(Note: While I have done some writing in the past - including reviews for product - this will be my first actual automotive review. It’s also actually intended for a local website, but I felt like posting it to Oppo anyway. Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I know this review tended to ramble and go on tangents a bit and will be correcting that in the future. Anyway, hope you guys like it!
Also, I was sick and slightly high on cold medication while writing this. Don’t mind the occasional grammar mistakes lol)
I have to admit something straight off the bat: I’ve never been a fan of the Honda Civic. Maybe it was due to the fact that for the first few years of driving I was involved in the Volkswagen scene, driving modified GTI’s and GTX’s, where there was an innate rivalry between the two brands followers. This may have been exacerbated even further by the whole Honda Nation ad campaign a few years back, with Honda attempting to capitalize on the popularity of the Fast and Furious craze. To me, modifying a car was supposed to be an expression of one’s self and a small act of rebellion, not something to be embraced and encouraged by the manufacturers themselves. Add in the whole rice rocket stereotype and it became a no brainer for me. It was around that time that I had naively told myself I would never own a Honda product.
That turned out to be a short lived promise.
While I have yet to technically own a Civic, I have since owned a seventh generation Honda Accord coupe and a first generation Acura EL, which is, as we know, simply a tarted up Civic. While not much driving pleasure can be wrangled out of it, it was purchased primarily to be a reliable daily driver while I worked on my Saab 900 Turbo project car. It was during this time that I began to see the appeal behind owning a Civic. The simplicity of the engine, the decent fuel consumption and reliability were all things I appreciated from my early Volkswagen days and rediscovered within this tuxedo wearing Civic. However, this was all on an older model and I had a hard time believing the new versions shared this commonality. Thus, I was determined to find out whether Honda’s latest (and outgoing model) variant was capable of winning me over.
(Disclaimer: I contacted Honda Canada about their press fleet and they agreed to loan me a 2015 Honda Civic Touring sedan.)
Looks are subjective. You know that and I know as well. Hell, even Honda knows this. With that in mind, I’m not a fan of the current bubble look. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the design, really, but it’s just a little plain. I realize the Civic is Honda’s bread and butter and making it look too outrageous means potentially alienating a large portion of their customer base. But… I dunno. Personally I think it needs something a little more to help it stand out. Then again, when the majority of your buyers are looking for something that’s little more than a reliable A to B runabout, I guess it makes sense.
All that said, for what it is, it’s not bad looking.
Oh how I mocked when Honda first introduced the dual level dash. It looked awkward, cluttered and not at all functional. I was still laughing ten years later, right until about a mile into driving this car. The current design does look slightly dated, but it’s actually far more functional than I ever thought it could be. Since the tester model I had was an automatic, I didn’t need to bother with the tach, which is located where the traditional cluster of gauges would be. The fact that the actual road speed is displayed in clear digital numbers just below your sight line was pretty handy. The dual info/media screens were a slick touch as well. It was nice being able to have your main GPS running on the main center screen, while the rest of your information is displayed elsewhere. An added bonus was that any major direction changes you needed to follow also showed up on the secondary screen, so you wouldn’t have to look down. Not bad.
Also, big thanks to Honda for keeping the HVAC controls and display completely separate from the rest of the system. All the necessary buttons and dials were right where you’d find them and the fact that you could change them quickly without having to navigate through the touch screen was nice.
One thing I found myself on the fence about was the passenger side blind spot camera. Basically, if you signal right, a camera located just below the passenger side mirror gives you a live view on your center console. Considering a combination of the large C-pillar and high beltline at the rear creates a blindspot, it’s a handy feature to have. However, I found myself relying on it too much and found myself not doing shoulder checks. This camera still had a couple of minor areas it couldn’t cover and using it as your sole source of information is probably a bad idea. But as an aid, it was nice to have.
Unfortunately the iMiD (Intelligent Multi Information Display) software felt extremely laggy. There were often quite a few times when I was changing audio sources or updating a GPS nav point and the screen would literally just sit for a couple seconds before it did anything. It felt like a computer when it’s overloaded with running programs and it lags when clicking between programs. Considering these days we all tend to run the latest smartphones, tablets and computers, trying to use this system felt archaic. There was nothing wrong per say with the UI design, just the hardware running it.
Those seats, though… I’m probably what you would say is average height (5’ 8) and average weight (170ish) and I’m pretty sure you could fit two of me onto one of those front seats. Maybe I’m just used to car seats with deep side bolsters, but the ones in the Civic just felt cavernous. More than a few times I found myself sliding around quite a bit, even with the seatbelt as tight as I could make it. They were comfortable enough for city driving, but long distance hauls made my back hurt.
It’s a grocery getter, not a Hellcat. There’s no noticeable exhaust note (rightfully so in a car like this) and the engine noise is your basic four-pot clatter. There was a bit more wind noise than I expected once I got up to (Coquihalla) highway speeds, but otherwise the cabin stayed relatively quiet.
The audio system is nothing to write home about. It does the job, but at a relatively neutral, slightly muddy level. Again, not unexpected in a car like this.
FUEL ECONOMY (9/10)
The car I tested came with Honda’s 1.8L 16v SOHC 4 cylinder, rated at 143hp and 129tq. It was also mated to their CVT. The engine itself coped surprisingly well considering the amount of hills I have to contend with on a daily basis and returned a decent fuel mileage. On a drive from Richmond to Kamloops, I averaged roughly 7L/100km and about 6.5L/100km on the return drive. I’m sure part of this was because of the CVT and mixed use of the Econ mode.
I’m still not sold on CVT’s, even though I know they have their advantages. This one was designed to mimic the typical shift change you’d get from a traditional automatic, but there were times (especially when going up a hill) that it was apparent you were driving something that wasn’t a typical slushbox. Again, not saying it’s wrong for a car like this, but it’s a little weird. Give me a good ol’ fashion clutch and I’ll happily row my own gears. Thankfully a 5 and 6 speed option are available for the Civic, depending on the trim level of course.
THE REST (7/10)
If you’re thinking of tackling the twisties, don’t bother. The suspension is comfortable, compliant and relatively capable, but falls flat on it’s face if you show it a corner at more than minimum speed. Stick to the grocery route.
One huge thing I really liked was the engine bay; rather, the simplicity of it. I know that 99.9% of owners aren’t going to work on their car while it’s under warranty, but when the time comes for us backyard mechanics to break out the wrenches and fix something, you will be pleasantly surprised. Everything that you would have to typically repair or replace is extremely accessible and there is a ton of spare space to work with. It will make future tuners very happy, I guarantee.
That final points count seems lower than this car deserves. It’s probably because I’m looking at this car from a driving enthusiast’s point of view instead of seeing it as a tool to be used. Much like my screwdrivers or shoes, they’re simply something to be used until they break. I don’t buy a specific printer because it looks cool or because it speak of soul and passion; no, I buy them because I want something reliable, cheap to run, and wont break the bank when I buy it. If you want a car that’s fun to drive, look at the SI trim or at one of the other manufacturer’s offerings. However, as a car to be used to pick up the kids, get the groceries, and travel to work, this one is hard to beat. When someone asks what a good, reliable, new car would be for a first time driver, our answers are almost always Civic or Corolla. And you know what? I’ll still be recommending the Civic. It might not be the car for me, but it’s certainly the car for someone who isn’t.
Starts at $15,750cad - DX trim
As tested at $25,350cad - Touring trim
Recommended version: LX trim