The Toyota Corolla is the world’s best-selling car; a value and economy leader with a legendary reputation for durability. The Honda Accord has been on Car & Driver‘s 10 Best List more than any other vehicle, and the current version makes quite a statement for keeping sedans over crossovers. These are two wildly successful cars and no one would fault you for buying either. However, they are also very different cars, for different buyers. Which one do you need?
Why the Toyota Corolla matters:
Sold for over 50 years, the Corolla is the best-selling vehicle of all time. With over 300,000 Corollas sold per year in the U.S., there are several reasons for why this vehicle sells so well.
The 11th generation Corolla was sold from 2014 through 2018, but has entered an all new generation for 2019. The engines on 11th gen offer a pair of 1.8-liter four cylinders with a few tweaks to differentiate them. The base L, mid-level LE, and Sport trim levels get the engine with 132 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque, which can get up to 36 MPG highway. Eco trim level receives a slightly revised engine with “valvematic” variable valve control for enhanced fuel efficiency. Even though it’s labelled “Eco,” it has more “umph,” churning out 140 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. Not only that, the Eco is a gas sipper at 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway. The majority of the trim options offer a six-speed auto or manual transmission, though the Eco is locked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
When it comes to wheels there are a number of options to pick from, as 15 and 16-inch wheels available for all models, while 17-inch wheels are available for the Sport trim. The Corolla was facelifted for the 2017 model year, which is most noticeable in the sleeker headlights and revised grille matching the new Toyota corporate face. The interior has an upscale design for its class, and it feels solid for a lightweight car. The Corolla technically seats five, but the three adults would find a lack of hip and head room in the rear seats. The trunk has 13 cu/ft of space, which is fairly standard for the class.
You should buy a Toyota Corolla if…
- You are single or have a small family. Yes, it “seats five,” but not comfortably. This is a smaller car, so it tops out at two adults and two middle schoolers in back.
- You really need a city car, but more room than a Smart. The Corolla is easy to park anywhere.
- Operating costs matter. Corolla has a lower cost to purchase, lower fuel consumption, smaller cheaper tires, etc. The Corolla is one of the top 10 most affordable vehicles to own.
- You drive a lot in urban streets, like living and working downtown, or driving for ride share service or pizza delivery. That city MPG is hard to beat.
Why the Honda Accord rocks:
Much like the Corolla, for over 40 years the Honda Accord has earned a reputation for quality, reliability, and solid gas mileage. The Accord was the first Japanese model to be manufactured in the U.S., and became the best-selling car in the U.S. in 1991 and 2001. It also sells around 350,000 cars in the U.S. annually, and that many buyers can’t be wrong.
The model years from 2013 to 2017 covers the ninth generation Accord. The 2.4-liter four cylinder is a capable performer at 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, but for short on-ramps you might need the 287 horsepower and 252 lb-ft from the 3.5-liter V6. Similar to the Corolla, you can get a CVT in the base model, a six-speed auto with the V6, or row-your-own gears with the six-speed manual available for either engine. Both engines are reliable, but the four cylinder understandably gets better gas mileage. If you want the hybrid, 2017+ are the years to get. With updated drive train, the hybrid scoots with 214 total system horsepower and 48 mpg.
Safety is a huge seller for the Accord, with it earning the highest scores from the NHTSA and IIHS. Unlike the Corolla, you can get this generation Accord in a two-door coupe or plug-in hybrid. 2018 introduced the multiple award-winning 10th generation, with a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, and a world-class chassis. Instead of a V6, you can get the turbo 2.0-liter borrowed from the fire breathing Civic Type R. In either generation, cabin materials are a higher quality than the Corolla, and rear seats are larger, most noticeably in the head and leg room. The trunk holds 15.8 cu/ft, which is fairly large for the midsize class.
You should buy a Honda Accord if…
- You need interior seating and passenger space. Two adults and two high schoolers and your German Shepherd. The Accord can take five adults, but takes four very comfortably on long trips.
- A road trip/vacation car. A quieter ride and softer suspension mean the Accord is more comfortable on longer drives.
- You’re a carpooler or are regularly meeting/driving clients. Having more headroom in the rear seats is better in a professional setting.
- You want a car that can grow with your family, but don’t want a crossover
- You need V6 torque for short on-ramps or towing. The Accord is rated for 1,000 pounds, whereas Toyota recommends not towing with the Corolla.
You can’t go wrong with either a Toyota Corolla or Honda Accord, as both cars are well known for quality, long term dependability, and better than average fuel economy.