Super nice to drive, especially with the turbo engine, nicely designed and solid-feeling interior, solid list of standard driver-assistance tech
Base engine is a little pokey, infotainment tech could use an update, somewhat boring styling
What is it?
It’s the ubiquitous Honda Civic, the reliable econobox defined. It might look a little anonymous at first – like a nondescript car you’d see in an ad on a fuel pump or in an insurance pamphlet – but the Civic is a stalwart of Honda’s lineup and a benchmark for its class.
Honda sells the 11th-generation Civic in both sedan and hatchback body styles – the latter of which is the correct choice – and with two different engines. There’s also the Civic Type R, but that holy-grail hot hatch is so laser-focused on performance and has so many bespoke tweaks, it’s only fair to break that out into a separate review.
Why do you prefer the hatchback?
First of all, it looks a whole lot better, and it also makes the Civic more functional, with 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the sedan’s 14.8. You can even fold the rear bench flat to carry larger items, and while Honda doesn’t publish a seats-down cargo spec, I can personally say I used a Civic hatchback while moving, and managed to cram a whole heck of a lot of stuff back there.
The hatchback also unlocks a special trim level unavailable on the sedan: Sport Touring. This package combines the Sport trim’s good-looking 18-inch wheels with all the more powerful turbo engine and extra luxury goodies normally reserved for the top-end Touring. It’s also one of the only ways to get a Civic with a six-speed manual transmission, which is a relative rarity in this segment and will earn you 500 cool points with the Top Gear team.
Turbo? Manual? Go on…
The 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine is standard on the Civic sedan’s EX and Touring trims, as well as the Civic hatchback’s EX-L and Sport Touring models. It offers 180hp and 177lb ft of torque, and unless you opt for the manual on the Sport Touring, it’s mated to a relatively inoffensive continuously variable transmission. The turbo engine is frugal, to boot, estimated to return as much as 42 mpg highway with the CVT.
Then there’s the Civic Si. This higher-performance version of the Civic sedan turns the wick on the 1.5T engine up to 200hp and 192lb ft of torque, and only comes with a slick-shifting six-speed stick. The Civic Si has 18-inch wheels, slightly different suspension tuning, and special sport seats, but it’s also a pretty sweet deal at $29,895 including destination.
Wait, didn’t you say there are two engines?
I did, but one is pretty forgettable. That’d be the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-4 reserved for the Civic’s base LX and Sport trims, and it’s… fine. It certainly isn’t going to blow you away with only 158hp and 138lb ft of torque, and it isn’t as economical as the turbo engine, either, achieving a maximum of 40 mpg highway.
Speaking of fuel economy, does Honda make a Civic hybrid?
Nope – well, not yet anyway. Honda confirms a Civic hybrid will launch sometime in 2024, effectively replacing the you-probably-already-forgot-about-it Insight sedan.
Do the Civic’s competitors offer hybrid power?
Some do. The Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla are available with electrified engines, both of which are pretty stinkin’ efficient. The Civic’s other key rivals include the Kia Forte, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Jetta. The Forte GT, Mazda3 2.5, and Jetta GLI are worthy foes for the Civic Si, as well.
Is the Civic expensive?
Nah, it’s one of Honda’s most affordable products. A base Civic LX sedan will run you $24,845 including a $1,095 delivery fee, and the Civic LX hatchback is only $1,000 more expensive, at $25,845. Sport, EX, EX-L, and Si models move up the pricing bracket from there, and the most expensive version of the Honda Civic is the Sport Touring hatchback, at $32,345 all-in.
What else should I know?
One of the Civic's strongest selling points is its suite of safety tech – or rather, that this stuff is standard on all trim levels. Forward-collision warning, lane-departure alert, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, and adaptive cruise control come equipped on every single Civic – even those with a manual transmission.
What's the verdict?
The Honda Civic continues its tradition of setting the benchmark for compact cars thanks to its near-perfect balance of versatility, efficiency, solid interior refinement, and excellent road manners. It’s the kind of car that’ll never let you down, thanks to Honda’s proven long-term reliability, and isn’t a bore to drive – especially with the turbo engine.
Furthermore, with two body styles, a range of trim levels and even a hot-to-trot Si variant, there’s a Civic for a wide range of budgets. It can be a frugal economy car, feisty little sedan, or a fully loaded compact with luxury trimmings. No matter how you slice it, the Civic is a car that’s easy to like.