Ok, we’re going out on a ledge here. But we bet this Civic may become a collectible. Yes, we get that the Civic Type R (or CTR for those in the know) will be a legend. And the current Civic Si is continuing a long line of sweet-performing Si’s.
But the Civic Sport seems to go even deeper than that. More to the core of what has always made a Honda a Honda – or a Civic a Civic – for that matter. There’s a simplicity here. A purity of purpose that typifies the man and the brand.
20-30 years from now, they’ll be lots of folks who remember a 2019 Civic – maybe their first car, or a family car, or even a grandparent’s car. We’ll bet by then you’ll still be able to drive your own car, and fill it with a nice tank of fossil fuels. But that’s another story.
Fresh Civic Style
While some have felt that the latest 10th generation Civic style is a little over the top, we get it – Civics have always been youthful. They must be doing something right – look at the new Corolla, –the Honda’s lifelong arch-rival is definitely moving to an aggressive style. No more snoozy small sedans!
All 2019 Civics have gotten a freshening, with the goal to look both more aggressive and more upscale. The lower bumper is reshaped to give a wider appearance, while a blacked-out headlight treatment gives a more cohesive look. Sporty.
But not as sporty as our sportier Sport, which adds fog lights with gloss black trim, a black-painted rear spoiler, while underneath a sport muffler with a center-mounted chrome exhaust finisher adds some visual and auditory attitude.
The most noticeable part of the Sport trim are the black 18-inch wheels. Our tester was finished in Platinum White, a gorgeous pearl that gives perfect contrast to all the black bits. One nice thing about the Sport trim, you can get it in all three Civic body styles, 4-door Sedan, like our tester, as well as 4-door Hatchback, and 2-door Coupe. Something for everybody.
Modern Civic Comfort
Inside, all Civics or ’19 get some minor tweaks to make an already comfortable interior even better. The Display Audio system gets a new interface that includes a volume knob (hurray!!!) and physical buttons for key functions. It sounds like a small deal, but it makes life much easier. Steering wheel controls have been designed for easier operation, the center console now holds larger beverages, and Bluetooth integration is improved for easier device pairing. Nice.
This is all on top of a very livable environment. The front seats are large and supportive, comfy for the daily commute, but with enough of a bolster to hold you in the corners. The rear seats are comfy, and a step up over the LX trim, Sport’s feature a 60/40 split fold. Trunk space is good, and with the rear seats down, you might question the need for a hatchback.
The gauges are mostly unchanged, but they’re crisp and clear, the center of the three gauges has a nice display that includes a large digital tach, digital speedo readout and also serves up useful info like turn by turn directions, trip computer, audio.
Getting the Sport trim has its privileges, you get red gauges, a fat leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, aluminum sport pedals, faux carbon fiber trim, and unique seats with a synthetic leather/cloth material and racy checkered pattern. And if you’re tech savvy, Sport is worth the step up over the base LX, as you get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, the redesigned 7” Display, and an upgraded 8-speaker sound system.
All in all, you feel like you’re getting a ton of value for the buck.
Old School Civic Performance
Driving the Sport serves up some surprises – and they’re all good. While most Civics – and many Honda products – are now running a small, but powerful 1.5-liter turbo four, the Sport features a normally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Old school…
Compared to the turbo, the numbers are down a bit, 158 horsepower (vs. 174) and 138 lb-ft of torque (vs 162), but in real world, this is a lovely engine. Smooth ,with plenty of low end power. It’s nice and well-mannered, but still has a nice exhaust note that sings as it runs up to redline.
It has a wonderful partner in crime with the standard 6-speed manual transmission.
Yes manual! (Hurray 2.0!)
Honda is keeping the flames burning for those who love to shift. While ia stick is a given (and your only choice) on the Si trim, the fact that it’s offered on the lowered-price Sport deserves a medal or something.
It’s also a lovely thing to shift, with nice direct throws that are light and precise, and the clutch pedal is also light – making the Civ a doddle to drive in stop and go traffic. And the rewards of running up through the gears, getting a perfect downshift, and picking that perfect rpm for blasting out of a turn should make you banish the thought of the CVT transmission. We have no hate for Honda’s CVT, it’s smooth efficient, and even though you get paddle shifters, it’s not really very sporty.
But the manual…ahh, so good.
And there’s more to the Sport than that. Honda gives you the goods here with exclusive shocks, rear control arms, a stiffer front stabilizer bar and grippy Goodyear Eagle Sport tires on those lovely black 18-inch rims. It’s a beautifully set-up package – the ride is comfy, but there’s plenty of stick, and the steering feels precise.
This is a car that’s loads of fun to drive on your favorite twisty road or curvy on ramp. It’s a real-world performance sedan – you don’t have to go super-legal speeds to enjoy yourself, but in the hands of the right driver, it can keep up with much more exotic machinery. It would even be a fun autocrosser or to take on the track. Not the fastest, but hard to imagine having more fun for less cash!
Honda has a well-earned reputation for value, and the Civic keeps the tradition going.
For the 2019 model year, Civic Sedan and Coupe models feature the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies as standard equipment on all trims, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System and Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning and automatic high beams. That’s impressive.
If spacious and safe will fill the bill, the entry-level LX Sedan, gives you the 158 hp engine, 6-speed manual, Bluetooth Audio, Multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, 160-watt sound system with 4-speakers, LED daytime running lights, Electric parking brake and more for $19,450. Add the CVT automatic for $800.
We’re so used to having top-of-the-line testers, that our Sport comes in at a shockingly attractive $21,150. For the enhanced looks, unique interior, upgraded suspension, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 8-speaker audio and more. It’s a no-brainer step up from the LX and a bargain in its own right.
You can go from there, and choose and EX, that gives you the 1.5-liter turbo, CVT transmission, moonroof, upgraded display audio system and more for $23,400. Want leather and some added luxury? The EX-L starts at $24,600, while the whole enchilada Touring gives Navi, 450-watt stereo and more for $27,300.
Competition would include the Hyundai Elantra Sport , it spans the gap between the Civic Sport and SI models and it serves up turbo power, and comes in at $22,600. The new 2020 Corolla SE 6MT has snarky good looks, and at $22,650 will be a promising competitor, if it’s anything like the Corolla iM hatch we drove. Stay tuned for our review.
Really, the Sport’s closest competitor is the Civic Si, and that 205-horsepower high performance 1.5-liter turbo, 6-speed manual is a major temptation. It does come in $24,300 so that’s a $3,000 bump over the Sport. For the serious enthusiast, money well spent. Or maybe worth looking for a CPO model.
But our heart strings still get tugged by the 2019 Civic Sport. Well equipped, easy to own, easy to enjoy, and easy on the eyes, it’s what a Civic is all about. A collectible!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.