The Honda Civic is the top-selling vehicle its size. That didn’t happen by accident.
What is it?
The Honda Civic is a midsized car available as a coupe, four-door sedan, or as a 5-door hatchback. We love it in every shape. The Civic is a perennial best-seller and always one of the top four cars in terms of sales. Honda likes to point out that if the Civic was a brand it would be larger than most car companies. What’s even more impressive is that Honda rarely sells the Civic to fleets. Most of the sales are to folks like you and me. The Civic is a commuter car, daily runabout, sports car, family car, and we are sure many more types of car. It is what you make of it.
Pricing and trims
The Civic starts at around $21K and our fully-loaded Touring sedan had a sticker including destination fees of just $28,220. The Civic Type R sports car can cost a bit more, but it is really a low-volume specialty car. The Civic hatchbacks also tend to be a bit pricier, by about $1K. Here’s our review of the Civic hatchback.
The Honda Civic aced every crash test done by IIHS. However, headlights rated “poor” by the Institute bumped the Civic off the Top Safety Pick Plus list. Our tester had all manner of active safety systems and none of them were annoying in the least. We recently drove the Tesla Model 3 priced at about $50K equipped with Autopilot. From our standpoint, the Honda Sensing system in the Civic is just as good in real-world use. It centers the car in the lane (if you wish it to) and the adaptive cruise control is very easy to use and very smooth in its operation.
The Civic 1.5T Touring sedan is powered by a small turbocharged engine. It is one of our favorite engines in any vehicle at any price. With great low-end torque and ample top-end power, it is hard to ask for more. Coupled to a continuously-variable transmission with both sport mode and paddle shifters, the Civic is easy to call a blast to drive. Honda still offers stick shifts on some trims. We think the CVT works exceptionally well and the Sport mode responds perfectly. In particular, the Sport mode is very easy to operate. One simply pulls back the gear shift lever. This adds more engine braking and puts the engine into its power band. We used it quite a bit, mainly when approaching off and on-ramps. We also loved it on back-country roads. To put the vehicle back to “normal mode” one simply bumps the shifter back to D. This is a simple thing, but it makes the Civic much more involving than searching for a button or infotainment tab to select. Honda put a lot of thought into the Civic’s fun to drive nature.
Ride and handling
The Civic 15.T Touring sedan also handles very well. You sit very low down in the Civic (unless you opt to move the power-adjustable seat up vertically). The seat of the pants handling is fun and zippy. Broken up roads don’t feel too harsh and the Civic has all the right moves. Just like it did 30 years ago and will tomorrow. Anyone can enjoy spirited driving in a Civic.
The power-adjustable heated front seats are very comfortable. There is ample room to spread out even for those over six feet.
Doing so does not make the back seat cramped either. There is plenty of room for four adults and five in a pinch. The Civic has 97 cubic feet of passenger space. Just for comparison, that is identical to the space in a Tesla Model 3.
Like most Honda vehicles, the Civic feels large for its segment and the cargo area is adequate compared to other sedans. With 15 Cubic feet of space, it is again, identical to the Tesla Model 3. Those who plan to throw a mountain bike in back periodically should consider the 5-door hatch. It offers 26 cubic feet of trunk volume which expands to a whopping 46 cubic feet when you drop the rear seats.
Infotainment and controls
Honda’s infotainment is very good. We liked the simple menus and touch screen. What really grabbed our attention was the way Honda cleverly integrates the gauge cluster with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
When you use Google Maps it shows up on the main screen (of course) but it also shows the next turn in the center gauge view. That kind of integration makes the Civic feel modern and special in this class. The Toyota Corolla doesn’t even offer Android Auto.
The Civic is the cornerstone of the Honda brand in many ways. While GM, Ford, and Dodge are pulling their midsized and compact sedans off the market, Honda is pouring resources into making the best Civic it ever has. And Honda builds most of them in America. Profitably. From our point of view, the Civic has two really strong competitors. The Mazda3 line and the Elantra line from Hyundai. Still, if we were referring a person to a car in this class, it would be the Civic we would suggest they start with. At under $29K, what one gets from Honda is an amazing value.