The Honda Civic and Mazda3 are Cars.com's Best Bets for 2013 among compact cars. We would rank both ahead of the Toyota Corolla, which is essentially unchanged this year and due to be replaced for 2014 by a more daring design you can see here.
The Civic was redesigned for 2012, yet in an unusual move Honda made extensive revisions for 2013 to the exterior styling, interior materials, mechanical components and standard equipment, including making Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming standard on the LX sedan. To us, the changes make what was an attractive proposition even more attractive.
The Mazda3 is a sporty compact that for 2013 offers wider availability of Mazda's efficiency-enhancing SkyActiv technology, which boosts fuel-economy ratings to an EPA-estimated 28/40 mpg city/highway with the six-speed automatic transmission. The Civic nearly matches those numbers with a five-speed automatic transmission at 28/39 mpg.
In comparison, the Corolla lags with EPA ratings of 27/34 mpg, plus it lacks the overall performance and driving pleasure of the Civic and Mazda3. In its favor, the Corolla is one of the most reliable compact cars, based on surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, but it is not as up to date mechanically or in its feature offerings as the Civic or Mazda3.
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