Ironically, we've escaped Canada to drive the compact car chosen by most Canadians. Despite a lukewarm reception to its last two refreshes, the Honda Civic has been the number one choice in the most highly competitive segment in our automotive market for over 16 years now.
What is the 2014 Honda Civic Sedan?
Introduced in 1973, the Honda Civic is Canada's top-selling compact sedan. The Japanese automaker came under fire in 2011 when they released the ninth generation 2012 Civic, which was almost universally criticized for its sub-par interior and lackluster styling. Honda promptly upgraded the Civic sedan for 2013, with more stylish front and rear fascias, better handling and more sound-deadening insulation. It was a band-aid measure meant to address the shortcomings of the previous model, but the Civic hasn't remained on top by being complacent. In order to stay on top in a segment that includes such tough competitors as the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla, it's absolutely vital to keep improving.
New for 2014, the Civic receives a new grill, hood and rear fascia and revised suspension. But even more importantly, it receives a boost in technology in the form of a new CVT transmission, and some slick new safety features.
2014 Honda Civic Sedan price and specs
The 2014 Honda Civic Sedan starts at $15,690 for the DX model with 5-speed manual, LX models are $18,440 with 5-speed and $19,740 with CVT, EX 5-speed at $20,500, or $21,800 with CVT, and the range topping Touring, available only with CVT for $25,200. Performance-oriented Si models come with 6-speed only, for $26,250.
Returning is the familiar 1.8L VTEC 4-cylinder, but exhaust tweaks have increased its output to 143 horsepower/129 lb.-ft. (up from 140/128). The previous 5-speed automatic transmission has been replaced with a CVT that reportedly improves fuel economy by 6%. CVT-equipped Civics are rated of 6.7 city/5.0L highway and 6.0L/100 combined, while 5-speed manuals are rated at 7.3/5.5/6.5. Sporty Si model ratings are 9.9/6.6/8.4.
According to Honda, the LX will be the volume seller at 53%, followed by the EX (33%), Touring (10%), and DX and Si both at 2%.
Driving the 2014 Honda Civic Sedan
We spent an afternoon in a top of the line 2014 Honda Civic Touring equipped with the CVT. Unlike the new Coupe, the Civic Sedan doesn't come equipped with paddle shifters if you choose the $1,300 CVT transmission. As a result, performance is decidedly more leisurely – with the characteristic moaning in protest if the car's pushed too hard while merging or changing lanes. No matter, the demographic that chooses the Civic sedan is probably not one that's concerned with performance anyway.
The Civic sedan is a fine highway cruiser, quiet, composed and utterly without drama. The patchy back roads near Lake Apopka did little to upset the ride, or offer any noise intrusion into the cabin. Steering is light, without much feedback, but the Civic goes where you put it.
Our biggest beef was the ergonomic complexity of the Display Audio System, which required far too much shuffling through screens – very distracting while on the road.
We liked the Lane Watch system, which was very handy at revealing cars in our blind spot, or even bicycles approaching on the inside lane.
The 2014 Honda Civic Sedan: Inside and Out
The Civic sedan receives a new aggressive grille, redesigned hood and fenders and updated rear fascia. The sweeping "solid wing face" incorporates new headlamps into the grille, and features a new fascia with larger air openings. It's finished off nicely by a more chiseled rear end.
The same driver-centric layout with its "two-tier dash" returns, but with the addition of a new black color theme and new fabrics.
New for 2014 is an impressive list of technology, featuring the "Display Audio" multi media system resembling an iPad. Aimed at younger buyers, the system works through touch – using two fingers to flick, slide, pinch or tap through various controls. Like many such systems, which work well in theory, this one entails cumbersome screen shuffling that could more easily be executed by simple knobs.
New technology includes HondaLink connectivity, which accesses a variety of services, but uses the driver's own cell phone data plan. Social media, countless music stations and even audio books can be accessed using steering wheel or voice-activated controls. While EX-L Navi and Si models come with embedded Navigation, Display Audio-equipped models can download a Honda-Link navigation app ($59).
Lane Watch, which first appeared on the Accord, uses a passenger mirror camera, to reveal blind spots in the inside lane when the turn signal's activated.
Comparing the Honda Civic Sedan
Compact sedans are a highly competitive segment and the Civic is up against such favorites as the Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3. Other top sellers include the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Kia Forte.