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Mazda3, Honda Civic neck-in-neck for reliability

2012 Mazda3

2012 Mazda3 Credit: Tribune Media Services

Q. Is the 2011 Mazda3 as reliable as a Honda Civic?

A. The Mazda3 is in the same reliability league as the Civic, based on some recent ratings of both cars.

The Mazda3 was redesigned for 2010, and it was among Cars.com's 2011 Best Bets, an honor bestowed on models that provide reliability and safety and offer good value. Our editors are still assessing the class of 2012, so there is nothing new to report on that.

Only the Civic Hybrid was a 2011 Best Bet, and the Civic has been redesigned for 2012, so there is no reliability data for the current version.

Consumer Reports, whose reliability ratings are based on surveys of owners who subscribe to the magazine, gives high marks for reliability to the 2011 versions of the Civic and Mazda3. Consumer Reports predicts the reliability of the 2012 Mazda3 sedan will be much better than average (the top rating) and the hatchback will be better than average (second-highest rating). For the 2012 Civic, the magazine predicts reliability will be better than average.

On the other hand, neither car scored well in J.D. Power and Associates' 2011 Vehicle Dependability Index, which measures problems reported by owners after three years of ownership. The Civic received a rating of three out of a possible five, and the Mazda3 scored only two. In J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey, which measures problems after the first 90 days of ownership, the 2011 Civic tied with the Honda Insight for fewest problems among compact cars, so go figure.

Our conclusion: Both are good choices among compact cars and should provide above-average reliability.

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