|Positives: Handsome and mature redesign, tremendously good driving dynamics, excellent physical controls, possibly better than the Accord.|
|Negatives: Lame CVT and lack of power don't match the chassis and steering.|
|Bottom Line: The Civic Sport is one of our favorite cars because it's still fun to drive despite its lack of power and the boring CVT. It just handles so well, looks so good, and has some of the best physical controls in the business. Honda nailed this one.|
It's hard to imagine a car made today whose overall driving experience is so good, but it's power and transmission are so severely lacking. The 158-hp four-cylinder isn't terribly weak, but the Civic is so good and managing turns and apexes that it needs something so much better under the hood. The 200-hp Civic Si meets that need, but you'll still enjoy driving the Civic Sport if you hammer it.
Ride Quality: Bumps and gaps are well-managed, and the Civic Sport is comfortable in everyday driving.
Acceleration: The Civic Sport is hampered by a dull CVT and meager horsepower. It takes some time to get off the line with 60 mph coming in around 9 seconds. It makes highway on ramps a bit of a challenge. We recommend upgrading to the more powerful turbocharged 4-banger that will reduce that time to the low 7s.
Braking: The brakes have great feel and progression. They're a great match for chassis.
Steering: Steering is sharp with decent feedback. We enjoyed helming it and no trouble tossing it into a corner and exiting with precision.
Handling: The great body control in the Civic Sport belies the dearth of horsepower. You can easily manage directional changes without drama, and it's actually quite fun to toss around.
We've never been fans of Honda's infotainment system, but the one in the new Civic is certainly better than the one found in the previous model. Gone are some of the dated graphics and fonts, replaced by simpler and crisper versions. The screen size of the base system isn't huge, but it gets the job done. On the flip side, the incredibly good analog controls for audio and climate are some of the best in the business.
Infotainment System: The 7" screen is clear but not truly vivid. At least it has a matte screen that avoids trammeled viewing in bright sunlight. Responsiveness is average, but the menus are easy to navigate.
Controls: The well-sized knurled knobs for climate are freakin' genius. Honda finally gets it because they are so easy to use while driving, as are the similarly finished (but smaller) audio knobs. They're so good, you forget about the dumb slider that Honda used before. The steering wheel controls and the shift knob are also very good.
We think the Civic looks more attractive than big brother Accord. The new design language is perfect for the small sedan because it looks way more upscale and sporty than its price communicates. The interior is also fantastically done with that excellent honeycomb trim on the dash and an overall refined look for a bargain sedan.
Front: The Civic's front end has a nice touch of menace to it with slim headlights and a slim and wide grille. It's nicely styled without being overdone. We like the black trim that matches the side mirrors.
Rear: Finally, good-looking taillights. The bracketed versions on the last one were a bit too much for our liking, and the new ones give the back end a more mature look. The single round tailpipe is a nice touch, as are the simple slim reflectors.
Profile: The short overhangs give the Civic great proportions, and the absence of chrome trim (using black instead) and the black wheels look great against the white paint.
Cabin: We love so much about this affordable sedan's interior that's a welcomed change over the old one. The honeycomb dash trim nicely integrates the HVAC vents, and the whole layout of the interior is very well executed. Honda paid a lot of attention to the Civic's cabin, and it shows, even in the base model.
The Civic has a great interior with room for adults in both rows. Even the fabric seats are pretty good. There's a lot to love about the interior appointments, as well. Materials quality overall is better than before. It competes well against the Nissan Sentra and the Hyundai Elantra, but it suffers against the Mazda3's level of comfort and materials quality.
Front Seats: The fabric seats are comfortable, and the bolstering and cushioning are very good. We just don't like the lack of adjustable lumbar support, a common complaint by critics.
Rear Seats: 36 inches of rear legroom mean a tall-ish adult can sit comfortably. The outboard positions have some contouring in the cushion and seatback, which is nice.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Build quality in the cabin is very good with no squeaks or rattles to be found. Road noise, however, is noticeable at highway speeds and could become wearisome over longer drives.
Visibility: The Civic's seating position is just about perfect, and the pillar size doesn't get in the way of visibility.
Climate: Despite not having an automatic dual-zone climate control system, everything works vert well. The vents move air in good volume, and things cool off quickly.
The Civic gets top marks in crash tests and accident avoidance technology. It has performed consistently well over generations, and that should provide owners with great peace of mind.
IIHS Rating: The Civic earned the Top Safety Pick+ rating and suffered zero demerits. Headlights ranked "good" across all trim levels, and even the LATCH system received a "good+"
NHTSA Rating: The federal government gave the Civic a full five stars in crash tests.
Standard Tech: Even the base trim gets a ton of standard features that include Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, a Multi-View Rear Camera, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
Optional Tech: None.
The Civic is more than adequate when it comes to small item storage and trunk space. The fact that the Civic's trunk space hasn't grown since the last model doesn't present a problem at all because it's very usable space and at the top of the heap in the segment. /p>
Storage Space: The cubby at the base of the center stack is plenty big, and the medium-sized armrest is also very good for daily storage.
Cargo Room: The Civic's trunk can handle 14.8 cubic feet of stuff, and the opening is wide and low. It eclipses the trunk space of the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and even the VW Jetta.
Our mileage would've been much, much better if we didn't hammer the hell out of the car in Sport mode about 90 percent of the time. The car's lack of power almost forces you to push it hard. The lame CVT does the car no favors.
Observed: 22 mpg.
Distance Driven: 181 miles.
The Civic's 8-speaker stock audio system is decent. It lacks any real verve when cranked up, but at least the system is clear. Good bass is mostly absent. Most stock systems have 6 speakers, so two more are welcomed.