COLLINGWOOD, Ont. — The outgoing Honda Civic, which was introduced in 2012 and reworked in 2013 because of the lacklustre response to its redesign, is being reinvented yet again. This time, it is a complete makeover that touches everything between the bumpers. As such, the 10th-generation sedan should serve to maintain the status quo and keep the Civic as Canada’s favourite car, as it has been for the past 17 years — soon to be 18.
Stylistically, the new Civic adopts a much sharper look with detail in its curves. The face is bold with available LED headlights, the side profile is sleek, the tail is taut and it, too, gets LED lighting. Now if only the colour palette were as expressive — two whites, a couple of silvers, burgundy, black and a new blue are your options. Sadly, Can- ada does not get the racy red the U.S. enjoys.
The Civic is both larger and stronger than the outgoing model. The overall length increases by 75 millimetres, it is 126 mm wider and now rides on a 2,700-mm wheelbase. The plus is the platform is also 25 per cent stiffer, in spite of the car being 31 kilograms lighter and larger overall.
The Civic’s interior takes significant steps forward. First, the controversial two-tier instrumentation is gone — thank you, Honda! The new look, which is primarily digital, is much easier to comprehend. It also adds an aura of richness to the soft-touch-lined cabin.
The driver’s lot is also better than before. Sitting proudly atop the centre stack is a seven-inch screen that houses the audio and climate functions. It also embraces the notion of a “smart” car; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been integrated in a remarkably friendly manner. Both platforms bring the smartphone into the car and blend two divergent technologies into one, which gives easy access to anything your phone can do, apps and all. If there is a cabin-related complaint, it lies in the reflection in the back window as seen through the rear-view mirror; I found it distracting.
Honda adds amenities with each step up the Civic ladder. The $15,990 DX is pretty basic; it skips air conditioning but it does get a rear-view camera. For $18,890, the LX adds the seven-inch screen and all the gizmos, along with air conditioning, heated front seats, cruise control and 60/40-split folding rear seat. The EX ($22,590) adds dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, smart key access with push-button start and Honda’s clever LaneWatch camera, which puts the view of the right side of the car on the seven-inch screen.
Meanwhile, the EX-L ($24,990) brings a new engine, fog lights and 17-inch wheels, along with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. The package counts a number of active safety gadgets as extensions, including a lane-keep assist system, which steers the car to keep it in the lane. The top-level $26,990 Touring brings everything, including wireless phone charging, LED headlights, GPS navigation, power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats and a sweet-sounding 450-watt audio system.
The 2016 Civic’s powertrains have been completely revised. There is a new 2.0-litre engine — which replaces the outgoing 1.8-L four-cylinder — delivering 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. It’s available with a six-speed manual or optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). With the latter, this combination took, according to my hand-held stopwatch, 9.9 seconds to run from rest to 100 km/h. The claimed fuel economy is 7.8 L/100 km in the city and 5.8 on the highway, not bad from either perspective and likely good enough for most shoppers.
Even better, however, is the rollout of a new 1.5-L turbocharged four-cylinder, which makes a much more rewarding 174 hp and, more importantly, 162 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,800 r.p.m. Off the line, the turbocharged Civic pulls strongly and with little in the way of turbo lag. Once moving, it piles on the speed with spirit, running from rest to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds. This work ethic brings a surprisingly sporty feel to a four-door compact sedan. If there is a nit to pick, it is that a buyer must move far up the trim-level ladder to get this sweet mill. Bringing it down to the LX level would appeal to those who appreciate the Civic for what
The new Civic is a vast improvement on an already good car. Highlights include a richer cabin, sophisticated technologies and a better powertrain lineup.