward to 2021 and it's a far different story: Consumers can expect to get leading-edge design and safety technology in a compact sedan, and the availability of both hybrid and performance models makes for a diverse range of choices.

Two of the best examples of this trend are the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra. One of the top-selling cars in this class, the current Civic is an engaging, fuel-efficient car like its forebears, and now it offers plenty of features as well. The Hyundai Elantra was one of the upstarts that changed the face of the compact sedan class. If you want lots of amenities and technology in a small sedan, the redesigned 2021 Elantra is tough to beat.

Both cars warrant serious consideration if you're shopping for a compact sedan. Here's a 2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Hyundai Elantra comparison to help with your research.

Price and Value

2021 Honda Civic Touring Red Front Quarter View

2021 Honda Civic Touring

Compact sedan shoppers can get a 2021 Honda Civic sedan in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels. The LX and Sport trims come with an adequately powerful 4-cylinder engine, while the higher trims have a livelier, turbocharged 4-cylinder. Prices range from $21,250 to $28,300, not including a $995 destination charge. 

Other possibilities to consider include the four-door Civic hatchback body style. It's priced from $22,200 to $29,400 and has the turbo 4-cylinder engine as standard. Honda also offers the high-performance Civic Type R hatchback. It has an even more powerful turbocharged engine but costs a comparatively lofty $37,895. 

HondaLink connected services on the 2021 Civic are very basic. You can use the HondaLink app to check fuel range and oil life, and schedule service appointments. If your Civic has factory navigation, you can look up destinations on your phone and send them to the nav system. You can expect the redesigned 2022 Civic to offer more connected services when it goes on sale in late spring of 2021.

There is no complimentary scheduled maintenance for the 2021 Civic, though you can buy a prepaid maintenance plan.

Hondas are known for their high resale value, and indeed, the Civic was the top-ranked compact car in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Resale Value Awards.

If you're shopping for a 2021 Hyundai Elantra sedan, you'll find that it comes in SE, SEL, N Line, and Limited trim levels. The SE, SEL, and Limited come with a capable 4-cylinder engine, while the higher-performance Elantra N Line has a turbocharged 4-cylinder. Pricing ranges from $19,650 to $25,450, not including a $1,005 destination charge.

The Hyundai Elantra Hybrid sedan comes in Blue and Limited trims, which are priced at $23,550 and $28,100, respectively. The hybrid Elantra combines a small 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor and a battery pack.

Later this year, the Hyundai Elantra N arrives as a high-performance competitors to the Civic Type R.

Hyundai Owner Assurance includes Blue Link connected services as standard on all Elantra trims, except the base SE. Your 3-year complimentary trial includes automatic collision notification and rapid access to emergency services. You can also get on-demand vehicle diagnostic reports and schedule service appointments via the Elantra's infotainment interface. 

When using the Blue Link app on your phone, you can remotely lock the doors, start the engine, and set geofencing parameters for less experienced drivers. In 2021 Elantras with factory navigation, Blue Link provides cloud-based traffic information and point-of-interest searches.

Also available on all Hyundai Elantra trims, except the SE and Blue, is the Digital Key app, which uses Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to allow you and approved family and friends to unlock, start and drive an Elantra without a physical key. Digital Key requires a compatible Android smartphone.

Scheduled maintenance is on the house for the first three years or 36,000 miles that you own a 2021 Hyundai Elantra.

Advantage: Hyundai Elantra

Reliability and Quality

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Red Front Quarter View

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

The Honda Civic did not rank in either the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Civic comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

The Hyundai Elantra also did not rank in the 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study, but the previous-generation version ranked second among compact cars in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. Hyundai's small sedan comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years and unlimited mileage

Advantage: Hyundai Elantra

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Honda Civic Touring Interior Dashboard

2021 Honda Civic Touring

A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard on the 2021 Honda Civic LX and Sport sedans. It's rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque.

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is also standard, and most consumers will find that it behaves like a regular automatic transmission. Honda formerly offered a 6-manual transmission with this engine, but it was discontinued for the 2021 model year. (A manual gearbox is likely to return on the redesigned Civic, but availability could be limited to the Civic Si and Type R models.) All Civics are front-wheel-drive.

For those wanting brisker performance, the Civic EX, EX-L, and Touring come with a turbocharged, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. This engine makes 174 hp and 162 lb.-ft. of torque in the Civic sedan (the hatchback has a 180-hp version). A CVT is standard. 

The Honda Civic LX earns a 33 mpg EPA fuel economy rating in combined city and highway driving, while the Sport trim has a 32 mpg rating. The EX trims have the highest rating at 36 mpg combined, while the Touring rates 33 mpg.

Most 2021 Hyundai Elantra buyers will choose a car that has the base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. It's rated at 147 hp and 132 lb.-ft. of torque. A CVT is standard, and so is front-wheel drive.

If that's not enough for you, the Elantra N Line has a turbocharged, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 201 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. You can have this engine with either a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels.

If you want something greener, consider the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid. It has a non-turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter engine rated at 104 hp and 109 lb.-ft. of torque. With the help of a 32-kilowatt electric motor, total output is 139 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. This version of the Elantra uses a hybrid-specific, six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Fuel economy ratings on Elantras with the 2.0-liter engine vary by trim level. The base SE model has start-stop system that shuts off the engine when you're idling in traffic. That feature, along with its presumably lower curb weight, helps it to achieve a 37 mpg EPA fuel economy rating in combined driving. The SEL and Limited have a 35 mpg combined rating.

The 2021 Elantra N Line rates 31 mpg in combined driving with the dual-clutch automatic and 28 mpg combined with the manual transmission.

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid has the big fuel economy numbers that shoppers will expect. The lighter Blue trim level rates 54 mpg in combined driving, while the Limited earns a 50 mpg combined rating.

Advantage: Neither. The Civic has a stronger base engine and a more fuel-efficient turbocharged engine, but the Elantra has the edge if you want a hybrid.

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Interior Dashboard

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

If you're looking for advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), you'll find that Honda Sensing is standard on every 2021 Honda Civic

It includes adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning system, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance (known as Road Departure Mitigation), and automatic high-beam headlight control. It also includes lane-centering assistance, but you'll find that Honda calls this feature a Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), which can be confusing.

With its combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance, the 2021 Civic effectively provides Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance. But you'll need to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. And although the adaptive cruise has stop-and-go capability (or "low-speed follow" as Honda calls it), it's not intended for use in heavy traffic. Expect to see an upgraded version of Honda Sensing on the 2022 Civic.

The 2021 Honda Civic sedan does not provide blind-spot warning or rear cross-traffic warning. Instead, Honda's Lane Watch system projects an image of what's in your right blind spot whenever you turn on the right-hand turn signal. Lane Watch is standard starting on the EX trim level, and works only for the right side of the car. It's better than nothing, but is not as good as a true blind-spot warning system.

The Civic has a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall crash protection, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls the 2021 Civic sedan a Top Safety Pick.

Every 2021 Hyundai Elantra comes standard with the Hyundai SmartSense collection of ADAS. Features are allotted differently than on the Civic. For example, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems are standard, but you'll need to step up to at least the SEL (or the Limited on the Elantra Hybrid) to get adaptive cruise control. It includes stop-and-go capability. 

Packaged with the adaptive cruise is an upgraded forward-collision warning system that can detect cyclists (the standard system detects only pedestrians) and oncoming vehicles if you're about to turn into an intersection.

The Elantra Limited models have standard Highway Drive Assist (HDA), which provides lane-centering assistance while maintaining an appropriate speed and following distance. It's not perfect and you still have to keep your hands on the wheel, but based on our testing, this is one of the best applications of semi-autonomous driving assistance in this price range.

Other standard safety aids on the 2021 Hyundai Elantra include a driver attention monitoring system and a safe exit warning system that alerts you if you're about to open the door when a vehicle is approaching from behind. The Limited trims also have a rear emergency braking system.

Hyundai ranked highest among mass market automotive brands in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Tech Experience Survey. Owners liked both the quantity and sophistication of the technologies offered in Hyundai vehicles, as well as the day-to-day ease of use.

The NHTSA and IIHS have not yet released safety ratings on the 2021 Hyundai Elantra sedan. This is typical for a recently redesigned car.

Advantage: Hyundai Elantra

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Honda Civic Touring Red Rear Quarter View

2021 Honda Civic Touring

Tech-obsessed buyers will find slim pickings in the 2021 Honda Civic LX sedan, which has a 5-inch LCD screen, no smartphone integration, and a four-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and a single USB port.

The Civic Sport sedan offers more value as it has a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an additional USB input, and eight speakers. The EX sedan adds a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.

If you want a factory navigation system, you'll have to get the top-of-the-line Civic Touring, which features Honda HD Digital Traffic and has a premium audio system with 10 speakers.

An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display is standard in most versions of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra sedan. The base SE also comes with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, HD radio, and a four-speaker audio system. The SEL and Blue trims add a satellite radio trial subscription and two more audio speakers.

The Limited trims replace the 8-inch screen with a 10.25-inch display with factory navigation and a sophisticated voice recognition system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help it remember context when processing driver requests for audio, climate and navigation functions. The downside to the Elantra’s 10.25-inch infotainment system is that it loses the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Instead, you need to connect via USB.

The Limited also comes with a 3-month trial to SiriusXM data services (including traffic and weather) and a premium audio system with eight speakers.

A wireless phone charging pad is available on most trim levels.

Advantage: Hyundai Elantra

Comfort and Utility

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited Rear Rear Quarter View

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

In keeping with its higher base price tag, the 2021 Honda Civic sedan is well equipped. Automatic climate control and rear heater ducts are standard in the base LX sedan. You also get manual seat-height adjustment for the driver and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Push-button start and a smart keyless system (allowing the remote to stay in your pocket) are standard on the Sport and above.

The EX and above trims have dual-zone climate control, an 8-way power driver’s seat, and heated front seats. If you want leather on the seats, the EX-L and Touring have that. The Touring has a 4-way power passenger’s seat and heated rear seats.

The Civic sedan's trunk measures 15.1 cubic feet (14.7 in the Touring). For those occasions when you need more room, the LX has a single-piece folding rear seatback, but all other trims offer a more versatile 60/40 split.

Standard equipment on the 2021 Hyundai Elantra SE includes manual air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and rear heater ducts.

The SEL and Blue upgrade to dual-zone automatic climate control and a smart keyless system with push-button start. Heated front seats are optional on the SEL and standard on the Blue and higher trims.

The N Line sedan has a 6-way power driver’s seat, along with a special decor, including cloth/leather seats, metal trim on the pedals, and paddle shifters in models with the automatic transmission. The Limited models have full leather upholstery and ambient interior lighting. Ventilated front seats are exclusive to the Elantra Hybrid Limited.

Trunk capacity measures 14.1 cu.-ft. in every Hyundai Elantra, including the Elantra Hybrid, which houses its battery pack under the rear seat to preserve luggage space. The lower trims have a single-piece, folding rear seatback. A 60/40-split rear seat is optional on the Blue and standard on the higher trims.

Advantage: Honda Civic

Learn More About the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra

If you’d like to learn more about these compact sedans, be sure to read our expert reviews of the Honda Civic, including the hatchback, and the 2021 Hyundai Elantra. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on March 9, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.