It seems like Honda has been making Civics forever. It could be because that from the very first one, the Civic has been an outstanding small compact car with a reputation for value, reliability, and excellent gas mileage among other virtues. It was loved by journalists and buyers, alike.
However, the last generation Civic (2011 through 2015) was received with tepid enthusiasm from the press, and from customers. That led to a very unusual second-year update, but even that didn’t do much to help keep the Civic near the top of the competition that got fiercer every year.
For 2016, the 10th generation Civic is all new, and has shot back near the top of the very crowded space it competes in. This model is almost large enough to be a mid-size sedan. It is three inches longer, two inches wider, and its wheelbase has been extended by an inch. The Civic 4-door sedan comes in 5 trim levels: the LX starts at $18,640, the EX starts at $21,040, the EX-T starts at $22.200, the EX-L starts at $23,700, and our test vehicle, the Touring starts at $26,500. With no options, our tester had a bottom line with freight, of $27,335.
Two new engines are available. The base engine is a 2.0 liter-4 cylinder, with 158 horsepower and 138 ft. lbs. of torque. It’s rated at 31 City and 35 Highway. Our Limited was fitted with the new 1.5 liter – turbo 4, (the first turbo ever for the Civic) which makes a very impressive 174 horsepower and 162 ft. lbs. of torque. The gas mileage is rated for 31 City, and an outstanding 42 mpg for Highway. And I got 44 mpg on the highway, which is about the highest mileage I’ve ever attained in a non-diesel powered car, and that was during my normal 70 miles per hour speed.
The little turbo is quick and responsive off the line, and with the excellent CVT transmission, always seems to have good power ready to use in any situation. By putting the transmission lever in S (Sport) mode, it keeps the revs in a higher range for even a bit more responsiveness. It is a fun, peppy engine to play with and it’s only powering a 2,750 lb. car, so power to weight ratio is excellent. The only drawback is that with the radio off, there is a bit more noise than I’d like, more so than the 1.5 turbo in the Chevy Malibu, or the 2.0 non-turbo in the Hyundai Elantra. But the Civic makes more power than either of those cars. And with the radio on at a modest level, engine noise isn’t a factor.
The ride quality on the highway and suburban roads is very comfortable and refined. Cornering isn’t quite up to Mazda 3 levels, but the Civic feels taut, athletic and composed when pushed. Steering is precise with good feel, and the brakes are excellent. Factoring in gas mileage, transmission, and pulling power, this Civic has one of the best powertrains in the compact arena.
The cabin is redesigned and very well laid out. Gone is the two-tiered dash in favor of a handsome horizontal one that combines upscale materials and textures. The driver gets a large round electroluminescent tach, with digital speedo in the center. The touch screen in the center stack gets you to the operations of the climate controls, and radio and most other functions. Redundant controls on the steering wheel operate phone, radio, and the radar cruise controls. And outside of the usual difficulty in speaking an address into the nav system, the touch screen and how it interfaces with the driver is fairly good.
Soft touch materials for the armrests, door sills and center console. Lots of storage space in that console, and huge glove box. Outlets to charge and plug in devices are present and with plenty of places to place them in easy reach. The leather seats are heated (rear seats, too) very comfortable, and the driver gets 8-way electric, and the passenger gets 4 way power. The moonroof is a good size and no buffeting when open and the windows are up. It seems like every manufacturer boasts of class leading interior space, but Honda may be correct. Plenty of leg and headroom, front and back. Also, rear seat passengers have plenty of room to place their feet underneath the front seats making legroom seem even more spacious. And the nearly 15 cubic feet of truck space is easy access, and the 60/40 split rear bench seats fold forward for more cargo capabilities.
At this trim level, you pretty much get everything you could want in a vehicle. In addition to what has been mentioned, the 10-speaker HD Premium audio system with sub-woofer is great, and there is all the Bluetooth and USB interfaces for Pandora, and SMS text messaging functionality, etc. There is a rear view camera, and Honda Lane Watch, which lets you see a rear view of the entire right lane in the nav screen as you use your turn signal to make a right turn.
It also comes with Smart Key, with push button and remote start, Dual Zone Climate controls, power windows and locks, tilt and telescope steering wheel, auto-dimming rear view mirror, 17” alloy wheels, auto on/off LED headlights, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, rear deck lid spoiler and a lot more. The Touring also comes with the Honda Sensing Package, which includes, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Keep Assist with Road Departure Mitigation. Oddly, there’s no blind spot monitor. But this is a very well loaded vehicle.
The handsome exterior styling is low and sleek. Slimmer headlights accent the bulging front fenders. A nice character line swoops up from the front fender and falls gracefully back to the rear tail lights. A deep cut, swept-back crease accents the rocker panels. The tail lights look like parenthesis, and curve around the deck lid into the rear quarter panels and frame the trunk opening smartly. I got comments wherever I parked.
In closing, the 2016 Honda Civic Touring is a mix of economy car (but with excellent performance) with a roomy luxury sedan. This makes the category a tough one for buyers, who have so many great choices. Whether it’s a Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Malibu, Mazda 3, Ford Focus or this Civic, one has to choose which one has the best combinations of features to suit. And there’s not a bad choice in the list. One thing they all have in common as I reviewed them. . . They all have a lot of content for the money, and they won’t break the bank to put one into anyone’s garage.
2016 Honda Civic 1.5T Touring
By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman
Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman has been a motor journalist for over 30 years, reviewing automobile, as well as motorcycle ride reviews and accessory reviews.
His car articles have appeared in Robb Report Magazine, Autoguide.com, Car-Revs-Daily.com and other media. His work has also appeared in Road Bike Magazine, Motorcycle Tour and Cruiser, SpeedTV.com, MotorcycleUSA.com and others.
As motorcycle columnist for The Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, the paper became the only major circulation newspaper in the country to have a separate weekly section devoted to motorcycles. Later he wrote a weekly column for Cyclefocus Magazine.