2016 Honda Civic: 8 Ways This is a Staggeringly Good, Class-Leading Car
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on May 30, 2016
The 2016 Honda Civic is staggeringly good. Perhaps our loaded Touring trim and the accompanying turbocharged engine represents its best foot forward, but nevertheless, to me, the new Civic exists on a pedestal high above all others in the segment not named Mazda 3.
In fact, when driving the Civic the other day I found myself comparing it to our departed Mercedes-Benz CLA250. Similar size, also turbocharged ... and you know what? I'd take the Honda Civic. Happily. Instead of a Mercedes-Benz. Sure, the CLA is a bit crummy, but really, it says more about how fantastic the 2016 Civic is.
Here are just some of the reasons for the 2016 Civic's superiority...
1) That turbocharged engine. There is low-end power here that makes every little high-strung Honda four-cylinder engine before it seem gutless and underpowered. In the ways that real people drive — puttering around town, passing on the freeway — the Civic has gone from feeling anemic to energetic. It's also energetic in ways real people do not drive, turning in some of the segment's quickest acceleration numbers at our test track. Oh, and it also returns superior fuel economy. Win win win.
2) The continuously variable transmission. It simulates gears, it doesn't cause overtly bovine-like noises and unlike most CVT's, it is not terrible. The Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 would be so much better if it had this transmission. Now, would I prefer a manual? Sure, who wouldn't? Oh wait, no one else.
3) The ride. Civic beats the CLA here too, along with just about every other compact car as well. The last Civic actually rode quite well, too, so this is just a pleasant evolution. Still, the composed and compliant ride goes a long way toward the heightened levels of refinement and sophistication this car possesses.
4) Steering feel and driving experience. All the control weights and efforts are just right in the Civic. It feels natural to drive. It isn't sporty per se, but it also doesn't leave you out of the action.
5) The interior. This is a lovely cabin and even if you were to remove our fancy leather seats, the dash and door materials would still be of a high quality. After back-to-back drives in the Civic and also-redesigned Hyundai Elantra, the difference between to the two is clear: one feels like an economy car, the other does not.
6) The seats. This just might be our car's eight-way power driver seat, but at 6-foot-3, I find myself more comfortable in the Civic than I am in everything else in the segment. By far. There is more than enough seat and wheel adjustment available, which stands in sharp contrast to past Civics and their manual seats, which never went far back enough or dipped downward in the rear for better under thigh support. The seats themselves are also highly supportive.
7) The space. This is a big car, and indeed, I think it's big enough to make buyers think twice about stepping up to an Accord. Given the Civic's new found refinement and performance, the gap between Honda's bread and butter cars has narrowed significantly.
8) Small item storage. The center console is clever and useful, with its grippy smartphone storage try and center bin that consists of sliding cupholder and tray units plus a deep bin below. Like much of the car, it's well thought out.
I'm sure I could go on, but I think I've made my point: the 2016 Civic is a great achievement for Honda. It's a clear class leader, a clear leap forward from its predecessor, and an alternative to not only other compact sedans, but bigger and pricier models as well.
James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor @ 3,956 miles