2023 Honda Civic – Solid Formula


No matter how old are you, or where you live, most people have memories of a Civic. It’s something either you remember from your childhood, the first car you bought, or a car you currently drive. Long story short, the Civic nameplate has its place in people’s lives. The Honda Civic is one of the few automobiles that people have had access to reliable and affordable vehicles for the last 5 decades.

Even after 50 years since it was first released, the Honda Civic has still been a global bestseller and one of the first nameplates that comes to mind if you are looking for a car. Even though the sedans are no longer appealing to the mainstream audience, the Civic continues to be the right choice for people who want a regular car for basic transportation.

The 11th generation Civic is better than ever, but also bigger than ever. It is just as big as an Accord from the 2000s, which also means even though it is technically a compact sedan, it is no longer a compact vehicle. The size difference is very noticeable, especially when you park it next to a previous-generation Civic. Unlike the last generation though, the Civic no longer has cartoonish looks, it has much more premium design language in general.

From the side profile, the extra length is very noticeable, but it also has a very low belt line, and the overall ride height is significantly lower than the competition. I am sure it helps with the overall fuel economy, but that also means getting in and out is a little painful especially if you are not very flexible. The Touring trim comes with the larger 18″ dual-colour wheels which look great.

Just like the front end, the rear end has quite conservative design language with big taillights. There are no gimmicks anywhere outside the vehicle. You will not find fake exhaust tips or unnecessary design elements. What you see what you get, and that’s what makes the Civic appealing to its loyal audience. The Touring trim offers extra chrome pieces around the vehicle for more upscale looks, but other than that, the subtle design is the right choice for a compact sedan.

The interior is where the Civic really shines. Even though it looks a little bit monochromatic, the diversity of different materials and the way they are placed is very impressive. You’ll find soft-touch plastics on the upper dashboard, leather and soft surfaces where the driver touches, a minimal amount of glossy black plastic trims, and non-glossy surfaces on the center console. It proves you don’t need to have an excessive amount of piano black trims to make a good-looking interior.

What’s even more impressive is the number of physical buttons and knobs laid out throughout the interior. Honda proves that you don’t have to put everything into the infotainment screen to have a good interior. The buttons and knobs feel very solid, you get a good amount of storage cubbies and a wireless charging port for your smartphones. I’m surprised there is no USB-C anywhere in the interior, you need to have the older style USB cable to charge electronic devices.

Even though you can use the USB ports for smartphone integration, the Civic comes with the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 9-inch is not huge by modern standards, but it comes with a volume knob and physical buttons just like the rest of the interior. The infotainment software is one of the easiest and most intuitive options available, but sometimes it works slowly and input lag can be annoying from time to time. I am sure the Civic will eventually get the latest infotainment screen and software that we found in the new Accord.

Unlike the infotainment screen, the Civic comes with a standard 10.2-inch colour digital instrument cluster that we also find in more expensive Honda models. It offers a few different layouts, but I’ve found the traditional round-shaped speedometer looks the best. It does not offer many customizable options, but it is easy to use, offers great resolution & quality and can show a lot of information.

The top Touring trim offers all features available, but it, unfortunately, does not offer any sort of backrest angle adjustment. The 4-way adjustable seats are comfortable, and they offer great driving position. Due to the low ride height, you sit very low to the ground, but it offers a good amount of interior space once you get in. At 6’1″, I had zero issues when it comes to finding the right driving position and I’ve had plenty of headroom and legroom behind the steering wheel.

The Civic Sedan comes with above-average trunk space, but at the end of the day, it is a sedan and has limited usability. It offers 14.8 cubic feet (420 litres) of cargo space, but the trunk has a relatively wider opening and there is minimal intrusion from the wheel wells, meaning that it can accommodate wider items. If you are looking for more cargo space out of your Civic, Honda also offers a hatchback version with more usable storage space.

The Drive – Specs & Experience

The 11th-generation Civic comes with two different body types and a lot of different engine and transmission options. The Civic Sedans only come with a base 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine which puts 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). If you are looking for more performance, only the top Touring trim comes with a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine that pushes 180 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, and CVT is the only option. If you are looking for even more performance, the Civic SI offers 200 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque out of that same 1.5-litre turbo engine, but only with a manual transmission.

The hatchback Civics are clearly more performance-oriented, even the base trim comes with the 1.5T engine, and there is also a manual transmission option with the Sport trim, but unlike the SI, it does not have a limited-slip differential and only pushes 180 horsepower, so it is not trying to step onto SI’s toes when it comes to performance. Of course, if you want all-out performance, there is the Civic Type-R, only available in hatchback, and manual transmission.

Our tester is the Touring trim, meaning that it only comes with the 1.5T engine with a CVT, and you really feel Honda knows how to build a CVT, as they have been offering CVTs in various models globally for the last 25 years. The transmission feels very solid, and the typical rubberband feeling is not noticeable. With the help of the 1.5T engine, it doesn’t have to rev a lot to have decent roll-on power, it loves hanging around 2000 RPMs but it still moves quite a bit.

The corporate 1.5T engine is used in many other Honda models. It had a rough start when it was first released in 2017, but Honda has fixed all issues and become the mainstream powertrain option for the brand. The engine offers a decent amount of torque in the mid-range and has a nice bottom-end grunt, which is the right choice for a car meant to be daily driven. It also offers decent fuel economy figures, we were averaging around 7.5L / 100 km in the middle of winter.

One of the biggest improvements compared to the previous generation is the ride quality. Even though our tester had the largest 18″ rims with a low tire profile, it handled most road imperfections beautifully. The softly sprung suspension setup is what you want to see in a regular Civic, but it also offers good handling characteristics with predictable chassis, great steering weight and a nice turn-in response. Unlike the previous generations, the biggest improvement is the ride quality, as it offers the premium feeling that you would find in much more expensive vehicles with a lower price tag.

The Verdict

It is not difficult to realize why it has been the best-selling compact sedan in North America. Just like the previous generations, the new Civic does everything well. It is spacious, well-built, good on gas, easy to drive, easy to live with every day with a great reliability track record. The new generation just adds an extra layer of premium feeling with more upscale looks. However, you need to pay the “premium” for it with its much higher MSRP, and that is the biggest problem for the current generation.

Engine1.5-litre turbocharged inline-4
TransmissionContinuously variable automatic
Max power180 hp @ 6000 rpm
Max torque177 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm
0-100 km/h7.8 seconds
Curb Weight3054 lb – 1385 kg
Fuel Economy (observed)31 MPG – 7.5 L/100 km
Price (as tested)$36,463

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