2016 Honda Civic Touring review

2016 Honda Civic Touring

A cause for celebration in Civic Nation

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What have we here?

Dear readers, feast your eyes on the 10th generation Honda Civic. In case you haven’t been paying attention to the recent automotive headlines, this is the Civic’s return to greatness after emerging from the darkest period in its history. From 2005 to 2015, the Civic was a shadow of its former self; think of it as “The Edsel Era”, if you must. Adjectives like light, tossable and fun were scrapped in favor of the new normal- heavy, lazy and merely adequate. Clearly, those vintages were designed for a much broader audience which is why enthusiasts and card carrying members of Civic Nation felt a bit left out in the cold. Eventually Honda got its act together, undertaking an unprecedented redesign twice within a span of a few short years because it was so wonkily executed from the get-go. After a forgettable 8th and 9th generation, the Civic we all lovingly remember is back. The motoring press across here in Canada along with our counterpart’s south of the border have been paying attention as well. Recently the highest level of flattery (in the form of the Car of the Year award) was directed at the Civic from the motoring press here in Canada but also across North America.

There appears to be a little resemblance to the now-defunct Crosstour…

Any comparisons to the Crosstour’s aesthetics are perhaps the worst thing you can say abut the Civic’s styling. It only resembles it, faintly recalling some of the design cues but while looking much better proportioned and less bulbous than the former sedan-cum-wagon. Styling being a wholly subjective thing, we’ll leave you to draw you own conclusions. To our eyes, the Civic looks much better than before but seems to suffer from trying too hard syndrome- some of the creases and sharp edges can overwhelm the eye, depending on what angle you’re checking it out from. The interior is more conventional but still striking. Gone is the awkward two-tiered dashboard in favour of a digital readout that is crisp and easy to read. Normally, we aren’t’ fans of digital instrument panels but Honda nailed the design and under friendlessness on this one. When it isn’t trying to break new ground for the sake of broadening its appeal, this Civic’s interior reminds us that Honda is still proficient at executing designs that work brilliantly. Highlights for us were the seats which were surprisingly all-day comfortable and the overall premium feel, and not just for a compact; the confines of the Civic are truly enjoyable to spend time in. We’ll send a demerit or two its way for the lack of a proper volume knob and an infotainment system that while nicely rendered could use a bit of polish when responding to commands.

This has to be the most well-equipped Civic in history, right?

As a matter of fact, our Touring tester made it not only the most comprehensively equipped Civic there ever was, but it would rival some cars that cost much more in terms of the exhaustive level of equipment as standard kit. It had some stuff on it that would make some luxury cars blush with envy: LED head and taillights, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist are the kinds of stuff you used to find on cars at the high end of the market spectrum. In Touring spec, there isn’t much left off the menu- the only thing we kept pining for was a manual gearbox, and there are no plans to offer it with the turbo engine at this point in time.

So the Civic has a turbocharged engine now?

As the move away from natural aspiration marches steadily forward, this marks the first time the Civic will feature forced induction. Right way, anyone who’s spent time in Honda’s VTEC screamers of yesterday will notice something that hasn’t been there before: torque. It used to be you would have to swing the tach needle seriously close to the redline to summon meaningful thrust, but not anymore- the Civic makes convincing power anywhere on the dial, and its midrange oomph is particularly sweet. Keeping the engine in the operating range where it is happiest will be handled by a CVT gearbox. This example doesn’t exacerbate the rubber band feeling we’ve all come to loathe, nor does it feel unnatural as you move forward with the revs being locked at 5,000 rpm when you ask it to move briskly. Would we offer a manual? Absolutely, but as we said earlier, it’s not in the cards for now.

How about handling? Is it any good?

The Civic you see here will shares a platform with the next generation Accord, and we can see some of the bigger car’s attributes trickling its way down in the form of a comfortable, composed ride and plenty of space for people and luggage alike. On the highway, the Civic displays the same serenity and comfort as its bigger brother, but when the road starts throwing corners your way the Civic will enthusiastically dig in. It has a genuine zest when you ask it to change directions and a more aggressive set of tires geared towards handling rather than quietness and low rolling resistance would add to the fun even more. The current Civic has a penchant for fun that would even have made the outgoing Si a bit jealous.

Should I buy one?

If you’ve been holding out for the last few years to see how Honda would do with the 10th generation Civic, your patience will be rewarded. Whereas the Civic was a middling entry into the compact space, the current model you see here vaults it back to the leaders of the pack. We’ve always defaulted to the Mazda3 as being the torchbearer for this competitive class, but now Honda has given us pause whenever someone asks us which is the car to have in the segment. Civic Nation should have a glut of folks eagerly waiting to join the ranks.

 2016 Honda Civic Touring— Specifications

  • Price as tested: $28,762
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
  • Transmission: Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Engine:  1.5-litre turbocharged inline four, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower:  174 @ 5,500 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 162 @ 1,800-5,500 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,339 kg (2,952 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 8.2L/100km (29 mpg)