The 2016 Honda Civic is Finally Great Again: First Drive
Compact sedans, am I right? It's typically not the most exciting segment in the world, but it is, and always has been, one of the most competitive. For 2016, the roster is deep and filled with a few heavy hitters. But Honda just added an all-star to the segment with the new Civic. To understand why this new Civic is so good you have to understand Honda's thinking. The previous two generations saw a huge drop in quality, looks, and the fun-to-drive nature that once defined it. And that's coming directly from Honda themselves. For the 10th generation of Civic, engineers and designers really went above and beyond the call of duty in the compact segment. RELATED: See More of the 2016 Honda Civic
Designed With Purpose
The looks are dramatic—but in the best way possible. It's obvious that designers took cues from other models like the Insight and Accord with its almost hatchback-like rear. You'll also notice some Acura cues with the more aggressive nose, but finagled into a more attractive, modern vehicle that you wouldn't be ashamed of showing your friends.
The rear taillights have a very premium feel, the front grille is aggressively subtle, and the body lines are actually pretty dramatic, but only show off their unique angles at the right light. Park anywhere and you'll notice the lines of the street reflecting off uniquely from the doors.
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A Whole New Feel
Matching the exterior's subtle dramatics, the interior is edgy enough to keep even the most unaware driver in awe. Per typical Honda fashion, each angle serves a specific purpose.
The center column features a unique sliding armrest that opens up into two cup holders, a key fob holder, and a deep enough cubby for your iPad (or Surface, if that's how you roll). It's a very thoughtful, useful design.
The dash and infotainment center follow the same thoughtfulness. There's USB ports you don't have to contort your arm to reach, and a holster that lets you keep your wires out of the way. It's pretty obvious that Honda has a big team working on what seems like such a small set of details.
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Loaded With Tech
By my own account, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are a must in any car on the market today. Thankfully, Honda agrees, and fit both on the upper-trim Civic.
It uses the same touchscreen system available in all new Honda models (HR-V, Pilot, Accord), which features the same questionable all-touchscreen interface. Meaning no volume knob. Honda makes the case that the steering wheel volume control is easier to use, and it's hard to fault their logic. Very sleek, easy to reach; this is one of the few cars that you could live without a standard volume knob.
The Civic also features Honda's nifty Honda Sense system that utilizes the camera to show you the lane you're about to turn into. Not to mention the adaptive cruise control system, a first for the Civic.
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Honda's Back, Baby
The 2016 Honda Civic is, hands down, the most agile, most fun-to-drive vehicle in the segment. Comparably, it makes the sporty Mazda 3 feel like a bloated SUV. To really capture those sporty dynamics, Honda looked to a more premium competition.
The new Civic, according to engineers, sits at about the same height as an Audi TT. It's low to the ground, it turns on a dime, and has an almost unnoticeable amount of body roll. The new chassis was developed to compete against the more high-end, European rivals—and it shows. It feels extremely sharp. It's a very exciting thought to think that we'll eventually see an Si and Type-R version on the same platform.
Under the hood sits two new engines. The base 2.0-liter delivers a respectable 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft torque. But the turbo is really where all the fun is at.
The 1.5-liter turbocharged engine found on the EX-T and above puts to the ground 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft torque. That's a respectable set of stats for the segment, considering the only thing quicker, at 184 horsepower, is the Mazda 3. Improved power, superb, handling and a worldly chassis make for one impressive drive.
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All things considered, it's safe to say the Honda Civic has regained its crown. The drive feels phenomenally different than anything in its class, the interior is a well-thought out, refined piece of Honda engineering, and the exterior shoots well above its price point in terms of classy design.
From top to bottom, the Honda Civic sedan is an absolute winner. After driving it, we're extremely giddy to get behind the wheel of the go-fast Si and Type-R (which should show up in the next few months).
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder/1.5L 4-Cylinder Turbo
Price (base): $18,640
Touchscreen system isn't perfect