Overview

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Overview (Final Score: B)

The Honda Civic is a midsize coupe, sedan, or hatchback offered in many different flavors for different buyers. Our review will focus on the mainstream Civic trims and leave the high-performance Si and Type R Civic trims for the enthusiast magazines to drool over.

The Civic is a top-selling vehicle in America. That reality is even more meaningful due to the fact that the Civic is not given away to rental fleets by the thousands, like some of its peers in the segment. Rather, Honda targets real owners and real families with its Civic line. This bolsters resale value and makes the vehicle more valuable when you decide it's time to trade or sell on.

Civics start just under $22K including the destination fee. Well-appointed trims can top $30K. We recently tested the $30,155 five-door Hatchback Sport Touring trim. Each of the body styles has multiple trim levels and follows a progression of content as prices climb. Please note that for the most part, our review here will apply best to the mid to top trims in the Civic, which reflect the trims we have recently tested.

What We Love About the 2020 Honda Civic:


  • Refined and satisfying drivetrain

  • Feeling of quality

  • Styling


What We Don't Love About the 2020 Honda Civic:


  • Honda deleted your tuner knob

  • No included maintenance

  • Shortest warranty in the industry


2020 Honda Civic Coupe Sport

Exterior View (10/10)

The Civic is a looker. Each of the body styles is well designed to appeal to a wide range of buyers looking for a youthful but not silly exterior. The Si and Type R go past silly to this reviewer's eye, but the folks who buy those special trims want that look.

Up front the Civic makes no enemies. The lights and grill are sleek and stylish. The side view of a Civic makes the car look long and low to the ground. The Coupe and five-door hatchback are the most appealing, but isn't that always the case? Sedans are hard to make pretty.

Our 2020 Civic Hatch Sport Touring looked great from all angles and had a very interesting rear end that made the car look sporty and futuristic. We loved the black alloy rims, but even though it had just returned from a car wash, they were covered in a film that negated much of their appeal. Who needs the hassle of wheels that won't stay clean?

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (7/10)

Sit inside any Civic trim and the space is what may surprise you if you are a prior-generation Civic owner. The car just feels roomy. With 98 cubic feet of passenger volume, it actually is pretty roomy and earns a midsize car rating from the EPA.

The space extends to the rear as well. We found that rear-seat passengers from ages 8 to 80 can ride in comfort without the front passengers needing to move up their seats. The Civic is a legitimate five-passenger car and would work well as a four-person family vehicle.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

Our $30K tester had the best of what the Civic offers in terms of creature comforts. That list started with heated seats with leather surfaces and power adjustment for the driver. We scanned the list of included and available features and it was quickly clear that the LX and Sport trims sacrifice a lot of features that the EX trims and higher come with. Be sure you look closely at the specifics of the Civic you end up buying if you drive a higher trim on your test drive.

The ergonomics of the Civic were good, but fell one important knob from great. Although Honda does almost everything right, the engineers stole your "tuner" knob. That knob is handy when you or a passenger is trying to set audio stations quickly. Why Honda refuses to offer one perplexes us.

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One feature we could not find on the Honda specifications list or in our $30K tester was a heated steering wheel. While we would not expect one on the base trims, above $30K we certainly do. We also found that when our phone was plugged in it didn't fit in the cubby Honda includes in the center console. This is inexcusable. One thing Honda does give you is a compact spare tire.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

Technology (10/10)

The Honda Civic feels modern and high tech, but without making technology a pain in the neck. Most trims of the Civic have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but not the base trims. For this reason alone we would not recommend the base trim. The benefits of these smartphone integration tools are just too valuable. We expect that as time passes most cars will come with this standard, and any vehicle without it will stick out at trade-in time.

Most automakers aside from GM and BMW still require a cord to be plugged into the phone to access Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and Honda does as well. However, when we did this there was no way for our Samsung S9 phone to happily fit in the console. The "9" series of phones are not the largest on the market, so this Honda design choice disappoints us.

The HVAC and infotainment controls in our tester were top-notch. We loved that Honda populated the infotainment screen with hard buttons alongside the screen for the menus one touches most often. We also loved being able to choose the vehicle setting we preferred like interior light dimming and headlight auto-off times.

One way Honda quietly leads the industry is its Honda Sensing driver aids. Honda's cruise control will follow a car in front of you and speed up and slow down as it does. Many vehicles now do this.

Honda also has lane-keeping assist. Basically, the car drives for you when you are on the highway, That includes turning as the road turns. Honda's technology is the best at this task we have tested, and that includes Tesla's Autopilot. Unlike other brands, the Honda system does not make the car hug the side of a lane, nor does it bounce from side to side within the lane. It follows the middle of the lane as well as you can.

We also had relatively few false-positive forward-collision warnings. Honda's technology is helpful when you need it, but doesn't hassle you when you don't. By contrast, Subaru is at the extreme other end of this spectrum. Drive them back to back and you can really appreciate how annoyance-free the Civic's technology is.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

Fuel Economy (8/10)

The Honda Civic has a range of fuel economy values depending upon which engine, transmission, body shape, and style it is. Rather than recreate all the options here, find them at FuelEconomy.gov. We looked them over carefully and found that the Civic uses only regular unleaded fuel - a plus.

It also has values that seem to be at the top end of the segment (not including hybrids and EVs). About 33 mpg combined seems to be the average for most Civics. We exceeded that in our mixed city/suburban driving and saw a 35 mpg average displayed by the vehicle.

We should note that Honda has three vehicles the same size and in the same approximate cost range of the Civic that do dramatically better on fuel. Rather than just add these to the Civic's lineup, Honda wisely separated them out.

The Insight Hybrid and the Clarity EV and PHEVs are all at the very top of the fuel economy range for their segments. Honda is still very green. If you are a Civic shopper and want to drive a hybrid or electric vehicle be aware that they exist, but the names are different.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (6/10)

There was a time when Honda was known as Toyota's match for the best reliability and quality ratings in the car world. But things have changed.

In both the JD Power Initial Quality Study and 3-Year Dependability Study, Honda is now below the industry average. Consumer Reports rates the 2020 Honda Civic a 3/5 for predicted reliability. That seems to make sense since the Civic has earned a 3/5 based on actual owner surveys of Consumer Reports members going back to 2016.

To say it plainly, other brands now offer higher quality and better durability in the Civic's segment. Has the Civic dropped in quality. No, it has not. It's peers just got better.

Safety (10/10)

The 2020 Honda Civic has recently been tested and fully evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The group named the Civic a Top Safety Pick, the second-best rating.

Some Civics had Poor-rated headlights, and thus, the Civic did not earn the highest rating possible. That said, the Hatch Sport Touring trim we tested had Good rated headlights and is among the best of the industry in this regard. We nudged the Civic up to a 10/10 rating on safety here.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan

Performance (10/10)

In the sedan and coupe, there is a base 2.0-liter (non-turbo) engine with about 158 hp offered in the two lowest trims. Ironically, one of those trims is called "Sport." Don't be fooled. The optional 1.5-liter turbo engine with 174-180 hp is the way to go here and is much more sporty.

In the hatchback five-door, the less powerful engine is not offered. The turbo has more torque over a much wider range of engine operation. It feels great when driven in all conditions.

The Civic can also come with either a manual stick shift transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Some trims with the CVT offer paddle shifters. Follow your heart, but we love the CVT automatic in the Civic. Honda has perfected this great automatic transmission and, when paired with the 1.5-liter turbo, it offers superior real-world responsiveness and performance.

Our Hatchback Sport Touring also had paddle shifters and a Sport mode. We did use the Sport mode, but frankly, it isn't necessary due to the great torque the engine packs.

Handling in all Civics is fun and enjoyable. Our top-trim had the larger wheels with low profile tires and yet was not uncomfortable over broken up roads. If you look at the Si and Type R, be sure you know what you're getting into. Those are straight-up sports cars and they are stiff.

Pricing and Value (8/10)

At the low end of the price range, the Civic line is fair, but not exceptional with regard to pricing. At the top end, it seems to offer a better value. The EX (non-leather) trims seem to be the sweet spot.

Discounting is not a Honda policy. Other brands offer deeper dealer discounts and that needs to be considered. A quick internet search won't reveal the full picture for a shopper in this segment.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (69/80, 86%)

In many ways, this segment is the Civic's. The Civic defines the type of cars and the competition follows. However, over the past three years we have tested some remarkably good Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra cars. The Hyundai's are super at the top end of the trims (around $30K) and the Sentra is outstanding in its SV trim (around $21K). We would give both of those brands the edge at the top and bottom of the segment.

Hyundai and Kia have joined Toyota in including maintenance in the price paid by the buyer. Hyundai and Kia now offer three years of included maintenance. We value that at about $600. It's also nice not to have pass the credit card to a dealer for service. Hyundai and Kia also have a dramatically longer warranty. Both brands offer up to 10 years vs. the Honda 5-year warranty. Add to that Hyundai and Kia's dominance in the dependability studies and it's obvious to us that Honda is not keeping pace with overall value and the overall ownership experience.

If you are a Honda fan who is happy with your local dealership, you will not be disappointed by the 2020 Civic. However, if you have an open mind regarding brands, we suggest cross-shopping the Hyundai Elantra if you are budgeting $30K and Nissan Sentra if your budget is under $23K.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Coupe - FWD
Si Manual Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 25200
LX LX CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 21050
Si Manual Coupe w/Summer Tires 4 Cylinder FWD 25400
Sport Sport Manual Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 21850
Sport Sport CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 22650
EX EX CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 23600
Touring Touring CVT Coupe 4 Cylinder FWD 27250
Hatchback - FWD
LX LX CVT Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 21750
Touring Touring Manual Type R 4 Cylinder FWD 36995
Sport Sport Manual Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 22850
Sport Sport CVT Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 23650
EX EX CVT Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 24250
EX-L EX-L CVT Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 25450
Sport Touring Sport Touring Manual Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 28150
Sport Touring Sport Touring CVT Hatchback 4 Cylinder FWD 28950
Sedan - FWD
Si Manual Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 25200
LX LX Manual Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 19850
LX LX CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 20650
Si Manual Sedan w/Summer Tires 4 Cylinder FWD 25400
Sport Sport Manual Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 21550
Sport Sport CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 22350
EX EX CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 23800
EX-L EX-L CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 25000
Touring Touring CVT Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 27700

Comparison of 2020 Honda Civic with Similar Cars

2020 Honda Civic MSRP Invoice
2020 Honda Civic $19,850 $18,452
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2020 Toyota Corolla $19,600 $18,522 2020 Honda Civic VS 2020 Toyota Corolla
2020 Hyundai Elantra $19,300 $18,656 2020 Honda Civic VS 2020 Hyundai Elantra
2020 Nissan Sentra $19,090 $18,144 2020 Honda Civic VS 2020 Nissan Sentra
2020 Volkswagen Jetta $18,895 $18,139 2020 Honda Civic VS 2020 Volkswagen Jetta
2020 Mazda Mazda3 $21,500 $20,565 2020 Honda Civic VS 2020 Mazda Mazda3

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2020 Honda Civic ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2020 Honda Civic rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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