2016 Honda Civic

Starting MSRP: $18,640 - $26,500

Estimated MPG: 27 city / 40 hwy

2016 Honda Civic Review

In what amounts to the most extensive remake of the automaker's best-selling compact car, the all-new 2016 Honda Civic features contemporary styling, agile handling, incredible fuel-efficiency and Honda's first-ever turbocharged engine.

By Chris Brewer
Last Updated 07/13/2016

Now in its 10th generation, the 2016 Honda Civic is a ground-up reboot of the Japanese manufacturer's storied compact car. Few vehicles in the segment share the history and legacy of Honda's beloved Civic. For many, Honda's humble hatchback faithfully served as a first car, covering hundreds of thousands of relatively trouble-free and memory-filled miles.

Designing the 2016 Civic sent Honda engineers back to the drawing board as they searched to return to the car's original identity, creating a reliable vehicle that was equal parts efficient and fun to drive. The result is a vehicle that sets new benchmarks for fuel economy while simultaneously offering surprisingly inspiring performance.

For 2016, Honda adds two new power plants. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers LX and EX models and a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine resides under the hood of EX-T, EX-L and Touring models. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on LX models. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional on the LX and standard on EX, EX-T, EX-L and Touring trims.



Honda's journey back to the drawing board resulted in a sedan that sits considerably lower and wider than the previous generation. The new Civic's aggressively styled grille features a chrome "Honda Wing" that runs the entire width of sedan, gracefully accented by a pair of optional LED headlights.

The hood features chiseled lines that draw the eye to the sedan's relatively thin A-pillars, which were designed to increase visibility. The swept line extends through the roof and terminates at the Civic's new signature LED taillights.

The effect is a sporty sedan that looks more like a luxury midsize model than a compact economy car. The radical redesign catapults the Civic's curb appeal from a practical people-transporter with a rather pleasing visual statement.



As a result of the new sedan's wider body and longer wheelbase, the new Civic's completely redesigned interior is spacious and comfortable. With 97.8 cubic feet of passenger space, the four-door leads the competitive class and provides an open and airy feeling rarely found in a compact sedan.

The aforementioned ultra-thin A-pillars help to provide best in class 84.3 degrees of forward visibility. The lower front seats add to the experience. With ample leg- and headroom, the Civic's interior completely defies the compact concept, offering space that seems comparable to most midsize cars.

The interior's fit and finish is excellent. Seats are comfortable and supportive. The majority of surfaces are soft touch and the use of hard plastics is limited to high wear locations that fail to take anything away from the Civic's upscale feel. The overall design is fresh and modern. Honda's choice of accent trim is understated, but aesthetically pleasing.

Another rule breaker for the compact class, the Civic's highly functional center console features an electronic parking brake that frees up enough real estate to create a cargo space normally relegated to larger crossover SUVs. The portable technology swallowing storage area includes a configurable bin located under the armrest that is large enough to fit cameras, tablets and even smaller laptop computers.

Although the low swooping roofline appears to hamper rear passenger's ingress and egress, the Civic's seat is positioned far enough away from the rear of the car to compensate for the styling choice without too much of a compromise. Headroom is a limited for taller passengers, but my 5-foot-10-inch frame fit quite comfortably.

Popping open the Civic's trunk reveals yet another pleasant surprise. With 15.1 cubic-feet, 2.6 more than the outgoing model, the Civic's trunk is among the largest in the segment. The trunk opening is bigger, lift over height is lower and the cargo area is wider and taller than the 2015 model's. Unlike many compacts, the Civic can easily accommodate enough luggage for a smaller family weekend trip.



Driving Honda's new Civic provided a level of satisfaction that I didn't expect from the compact sedan. Honda redesigned the car with the goal of not only setting new standards for the model, but setting benchmarks for the entire segment. The resultant car handles great, steering is precise and offers a nice level of feedback considering the nature of the car.

For now, the 2016 Civic is decidedly a compact family sedan, with performance-oriented Civic Si and Type-R models are slated for the near future.

The ride is comfortable, yet sporty. The Civic feels tight, but provides a physically forgiving journey in spite of reasonably sized bumps, potholes and uneven road surfaces. Sure, the argument could be made that the Civic is too relaxed, but the upcoming Civic Si and Type-R models should provide a legitimate response for those wanting a more unforgiving chassis.

Two all-new engines power the 2016 Civic. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in the LX an EX models produces 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful standard engine ever offered in the model. The outgoing Civic's five-speed is replaced by a six-speed manual transmission and results in 27 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. When coupled with the optional sport-tuned continuously variable transmission (CVT), fuel economy is rated at a class-leading 31 mpg city and 41 mpg highway.

While the new base 2.0-liter is exciting, Honda's turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that powers the EX-T, EX-L and Touring models steals the headlines. 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 excellent performance.

While acceleration off the line is quite excellent and much improved over the previous Civic, it isn't necessarily the 1.5-liter engine's strongest point. The power comes on generously in passing and merging situations where the engine is already revving high into the power band. Fortunately, the new Civic's power plant shines brightest when you really need to use the power in daily driving situations.

While the power that the tiny 1.5-liter produces is impressive, the real performance numbers that set the engine apart are the fuel economy ratings. Earning 31 mpg city and 42 mpg highway, the turbocharged Civic approaches subcompact efficiency territory. While it may be commonplace in a decade or so, building a gas-powered engine that produces 174-horsepower and allows a vehicle that comfortably seats five to earn 42 mpg on the highway almost seems like science fiction.

Minor gripes include the lack of the manual six-speed transmission for the turbocharged trim levels. It seems that manufacturers consistently fail to couple the best engines and the manual gear boxes these days. Even stranger is the fact that the turbocharged 1.5-liter lacks paddle shifters or some other way to manually cycle through the simulated gear ratios of the CVT.



The base Civic LX features power windows and programmable door locks. A 160-watt four-speaker audio system featuring USB and Bluetooth connectivity allows for audio streaming and hands-free calls. A 5-inch multi-information display comes standard, as does a rearview camera.

EX, EX-T and EX-L models feature a 7-inch audio touch screen and 180-watt audio system with eight speakers. HondaLink, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto up the tech factor exponentially.

I was able to experiment with Apple CarPlay and my iPhone 5 to great success. The system is intuitive and responsive. If you heavily rely on your smartphone, the system is a great complement to your lifestyle.

The top-trim Touring model includes a navigation system and a 450-watt audio system with ten speakers, including a subwoofer.

For some reason Honda continues to refuse to put an actual volume knob on many of the latest versions of its audio systems. Steering wheel controls are great for the drivers, and the ones in the new Civic are some of Honda's best, but the touch screen has a tendency to be fussy. Sometimes you need to quickly turn the volume down to accommodate a passenger's cell phone that isn't tethered to the Civic's hands-free system, or worse, so that you can hear a police officer's instructions after you've been pulled over for going 45 mph in 30 mph zone. Apart from an actual knob, you're left fumbling.



The 2016 Civic is built upon an advanced compatibility engineering (ACE) body structure that features a new crash stroke design. By shaping the frame rails in a way that they hinge downward in a frontal impact, Honda's design helps the engine to avoid entering the passenger compartment in a high speed accident. Standard front, side, and side-curtain air bags work together with automatic tensioning seatbelts to keep everyone safe during a collision.

Standard active safety features include stability control, anti-lock brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights and a rearview camera with guidelines.

Honda Sensing, an active safety feature set available on all trim levels, includes forward collision and lane departure warning. A collision mitigation braking system and a road departure mitigation system are also a part of the active safety package.

Honda Sensing driver assist technologies include adaptive cruise control and a lane keeping assist system.

Honda's nifty passenger's side blind-spot camera system, Honda LaneWatch, provides a view of the right side of the Civic whenever the right turn-signal is on.



The base 2.0-liter 2016 Civic LX sedan with the six-speed manual transmission starts at $18,640. Adding the CVT raises the MSRP to $19,440. The base turbocharged 1.5-liter EX-T model with the CVT begins at $22,200. The Honda Sensing package is available for an additional $1,000 on trim levels where it doesn't come standard. The top Touring model, which includes navigation and Honda Sensing, starts at $26,500.

Honda's base price for the all-new 2016 Civic sedan is only $150 more than the 2015 model, which already represented good value in the compact sedan segment. 

Considering the new upscale exterior styling, increased fuel economy, more powerful base engine and enhanced driving dynamics, the all-new Civic is a lot more car for a negligible increase in price.

The real game changer is when you move up into the EX-T trim and higher. The new and amazingly efficient turbocharged 1.5-liter engine offers driving performance, horsepower and fuel economy that trumps most competitors in the segment. If the previous generation Civic was strong enough to hold its own with most of the compact sedan pack, the new Civic has that extra power and efficiency to pull itself to the front.



Honda's team of designers and engineers set out to build a car that would evoke the spirit of the legendary compact, while exceeding the performance and luxury of the original. Examining the swept athletic exterior lines and then jumping behind the wheel of the all-new 2016 Civic confirms that the team succeeded in their mission.

While the all-new Civic sedan may be more "sporty" than pure sport, something that the brand will certainly address with the Si model, the new engines are proof that you can enjoy excellent driving performance while simultaneously leading the class in fuel economy. 

Honda's reputation for building cars that last for decades with minimal expense only makes the Civic even more appealing.

The 2016 Honda Civic sedan is an amazing new compact that should have the competitors taking notice. If you've fallen out of love with the Civic over the past few years it is time to give Honda's compact a second look, I think you'll be happy that you did.