Class: Compact Car
Miles driven: 261
Fuel used: 8.5 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 30.7 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||A-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 31/40/34 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $28,300 (not including $875 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: None
Price as tested: $29,175
The great: Practical design, fun to drive
The good: Fuel economy
The not so good: No sporty Si model for hatchback
It took a while, but the latest-generation Honda Civic lineup is now in full bloom. The rollout started in the fall of 2015 with the redesigned Civic sedan, then progressed over the next couple years with the addition of the Civic Coupe, the Civic Hatchback (complete with exclusive Sport and Sport Touring models), the high-performance Si Coupe and Sedan, and finally the super-high-performance Type R hatchback.
Of the three Honda Civic body styles, the hatchback is our personal favorite. In anything but Si trim, the sedan’s profile isn’t quite sporty enough for our tastes, and the coupe’s small trunk and cramped, hard-to-access rear seat mean it isn’t quite practical enough. The hatchback hits our Goldilocks just-right button; the hatchback body style is 4.3 inches shorter than its sedan sibling, which makes for sportier proportions, and its cargo-hauling superiority is obvious.
Honda’s designers and engineers are wizards when it comes to maximizing interior space, and the Civic Hatchback is a fine example of their prowess. Despite its fairly steeply sloped rear roofline, the hatchback’s cargo volume is quite spacious—25.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up (22.6 in the Sport models), and 46.2 cubic feet with the rear seat backs folded. Those rear-seat-up numbers are better than many compact-hatchback rivals, but the max volume number trails the class leaders—the Subaru Impreza hatchback, Volkswagen Golf, and redesigned-for-2018 Hyundai Elantra GT (all of which have upright rear body styling) respectively boast 55.3, 52.7, and 55.1 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats folded down.
The layout of the Civic Hatchback’s cargo space is excellent, however. The load floor is large, low and flat, and the rear seat backs fold nearly flat with no “step” from the load floor itself. We especially liked the side-mounted sliding cargo cover, which negates the need for a cumbersome removable cross-bar cover. And despite that sharply sloped rear window, we didn’t have any serious issues with rear visibility.
As mentioned above, the new Sport and Sport Touring trim levels are exclusive to the Civic hatchback body style. The Sports get a number of special touches: red gauge illumination, paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum pedals, and carbon-fiber-look interior trim dress up the interior. Exterior add-ons consist of front and rear “ground effects” garnishes, body side sills, 18-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, blacked-out trim, and unique headlight arrangement (halogen on the Sport, LED on the Sport Touring). The Sport Tuning adds other features over the Sport, such as automatic wipers, 12-speaker audio system, four-way power front passenger seat, and heated rear seats.
The Sports also make a bit more horsepower than their Civic EX and LX siblings—180 hp, instead of 174. The manual-transmission Sport makes a bit more torque than its CVT counterparts as well—177 lb-ft, instead of 162. (The Sport is available with a 6-speed manual or CVT; Sport Tourings are CVT-only.) Essentially, the Civic Hatchback Sport and Sport Touring can be considered “Si-lite” Civics—they offer most of the sporty character of the Civic Si coupe and sedan, but with 25 less horsepower and slightly more supple suspension tuning.
Which brings us to one of our gripes: Honda doesn’t offer the hatchback body style in Si form (boo!), so the Sport or Sport Touring is as zippy as it gets unless you want to step all the way up to the $34,000, 306-hp Type R (which is available only as a hatchback). We suspect that this omission has something to do with production logistics; unlike the other U.S.-market Civics, the hatchbacks are built in Honda’s plant in Swindon, England.
We have a couple other minor grumbles too. All of the new Civics have a very low hip point for a mainstream compact car—this makes for a low-slung driving position which makes the Civic feel sportier than the average compact, but also makes for a deeper drop into the seats and a more tedious climb out. (Sigh—I must be getting old.) The Civic’s low-slung seats are especially noticeable in a world where higher-hip-point crossover SUVs seem to be taking over. And while I’m whining about ergonomics, I’ll also point out the Civic’s oft-maligned lack of a physical stereo-volume knob and the fact that my right elbow’s natural resting place is on the hardest, most uncomfortable part of the sliding center console cover.
Quibbles aside, our Civic Hatchback Sport Touring tester was a delight to drive. The exterior styling is spicy, the interior has a sporty, upscale feel, the engine is willing and zingy even when paired with a CVT, and the balance of ride quality and cornering agility is ideal for our tastes. Plus, we achieved laudable fuel-economy numbers (as we have in all the new-generation Civics we’ve tested). All of the Honda Civic’s numerous permutations are fine cars, but this one is one of the best of the bunch.