2016 Honda Civic Touring – Honda gets its mojo back!

Honda Civic has been Canada's best selling passenger car for 17 years, is poised to repeat in 2016

Honda Civic has been Canada’s best selling passenger car for 17 years, is poised to repeat in 2016

The Honda Civic has been Canada’s best selling passenger car for some seventeen years now.

That’s one impressive winning streak in anybody’s books.

All-new for 2016, this is Honda’s tenth generation of the venerable Civic, and there’s no reason to believe the mainstream contenders, mainly Toyota’s Corolla and the feisty Mazda3, will knock the Honda off the top step of the podium.

As good as the ninth generation (built from 2011-2015) of Civic was, Honda loyalists and auto journalists howled in protest.  At its introduction, it was obvious Honda was cutting costs, and interior materials were quickly seen as having lower quality and feeling cheap.

Making matters worse, Honda engineers seemed to ‘soften’ the suspension over successive generations, broadening the car’s driving appeal to a wider audience by calibrating the suspension for a softer ride.  For driving enthusiasts, Honda’s ‘magic’ feel that earlier generations of Civics were prized for was lost.  Mazda took up mantle giving their Mazda3 superb driving dynamics.

The Civic's sheetmetal is new, and the sloping rear roofline is steeply angled and stylish

The Civic’s sheetmetal is new, and the sloping rear roofline is steeply angled and stylish

To Honda’s credit, they recognized their mistake and quickly upgraded the car’s interior.

Loaded to the gills . . .

But wait.  Now, for 2016, the Civic has been redesigned.  And boy, is it impressive.

Our 2016 Civic test unit was a top-of-the-line Touring 4-door sedan, and Honda has chosen to add a lot of features unexpected in the compact car segment.  Not only does the Civic have heated front seats, rear seats are also heated.

For the techno-centric, there is a standard equipment wireless charger in the centrestack.  And for the safety conscious, there are a host of safety features, such as Collision Mitigation Braking System (the car will brake automatically if you approach a slower or stopped car too quickly), Road Departure Mitigation (or lane-keep assist), Multi-view rear camera, and my favourite feature, ‘smart’ cruise control, LaneWatch Blind-spot Display (which shows the right side of the vehicle on the large colour display when the right signal light is turned on.)

Interior features are bountiful.  Leather seating surfaces, moonroof, satellite radio, navigation system, and keyless/pushbutton start to name a few.

Front seats are leather covered and heated. They're comfortable and entry/exit is easy

Front seats are leather covered and heated. They’re comfortable and entry/exit is easy

Rear seats are heated - a rare, luxury feature in the class, and there is good legroom for adults

Rear seats are heated – a rare, luxury feature in the class, and there is good legroom for adults

Engine/transmission

Along with the all-new chassis, Honda is offering turbocharging on its top model, a 1.5-litre DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder engine .  (The base 2016 Civic DX sedan gets a 158 horsepower naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine.)

The turbo four puts out a healthy 174 horsepower, and equipped with the CVT, is officially rated at a very frugal 7.6/5.5 L/100 km City/Hwy.

Cabin

Inside the new Civic the finishing materials are very nice.

Owners of previous generations of Civics will notice the traditional instrument cluster.  Honda has abandoned the ‘double-decker’ instrument layout of the previous two generations of Civic.  A very large, digital speedometer ‘wrapped’ with a semi-circle tachometer dominates the main instrument panel.  This main instrument cluster houses various displays such as fuel economy, range, audio settings (redundant to the audio display on the centrestack), etc.  The large digital speedo is superbly legible; I liked it a lot.

Large, digital speedometer and tachometer are instrument cluster's centrepiece; digital speedometer is superbly legible

Large, digital speedometer and tachometer are instrument cluster’s centrepiece; digital speedometer is superbly legible

On the road

Access in and out of the Civic is very good.  The roof and A-pillar don’t interfere with getting into and out of the vehicle (like it did on our 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE.)

The keyless/pushbutton start is convenient, and the 1.5-litre turbo engine fires instantly.  Drop the CVT transmission into “D”, but a little care is needed.  At least once we inadvertently shifted into “S” instead of “D”, but it’s a minor mistake that a new owner should quickly get used to avoiding.

Throttle tip-in is good and responsive.  We kept the CVT transmission in the “Normal” mode; there is an “Eco” mode, which, to no surprise, dulled the car’s throttle response.

The CVT transmission is excellent.  It keeps the engine spinning in its most efficient rev range and helps the car deliver impressive fuel economy.  Under some driving conditions when accelerating from a stop, I noticed the slightest bit of ‘turbo-lag’, a nano-second of delay between giving the car gas and the engine responding.  (Owning a Subaru WRX, which also has a turbocharged engine mated to a CVT transmission, I’m hypersensitive to turbo lag.  The WRX has none.)  But 99.9-percent of drivers will never notice this lag in 99-percent of their daily driving.

The Civic’s turbo engine is pleasingly responsive.  Low and mid-range power is very good; the Civic accelerates easily in traffic.  When called upon to deliver full power, everything works in harmony.  This is one, sweet powertrain.

The Civic has electrically-assisted steering and it provides decent feedback.  In cornering, the chassis feels solidly rigid, which allows the suspension to do it’s work and prevents the dreaded ‘NVH’, engineer-speak for noise and vibration harshness.  In city driving, the Civic is quiet – there’s certainly less road noise than we remember from the previous generation.

At highway speeds (120 kph), we detected a slight amount of wind noise on the driver’s side, but even shod with winter tires, road noise was well controlled.

The chassis and suspension package work.  The Civic is responsive and confidence-inspiring.  Its precise steering and stable handling gives an enjoyable driving experience.

Quick! Find the temperature setting for the dual-zone climate control. We don't like Civic's busy audio and climate control display. Temp displays are top left and top right corners

Quick! Find the temperature setting for the dual-zone climate control. We don’t like Civic’s busy audio and climate control display. Temp displays are top left and top right corners

Fuel economy

In winter driving conditions and mostly urban driving, our test unit delivered a very good 7.4 L/100 km (regular unleaded).

Rear trunk can be expanded by lowering 60-40 split rear seat

Rear trunk can be expanded by lowering 60-40 split rear seat

Pricing

The 2016 Honda Civic 4-door Touring has an MSRP of $26,990 (+$1,495 Freight & PDE.)

Overall

We really liked Honda’s newest version of the new Civic.  Honda’s got its mojo back!

There are few other compact sedans that can match the Civic’s combination of style, reliability, and real-world performance performance for the price.

If you’re shopping for a 4-door sedan that’s a joy to drive, superbly fuel efficient, and affordable, the 2016 Honda Civic has got to be at the top of your must-drive list.

Likes

  • Turbocharged 1.5-litre engine and CVT transmission combo is a gem
  • Fun to drive – excellent on road dynamics
  • Price – the best 4-door sedan you can buy under $30,000 dollars
  • Multiple ‘layers’ of electronic driver safety aids

Dislikes

  • No heated steering wheel
  • Touch screen for audio volume is awful (but can be controlled via steering wheel controls); display screen is overly ‘busy’
  • Rear seat cushion is flat and uncomfortable for long stints

2016 Honda Civic 4-door Touring – highly recommended.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment