SEATTLE, January 25, 2016 – There was a time over the past few years when it seemed as if Honda was losing its edge over the competition, namely the Korean auto makers. Some of these competitors offered better warranties, styling, technology and– in some cases – better fuel economy.
With its 2016 Civic, Honda has, in many ways, gone back to the drawing board and what it whipped up should help reestablish the Civic as the compact sedan leader for many of its loyal customers. I actually did not want to like this car. To be honest, the past couple of years for the Civic have proved to be on the dull side for this reviewer – they were very pedestrian – didn’t have the looks or tech of the 2016.
The 1.5-liter turbocharged engine isn’t anything earth shattering in regards to specs; at 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, it won’t be snapping necks with its zero-60 time in just under 7-seconds. While the turbo does take a bit to spool-up with the transmission in normal, “drive” mode, it spools up quite a bit quicker when you put it into “sport” mode.
The transmission, even though a CVT, is one of the better-behaving CVTs we’ve tested so far. Even though it still seems to enjoy pegging the tachometer with the accelerator pedal to the floor, it does tend to act a bit more like a traditional automatic. Unfortunately, however, there’s still no manual mode or paddle shifters.
For its EPA rating, this car earns 32 miles per gallon around town and 42 miles per gallon on the highway – we observed an average of around 34, overall.
Forget for a moment that it uses a CVT transmission and let’s look at what it does offer that’s good. For under $28,000 dollars, you’re getting a car that’s packed to the hilt with more technology and driver aids than perhaps any other sedan in its class and price bracket.
Where the Honda kills it, is in its outer styling. The Civic received a much-needed facelift from last year and while the body lines can be somewhat polarizing with folks, we found them to be modern, bold, masculine and rather bad-ass. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking sedan in its class.
Inside, the technology that abounds here is quite astonishing. Not only do you get a decent-sounding infotainment system complete with navigation that most will never use (most we know of, use their smartphones for navigation), you also get the following: Adaptive cruise control, heated seats, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring as well as Honda’s lane-keeping assist. In this mode, the car will actually drive itself for up to 10-seconds at a time, after the time expires, it will require driver input to the steering wheel. Bear in mind, however, this system only works when there are clear lane markings on the road.
There are plenty of USB ports for your small electronics, however, it didn’t come with the capability of using the car as a WiFi hotspot as some cars feature these days.
Front seats provide good comfort and there’s adequate comfort in the rear passenger area as well for kids teens and most adults. Ride quality is excellent and the car takes corners rather well. There is some understeer here but nothing outside of what we’d deem out of the norm in a current front-wheel drive car.
Honda backs the car with a 3-year/36,000 bumper-to-bumper and 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty on the car. Truth be told, if a Honda needs any work done to its powertrain before 100,000, then you likely have a rare Honda lemon.
If this Touring model had a standard automatic transmission or even an available stick-shift, it’d be a nearly perfect car for what it is. While I realize why Honda and other Japanese automakers made the shift to CVT, it doesn’t mean I have to like it or ever endorse it. Yes, you’ll hear me rant often in reviews about CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission), as it takes away from the thrill for those of us who like to have fun while driving.
In the end, Honda has really knocked the ball out of the park with the Civic Touring model and we have little reservation in recommending it as a best-in-class compact sedan.