Full 2014 Honda Civic Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Honda Civic sees a number of significant changes. Coupes get restyled front and rear ends, while all Civics see slightly upgraded interiors. All but the natural gas and hybrid versions get slightly more powerful engines, and the previous five-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The LX coupes and the Si trims gain firmer suspension tuning, and the hybrid has slightly better fuel economy this year. Finally, a few new upscale features debut, including keyless ignition, a larger touchscreen display, enhanced smartphone integration and a blind spot camera.
Keeping the Civic at the top of its game is a perennial priority at Honda. After hearing from reviewers and consumers that its redesigned 2012 Civic lagged behind other small sedan rivals in interior quality, features and cabin noise isolation, the company swiftly broke out its tool kit for a repair job. In a rare move for an automaker, Honda updated the Civic just one year later to fix these very issues. Now for 2014, Honda has kept its foot on the gas to ensure the Civic sedan and coupe stay as desirable as possible for car shoppers.
Starting things off for the 2014 Honda Civic is a revised 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a new, more efficient CVT that replaces the five-speed automatic transmission in most models. The resulting combo promises even better fuel economy, and indeed, if Honda's claim of a 35 mpg combined EPA estimate (for the HF model) is on target, the Civic is again a fuel economy leader among non-hybrid small cars. New upscale features are also part of the 2014 plan as you can now get keyless ignition and entry, a 7-inch touchscreen interface with enhanced smartphone integration and a blind-spot camera display. Honda hasn't forgotten about car buyers who enjoy driving, either: The LX coupe and Si coupe/sedan models receive firmer suspension calibrations to provide more responsive handling. Additionally, Honda says that the new CVT provides slightly quicker acceleration to go along with the increased fuel mileage.
Meanwhile, all the previous perks on this compact Honda remain, as the Civic continues to offer roomy seating, impressive crash test scores and a generous standard features list that, even on entry-level trims, includes Bluetooth, a rearview camera, an iPod interface and Pandora functionality. It's also quite easy to find a Civic you like given the availability of sedan and coupe body styles and the mix of trims that ranges from the green-oriented Hybrid and Natural Gas models to the sporty Si.
Regardless of which version appeals to you, the 2014 Honda Civic is an excellent choice for a small sedan or coupe. Still, there are very worthy rivals in the form of the 2014 Ford Focus, 2014 Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Mazda 3, which all offer competitive value, feature content and interior quality. Civic Hybrid shoppers will find that the Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid are strong alternatives, and performance enthusiasts considering the Civic Si should also test-drive the entertaining and refined Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI. Overall, though, we're very impressed with the Honda Civic.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Honda Civic is a compact car offered in coupe and sedan body styles.
The standard Civic coupe and sedan come in LX, midrange EX and top-of-the-line EX-L and EX-L Navi trims. The sedan is also available in fuel-efficient HF, Hybrid and Natural Gas trims. As of this writing, information was not yet available for the Civic Si coupe and sedan, but we will update this review once it becomes available.
Entry-level LX models come equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a one-piece fold-down rear seatback and cruise control. Electronic features include a 5-inch central display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, SMS text messaging functionality and a four-speaker (six for the coupe) sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and Pandora radio functionality.
The EX model adds to or supplants those features with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear disc brakes, keyless ignition/entry, a sunroof, a right-side blind spot camera, a 7-inch central touchscreen display, smartphone integration (HondaLink, which includes Aha radio and Apple-based Siri Eyes voice command functionality), an HDMI interface and a 60/40-split-folding rear seatback. EX coupes get an upgraded seven-speaker sound system, while EX sedans step up to a six-speaker sound system. The EX-L model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, leather upholstery and heated front seats. The sedan version of the EX-L also includes an eight-way power driver seat. As you'd expect, the EX-L Navi adds a navigation system as well as HD and satellite radio.
The Civic HF sedan starts out with standard features similar to those of the LX sedan but also has a few upgrades designed to deliver maximum mpg. These include low-rolling-resistance tires, aerodynamic cast-aluminum wheels, wind-cheating underbody panels and a rear spoiler.
The Civic Hybrid sedan is available in four trim levels: base, Leather, Navi and Leather with Navi. The base version's standard equipment essentially mirrors that of the EX sedan minus the sunroof, rear disc brakes and 16-inch wheels (it has 15s). The Leather version adds most of the EX-L features minus the 17-inch wheels and power driver seat. Both hybrids also come with forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems. Those with Navi add the navigation system (which also includes HD and satellite radio).
The Civic Natural Gas is available in two trim levels: base and Leather. The standard features on the base trim largely mirror those of the LX but also include a few EX touches such as the right-side blind spot camera and HondaLink with the 7-inch central touchscreen display. The Leather version adds a navigation system and most of the EX-L features, minus the 17-inch wheels and power driver seat.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Honda Civic is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 143 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. For the Civic LX sedan, Honda offers either a five-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT. For the EX, EX-L and HF sedans, the CVT is standard. For the coupe, manual transmission availability is extended to the EX.
With the CVT, Honda says the Civic LX, EX and EX-L will achieve an estimated 33 mpg combined (30 city/39 highway). The Civic HF is even better at 35 mpg combined (31 mpg city/41 mpg highway), according to Honda. With the manual, fuel economy drops a bit to 31 mpg combined (28/36).
During Edmunds' track testing, a Civic EX-L coupe with the CVT ran from zero to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds while an EX sedan with the CVT did it in 9.1 seconds -- that's a few tenths slower than average for this class.
The Civic Hybrid gets a 1.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, a combination that's good for 110 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. A CVT is standard. This year's hybrid also has revised powertrain components and improved aerodynamics to give a slight boost to fuel economy, which now stands at an EPA-estimated 45 mpg combined (44 city/47 highway). In prior Edmunds testing of the hybrid, we recorded a 0-60 mph time of 10.1 seconds -- on par with most economy hybrids.
The Civic Natural Gas features a natural-gas-powered version of the Civic's 1.8-liter engine. It produces only 110 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque, however. A five-speed automatic is standard. EPA-estimated fuel economy is the gasoline equivalent of 31 mpg combined (27 city/38 highway).
The 2014 Honda Civic comes standard with stability control, antilock brakes (four-wheel discs with the EX and Si), front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. EX/EX-L versions also include a right-side blind spot camera (LaneWatch). This year's updated HondaLink system also includes emergency crash notification.
In Edmunds brake testing, a 2014 Civic EX-L coupe came to a stop from 60 mph in 115 feet, while an EX sedan took 118 feet, both notably better than average for this class.
In government crash tests, the Civic sedan received a top five-star rating overall, with four stars for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side crash safety. The coupe received four stars overall, with four stars for frontal and five stars for side crash categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Civic sedan and coupe its highest possible rating of "Good" in its small-overlap frontal offset, moderate-overlap frontal offset, side impact and roof strength tests. The Civic's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the 2014 Honda Civic maintains its familiar driver-oriented two-tier dash display, which includes a 5-inch monitor on the top tier that displays information for audio, hands-free phone use and various vehicle systems. Materials quality is solid, as nicely textured, premium-looking surfaces are found throughout.
Most of the cabin's controls are well-placed, and the keypads and menu buttons on the steering wheel are intuitive enough for anyone who's spent time with a smartphone. Sadly, the audio controls for all but the LX and those equipped with navigation are rather annoying. Simply setting a radio station requires you to jockey back and forth between searching and setting them. The lack of a tuning knob doesn't help matters here, nor does a touch-slide bar for volume. The more intuitive steering-wheel-mounted audio controls help alleviate this gripe.
On the upper trims, the Civic boasts even more smartphone amenities this year via the latest HondaLink system. HondaLink operates through the 7-inch touchscreen to provide voice control (Siri Eyes) plus a variety of search, audio and social media functions. It also allows the car's touchscreen to display and operate an available navigation app, making for a factory-installed navi experience minus the much greater cost. Overall, we found the system responsive and appreciated the touchscreen's swipe-and-pinch functionality. But to run all but the Pandora app, you must have an iPhone 5 (or newer) and purchase the HondaLink cable kit (which runs about $100). If you want the navigation feature, then you must buy that app (about $60). Also, the system doesn't interface with Apple's Podcast app. Finally, Android phones are not currently compatible with HondaLink, although Honda claims that that will change by the end of the 2014 calendar year.
In the Honda Civic sedan, legroom and headroom for front passengers is competitive, while the rear-seat accommodations are excellent for this class. The rear bench is mounted high enough to provide proper thigh support for adults, and it boasts significantly more real-world legroom than key rivals like the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus. The Civic offers 11.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity in the coupe and 12.5 cubic feet in the sedan, which is less capacity than in the Cruze and Focus sedans. The hybrid models sacrifice trunk space to the battery pack, leaving 10.7 cubic feet. The large fuel tank needed for the natural gas model curtails trunk space even further.
The Honda Civic has long been one of the better-driving cars in its class, and this tradition continues with the latest version's precise, well-weighted steering and confident handling. The Civic also offers one of the most comfortable and composed rides in the class. With last year's refinements, it's also pretty quiet at freeway speeds, something you couldn't say about older Civics.
Power from the gasoline-fueled 1.8-liter engine is merely adequate, but its high fuel efficiency and typically refined character nevertheless make it a winner. Performance of the new CVT is commendable, as it swiftly "downshifts" when you need quick acceleration, unlike some other CVTs, which seem to produce more noise than action. Overall, we think just about all Civic buyers will be happy with the new CVT's operation.
You can expect sluggish acceleration from the Natural Gas Civic and Civic Hybrid, though obviously, efficiency is the overriding priority on these models. The Civic Si is certainly the most fun to drive. Refined suspension tuning, quick steering and the additional torque provided by the larger engine give the Si a sharp and playful attitude around town or on curving roads.