Although the Honda Civic is a car that needs no introduction, the 2016 edition once again resets the bar and isn’t shy about announcing a big leap forward from the previous generation. The design shifts from fluid curves to folded creases and one long arcing coupe-like roofline terminating in some wildly styled taillights that look like a pair of hands ready to grip a big sandwich or towering burger. It is bold and distinctive and we’ll let you decide for yourselves whether you like it or not. I find that it manages to channel a little bit of the Acura NSX magic with its faceted surfaces, but there is definitely a lot going on.
The original Civic was an innovator and ushered in a revolution of small, efficient front-wheel-drive economy cars, but these ‘compact’ cars have grown in size and market share over the years. The venerable compact sedan long held the position as the go-to vehicle of choice for new drivers (often used or handed down), families and retirees looking for simple transportation, but the SUV and compact crossover is now firmly cementing itself as that default choice. The Civic earned consumers’ trust with bulletproof reliability and charmed drivers with well-balanced ride, handling and responsiveness (not to mention hotted up Si models) and served as the foundation for the tuner craze of the ‘90s and early 2000s.Before I start drawing comparisons to athletes and animals, let’s get back to talking about the vehicle that will likely continue to be Canada’s bestselling car, a status it has held for 17 years running now.
The last generation went pretty much all-in as a consumer appliance, but this 10th generation taps into that slightly athletic heritage that Hondas are known for and catches up with the times by adding a small displacement (1.5L) turbo-four with a continuously variable transmission as the upgraded powertrain and technology that is at the forefront of the gadget race like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, driver assistance systems, LaneWatch, digital gauges and LED lighting.
Two of the big questions in our mind going into this long-term test is whether Honda got this small-displacement turbo powertrain right and just how much Jacob will complain about Honda’s slider-only volume control? There is no denying that Honda (and Acura) have had growing pains delivering an easy-to-use digital interface for their in-car electronics, and this evolution adds knobs for climate control but sticks with just touchscreen and steering wheel access for music, navigation and other information displays.
But not all Civics will come so equipped. The base model in the Civic line is the DX, and it lacks many of those headline-grabbing gadgets but still offers good value and basic modern amenities for the starting price of $15,990 and $1,595 for freight and PDI fees. At that price, it has a manual transmission paired with an all-new Earth Dreams 2.0L four-cylinder i-VTEC engine making 158 hp, power windows, Bluetooth and Siri connectivity, basic four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, though with one USB and streaming Bluetooth audio, steering wheel controls, 5-inch LCD display screen, multi-angle back-up camera, remote keyless entry and 16-inch steel wheels. In DX trim, only black, grey or white are available as colour options with a black cloth interior.
From the ground up: Building the New 2016 Honda Civic
However, the LX is where the Civic comes into its own, priced at $18,890 with the manual and $20,190 with the available CVT, it piles on the full seven-inch Display Audio System with HondaLink infotainment controls and seven-inch TFT digital gauge cluster with extended driver info and interface controls, auto climate, heated front seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, eight-speaker audio with more power and a second USB port. Also available as a package on the CVT LX (and EX) is the Honda Sensing suite of driver safety assist features: Collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise and lane keeping assist for $1,000 ($21,190). LX trim adds blue to the exterior colour options.