By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
We have come to expect new Hondas to advance the product line with new mechanicals and technological innovations but styling hasn?t exactly been the brand?s forte. Nevertheless, the 2016 Honda Civic has taken a major step forward on that front, too, with an all-new design that conveys a sexy sophistication for the compact sedan.
The new Civic is 2.9-inches longer and 1.9-inches wider on a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase. Ultimately the changed packaging creates more people space in the cabin and a big-car cargo space – 15.1 cubic feet. With 97.8 cubic feet of interior space, Honda makes claim to the largest interior in its class. As nice as the extra space is, it?s the design that really makes the new Civic. The photos of the Civic look good, but the best view is at the dealership or if you find one in a parking lot.
The 2016 Honda Civic is what is called a ?clean sheet? car. That means it?s fresh from the ground up with an all-new chassis, body, engine ? the works. Honda designers, engineers and planners wanted to do a Civic that would, as they say be an ?epic Civic.? We think they have succeeded.
Up front the low Civic hood line flows between bulging fenders meeting the Honda family grill with its wide bright metallic accent bar with Honda logo. Available hi-power LED headlights peek through slits on the outside of a chrome accented wing-like grille. Sculpted side panels create a forward sloping wedge look topped by the sweeping four-door coupe-like roof line. The distinctive rear-end treatment includes large C-Shaped ?pipe light? LED taillights, a slim trunk lid spoiler and faux extractor vents on the rear lower corners.
The new Civic styling salutes previous generations of sporty Civic models while mapping a new heading for future models. The sedan is just the start; a new coupe, five-door hatchback, Si variants are coming soon.
The dash and driver control area are well organized with a new digital control unit centered in the instrument panel and a large analog style tachometer with a digital speedometer in the top center of the tach. Messages display in the lower section of the tachometer face and along the bottom are odometer, clock and outside temperature. Pods on either side have an analog temperature and fuel gauges.
The seven-inch infotainment screen is mounted at the top of the center stack just below two large air vents. The climate controls are just below the screen, with indicators displayed on the screen. While we like the ease of use of the screen and its functions, we would rather see a knob for the volume and tuning instead of the digital touch controls. We find them awkward to use especially when the car is motion.
Apple CarPlay? and Android Auto are integrated into the new unit to provide seamless integration with smartphones. The infotainment screen is also where the rear backup camera displays a crisp clear picture of what?s behind the Civic, when it?s shifted into reverse.
The interior is filled with soft-touch surfaces and bright brushed metallic trims which add to the upscale persona. The seats, which are fabric on lower level models are leather on upper models, are comfortable and supportive. A multi-function center console is designed especially for digital equipment, with well-placed surfaces to charge and hold phones and other digital devices.
The equipment level of the 2016 Civic is remarkable, especially for a non-luxury compact. Available features include items like remote engine start, electronic parking brake and automatic brake hold, walk away door locking, heated front seat backs, heated rear seat cushions and rain-sensing wipers.
Honda has always been a technological and mechanical leader, and the 2016 Civic sedan continues in that position. We don?t necessarily agree with the way some of the innovations have been done however. We are advocates of blind spot monitoring devices, and the Honda system is unique in the industry and impressive. Turn on the right turn signal and a camera mounted in the passenger-side mirror displays area in the screen at the top of the center stack. It?s very good in that you actually see what?s in your blind spot area, but it relies on a split screen are for the driver?s side. Just as a matter for preference, we think the warning light that appears on the mirror surface or on the A-pillar is better because that?s normally where you look. The light says ?there is something in my blind spot I can?t see, I?d better check it out before I change lanes or turn.? (It was not available on the LX model we tested.) Actually having both the camera and the light would be the ultimate.
The 2016 Honda Civic includes innovative technologies that push it to the forefront of the compact segment. Honda Sensing? safety and driver-assist technologies are available on all trim levels. Honda Sensing includes a Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and Road Departure Mitigation; it is standard on the Touring model and only a $1,000 option on the others.
The new turbocharged engine in the Civic is a major advance for Honda, too. Numerically it doesn?t seem like a big deal ? a 174-hp 1.5 liter DOHC direct injection four-cylinder with only 16 horsepower more than the base engine. However, when you figure it produces 116 horsepower per liter that?s a pretty big deal. Even more impressive is the difference in performance, it is noticeably more responsive than the base engine, and it doesn?t know the meaning of turbo lag. Buff magazine testing has a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.8 seconds. A CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) is the standard transmission with the new turbocharged engine. While it doesn?t offer the driver as much control as a geared transmission it does produce very good fuel economy and super smooth response. The turbo and CVT combine for an EPA fuel economy rating of 31 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined.
The base engine is a 158-hp 2.0-liter i-VTEC four cylinder with a standard six-speed manual transmission on the LX trim and an optional CVT. It provides an average level of performance with EPA fuel economy numbers of 31/41/35 mpg.
The 2016 Honda Civic is available in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-T, EX-L and Touring. Pricing starts at $19,475, including the destination charge, for the LX sedan with six-speed manual transmission, the CVT is $800 more. The top of the line Touring Sedan with the turbocharged engine and CVT is $27,335 and that includes every feature available.
Honda designers and engineers have outdone themselves on this new Civic. It adds a whole new dimension in styling, technology and sophistication. The Civic is again the best compact sedan on the market.