2016 Honda Civic: Monthly Update for December 2016
by Josh Sadlier
Where Did We Drive It?
Our long-term 2016 Honda Civic's departure from the fleet is fast approaching, and we're doing our best to hit the usual 20,000-mile target despite a few out-of-service weeks due to damage repair. As I write this from a coffee shop in rainy Mill Valley, California, we've got about a month left with the Civic and roughly 18,500 miles on the odometer. I still have to drive the thing back to Los Angeles, so there's a decent chance that we'll reach the magic number with the rest of my trip plus a handful of commutes.
How's it been? On the whole, we're all impressed by how far Honda's come with this car after the previous-generation Civic's forgettable run. It's a top contender in the class, and we haven't said that with conviction about a Civic in quite a while. We've also recorded some hiccups with various technology features, however, so the report card isn't perfect. More on that below.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
I'm only halfway through my L.A.-S.F. loop, so I reserve the right to correct myself, but thus far I've been disappointed with the Civic's long-haul fuel economy relative to EPA expectations. My best tank — 37.7 mpg — consisted almost entirely of highway miles, typically with the cruise control set between 70 and 75 mph. The trip computer told me I got 40.4 mpg for that tank, which would have come closer to the EPA's 42 mpg highway estimate, but even that optimistic figure falls 4 percent short.
To borrow Dan's words after he topped out at 40 mpg on his Oregon trip, "I could have achieved better mileage if I had settled for a pure freeway run in the neighborhood of 65 to 70 mph." Sure. But I also have a thing for cars that hit their EPA numbers in ordinary (read: faster) highway driving, our long-term BMW 340 being Exhibit A in the current fleet. The Civic doesn't seem to be in that club.
In fairness to Honda, though, the "38 to 40 real-world highway mpg and 0-60 in 6.9 seconds" club is nothing to sneeze at.
Average lifetime mpg: 32.8 mpg
EPA mpg rating: 35 mpg combined (31 city/42 highway)
Best fill mpg: 49.4 mpg
Best range: 435.3 miles
Current odometer: 18,311 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"While driving home on my commute one evening, I noticed that the ride comfort in our Honda Civic wasn't that great. This could certainly be attributed to the poor quality of Los Angeles' 405 freeway, so I wondered if I was imagining it or maybe being too picky. But later that evening I was driving to a local frozen yogurt establishment with two friends and the ride seemed even less forgiving. Even my friends noticed it and brought it up." — Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant
"I respect the capabilities of the Civic's 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, but having lived with it for a couple weeks straight, I'm getting a bit annoyed with how loud it is when it's working hard. The noise is intrusive enough to hurt the Civic's refinement score in my mind, and it makes me less inclined to dip into the engine's reserves. A little more sound-deadening material could go a long way." — Josh Sadlier, Content Strategist
"The Civic choked when faced with a Bluetooth phone call. I was on a long road trip and a call came in; both the instrument cluster and the center screen displayed the call. My passenger declined the call on the center screen, but the 'incoming call' alert remained. It also remained in the instrument cluster ... for the next 200 miles. The center screen would allow me to summon another display (audio, maps, etc.), but if I returned to the phone display, the 'incoming call' alert was still there, uncancellable. The instrument cluster was stuck as you see in the below photo. No amount of button-pushing changed that. Clearing it required a key cycle. This, particularly in conjunction with the generally annoying touch-sensitive interface, is no bueno. Honda needs to rethink its infotainment interface (and collision alerts!) in a big way." — Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
"Had an alarming experience with the Civic's audio system. I was listening to something on my phone while it was charging via the USB port that's in the open storage area underneath the shifter, down by the floor. I don't exactly remember the sequence of events, but it involved unplugging my phone from the USB cable, and soon thereafter the speakers simply stopped working. No sound from any source — radio, phone, nothing. I tried turning the car off and on. Nope. Tried pressing the audio power button to turn the system off, but that function wasn't working at all. Hasty research revealed that others have had this problem, and someone suggested holding the audio power button for 10 seconds or whatever to reboot the system. That thankfully worked, even though the normal power-off function was not functional, and the sound returned after the reboot. The threat of a silent trip back to L.A. had been averted. But especially in the context of the other technological glitches we've encountered with our Civic, it shook my confidence. I like the car. I'm leery of the tech." — Josh Sadlier