The 2017 Honda Civic gains a hatchback body this year, but we were already sold. It's a very good compact car.
There's not much more we can add about the new Honda Civic, which was completely redesigned for 2016. Rather, the automaker has decided to do that for us: New for 2017, Honda offers the 10th-generation Civic—now in the fifth decade the car has been available in the U.S.—as a sedan, coupe, and now hatchback.
The Swindon, England-built hatchback will complement a lineup that's already solid for Honda. Honda offers the Civic sedan starting with LX cars at the base, up to EX, EX-T, EX-L and Touring trims. The coupe varies slightly from that formula (but not much), the Hatchback wanders a little further. The hatchback is offered in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L Navi, and Sport Touring trims; the Sport trims are exclusive to the Hatchback.
Honda offers the Civic Si in coupe and sedan forms with a more potent turbo-4 and a slick-shifting 6-speed manual. It also sells the Civic Type R, a 306-hp track-ready model with the hottest performance ratings of all.
The Civic earns a very good 7.8 out of 10 on our overall scale, which reflects its superlative safety and great fuel efficiency. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The 2017 Honda Civic isn't the most daring design from Honda in a while, but it's certainly the first in a while that actually works. The exterior of the Honda Civic is busy if nothing else, but it looks sharp by us. The coupe and sedan have been around for a year—and aged well so far—but new for 2017 is the hatchback, which adds its own flair from the rear doors back. It won't be for everyone, we'll admit, but it is distinctive and ultra-aggressive in Type R guise.
The interior may be a letdown based on the busy exterior, but it's magnitudes better than the two-tier dash layout we saw just a few years ago. The cabin's a bit more tame and well organized, with a broadly horizontal look and a single screen has replaced the dual-screen tiered design of the last Civic. Most versions have analog gauges, but the priciest Civic gets a digital display.
Under the hood are a pair of powertrains that range from fair to fairly good. Base Civic sedans and coupes are powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 158 horsepower and is paired to a 6-speed manual or automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). That engine is fine for daily commutes, but considering the small cost of upgrading to the uprated turbo, we ponder its continued existence.
That turbocharged engine in EX-T, EX-L and Touring models (standard in the hatchback) is a 174-hp inline-4 that can also be paired to a 6-speed manual or CVT. It's the efficiency champ, and the most fun to drive. Complete with more athletic running gear, the Civic can be a sporty runner on the weekends with a quiet composed ride to work on the weekdays.
Moving up to Si trim gets a hotter turbo-4 that makes 205 hp and 192 pound-feet of torque. It's mated exclusively to a 6-speed manual with a shorter throw than the base Civics. It's the performance king—for now—but doesn't sacrifice fuel-efficiency. It's rated at 32 mpg combined. In the Type R, the turbo-4 makes 306 hp.
Most Civics will manage around 35 mpg combined, according to the EPA. That's about as good as it gets without strapping on battery packs these days.
Comfort, safety, and features
Civic sedans will hold four adults comfortably without sacrificing interior space for water bottles, phones, iPads, or whatever millennials carry around these days. The Civic is longer, lower, and wider than it ever has been, but it's also lighter. Although it typically competes against compact cars, the Civic is anything but. Thanks to clever packaging and a low seating position, the Civic is larger than some of its rivals including Mazda and Ford, and can be a mid-sizer in some respects.
In upper trims, the Civic benefits greatly from hydraulic rear bushings in its rear suspension that soaks up bouncy roads and keeps the Civic pointed in the right direction during spirited driving.
If things go pear-shaped during that spirited drive, the Civic boasts one of the best safety scorecards of any car on the road today. It aced federal testing, aced IIHS testing, and nearly aced our battery. Good, useful active safety features—available across the board, not just on top trims—add to our confidence that they don't come much safer than the Civic. It's only (small) blemish is the sub-standard headlights, as rated by the IIHS.
Base cars are equipped with 16-inch wheels, automatic climate controls, electronic parking brake, automatic headlights, LED taillights and daytime running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, a modest four-speaker stereo, a 5.0-inch display (look, but can't touch), rearview camera, and a low-power USB port that may struggle to charge quickly that massive phablet you just bought.
Coupes, sedans, and hatchbacks can all add an impressive number of options including leather, 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, premium stereo, or 18-inch wheels, but most are walled within packages—not free-floating options.