The Civic has been Canada’s best-selling car for 17 years. 17. Three months ago, if I’m honest, I’d have written that with a touch of bitterness. Auto scribes and enthusiasts alike viewed the Civic as a whipping boy. To them/us, it was proof of our superior taste and knowledge that others would buy these cars in droves.
“They’re just an appliance,” we’d scoff pompously.
Of course, we were idiots.
Honda produced a car that sold like hotcakes because that’s what people wanted. For 17 straight years. Now, Honda looks on track to do it for another year – if not three or four – and the great shock of it now is, this time the car is making auto scribes and enthusiasts put our sniping pens down and pay attention.
The Civic is good. Really good. Not all good, mind you. There is a rather large niggle taking up most of the interior and I’ll get to that later. But it’s still good. The 1.5T engine – that thing is fantastic. The CVT? Proof that CVTs can be good. The handling – better than any previous generation despite this one’s significant growth spurt. The styling? Edgy, funky, downright appealing.
Normally, when we have a long-term tester after a while we get bored and want to book something else for a week or so. Normally, but not this time. I thoroughly enjoyed the Civic’s manners in stop-and-go commuting traffic, where it was easy to drive, frugal and had enough sound insulation and smoothed out the vibrations enough to keep me feeling sane and comfortable.
I enjoyed it too on the long haul, where the steering was well-weighted and appropriately assisted, so neither bumps and crowns in the road nor side winds had me feeling busy at the wheel. This was easy motoring.
And when the rare Ontario corner did present itself, the Civic was legitimately fun to drive. The wheel is light but the car responds quickly to its inputs – there’s even the potential for some lift-off oversteer should you feel so inclined. It’s bigger than the previous Civic yet weight is unchanged at 1,332 kg. The roof is 19 mm lower while at 4,631 mm long and 1,878 mm wide. The Civic has a much larger presence on the road. It looks dramatically bigger and feels a little bigger inside, yet drives like a car that’s smaller than its predecessor.
The 416 L truck swallowed up my entire family’s luggage and our camping equipment without any fuss whatsoever. Lower trims get more cargo volume at 428 L since they don’t have the subwoofer that’s part of the Touring’s 10-speaker audio system.
The 2,690 L passenger volume puts the new Civic in mid-size sedan territory – there are no compacts anymore. They’ve all bloated. My daughter got adequate ventilation in the back and had plenty of room for her active legs – saving our backs from her booting.
Even the doors open in multiple “steps”. Some doors open either a little or a lot and the door will move around of its own accord if not fully open. The Civic’s doors would open to detents and stay put – this is a small, easily overlooked feature but when your daughter is five and you park in tight confines, it means a great deal.