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2023 Honda Civic sedan front three quarter action exterior

Honda Civic: How We'd Spec It for 2023

The Honda Civic is a favorite of ours, and there are three versions we recommend

  • Honda has improved the already excellent Civic with the new 11th-generation model.
  • This year the performance-oriented Type R makes a triumphant return.
  • Honda drops the LX trim, but all 2023 Civic models get free maintenance for two years.

The 2022 Honda Civic was the Edmunds Top Rated Sedan last winter, and in the year since then the Civic lineup has only gotten better. Shortly after we gave it top-rated honors, a new five-door hatchback arrived, and the sporty Civic Si sedan returned to the lineup, too.

The big news for the 2023 Honda Civic, though, is the return of the performance-oriented Civic Type R. It lands back in showrooms with enough heat under the hood to make it the most powerful production Honda ever sold in the U.S. market.

Considering how much critics and consumers like the latest Civic, Honda hasn’t fiddled much with the recipe for 2022 — aside from adding the Type R, of course. The base price is higher because Honda dropped the LX trim level for 2023, making the Sport trim the entry-level model. (Driving enthusiasts on a budget will be happy to know that the Sport hatchback is available with a sweet six-speed manual gearbox.) Honda also includes two years or 24,000 miles of complimentary scheduled maintenance with every Civic purchase, another change for 2023.

With more choice in the lineup than before, you might wonder how we would spec a new 2023 Honda Civic. Well, there are three ways you can go. One is the sensible route. One is the budget route. And one is for all-out front-wheel-drive performance. Let’s take a closer look.

2023 Honda Civic Sport interior showing the dashboard
2023 Honda Civic interior (Honda)

The sensible Civic

Edmunds recommends the Civic EX sedan because it has a more powerful turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is good for 180 horsepower. It helps to make the Civic “easy and effortless to drive,” according to our testing team. Notably, our crew doesn’t mind the Civic EX’s continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), characterizing it as “tuned well.” CVTs are difficult to do well, but the Civic's doesn't sit at high revs and isn't slow to simulate a shift.

In addition to the more powerful engine, the EX trim also adds dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a power sunroof, and a blind-spot warning system. The rear seat folds in a 60/40 split, adding utility lacking in the base Sport trim.

We’d dress the Civic EX in Meteorite Gray Metallic paint paired with the gray interior for sharper contrast and a more upscale vibe. The result might not be fancy, but it's functional and fun to drive — something you can't always say about cars in the Civic's class.

2023 Honda Civic Sport hatchback in Boost Blue exterior
2023 Honda Civic Sport hatchback (Honda)

The more affordable Civic

You can save a little money by swapping the Civic EX’s turbocharged engine for the standard 158-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This year, it comes only with Sport trim, and we’d grab the hatchback body style for its extra practicality and choice between the standard CVT and six-speed manual gearbox. Honda knows how to make a silky-smooth manual, that’s for sure.

The Civic Sport looks like it sits a rung above the EX, thanks to its larger 18-inch wheels and blacked-out exterior trim. Like all Civics, the interior is appealing and nicely detailed, though black cloth is the only choice with this version of the car. Dip the Sport hatch in Boost Blue paint (shown above), and it also takes on an especially vivid personality.

We like the Civic hatchback for its added cargo room. Compared to the Civic sedan’s 14.8-cubic-foot trunk (14.4 cubes with the Touring trim), the Civic hatch can haul 24.5 cubic feet of cargo behind its rear seat. Unfortunately, Honda doesn’t provide a maximum cargo space number for the hatchback but rest assured that it’s, umm, bigger.

2023 Honda Civic Type R in Sonic Gray Pearl, driving on a road
2023 Honda Civic Type R (Honda)

The no-holds-barred Civic

Ah, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R. Such a feast for the senses. Unless you dislike small, fast, incredibly capable cars that would shame far more expensive machinery, that is. Sure, the new Civic Type R is more “mature” than before, but you can look at it without grimacing, and it can spank the old one thanks to its upgraded hardware.

Equipped with a tuned-up and tweaked version of the previous Type R’s turbocharged 2.0-liter, the redesigned model hits the street or track with 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. An improved, rev-matching six-speed manual puts that power to the pavement through the front wheels and a helical limited-slip differential. Add the new Civic Type R’s longer wheelbase, wider front and rear tracks, retuned suspension, and upgraded brakes and the result is a little hatchback that is truly sensational to drive.

Plus, you still get all that room under the rear hatch and a back seat habitable by two adults. Sign us up.

Edmunds says

There are genuinely attractive Civics for people on a tight budget, upscale Civics for people with more money to spend, and performance-oriented Civics for people who like to go fast and have fun. Next up, Honda will offer a hybrid-powered Civic for people who hate stopping at gas stations.

While there are several good choices in the compact car class, the 11th-generation Honda Civic is easy to recommend, and in at least three different flavors.