Though compact cars were once thought of as basic transportation, the segment has evolved to include near-luxury vehicles with features and interior dimensions rivaling those of many midsize family sedans, and the all-new 2016 Honda Civic represents one of the best of the class. This fuel-efficient, attractive, comfortable and fun-to-drive economy car reimagines what is possible for a vehicle that starts at well under $20,000.
The well-received sedan is joined by the two-door Civic coupe. The boldly styled two-door Civic offers excellent fuel economy, notable performance and above-average utility in an affordable package.
We’ve praised the 2016 Civic sedan since first blush, and with each experience behind the wheel our affection has grown. Families will fall in love with the spacious, tech-filled interior, and the trunk’s immense 15.1 cubic feet is more than enough for cross-country vacations. When Honda approached us to review the coupe, we jumped at the chance.
The Civic sedan is already coupelike. The rear C-pillar swoops down at an angle that would likely be labeled a “gran coupe” or something similar if the sedan wore a European badge. Still, a true two-door coupe has a visual appeal that is absent from many sedans. The old saying, “It’s a great car, but it has too many doors,” still rings true for many enthusiasts today.
Honda Civic Pricing
Visuals aside, opting for the coupe over the sedan creates challenges. Deciding whether you can live without the back doors is more than simply a visual preference. Ironically, the smaller base LX coupe is $410 more than the LX sedan. However, the pricing gap changes with each trim level, and by the time you reach the top Touring models, the sedan leads in pricing at $26,500 versus the Touring coupe’s $26,125. Both configurations are competitively priced across the lineup and offer exceptional value in the midlevel trims.
Shared Performance Characteristics
For the 10th-generation Civic, Honda rolled out two all-new engines. LX and EX models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, the most powerful standard engine ever offered in a non-Si Civic in the U.S. The outgoing Civic’s five-speed manual transmission has been abandoned for a six-speed replacement. A sport-tuned continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available in the base LX model and standard across the rest of the trim levels.
EX-T, EX-L and Touring models are powered by Honda’s turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder. The first turbo engine ever offered by Honda in the U.S. generates 174 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque across a wide power band. The numbers equate to strong acceleration, and the Civic’s turbo is eager to please.
The coupe and sedan may be purchased with either engine. Whether you choose the two-door or the four-door Civic, you’ll enjoy precise steering and a nice level of driver feedback. Both share the same wheelbase, although the coupe is an inch lower. Both configurations offer similar handling, which makes sense considering the amount of architecture that the two share.
Similar Fuel Economy
Even when equipped with identical powertrains, the Civic sedan and coupe have different fuel economy ratings. The Civic’s six-speed lives up to the high standards we have come to know from the manufacturer, but is only available with the base 2.0-liter engine. When so equipped, the sedan achieves 27/40 mpg city/highway versus the coupe’s 26/38 mpg. When the base sedan is equipped with the optional CVT, fuel economy is rated at a class-leading 31/41 mpg city/highway. The coupe is almost as impressive at 30/41 mpg.
Moving up to the 1.5-liter turbo not only enhances power and performance, but fuel economy as well. The sedan achieves 31/42 mpg city/highway and the coupe loses a mpg on the highway, but retains the 31 mpg estimate in city driving.
While the sedan offers better mileage than the coupe in base manual versions, overall, the difference between the two is negligible. Of course, if you are leaning one way based on other factors, the one or two miles per gallon savings may be enough to sway your opinion.
Small Differences in the Cabin
Both the coupe and sedan feel pleasantly familiar. The 1-inch lower coupe loses an inch of headroom over the sedan, which may make a difference for taller drivers and passengers. Front legroom and shoulder room are identical, but the coupe offers almost a half-inch more hip room. Minus the lower roof of the coupe, the two feel almost identical in comfort and ergonomics from behind the wheel.
The rear seats are a different story altogether. Coupes are not made for the carpool lane. Ingress and egress are excellent as far as coupes go, but the dancing that is required to get into the back seats makes the coupe a lot less appealing for families who need to use the second row on a daily basis. Adding to the issue is the lack of rear headroom compared with the sedan. The 37.1 (LX) or 36.8 inches of headroom found in the sedan is reduced to 34.6 (LX) or 34.5 inches. Additionally, the seating angle requires rear occupants to put their heads directly below the rear window versus the roof. For small children and adults the seats are quite comfortable, the bolsters are good, and the 35.9 inches of legroom works fine. But adults are going to prefer the sedan’s 37.4 inches of legroom and the ability to get in and out without having to ask for permission from the folks sitting in the front seats.
Ample Cargo Space
Both the Civic sedan and coupe offer excellent cargo space. The Civic sedan’s 15.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity rivals that of many midsize family sedans, beating the 2016 Mazda6’s 14.8 cubic feet and the 2016 Nissan Maxima’s 14.3 cubic feet. Even Honda’s own Accord is in the ballpark at 15.5 to 15.8 cubic feet.
With 12.1 (LX) or 11.9 cubic feet, the Civic coupe offers respectable cargo capacity, but it falls short when loading up luggage for a long weekend for four. That said, the 2016 Audi A4 sedan barely beats the Civic coupe at 12.4 cubic feet, and the Civic coupe’s trunk embarrasses the majority of sports coupes on the market.
After spending more than a week in both the 2016 Civic sedan and coupe, we can recommend either without reservations. Both are fun to drive and offer a nearly perfect balance of segment-leading fuel efficiency and performance. The styling is contemporary and the assertive lines provide the Civic with plenty of curb appeal. Both cars garnered lots of attention. The sedan turned heads, but the little red coupe caused so much commotion, we had to plan a few extra minutes when running errands to allow time for answering questions from inquiring strangers.
This writer is a dad with two kids, and the 2016 Civic sedan is easily a current go-to new vehicle recommendation, not just between the two Civic models, but for the entire segment. If you can live without the added convenience of the rear doors, the coupe also deserves to be high on your list of choices, and it’s hard to beat for the price.