2016 Honda Civic Rating Breakdown
2016 honda civic
EPA est City/Hwy
31/41
Starting at
$21,040
Engine
2.0L I4
Power
158 hp

Starting at

$21,040

Engine

2.0L I4

Power

158 hp

City/Hwy

31/41

Seats

5


The Car Connection Expert Review
Marty Padgett

Marty Padgett

Editorial Director

DISLIKES
  • Less sharp in base trim
  • Standard engine is unexciting
  • CVT lacks direct shift control (paddle shift controls)
  • Drivetrains are loud above 5,000 rpm
honda civic 2016

The 2016 Civic is the best-looking Honda of the decade, with its fastback profile and neatly organized cockpit.

Honda's track record for styling over the past decade has had its blots. From the Crosstour to the Ridgeline, its least attractive shapes were worthy of a wince; even the best efforts couldn't match some of the evocative lines from America and South Korea.

That's changing quickly, as Honda seems to have grasped how great styling is the most effective wrapper for great engineering. The latest Accord is the same, but detailed to accentuate its good proportions; the new Pilot SUV looks effortlessly handsome, the polar opposite of its boxy predecessor.

Now with the Civic, Honda's chucked what had been a design deeply compromised by a high driving position and a strange two-tier dashboard. A new body structure has yielded a pretty, elegant new shape that wouldn't look out of place in an Acura showroom.

The Civic is now one of the best-drawn, sleekest, most appealing shapes on the road. At the nose, there's a strong band of chrome that brackets the grille and headlamps and knits them together. It's not alone, though. There are slits, intakes, creases, not to mention a bevy of textures and colors—black, metallic, and body-color trim. It's more formal, more busy in appearance than the simpler deep-set grille on, say, the new HR-V hatchback. Down the side, the Civic's big wheel wells intersect with steeply surfaced sills; at the rear, the lovely roofline tapers into another set of bracketed lamps that really masks the fact that the Civic is a sedan, not a hatchback.

It's as if every bad panel from the Crosstour had been calibrated on the proper scale with its worst fun-house angles resolved. If there's a fair criticism to be lobbed, it's that the Civic can look too busy, and could lose an angle or cutline or two, and still look balanced and attractive.

The exterior styling is exciting, maybe to a fault, but the cockpit is more tame, but just as effective in correcting past miscues. It adopts a broad, horizontal theme, not unlike recent BMWs in the bow and swell of the major trim pieces. Thick at the driver side, it tapers as it moves toward the passenger door, paneled with embossed metallic trim. The old two-tier dash has been banished to some third-world automaker's future design notebook; in the Civic, the clutter of screens is now focused on one area, where a five-inch base color screen grows into a seven-inch touchscreen on the nicer trim levels.

Facing the driver in base models is a clean, crisp set of real dials; on pricey Touring models, the dials are swapped out for an LCD screen with a 270-degree tachometer arc framing a digital speedometer. It's not a little ironic that the Civic's digital display displays real digits, while other automakers are using super-wide TFT panels to mimic the dials they virtually ripped out.

The 2016 Civic is the best-looking Honda of the decade, with its fastback profile and neatly organized cockpit.

Base models have linear, unexciting acceleration and handling; turbo Civics get a big top-end power boost and exceptional ride smoothness.

The 2016 Honda Civic is two cars offered in the same body. In one configuration, it's a pleasant but average performer; in the other, it's a more adventurous piece with some near-luxury attributes, including exceptional ride quality.

The base Civic gets its power from a new 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. Available in LX or EX trim, it delivers its power to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission or an available continuously variable transmission (CVT), which has been carried over from the last-generation Civic. Though it's a brand-new engine design, it feels familiar. Power output is similar to that delivered by a base Mazda 3 or Hyundai Elantra—it's more than adequate for commuter use, and it's delivered in an unobtrusive and unexciting way.

The CVT in the base engine is carried over from last year's Civic, with just a wider span in its ratios. Nothing has changed the way it feels—CVTs use pulleys and a belt to provide an infinite number of transmission ratios, unlike the set gears of a conventional automatic. Accelerating via a CVT means wading through a slurry of gear-ratio changes, and usually brings with it lots of engine noise and an imprecise feel. Honda's CVT seems to be a bit quicker and quieter at its job than some, but we've enjoyed driving some CVTs that come with paddle shift controls and a range of programmed set points that simulate automatic transmission gears. The Honda CVT has neither of those—at least, the sedan doesn't. In the end, the superlative 35-mpg combined EPA ratings are a worthwhile trade-off.

The same ratings hold true for the far more exciting turbocharged inline-4, though, which makes the base four seem less a bargain. With a small-diameter turbocharger and an electrically-driven wastegate, the turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-4 pegs the performance meter at 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque—and with under 3,000 pounds to pull around, this Civic is more fleet-footed than ever. It sounds Honda-sweet at full blast, not as joyfully noisy as a classic VTEC-equipped engine, but still happy enough. It's as quick as some Civic Si models from the recent past, too—but at lower speeds and in tight corners, it's a tug of war between the CVT's slower responses and the slight turbo lag of the new engine. The CVT responds to sharp throttle inputs in Sport mode, hanging on to revs, without dropping the fuel-economy ball—but to sip a little less fuel, Honda fits an Econ button that slows throttle progression and cuts the A/C's fan speed to trim fuel use slightly.

The powertrains have their peaks and valleys, but in ride and handling, the Civic excels—especially beyond the prominent mid-range gap. No matter the metric—precision, stability, composure—it's a magnitude more mature than the last Civic.

It's a wide-track Honda, up almost 2 inches across the front wheels, up more than an inch in wheelbase. It also has a thicker steering column, in part for better crash protection. So the Civic needed a more exotic steering system than in the past. Where Honda settled was on a dual-pinion, variable-ratio setup like the one on the Buick Verano—and an example of the more sophisticated electric power steering we've been promised for years. Instead of applying more turning force at the steering wheel, or even at the point where the column and steering rack intersect, this system lets the column move across the rack directly—while using a motor geared independently further across the rack to provide steering boost in a more gradual, better-buffered way. It's slightly more complex but yields very good steering consistency when winding and unwinding in turns. The Civic also can apply a brake on the inside front wheel in a corner to tighten its line.

Steering supremacy is teamed with a suspension design that's half-classically Honda. In the front it's struts; in the back, a multi-link design with rigid mounted subframe. The front struts are fitted with hydraulic front bushings to damp out some unfavorable ride motions. On EX-T models and above, the rear bushings are also hydraulic—and it makes all the difference. While it's isolated fairly well even in cheaper trims, the Civic LX and EX roll on unambitious 215/55R16 tires. They run out of grip early and have less ability to absorb the worst pavement conditions.

On EX-Ts, EX-Ls, and Touring models, the Civic wears 215/50R-17 treads, paired with those hydraulic dampers on the rear, and on the Touring, a slightly thicker rear stabilizer bar. The result is a wonderfully compliant, composed ride quality and excellent tracking. These Civics don't bobble and dance over bumps, they micromanage them. They filter off the economy-car levels of compliance we're used to feeling in the best-selling Korean and American compact cars. Add in firm, quick-reacting brakes with short pedal stroke, and the Civic has its performance act together in a way it hasn't, really, since the middle of the last decade.

Base models have linear, unexciting acceleration and handling; turbo Civics get a big top-end power boost and exceptional ride smoothness.

The Civic's commodious cabin has 6-footer room in back, and lots of clever storage solutions.

The Civic has grown up in all sorts of ways with its 2016 reinvention, but it's also grown out of its old duds. By some measures, it's no longer a compact car, but a mid-sizer along with the likes of the VW Jetta, Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200—though it's also still a close rival for cars like the Ford Focus and Mazda 3.

Though it's grown by 2.9 inches in overall length, and 1.9 inches in width, the new Civic actually weighs less than the outgoing model, thanks to the use of lots of high-strength steel. It checks in at between 2,800 and almost 3,000 pounds depending on the model.

By the numbers, the Civic is 182.3 inches long; 70.8 inches wide; and 55.7 inches tall, about 0.8 inches lower than the previous version. The proportions have changed within that bigger envelope—hood and cowl height have dropped 1.6 inches, front overhang is down 1.2 inches, the trunk is 3 inches longer, and trunk space is up to 15.1 cubic feet from 12.3.

All told, the Civic wraps up 112.9 cubic feet of space in its body, significantly more than the Mazda 3, which offers about 108 cubic feet of interior volume. The Honda's within a few cubes of the Chrysler 200, which measures in at 117.4 cubic feet of passenger and trunk space.

Had it with the spec-sheet numbers? Here's how it translates into real-world room better than any Civic before it. The slimmer, tailored front bucket seats sit much lower than before—this Civic might be the first car in its class where I've had to raise the power seat higher, not lower, for the best driving position. (The driver seat adjusts for height and tilt even in base models.) The dash structure is less pronounced than before, and the tilt/telescoping steering has a longer stroke, so finding an ideal driving position is easy for a wide range of body types, though the prominent headrests might push too far forward for some. There's excellent leg room and a comfortable incline to the footboard—and I had at least a couple of inches of head room left in a car not equipped with the sunroof.

In the back seat, the Civic outperforms almost all the cars it names as rivals, and some others, too. There's enough head room and leg room for 6-footers to sit behind 6-footers, with an inch of knee room to spare. The seatbacks recline at a natural angle—but on the base LX they don't fold forward or open into the trunk.

Thoughtful touches abound in the Civic's cabin, but nothing's quite as clever as the configurable center console. Taking a cue from full-size trucks, the Civic's bin goes all "Transformers" as it toggles from padded armrest, to deep iPad bin, to dual-cupholder tote, to key tray. There's also storage for smartphones ahead of the shift lever and a glove box big enough for a lunch cooler bag. The molded-in door pockets are square and can hold small Fiji bottles.

As for the elusive "quality" observations, we think the Civic has never done a better job of feeling like a more expensive car. However, there are some small interface issues we think could improve over the years. Honda devotes two big knobs to climate-control temperature; we'd swap them out for volume and fan speed. The steering-wheel controls look like the softly matted ones in an Accord, but they're clear plastic on top of cheaper switches; the volume slider accepts swipes and clicks but feels thrifty. The passenger seat can't tilt its bottom cushion at all, and the reach to the Civic's tilt/telescope lever is too long—just like the tongue of plastic that sticks out of the gauges to reset the tripometer.

Those aside, Honda's pretty much mastered the concept of keeping cost-cutting out of plain view, a lesson it learned the hard way with the 2012 Civic. This car's flaws are limited to an unlined trunk lid and exposed hinges, places you want money to come out of if it needs to come out.

The Civic's commodious cabin has 6-footer room in back, and lots of clever storage solutions.

Top ratings from the feds and IIHS earn our top rating too.

Honda says it's invested heavily in safety structures and technology in the new Civic—everything from more standard features and wider availability of the latest advanced safety technology, to using more high-strength steel in the body for extra passive-safety protection.

Every Civic gets the prerequisite airbags and stability control, with hill-start assist. A wide-angle rearview camera is standard, and so is Bluetooth. And praise be, Honda has finally uncoupled its most advanced safety features from the top trim levels of its products. So while features like adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and forward-collision warnings with automatic braking are standard on the top Touring level, they're available on all other versions for $1,000, even on the base Civic LX.

The Civic's very design offers an added measure of safety. Like those on most Subarus, the Civic's roof pillars are thin and yield excellent visibility, though the high decklid at the rear cuts into that view more than in the past.

The Civic has earned five-star ratings across the board from federal safety officials. The IIHS has crash-tested the new sedan and given it top "Good" ratings in every category of testing—including the top "Superior" rating in the front collision avoidance category, where the Civic managed to autonomously brake and fully avoid an impact at a closing speed of up to 25 mph. The Civic earned the agency's coveted Top Safety Pick+ award.

With its Honda Sensing Package, including automatic emergency braking, the Civic earns that top accolade. And it's not only reserved for the top trim level in the lineup; you can now get that system in the base EX—or other models in the lineup—for $1,000.

Top ratings from the feds and IIHS earn our top rating too.


NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2016 Honda Civic Models

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (5/5)



Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2016 Honda Civic Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Good
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good

Honda's touchscreen interface still is somewhat lacking, but the Civic comes with leather, premium sound, and other conveniences.

Honda's made sure to elevate the new Civic's list of standard and available features, given the progress among compact cars. All versions—even the base $19,475 Civic LX—now come with power windows, locks, and mirrors; automatic climate control; an electronic parking brake; automatic headlights; cruise control; LED taillights and LED daytime running lights; keyless entry; Bluetooth; a four-speaker, 160-watt sound system with a 5.0-inch LCD color display; and a 1.0-watt USB port that can charge smartphones.

Upgrading to the $21,875 EX, the Civic adds a split-folding rear seat; heated mirrors; remote start; a sideview camera positioned down the passenger's side blind spot that activates when the turn signal is switched on; a 7.0-inch touchscreen interface; a second USB port in the console; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability; an eight-speaker, 180-watt audio system; and keyless ignition.

Starting with the $23,035 EX-T through the rest of the lineup, the Civic adopts the CVT transmission and turbocharged engine, along with heated front seats; XM and HD radio; fog lights; dual-zone automatic climate control; and 17-inch wheels. The $24,535 EX-L tosses in a power driver seat and leather upholstery, and offers optional Garmin navigation.

At the top of the lineup, the Civic Touring is priced from $27,335, and gains the HondaSensing safety suite as well as a power front passenger seat; heated outboard rear seats; navigation; LED headlights; and a 450-watt premium audio system.

Honda's touchscreen interface still is somewhat lacking, but the Civic comes with leather, premium sound, and other conveniences.

Almost every version earns a 35-mpg EPA combined rating—a remarkable achievement for a car of the Civic's size.

Honda hasn't sloughed off its environmental responsibilities with its bigger, stronger-performing Civic. The hybrid model may be gone from the lineup, but the Civic's quite efficient, with nearly every model earning excellent EPA combined ratings of 35 miles per gallon.

The base Civic LX has the lowest ratings of the lineup. When its 2.0-liter inline-4 is paired with the available manual transmission, it's rated at 27 mpg city, 40 highway, 31 combined, according to the automaker. They're figures some automakers would slay to have as their "worst" numbers.

As tight-fisted as the manual can be, the other versions of the Civic outfitted with a continuously variable transmission are much more frugal. Paired with the base four-cylinder, the Civic earns stellar fuel economy ratings of 31/41/35 mpg. That compares very well to the base Hyundai Elantra, which checks in at 38 mpg highway, and the base Mazda 3, which is rated at 41 mpg highway.

Even in turbocharged form, the Civic's fuel economy wows. Highway economy improves to 31/42/35 mpg, even though power rises, though all other numbers remain the same.

All Civics sport an "Econ" button that slows throttle progression and cuts the A/C's fan speed to trim fuel use, but its function is not included in EPA-cycle measurements.

Almost every version earns a 35-mpg EPA combined rating—a remarkable achievement for a car of the Civic's size.


Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.0 L, CVT

35

Combined

2.9 gals/100 miles

31

City


41

Highway