Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: 2016 Honda Civic EX

2016 Honda Civic 2.0 EX SENS

By Andy Lilienthal

The omnipresent Honda Civic’s last major overhaul was for the 2012 model year, and if you remember, many didn’t like the redesign. In fact, Honda made an emergency update for MY2013 to make it more appealing, and yet another update in 2014. We assume Honda wanted to avoid such shenanigans for its next redesign, and thus appears the all-new 2016 Honda Civic.

Our test model was an EX trim level equipped with the new normally aspirated DOHC 2.0-liter engine mated to a CVT. A six-speed manual transmission can still be had on the 2.0 models if you want to row your own gears. More expensive Civics can be had with the new 1.5-liter turbo engine which makes 16 more hp, although a CVT is the only transmission choice. Our tester was also equipped with the company’s SENS or “sensing” package that includes lane keeping, crash avoidance, and other techy safety bits.

2016 Honda Civic taillight

When I first saw the ’16 Civic in person, I honestly wasn’t sure if it was a hatchback or a sedan. It did vaguely remind me of the now-dead Accord Crosstour with its sloping rear end. Unlike the Crosstour, the Civic is a traditional sedan with a bona-fide (and huge) trunk. It has contiguous lines and a well thought out look, which I like; I particularly like the taillights. The Civic has a lean, sleek style that makes it appear larger than it is. The car’s length is 182.3 inches; a few inches longer than the last generation Civic, but smack-dab in today’s compact C-segment. Fun fact: The ’16 Civic is 3.5-feet longer than the original 1972-1979 Civic. After all, small cars keep getting bigger.

2016 Honda Civic dashboard

At nearly $22,875 on the nose, this Civic isn’t equipped with all the niceties, such as heated seats, fog lights, navigation, and such. Those can be had, but you’ll have to step up a couple of trim levels and tax brackets. It does, however, have Apple Car Play and Android Auto. That being said, at the time I had the car I was still using my old Samsung Galaxy S4 and the car’s infotainment system would not connect to the phone for more than 30 seconds at a time. It pretty much hated the phone. It did connect to Mercedes’ Note 4 and my co-worker’s iPhone 6 without incident. The takeaway? If you have a phone older than a couple of years, it may not pair.

Regardless of the connectivity issue, the infotainment system—much like most Honda infotainment systems—is not great. There aren’t any knobs or buttons, instead, everything is done via touchscreen. It also takes two to three touches to get nearly anything done; it’s clunky. In fact, nearly everything on the dashboard is touchscreen, taking tactile function to a new low. The only things not touch-activated are the recirculating air, front and rear defrost, and a dial for heat fan speed.

'16 Civic volume on steering wheel
Like the volume slider on the steering wheel. 
Conversely, one thing that is tactile (and new to me) is the steering-wheel-mounted volume slider controls for the stereo. Rather than tapping a button up and down (which you can still do), you simply slide your finger along a ribbed patch to raise or lower the volume. I actually really liked this, as it was intuitive and easy to use.

The last Civic had what Scott called the Aztec pyramid gauge cluster. That triangularly stacked mass of gauges has been replaced with a fully digital dash which was easy enough to see and use and has more of a conventional layout.

Also gone is the manual parking brake, replaced by an electric unit with a hold feature that, when activated, doesn’t require you to have your foot on the brake when you’re in traffic. Simply press the button, come to a complete stop, and you can take your foot off the pedal. It takes some time to get used to. It also has regular hill-holding features.

'16 Honda Civic center console
Big center console, but wonder if this fabroc would be a wer item?
If I had to use one adjective to describe the new Civic it’d be “comfortable.” The seats are comfy, the seating position is right, and it just fits. One of the first interior bits that stood out was the gigantic center console. The partially upholstered armrest looks like it’d be a wear point sooner than later, but it is comfortable. Peer inside that console and the modular, multi-level armrest looks like it could not only fit a couple of sodas, but a gallon of milk, a pot of coffee, a beer growler, maybe a pony keg. Shit—maybe a full keg. This thing is really deep—probably about a foot in depth! At the console’s front, there are inputs for USB and 12V. This location makes it a bit cumbersome to plug things into, however.

Once under way, the ride is as comfortable as the interior. This thing is at the top of its class in terms of ride quality and it soaks up bumps like crazy. In fact, it might be the best riding compact I’ve ever driven. I could easily pilot this thing across the country with minimal fatigue. It also handles admirably; the steering is well weighted and quick; the leather-wrapped steering wheel is fat and chunky.

Back seat comfort was also impressive. Plenty of leg room and the rear seats do fold down. There’s a center armrest (no pass-through the trunk, though). That trunk is freakin’ enormous! You could get plenty of luggage in there.

Despite the CVT, I was impressed with the way the new Civic drove. Everything felt more responsive than I thought it would. It wouldn’t qualify it as fast, but the 2.0-liter mill has ample power nearly everywhere I wanted it. It also wasn’t too loud. I do wonder how the 1.5-turbo would compare.

The SENS system has lane departure warning; lane keeping, which will apply light torque to the steering wheel to keep you in your lane; road departure mitigation which will vibrate the steering wheel to wake your drowsy ass up; adaptive cruise control; a forward collision warning system, which will beep, flash, and yell at you if you’re about to hit something; and finally collision mitigation braking system that’ll slam on the brakes so you don’t have to. Yes, that’s a lot of tech, especially for a $22,000 car. But you’ll start seeing this on more and more cars in this price range soon. I can honestly say that all the tech worked as advertised. However, I thankfully didn’t need to experience a few of them.

2016 Honda Civic 2.0 EX SENS - Rear

Other than the fussy infotainment system, there isn’t much not to like about the latest Honda Civic. It gets 31 city, 42 highway MPG, it’s reasonably priced and well equipped, is super comfortable, and now it even looks distinctive. As someone who has owned four Honda Civics, I can honestly say that I feel as if the Civic is back in a form in which I would tell people to definitely take a look at if they’re in the compact car market. And while there are a lot of good compact-class choices, the Civic is right up there with the best yet again.

THE BASICS: 2016 Honda Civic 2.0 EX SENS
MSRP As Tested: $22,875
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC i-VTEC four cylinder
Transmission: CVT
Horsepower: 158
Torque: 138 lb/ft
Curb Weight: 2,799 lbs.
Wheelbase: 106.3
Overall Length: 182.3"
Suspension: F: MacPherson Struts
R: Multi-Link Rear
Brakes: F: Disc w/ABS
R: Disc w/ABS
Wheels: 16" alloys
Tires: 215/55/16 All-Season
Fuel Economy (MPG): 31 city, 35 combined, 42 highway
Fuel Type: Regular 87 octane


nlpnt said...

By this time next year there should be a 1.5T/manual combo and a five-door hatchback.

Barry Traylor said...

I wish they would dump all this touch screen crap. All they do is make it distracting for the driver to do something as simple as tuning the radio.