Has the Honda Magic Returned?
After more than four decades and 10 generations of existence, the Honda Civic has become a default purchase for many young people or those who are young at heart. It carries a legacy of inexpensive transportation that doesn’t feel cheap, and of flattering its owner with elegant driving manners and interior fitments.
Although the Civic has spent most of its existence near the top of the compact segment, there have been missteps. The eighth-gen car won our 2006 Motor Trend Car of the Year award, but Honda lost its way with the decontented ninth-generation Civic, requiring an emergency refresh in 2013 just one year after it made its debut.
With the new 10th-generation 2016 Honda Civic (now technically classified as a midsize car), the automaker has made amends for its past sins by building the best car in its class out of the gate. In fact, a 2016 Honda Civic EX (with the base engine) placed first in our seven-way 2016/2017 Compact Sedans Big Test.
Wanting more experience with this car, we acquired a top-spec 2016 Honda Civic Touring sedan with the new turbo engine and CVT for our long-term test fleet.
“This is the first Civic in a long time that seems to have some of the old Honda magic back,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said in our Big Test. “Honda magic is tricky to define, but to me it means that in a given competitive set [like this one], the Honda product stands out. It drives better, it feels better, it’s engineered better, it’s got special sauce—the X factor—and this thing has it in spades.”
Where mainstream ninth-generation Civic models were powered by a carryover 1.8-liter SOHC I-4 (140–143-hp, 128–129 lb-ft) mated to a five-speed manual or five-speed auto (and later a CVT), the redesigned model gets shiny new drivetrains. The base engine is a 2.0-liter DOHC i-VTEC I-4 (158 hp, 138 lb-ft), and higher trims feature a new 1.5-liter turbocharged DOHC I-4 (174 hp, 162 lb-ft). Depending on trim, both engines put power to the pavement by either a six-speed manual or CVT.
Arriving for a yearlong evaluation, our top-spec Civic Touring sedan gets the turbo-engine, slightly larger stabilizer bars in front (26.5mm vs. 25.5mm) and rear (17.0mm vs. 16.5mm), and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Touring models come equipped with features including a power moonroof, foglights, a decklid spoiler, heated side mirrors, and remote/smart entry and alarm. Civic features exclusive to the Touring model include automatic LED headlights, chrome door handles, and turn indicators integrated into the side mirrors.
Standard interior features include push-button start, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather-wrapped seating with heated front seats, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and 60/40 split rear seats with a center armrest. Touring models also gain a four-way power front passenger’s seat and heated rear outboard seats. The driver-information interface keeps tabs on maintenance, turbo boost, tire pressure, and the infotainment and navigation system.
The infotainment system includes a high-res 7.0-inch touchscreen, HondaLink, HD Radio, SiriusXM Radio, Bluetooth phone and audio, Pandora compatibility, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, SMS test messaging, and a USB input and two USB charge ports. The Touring’s standard navigation system features voice recognition, Honda HD Digital Traffic, and Song By Voice. Where the base LX model gets a 160-watt, four-speaker audio system and midlevel models feature a 180-watt, eight-speaker audio system, our Touring model boasts an ear-splitting 450-watt, 10-speaker audio system with a subwoofer.
On the safety front, the Civic Touring comes with Honda’s driver-assist tech, including lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and Honda LaneWatch. In addition to the standard active safety tech (including a rearview camera), the Civic Touring model also features forward collision alert, lane departure warning, collision mitigation braking, and road departure mitigation.
Pricing for our loaded Rallye Red over black 2016 Honda Civic Touring sedan came to $27,896 USD with dealer-installed accessories including $142 USD floormats, a $114 USD trunk tray, a $250 USD wireless charger unit, and a $55 USD wireless charger attachment.
Honda has found a way to include all this new content without really jacking up the price over past models. I paid $21,885 USD for a brand-new Rallye Red 2007 Honda Civic Si sedan back in college. That’s $25,482 USD in today’s dollars. Considering what this new model offers, that $2,400 USD difference—once factoring in inflation—is a relative bargain.
What the 2016 model lacks, however, is the aural pleasure of an 8,000-rpm 197-hp K20Z3 i-VTEC engine mated to a six-speed manual transaxle with a limited-slip differential. In comparison, the 1.5-liter turbo and CVT combo provides a less pleasant exhaust tone. In our first update, we will explore how the new drivetrain combo—with significantly more torque (162 lb-ft vs. 139 lb-ft)—motivates the new car.
|2016 Honda Civic Touring|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$27,996|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||1.5L/174-hp/162-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont. variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||2,919 lb (61/39%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.3 x 70.8 x 55.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.8 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.3 sec @ 93.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||120 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.4 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||32/42/36 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||105/80 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.54 lb/mile|