Test Drive Notes Library
- Looks great, with sharp edges and a flared, fastback style back end. When you look at the new Civic next to its main competitors, the Sentra and Corolla, it’s immediately clear which one is the cool kid on the block.
- Engine transmission combinations. Feels like the perfect amount of power, and delivered smoothly and easily. One of the better continuously variable transmissions we’ve driven. The 174 horsepower 1.5L turbo is the more powerful of the two, but the 158 horsepower 2.0L is absolutely powerful enough. What you get with the 1.5L turbo is a little more pep, and less CVT-related engine noise on harder acceleration.
- Gas pedal feel. One thing that Honda got right is that when you take off from a dead stop, you get the right amount of power, not so little that you feel like you’re driving a Prius in Eco Mode, but not so much that it snaps your head back or makes your passengers silently curse you. It’s just right.
- Handling is definitely improved over previous Civics, and is perfectly tuned for urban and suburban environments. The car is comfortable and pliant on city streets, but seems to grip well without much body lean on corners. Feels like a far more expensive car than previous Civics, although it’s not.
- Trademark Honda Lane Watch camera is great. It activates a rear-facing camera in the right side-view mirror whenever you signal to turn right. Helps you change lanes to the right. And in the city, it let’s you see if a bicyclist is coming up from behind you before you turn.
- Interior feels large. Plenty of leg room, and because of the lower seating, lots of head room. Taller folks no longer need to wear their protective original-equipment Honda Yarmulkes while driving. Back seat room is decent. Trunk room is generous.
- The previous Civic was designed during the 2008 recession, and it felt cheap. Particularly inside. This one does not. The shapes and materials are definitely not “econo-box” anymore.
- Excellent gas mileage. Both engines get around 30 mpg city and 40 highway. We got 32 in mostly city driving, and saw 40 on the highway.
- The optional low-profile wheels are really nice painted, brushed aluminum. And, they don’t have a lip, fortunately—which means you won’t grind up the aluminum when you park a little too close to the curb.
- Price. The 2.0L EX with keyless entry and the safety package lists for $22,875. It’s a nice car for that money. The 1.5L EX-T, similarly equipped, lists for $23,200, and is more fun to drive.
Test Drive Notes Library
- The touch screen, and especially the @#*& touch screen volume control. The whole infotainment system is annoying, not terribly intuitive, and makes you take your eyes off the road far more than is safe. Why Honda refuses to provide a volume knob in its higher trim models is a disappointing mystery. A volume control where your left thumb falls on the steering wheel, which you just slide your finger over to raise or lower volume, helps mitigate the problem once you get used to it. Apple Car Play and Android Auto help you avoid Honda’s software design some of the time.
- Right where the volume and tuning knobs should be are the temperature controls for the driver and passenger. Whenever Car Talk came on, we kept turning the driver’s temperature down to try to avoid it.
- While the Lane Watch camera is great for merging to the right during the day, it doesn’t help at all with your left side blind spot. And it does very little at night, where all you can see is headlight glare. It’s disappointing that Honda wouldn’t add a blind spot monitor to an otherwise good safety package.
- It’s low. You fall down into the Civic. And you clamber up out of it. Particular when you get in the back seat.
- You can barely see out the back at all. The sweeping belt line and wide pillars result in great styling, but a steeply raked back window. Fortunately, all Civics come with a standard backup camera. You’ll need it.
- This car needs a rear wiper in the worst possible way. The window is too angled to rely on snow and rain sliding off without some assistance.
- There’s a fair amount of road noise, particularly on the highway, and particularly if the road is anything but perfectly smooth. It might be related to the lower profile tires used to improve handling on the higher trim models.
- Seats bottoms are rather short, and have limited thigh support. The cloth seats are a little bit on the soft side, too, giving us some concern about long trip back comfort. Leather seats in the EX-L might be better, but we haven’t tried them.
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