Overview

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Written by James Hamel

(Overview) (Final Score after 8 Categories: A)

The Tina Turner song "The Best" could quite easily be the theme song for the 2016 Honda Civic which, with its ever expanding lineup of models and bodystyles, managed to swoop into one of the most fiercely competitive market segment and stood clearly head and shoulders above them all. It's really that simple. We tested a Touring sedan with the all new 1.5 liter turbocharged 174-horsepower engine and it felt underpriced at $26,000 and change. And that's for the loaded model.

In addition, Honda recently introduced a coupe model and after that comes performance Si, Type-R and all-new hatchback versions of the iconic nameplate. Affordable performance enthusiasts will welcome the newfound availability of a six-speed manual transmission option on all trim levels of the hatchback with the punchy, rorty and rev-happy 1.5-liter turbo motor we so loved in this test albeit with an admittedly well tuned CVT-automatic.

The 2016 Honda Civic is well priced too with base models starting just over $18,000 nicely equipped and featuring a 2.0-liter non-turbo 4-cylinder offering 158 horsepower/138 lb. feet of torque with a six-speed manual available only on base LX sedans. Still, we can think of few better ways to part with $18,000. And did we mention how stylish this new Civic is? Bold, dynamic and stylish are the words that came to mind when gazing upon our new Civic tester. Read on to see if you agree.

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What we Loved about the 2016 Honda Civic


  • The 1.5-liter turbo motor makes all of the power you want and all the right Honda noises


 

  • The styling inside and out is daring, unique and from a class of cars above


 

  • The safety suite on offer here is unparalleled in this price class


 

What we Didn't Love about the 2016 Honda Civic


  • Okay, we would love to not have to shell out $26,000 for a better audio system


 

  • Wider manual transmission availability would be nice


 

  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto only on EX models and above


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Exterior Styling (9 out of 10)

While some may deem the looks of the 2016 Honda Civic to be a daringly space age leap of faith, when taken into consideration next to competitors like the Corolla, Jetta, Dart, Forte and Focus it is easy to see that unveiling a swoopy coupe-like four door sedan that looks a bit like a five-door hatchback was a very daring move for this hot selling compact car icon. We especially love how the rear of the new Civic with its stylish LED tail-lamps cuts such a singular dash on the road.

Actually, from the front and the sides we also like the new Civic be it in the sedan, coupe or upcoming five door hatchback body style choices. If only Honda would bring back the Civic wagon. Or are we the only one who remembers that nimble, sometimes AWD little battle tank?

Well, at the very least we are sure of one thing. The 2016 Honda Civic is never going to have the same criticism leveled at it as the 2012 model did from the motoring press which found it to be too conservative and boring a redesign from Honda. Well, be careful what you wish for because this 2016 Civic has something to prove everywhere you look.

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Interior Design, Layout and Execution (10 out of 10)

For those of you out there who had tired of the old Civics' digital split level dashboard design you can rejoice in knowing that this compact model's new one is just as cleverly designed without relying on any somewhat dated digital speedometers this time around. Materials quality is also greatly improved with our Touring model featuring high quality leather seats with dash and door materials all coming up for high marks in this class. Volkswagen had better start worrying.

Our favorite design element was a hole at the base of the central dash ahead of the gear lever where you could hide the cables leading to the hidden open compartment near your feet which holds the USB port. It's the perfect spot to place a smartphone and the hidden cubby underneath is a great spot not only for unsightly cables but also to hid valuables. Cupholders are enormous as is the cubby in between the driver and front passenger.

Speaking of passengers, you could squeeze five adults into the new Civic so long as they liked each other and it wasn't for a 2,000 mile road trip. If that's the case stick to four up and the 15.1 cubic feet trunk will no doubt handle all you need to carry on life's great adventures. And that's really what the Civic is all about, feeling so confident about your car that long drives away from home don't seem so scary. In fact, they become fun.

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Technology (10 out of 10)

Okay, we realize the Civics' seven-inch center mounted infotainment/audio/navigation touchscreen and lacks a volume know instead utilizing a tricky set up where you have to slide your finger along a bar on the left side of the screen. No doubt young people can manage to drive without a volume knob but considering the amount of flak Honda has taken for this design, most automotive journalists certainly cannot.

If only they realized there is a volume switch on the steering wheel and in the form of Siri via Apple's voice activated Carplay system which is standard on EX models and above. Yes, Siri can not only read you text messages, play any of the music on your iPhone, get you directions to your destination and more but she also can adjust the volume level in your Civic just by asking her to. And it's amazing, she always understood our requests which isn't always true with our Apple Watch. But that's a whole other story. (The Civic also features Android Auto but we unfortunately did not get a chance to sample that smartphone connectivity feature. Maybe next time.)

On the technology front, lastly we were blown away by the breadth and depth of active safety features on offer including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a collision mitigation system which can brake automatically as well as a lane keeping assist system which gently steers you back into your lane. Lastly, once the domain of luxury cars, the 2016 Honda Civic now can be ordered with Adaptive Cruise Control which does wonders for making your daily commute that much easier. And technology should exist to soothe us, not frustrate us.

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Fuel Economy (9 out of 10)

The last time Honda unveiled a new Civic in 2012 it got raked over the coals for only managing a 39 mile per gallon city highway score from the EPA. It seems other automakers were artificially spiking their numbers to 40 miles per gallon and above to achieve greater sales. So this year Honda not only spiked the power and responsiveness from its 1.5-liter turbo motor but it also improved fuel economy to 31 miles per gallon city and 42 highway according to the EPA.

The engine runs on regular unleaded and over the course of a week with us it managed 38 miles per gallon of mixed driving. We didn't freak out because it didn't return over 40 because we knew it was possible if we just laid off the accelerator and put the car in its effective ECON mode activated by a button on the dash to the left of the driver. The Civic only has a 12.3-gallon fuel tank but that still means a range of nearly 500 miles is possible.

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Safety (10 out of 10)

You really won't find many crash test reports from the IIHS this glowing for a car of the Honda Civics' weight and size. But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a highly coveted "Top Safety Pick Plus" recipient. This means it received overall top "Good" ratings in all crash test arenas including side impact and the difficult to pass small front overlap test which mimics the impact of your car with a fixed object like a pole or tree. Lastly, the IIHS lauded the Civic for its myriad crash avoidance features most especially an autobrake system which stopped the car from both 12 and 25 miles per hour thereby avoiding a collision. Civics' also are available with collision warning, blind spot assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, an active lane keeping system, a multi-view back-up camera and

Initial Quality and Reliability (8 out of 10)

As the 2016 Honda Civic is so totally all new this model year, it is hard to judge this early in its sales life how reliable this model will be over the long term. But if Honda and Civic history lessons have taught us anything it is that this will be the high quality compact car to beat for managing to still be on the road 15 to 25 years from now. We are serious, look around you on the road and see how many Civics there are with hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer and decades of sunshine burned into their fading paint. This dear readers, is how you truly ascertain the quality of a vehicle.

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Performance (9 out of 10)

We were anxious about road testing the new 2016 Honda Civic not because we feared it would be awful but because it was to be the debut of the first Honda turbocharged engine in the United States. Having been a fan of Honda's VTEC engine technology which rewards revving the engine to redlines with an oddly mechanical symphonic melody. And turbochargers are notorious for stealing the character from engines. Hello BMW?

But just as Honda managed to create CVT transmissions that are seamless, quiet and feel totally natural in practice on real open roads, so too has Honda created its first characterful and brawny 4-cylinder turbo motor. It has only got 1.5 liters but is good for 174 horsepower and 162 lb. feet of torque only now the thrust arrives much lower in the rev range so you don't have to gun it to redline. Unless you want to. And you might.

Beyond that, the 2016 Honda Civic sedan had a terrific ride and handling balance that was at once both comfortable yet capable of inspiring confidence in a spirited driver. Steering effort may be a tad light to some but it is still more naturally communicative than the units in any other compact car perhaps barring only Mazda and Volkswagen. We would have given Honda a ten out of ten but we are waiting to try the upcoming hatchback with a manual gearbox and the turbo engine. Sounds divine.

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Value for Money and Features (9 out of 10)

A fully loaded Honda Civic for over $26,000 we hear you cry? Yes, we realize that time, cachet and its solid gold reputation have caught up with the Civic but it is also far more grown up in its capabilities this time around. In essence, this Civic Touring sedan is more a less expensive alternative to a less well equipped Accord. So while Honda may sell more EX and EX-T Civics, neither of those models come with a poverty spec and remain priced right near last year's version. We do recommend, however, that you order the Honda Sensing Suite with all of the active safety technology but keep in mind that all comes as standard with the 2016 Honda Civic Touring.

For the first time, the Civic now offers upscale features like rain sensing wipers, LED headlamps, heated rear outboard seats, power front seats covered in leather that wouldn't seem out of place in an Acura as well as a premium 450-watt audio system with 10-speakers and a subwoofer. We liked the sound from the Civic's premium sound system and easily tackled any music up to 8/10's of its volume level. An Acura ELS audio system, it is not.

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Final Thoughts and the Competition: (74 Points out of a Possible 80)

It's almost insulting to the Civic to mention some of its competition, so laggardly have these compact sedan nameplates become when innovation is clearly the key to winning over customers.  But apparently so is drowsy, bank vault, impermeable reliability or the Corolla would not be selling as well as it does. The Corolla does share something with the Civic in that both nameplates have remained the same over a number of decades whereas everyone else has gone through names like tissues. (Chevy had the Nova, Chevette, Cavalier, Cobalt and now Cruze—we apologize if we left anything out.)

But what new models do compete capably enough with the new Civic to be worthy of your consideration? First off, we have to mention the 2016 Mazda3 in either hatchback or sedan form which is easily the sportiest to drive entrant in this model class. Thanks to excellent manual gearboxes available all through its model lineup and the frugal nature of Mazda's SkyActiv technology, this is another compact car you would be a fool to ignore. Although not as capable as the Mazda, the 2016 Ford Focus is still a great deal especially when equipped with the 1.0 liter 3-cylinder Ecoboost motor which in SE trim allows buyers to get a nicely equipped new ride for a little over $18,000.

Lastly, despite its recent Dieselgate woes, we always recommend the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta and Golf hatchback which both boast fuel efficient turbocharged engines, high quality interiors, good build quality and are affordably priced. Oddball choices include the 2016 Kia Soul and 2016 Scion iM (soon to be Toyota) which have a great value for money and utilitarian appeal. But not so utilitarian as a Subaru Impreza.

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Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Coupe - FWD
LX LX Manual Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 19050
LX LX CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 19850
LX-P LX-P CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 20850
EX-T EX-T CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 22300
EX-L EX-L CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 23425
Touring Touring CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 26125
Sedan - FWD
LX LX Manual Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 18640
LX LX CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 19440
LX LX CVT Sedan with Honda Sensing 4 Cylinder FWD 20440
EX EX CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 21040
EX EX CVT Sedan with Honda Sensing 4 Cylinder FWD 22040
EX-T EX-T CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 22200
EX-T EX-T CVT Sedan with Honda Sensing 4 Cylinder FWD 23200
EX-L EX-L CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 23700
EX-L EX-L CVT Sedan with Honda Sensing 4 Cylinder FWD 24700
EX-L EX-L CVT Sedan with Navigation 4 Cylinder FWD 24700
Touring Touring CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 26500

Comparison of 2016 Honda Civic with Similar Cars

2016 Honda Civic MSRP Invoice
2016 Honda Civic $18,640 $17,332
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2016 Ford Focus $17,225 $16,622 2016 Honda Civic VS 2016 Ford Focus
2016 Toyota Corolla $17,300 $16,349 2016 Honda Civic VS 2016 Toyota Corolla
2016 Hyundai Elantra $17,250 $16,734 2016 Honda Civic VS 2016 Hyundai Elantra
2016 Volkswagen Jetta $17,680 $0 2016 Honda Civic VS 2016 Volkswagen Jetta
2016 Mazda Mazda3 $17,845 $17,081 2016 Honda Civic VS 2016 Mazda Mazda3

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2016 Honda Civic ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2016 Honda Civic rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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