It’s been a year since we saw the first 10th generation Civic roll off the assembly line in Indiana, accompanied by a Honda rep who goes by “Sushi.” Honda has done itself a massive favor by turbocharging its iconic commuter car, and while we were able to briefly take it on some amazing scenic roads during the automaker’s drive event, this was a car we needed more time with.
Ignore its electric, Ninja Turtle Ooze (officially Energy Green) paint and deeply carved lines for a moment, and let’s focus on what the Civic has become. It’s a nameplate that’s stood the test of time, and even in its darkest hours, the little hatchback continued to win the hearts of first time drivers, critics, and aftermarket enthusiasts alike.
Not once in its 44 years has the Civic disappeared from the Honda lineup, an impressive feat considering that it’s now in its 10th generation, and continues to sell well across the globe. It’s a car that defines the Honda brand in ways that its larger sibling, the Accord, never could. But even with its impressive history, we think this latest Civic, especially in Touring trim, is more on point than ever before.
The jury may still be out on the new Civic’s nose, but overall it’s grown on us since its unveiling in Detroit last year. Its crisp lines, tapered sills, and distinct rear LED hatch lines make it look futuristic and fun, which is befitting of the car itself. And while the design may stumble here and there, with dead-end plastic ducting and an underwhelming exhaust port, this car is both sporty and space-age looking, especially as a coupe.
Exterior pros and cons
+ Automatic headlamps, LED piping and projectors, and bold looks are just as eye-catching as that Energy Green paint job.
+ Rain sensing wipers, heated mirrors with turn indicators, a capless fuel filler, and keyless entry are all useful.
+ Contrasting black and chrome touches are proportionately placed across the exterior, with an aggressive split grille casting an imposing presence out front, and a protruding rear diffuser to cap off both ends.
– Creased lines are not for everyone, something the 10th generation Civic has in abundance, regardless of which model you want.
– The Touring’s standard 17-inch alloy wheels aren’t as attractive as the ones on the Accord Touring. If this bothers you too, be sure to ask the dealership what Honda Performance Development (HPD) or Accord wheel options will fit.
While this may not be the punch you in your patella kind of turbo setup Civic enthusiasts pine for, you have to give the little 1.5-liter engine props for producing 174 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque under boost. Even when paired to a CVT transmission that targets fuel gains over enjoyability, it remains a fairly fun car to drive. It may not be the Type-R that we’re all waiting for, and a manual would be nice to see in Touring trim, but when put up against its direct competition, the 1.5-liter turbo Civic delivers the goods and then some.
Powertrain pros and cons
+ 174 horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter Earth Dreams four cylinder engine does a stellar job of eliminating turbo-lag, and comes mated to a surprisingly engaging CVT.
+ A 31/41 EPA estimate leaves you with an impressive 35-mile-per-gallon average.
+ Eco mode doesn’t turn the throttle into a sponge, while the limited slip differential does a great job of keeping traction in check.
– Turbo engines don’t perform well when restricted by undersized airboxes and bottle-necked exhaust systems. We wonder what power and fuel gains can be unlocked.
– CVT is not attached to paddle shifters, and there’s no major performance bump from tossing the car in sport mode like in the Mazda 3.
People have gotten so hung up on the heavily creased exterior of the Civic that they fail to appreciate its outstanding interior. Although it could use a few nicer touches in a couple key areas (especially with it being the Touring edition and all), the cabin of this coupe is outstandingly well-designed. Storage, visibility, quietness, comfort, and quality are all addressed with a Honda-grade stamp of approval, with small stuff like charging cable separators, sliding drink trays, and extra charging ports tipping the scale.
Interior pros and cons
+ Clever touches include a lower center stack cellphone storage area with wire separators, and a reconfigurable center console that has multiple cupholder configurations, sliding trays, a USB port, and surprisingly deep storage.
+ Electronic e-brake, push-button start, roomy rear bench, heated front seats, an adequately proportioned trunk, a one-touch sunroof, and large rear quarter glass for increased visibility are all home runs.
+ Contrasting colors, a stylishly layered console, as well as leather appointed seats, steering wheel, and shifter make for a very nice looking cabin.
– Rear bench headrests are not removable, so anchoring a child seat means tightening the rear strap to the point where it leaves a deep crease in the material, and due to the additional slack it creates, causes the seat to pitch forward during hard braking and frontal collisions.
– No ventilated, power adjusting seats like the Kia Forte, mood lighting is minimal at best, and plastic touches like the visor that covers the gauge cluster and the shield over the high-mount brake lamp look and feel cheap; the latter rattled to the point where it fell off.
Tech and safety
Honda created a fantastic suite of safety technologies in its Honda Sensing Package, and by making it standard equipment on Touring editions, it’s made its cutting-edge safety both a priority and easier to get than ever. This is the same system we loved when we tested the Accord Touring last year, with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic braking, blind spot warnings, and lane departure notifications, allowing the vehicle to practically drive itself 90% of the time on the interstate. While the Civic seemed a little less capable when it came to carving a corner on its own, it was still one of the best driver assist systems we encountered this summer, and with clever touchscreen and gauge cluster tech on board to keep things informative and fun, we couldn’t have been more pleased.
Tech pros and cons
+ Honda Sensing comes standard on Touring models, and is still one of the best tech safety systems we’ve encountered, allowing next-level semi-autonomous interstate driving.
+ Gauge cluster graphics have a cool space-age feel, and are easy to identify and utilize, with the sliding 3D efficiency scale making the most notable splash.
+ Multiple reverse camera views, responsive 7-inch electrostatic touchscreen, smooth 3D mapping, easy menu navigation, and an integrated LaneWatch camera within the passenger’s mirror allow crystal-clear blind spot views day or night at the push of a button.
– No LaneWatch camera on driver’s side mirror for monitoring, backup camera is not metered to gauge depth, no surround view cameras, and the 10-speaker sound system doesn’t perform as well as setups offered by Mazda and Toyota.
– While lane keep assistance will nudge you back into line multiple times before warning the driver to grab the wheel, it doesn’t track curves in the road quite as well as what we saw in the Accord Touring.
The nuts and bolts of the matter remain fairly simple: The Honda Civic has been and always will be more of a practical, fuel efficient commuter car than a performance specimen. Lusty blog posts about the Type-R are just a drop in the bucket compared to the kind of questions asked at the local dealership about base model amenities, safety, and bottom-line pricing.
But whether it be stop-and-go downtown traffic or high speed blacktop cruising, the new Civic Touring drives and rides on a level far greater than its modest price tag would imply. It’s a sporty coupe, not a sports car, but it still delivers the goods thanks to its tightly programmed electric steering assistance, well designed suspension geometry, and brakes that stop sharper than their modest sizing would have you believe.
There’s a reason why the masses continue to flock to this car generation after generation. Honda has found a way to take performance fun, and put it in a vehicle that’s easy to drive and has clever safety features to encourage driver confidence like never before. It may not be the performance touchdown Honda fanatics dream of, but it’s still an outstanding alternative to everything else in its segment.
Wrap up and review
This generation marks the first time in history that the Civic has been designed and engineered entirely in the United States by an American team for a globally scaled platform. It’s also the first time we’ve seen a turbocharged version, and even if you don’t give a hoot about boost, the drivability and enjoyability one gets out of this Civic will surprise most buyers.
While we’d option for performance, and go with a different wheel/tire combo (maybe something a little larger and wider from Honda’s HPD line of alloys), almost everything else about this car is right on the money when it comes to driver satisfaction. The Touring is an especially attractive package too, and at $27,000 remains a bargain that teeters somewhere between daily driver and weekend warrior. Built in Indiana, and engineered to be just as cutting-edge internally as it looks externally, the Civic Coupe Touring is a cut above on almost every level. After driving one you’ll understand why it is — and always will be — Honda’s cornerstone.
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