Used 2016 Honda Civic Review
You might think of the 2016 Honda Civic as a small, relatively inexpensive car for buyers on a budget, but this little Honda is so much more than that. This new Civic has daring looks, turbocharged power and a spacious, technology-rich interior for you and your friends or even a few kids. Find out why it's a must-drive compact sedan or coupe.
The outgoing Honda Civic (2011-'15) generation garnered some very un-Honda-like controversy during its run, with lackluster early reviews leading to a virtually unprecedented second-year overhaul. Although that emergency surgery made the Civic more competitive, it failed to restore the car's class-leading status. With rivals improving by leaps and bounds, the Civic just wasn't a no-brainer pick like it used to be.
The 2016 Civic has new styling. Slimmer headlights and more pronounced fenders are two key changes.
For longtime Honda buyers, the fully redesigned, profoundly improved 2016 Honda Civic should come as a relief. From the Civic's edgy yet upscale looks to its mature cabin (no more two-tiered dash!) with nifty touchscreen-based tech, it's clear that Honda's innovative spirit has been revived. There's innovation under the hood, too, in the form of a new turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A first for the Civic, this turbo mill, which is offered on the higher trim levels only, produces a strong 174 horsepower and yet earns an estimated 42 mpg highway. Less expensive Civics receive a new engine as well, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's more powerful (158 hp) and fuel-efficient than the 1.8-liter it replaces.
Like the best Civics of yore, the new one feels sporty and fun when you're driving it on winding back roads. Unlike its predecessors, however, it's fairly quiet inside at speed, and its ride is more compliant than ever. We generally take boasts like Honda's "best-in-class interior volume" with a grain of salt, but in the new Civic's case, it translates into so much rear passenger space that families might question the need for an Accord. The interior design and materials are laudable, too, approaching Acura-grade refinement in the top Touring trim.
As noted, there are a lot of great choices for compact sedans or coupes these days. The Mazda 3 continues to distinguish itself with strong fuel economy, a sleek cabin and sporty handling, though its cramped backseat puts it at a disadvantage. The nimble and well-equipped Ford Focus may not be the freshest face, but this year's model should rival the Civic for the latest in-car technology. For a less expensive but still well-rounded sedan or coupe, we certainly recommend trying the Kia Forte. Last but hardly least is the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze, which comes gunning for the Civic with styling that Honda may find distinctly flattering.
To be sure, it's going to be tough to choose this year. But if you've been waiting for the Honda Civic to get its groove back, consider your patience rewarded.
trim levels & features
The 2016 Honda Civic is a compact car offered initially as a sedan, with coupe and hatchback styles to follow. The sedan is available in LX, EX, EX-T, EX-L and Touring trim levels. The coupe comes in LX, LX-P, EX-T, EX-L and Touring.
The base LX comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels (alloys for coupe), automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, full power accessories, cruise control, an expanded-view driver side mirror, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and manual front seats with driver height adjustment. Electronics features include a 5-inch central display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth (phone and audio) and a four-speaker sound system with a USB port and Pandora connectivity.
LX-P coupes have this equipment plus a sunroof and keyless ignition and entry.
The EX sedan adds those LX-P features plus 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, a multifunction trip computer, a rear center armrest with cupholders, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, an eight-speaker audio system with dual USB ports, Honda's camera-based LaneWatch lane-change assistant, dynamic guidelines for the rearview camera and a 7-inch touchscreen interface with HondaLink smartphone integration, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SMS voice-to-text functionality and smartphone-app integration (including app-based navigation).
The EX-T adds a turbocharged engine plus 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear deck lid spoiler, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and satellite and HD radio.
Leather upholstery comes standard on the EX-L and Touring trim levels.
The EX-L tacks on leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The Touring adds different 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, automatic wipers, a four-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats (sedan), an integrated navigation system with voice controls and a 10-speaker audio system. Also standard is a Honda Sensing safety package that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-departure intervention and forward-collision alert with automatic emergency braking.
The Honda Sensing safety package is optional on all other Civic sedan trims, and it adds a basic trip computer to the LX. The navigation system is optional on EX-L sedan.
performance & mpg
The front-wheel-drive 2016 Honda Civic comes with a four-cylinder engine, but the exact type varies depending on the trim level you pick. The LX and EX trims come with a 2.0-liter four rated at 158 hp and 138 pound-feet of torque. It's paired to either a six-speed manual transmission (LX only) or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that functions like an automatic. The CVT is optional on the LX.
The EX-T, EX-L and Touring trims are powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. The CVT is the only available transmission. In Edmunds testing, a Civic Touring sedan sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, which is about what the old sport-focused Civic Si used to achieve. It's considerably quicker than anything else in the segment.
Fuel economy for the turbocharged Civics is actually slightly better, checking in at 35 mpg combined (31/42) across the board.
The 2016 Honda Civic comes standard with stability control, antilock disc brakes (many previous Civics came with rear drums), front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Starting with the EX sedan trim, a right-side blind spot camera (LaneWatch) is also standard, as is the HondaLink system, which also includes emergency crash notification.On the Civic coupe, the blind-spot camera and HondaLink come standard on the Touring trim only.
In Edmunds testing, a Civic Touring sedan came to a stop from 60 mph in 117 feet, a few feet shorter than average.
Standard on Touring and optional on other Civic sedans is the Honda Sensing safety package, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-departure intervention and forward-collision alert with automatic emergency braking. On the coupe, it's standard on the Touring only.
We've found the forward-collision alert to be hypersensitive, however, annoyingly and frequently setting off its "Brake!" alarm in instances where other such systems would not cry wolf. The adaptive cruise control is also too quick to slam on the brakes, too slow to speed back up again and generally not very good at maintaining a constant speed.
The 2016 Honda Civic has a sharpness on the road that's been absent in recent years. Steering response is lively, and there's notably less body roll than in the previous Civic. That's also true for the Civic coupe, which has a slightly sportier suspension tune for crisper handling. At the same time, though, the Civic's ride is eminently comfortable, and there's less noise inside than Civic drivers have come to expect.
The new Civic is now one of the most distinctive-looking models in its class. Sporty performance backs up the look.
When you're accelerating hard from a stop or passing other vehicles, the base 2.0-liter engine can feel sluggish when paired with the CVT, but for normal driving it's capable enough. As for the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, its healthier midrange punch means it's not working as hard as the 2.0-liter most of the time, so the CVT makes for a better pairing here. Honda eschews any sort of manual mode for the transmission, instead providing a Sport mode that essentially just boosts engine speed a bit to make the turbo's sweet spot more accessible. Either way, acceleration is spirited, and the turbo Civic keeps pulling at highway speeds like a more expensive car. Overall, this is one of the best powertrains in the class, offering the fuel efficiency of an economy model and the performance of a sporty one.
The 2016 Civic sedan is about 3 inches longer and 2 inches wider than its predecessor, and its wheelbase is a bit longer, too. That means there should be more room for passengers, and indeed, Honda says the Civic has the most spacious interior in this class. Real-world testing sometimes calls bold claims like these into question, but make no mistake, this Civic is seriously roomy. Even in the coupe, four 6-footers should be content to ride all day, which is an extraordinary achievement for a vehicle in this class, and that enhanced space should also be a boon to families using bulky child safety seats.
A new infotainment system for the Civic includes a touchscreen and advanced smartphone integration. But we miss having physical volume and tuning knobs.
From the driver's vantage point, the new Civic feels like a luxury car compared to the outgoing model. Gone is the busy two-tiered dash, replaced by an elegantly restrained layout with upscale materials for the segment. Thoughtful touches abound, such as a capacitive-touch volume button on the steering wheel that works well whether you slide your thumb across its ribs or click either end like a rocker switch. A 7-inch touchscreen comes standard in all trims but the base LX, and it includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full-fledged smartphone functionality via the touchscreen itself. Unfortunately, its slow response times, small buttons and confusing menu structure often make it frustrating to use.
In terms of storage, there's an unusually deep storage bin under the center console's armrest with 7.2 liters of capacity -- enough, says Honda, for multiple iPads or a large water bottle. Trunk space, meanwhile, has shot up in the new Civic sedan, expanding from 12.5 cubic feet last year (an average figure) to a whopping 15.1 cubes. That's true family-sedan territory. Note that the Touring's trunk drops to 14.7 cubic feet due to the premium sound system's subwoofer.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.