I think it’s rather convenient that just a few short weeks before getting behind the wheel of a 2016 Honda Civic Touring I was in the 2015 version that wasn’t just a model year behind, but a generation behind. With an all-new look, all-new engine on offer and a whole new outlook on life in general, the new Civic really is everything you’d hope it would be (as a Honda fan), but it’s not quite perfect.
Yet, that doesn’t seem to really matter because it’s a Civic. Case in point (if you’ll allow me a moment to indulge in a bit of a story): I brought my test vehicle to a local garage so they could check it out and see the new Civic up close and personal. I’ve brought a lot of test vehicles there from Porsche to BMW, even a Bentley at one point and none of them received the attention or conversation that the Civic did. The buzz in the air was palpable. iPhones were out. The hood was popped. Doors were opened.
The #CivicNation #HondaNation tribe is alive and well and they are absolutely eating up the brand new 2016 Honda Civic, and with good reason.
That reason cannot be the looks
So, let’s start with a look at that new exterior design, shall we? I’ll go right ahead and say it: I am not at all a fan. I’ve mentioned it before, this fat shaming we do in the auto industry, and usually I try and stay away from doing it, but I can’t help myself when it comes to the new Civic. It’s poofy, big-bottomed, and looks massive. It almost looks Accord-like now. Its rump is so bulbous and perky it’s Crosstour-esque (and looks astonishingly that way from a side angle).
It seems odd to be that Honda didn’t make the sedan into a “grand coupe” type of body style as the trunk opening seems to me to be easy enough to make into a coupe style instead of just a normal sedan opening due to the roofline -- but I’m clearly not a design engineer.
In front, Honda’s outfitted the 2016 Civic with their new chrome “wings” grille addition that just adds another unnecessary layer to the whole thing, in my opinion. There are too many edges, too many layers, and too many lines.
Thankfully, inside it’s a bit better. Unlike other Honda products, the Civic only features one HMI screen (blissfully), and it works fairly well. I’m not a huge fan of Honda’s touch-sensitive everything. There aren’t enough physical buttons and knobs to manipulate. The precision needed to change the volume or navigate the HMI is just too much and becomes distracting while driving.
Oh, and the placement of the touch-sensitive volume adjustment on the steering wheel is horrendous. It is precisely where I rest my thumb when driving so I inevitably jacked or muted the volume every single time.
A lack of buttons and bad placement aside, the interior is pretty roomy and comfortable. Visibility is good, and the rear has more than enough room for three adults or my son’s large baby seat with him in it. The trunk is also surprisingly large, offering up 427 litres, which is great for small families.
Another upside to the interior in the 2016 Honda Civic Touring is the addition of CarPlay. Now, it wasn’t as flawless as I’d hoped it would be. I actually had a better time with it when I hooked up my iPhone in the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta. However, the possibility is there for it to work well and it’s a great feature.
But you don’t care about the look or CarPlay, really
You care about the drive. That’s what Civic drivers and lovers care about: How does it drive? I’m here to tell you it drives OK. That’s right: OK.
Honda rests on its laurels, just like Toyota, just like Ferrari. They feel they can do no wrong; their names will carry them, their reputations will precede them and no matter what people will get behind the wheel and exclaim profusely that, “Yes of course it drives brilliantly! It’s a Honda, after all!”
Well, it didn’t drive as brilliantly as I would have hoped or expected it to, but let me explain.
My particular tester was equipped with Honda’s brand new engine: a 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder mill that produces 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Now, I’m all for the new 1.5L. In fact, I adored it. It sounds great, it’s willing to play and highly responsive, the issue here is the transmission: At the moment you can only get the turbo paired with a CVT. Yes, you read that correctly.
That’s where it all fell a little (read: a lot) flat for me. I understand the integration of a CVT for fuel efficiency reasons, but when it dulls the drive experience in a car that’s supposed to be known for its drive… well, then that’s a problem. Honda did not include the ability to “shift” with the CVT as there are no paddle shifters nor can you shift via the gear lever. You simply get to listen to the CVT drone (thankfully the 1.5L is talkative enough to cover the sound, slightly).
Handling is sharp, but not as sharp as some. I learned that when I drove the 2016 Mazda3 GT alongside the 2016 Honda Civic Touring in a mini comparison drive. The differences were immediate, and the Civic’s “soft” nature came through.
While turn-in is precise, it also feels padded. The ride is plushy compared to the Mazda3, which is fine if you want comfort but it takes away an air of sportiness and hands it over to the Mazda3 hands down. But for more on that, you’ll have to check out the head-to-head.
It’s still a Civic
Overall, the 2016 Honda Civic Touring is a great car. It’s well built, offers up some great amenities, looks different (if that’s what you like), and drives well. There’s an available 6-speed manual if you’re not hard up about owning the new 1.5L turbo, and lots of options to spec out your Civic to your specific needs and wants.
With a starting price of just $15,990, the 2016 Honda Civic is an excellent choice all around. And it’s clear that it already has a solid following from fans who’ve been behind the brand and model for generations and will continue to be for generations to come.