Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2019 Honda Civic Type R may go down as one of Honda’s best creations, offering scintillating performance highlighted by a 306-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, a rev-matching 6-speed manual transmission and the best Honda suspension setup since the S2000 roadster.
You'll Like The 2019 Honda Civic Type R If...
The 2019 Honda Civic Type R is a unique beast, offering impressive horsepower, handling and style in a front-drive hatchback that also makes a very livable daily driver. There’s nothing like it anywhere.
You May Not Like The 2019 Honda Civic Type R If...
If you’re from the school of “subtle is better,” the Type R’s massive wing and over-the-top front and rear styling probably won’t win you over. You’ll get better straight-line performance from a Subaru WRX STI, as well as an advanced driver-assist system unavailable on the Type R.
For 2019, the Honda Civic Type R receives an updated Display Audio system with a proper volume knob and actual instead of virtual buttons. Minor interior upgrades include improved steering-wheel controls, larger cup holders and physical buttons for fan speed, while Sonic Gray Pearl is added to the exterior color palette.
On one hand, the 2019 Civic Type R is still a Honda Civic. That means there’s ample cargo space, a roomy rear seat, ergonomic near-perfection and all the comfort and thoughtful design that’s landed the 10th-generation Civic on our Best Buy winners’ list three years running. But the Civic Type R adds red-stitched Alcantara trim on the center console and doors, and red trim surrounding the vents and other areas. The bright red "H" on the steering wheel and key fob and the aluminum shifter are signature Type R touches. The unique manually adjusted sport seats offer up stiff side bolsters, but we wish there was more lumbar support.
We know, we know: There’s a lot going on here. Honda claims the roofline nubs, deep front and side extensions, the gigantic wing, and the other wild-looking styling elements on the Civic Type R actually improve aerodynamics and/or downforce. That wing, for example, is supposed to create downforce at speed, helping with cornering. The winglets at the edge of the front bumper and side skirts help route air around the wheels to reduce drag. The vents on the front bumper help cool the brakes, and the vent on the hood cools the turbo. It’s certainly eye-catching, but pretty? Well…
All too often, "hot-rod" versions of good compact cars wind up compromising the things we liked about the compact in the first place. Not so the 2019 Honda Civic Type R. Yes, it’s quick: The 306-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder puts down power to the front wheels smoothly and, remarkably, without torque steer. Take it to a racetrack, flip the drive mode to +R, and it’s as rewarding to drive as just about anything you could care to mention, practically egging you on to push its limits, and quicker than many of its all-wheel-drive competitors. Yet away from the track, on the daily commute, Honda hasn’t forgotten that this is a Civic. The powerful engine also pours out plentiful torque, making it easy to drive in traffic. When the drive mode is in its Comfort setting, the ride is perfectly acceptable. In fact, maybe it’s a little too civilized, as we’d like a bit more engine noise to filter through the triple-pipe exhaust system.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2019 Honda Civic Type R is $36,595, including the $895 destination charge. With options…well, there are none, so that’s what you’ll pay. As for competition, the Civic Type R doesn’t have a direct competitor since its primary rivals – the Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R – are both all-wheel drive, quicker, more powerful, and, in the VW’s case, considerably more expensive, with a starting price closer to the $40,000 mark. Whether that makes the Type R a bargain is up to your priorities. Whatever you decide, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying in your area for the Civic Type R, and note that there’s a good chance the dealer won’t budge much on the price due to demand. As for resale, expect it to be solid, like the rest of the Civic lineup.OK, so what’s next?I’m interested in the newest version of this car. What’s for sale near me?I’m interested in this car, and I’d like to trade in my current car while I’m at it.Then again, maybe I should be thinking about a used car.
The 2019 Civic Type R starts at the Touring level of equipment, which means very little is left off the car. There’s a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12-speaker premium audio system, USB input and Bluetooth phone and audio compatibility. There’s also "power everything," plus cruise control and dual-zone automatic climate control. Of course there are unique touches, like the heavily bolstered front seats, the drive-mode control that includes the track-ready +R mode, and a gauge-cluster that changes with the drive mode, and includes cool touches like a lap timer and racing-style redline-warning light.
You can pick your color and a few dealer-installed accessories, and that’s about it for options on the Type R. As for colors, we recommend Championship White. Not only does it really show off the various black panels and other styling elements (go big or go home), this off-white color is a nod to Honda’s racing history, the same color on its first Formula 1 effort from the 1960s. Interestingly, Honda’s excellent Honda Sensing suite of safety features – lane-keeping assist, active cruise control, collision mitigation and so on – isn’t available on any manual-transmission Civic, including the Type R.
ADJUSTABLE DRIVING MODESWhile many variable driving modes are little more than gimmicks, the 3-mode system in the 2019 Honda Civic Type R couldn’t be more distinct. The Comfort setting does just that, while the +R turns the Type R into a potent track hound. Splitting the difference between the two is a Sport mode we preferred almost all the time.TYPE R SPORT SEATSThe Type R’s slick sport seats look terrific and do an admirable job of keeping occupants in place during hard-driving jaunts. The manually adjustable driver’s and front passenger’s seats look stunning in red and black suede-effect fabric, but we do wish they had adjustable lumbar support.
Under the Hood
A 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine developing 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque powers every 2019 Honda Civic Type R. The only transmission is a slick-shifting 6-speed manual with driver-selectable rev matching, which routes power to the front wheels via a helical limited-slip differential. With so much power running to the front wheels, torque steer would normally be an issue, but in the Type R Honda cleverly employs the car’s unique front suspension and steering linkage to mitigate the problem. Fuel economy estimates are surprisingly good considering the Type R’s stats, which include a sub-6-second zero-to-60-mph time and a top speed of 169 mph.2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4306 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg
The 2019 Honda Civic Type R may go down as one of Honda’s best creations, offering scintillating performance highlighted by a 306-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, a rev-matching 6-speed manual transmission and the best Honda suspension setup since the S2000 roadster. Based on the Civic hatchback, the Type R employs structural adhesives for improved rigidity and a unique front suspension that helps reduce unwanted torque steer. The Type R’s eye-popping styling has a functional purpose, or so Honda says, increasing downforce to aid with traction. With the Ford Focus RS due to expire, the Type R’s only real competition are the all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX STI and VW Golf R, neither of which is as easy to live with as the Type R.