Road Test Review – 2014 Honda Civic EX-L Coupe Is Sharp-Looking Two-Door With Great Tech and Handling!



 

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Racy coupe bodies are about as hot as it gets up and down the automotive spectrum. A two-door tells the world you are unattached – and unburdened by kids or carpools. You are single and ready to mingle!

The Honda Civic Coupe is one of the most adored nameplates in the youth car culture scene. Last year’s 2013 Civic Coupe has lost is austere nose from 2013 and come back stronger, better, faster and cooler for 2014.

This brings an all-new nose design with some aggressive profiling and chrome-accented foglamps, a dark grille slash in semi-gloss black widening the nose layout, and a cooler body kit all around.

The EX-L tested here is the luxury-level trim between the base LX Civic Coupe and the sporty and super-quick Civic Si Coupe.

With features like navigation, automatic transmission with paddle shifters, leather and moonroof – the EX-L Navi is a loaded car that is posher than its city-friendly dimensions (and easy price) would suggest.

Let’s break out this review into the usual sections: Exterior, Interior, Driving Experience and Summary.

On Location: Atlanta Motorsports Park

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2014 Honda Civic EX-L Coupe – EXTERIOR

The design of the 2014 Civic Coupe emphasizes how low, lean and aggressive the glasshouse is. The ultra-fast windshield and rear glass angles are some of the most futuristic in the car world – and they are the cornerstone of the Civic Coupe’s design appeal. While the Civic Sedan might share the sporty windshield, no other Civic is as care-free around back.

The aerodynamic rear profile helps pull out the fenders and make the trunk shape pop. In a world of Hatchbacks and frumpy hatchback–>sedan conversion like the Sonic and Fiesta — the Civic Coupe is proud of its sexy two-door nature.

The racy glass also continues in the side windows, with a lean wide glass in the rear and slightly longer front doors than the sedan.

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Sporty angles all around do not hamper visibility: the Civic Coupe brings front quarter-windows and very narrow pillars to ensure easy urban visibility. No more leaning forward to check for pedestrians when turning – something that is required with many sports cars these days.

The EX-L is only slightly less cool than the Si outside: the EX-L rides a smidge higher, wears 17-inch alloys versus the Si’s 18-inchers, and has a very subtle trunk-lid spoiler versus the big wing on the Si.

There is merit to both, however, and the EX-L does bump those wheels up one size versus the 16-inch standard rubber on the LX and EX.

The wheels are a highlight in themselves: machined-surface elements form the outer spokes, while a gloss black in the inner finish. This helps them glimmer in sunlight, but become darker and more trendy on the move as the black areas shade the whole wheel into a dark blur at speed.

Overall, the Civic is slightly let down by its halogen lighting all around — but this is easily upgraded via the aftermarket.

On Location: The Sanctuary Spa and Resort on Kiawah Island, South Carolina

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2014 Honda Civic EX-L Coupe – INTERIOR

The interior is another place where the premium EX-L trim starts paying off. The equipment is second to none and is very, very impressive for the compact segment. Navigation and HondaLink future-proof the media setup so it will be easy to Bluetooth-stream music from the 2019 iPhone9 as easy as it is on today’s iPhone 4 and 5.

In photos and when still, the Civic’s two-layer dash design seems busy and unnecessary versus a standard set of gauges.

But on the move, it is actually really handy. The top-mounted digital speedometer is extremely simple, while the lower tachometer counts revs in a standard analog layout. It keeps your eye-level closer to the road and allows one-glance info about speeds.

After a week in the Civic Coupe, we started to take the digital layout for granted. Other cars and standard needles just are not as quick at telling your exact speed.

The Civic Coupe also brings steering-wheel controls for infotainment options in the top gauge screens, plus cruise and phone and audio settings right on the wheel.

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These controls on the wheel for audio source, volume and presets are extra handy when you start using the Civic’s HondaLink for audio. While really very responsive and easy to use, the Civic’s touchscreen lacks a volume knob and the main toggle control from the latest Accord Coupe and a few others.

This means the volume must be clicked down one tap at a time when you want to adjust it. It is clunky and awkward and slow — not great when trying to answer your phone at the same time, for example.

But the touchscreen’s lack of audio knobs teaches you to use the wheel toggles for volume, etc, very quickly. Once you get the hang of using the wheel-mounted controls for simple changes, the whole setup is very intuitive.

 

SEATS AND DRIVING POSITION

The layout is pretty easy to love. The seats are comfortable, supporting, firm and very adjustable. The wheel also has a huge range of tilt/telescope depth available.

The one gripe about the cabin’s plentiful roominess is that there is some pronounced road and tire coming from the back axle. You get used to it after a few hours – but the car might still benefit from a sound-dampening rubber mat in the trunk once you own it.

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On Location: Beach lofts of Kiawah Island, South Carolina

2014 Honda Civic EX-L Coupe – DRIVING EXPERIENCE

The EX-L Coupe with the optional CVT automatic is a hard-working powertrain when you really hammer the throttle. For fast drivers, there is the usual CVT trait of zooming up to the engine revline, and then peeling off actual MPH while holding the revs very, very high.

It does make respectable pace this way, but actually has the most urgent and torque-y feel on its simulated upshifts, which launch the car forward somehow.

A relaxed sprint performance is the trade-off for a 143-horsepower engine that also delivers an honest 30+ MPG in the city and 38-MPG on the highway.

But timed acceleration is only part of the fun-to-drive equation. The Civic Coupe has extremely speedy shift paddles to snick off up or downshifts very quickly and with good feel, and great steering feel overall.

Holding gears to be ready for quick passing is also available with the “S” mode of the transmission lever. This keeps the engine on-boil and ready for much more speed at the drop of a foot. In the regular Drive setting, the CVT is less eager to kick down and power the car forward.

The “S” transmission setting also completely transforms the Civic Coupe’s dynamics in the mountains or on curvy roads. With the shifter in Sport mode, the Civic Coupe has much firmer steering feel and a more involving feel from the drivers seat. It just feels less like it is coasting around corners, and more like it is actively engaged in hitting the apex.

The trade-off for S mode is that it can be odd in the city when you are expecting an upshift, and the car sticks to revs around 3500 even when just tootling around. A quick flip back intro Drive brings the Civic Coupe into its normal relaxed cruise.

Handling overall is very good, with the car eager and playful.

SUMMARY

Okay, before you dive into the 150+ photos below oft he Civic Coupe’s adventures during its stay with Car-Revs-Daily.com for the road test, a quick summary point or two.

  • Stylish and very affordable

  • Practical and easy-to-use – despite being a sporty coupe

  • CVT is effortless at delivering great MPG…

  • But automatic needs to be paddle shifted or in “S” mode to make swift progress

The biggest question to ponder for shoppers with $24,000 to invest in a new Civic Coupe is:

— 60 more horsepower in the Civic Si

— or leather cabin / nav /moonroof in the EX-L?

There are no wrong answers — but we would definitely vote for the Si’s extra power if it were our monthly payment!

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About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine.He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.