Though the ninth-generation Civic debuted just last year, Honda has taken the unusual step of heavily updating the compact sedan for its second year on the market. Fresh exterior styling, a higher-quality cabin and revised chassis components mean the Civic is once again a competitive offering in the crowded compact segment.
The Civic sedan (which is mechanically identical to the Civic coupe) is just one of many members of the Civic family, which includes the super-thrifty Civic HF and Civic Hybrid, the sporty Civic Si Sedan and Coupe as well as the Civic Natural Gas model.
To address concerns that the latest Civic sedan's exterior looked too similar to that of its predecessor, Honda added an updated lower bumper with chrome accents, a black honeycomb mesh grille, clear-lens corner lights and a more sculpted hood. Upper-trim models now get integrated fog lights. Out back, the Civic gets a new-look bumper as well as a lower diffuser panel with a honeycomb mesh vent.
The biggest changes come inside, however. A newly squared-off center stack and redesigned air vents lend the dashboard a much more cohesive feel, and upscale soft-touch materials now reside atop the instrument panels. The door panels have also been revised and are covered in similarly upgraded trim. The interior is now quieter than before thanks to a raft of NVH-related tweaks, including thicker windshield and front-side window glass, a stiffer subframe and more sound-deading materials in the trunk, doors and floor.
Underneath its revised sheetmetal, the Civic features numerous handling-focused modifications. The suspension has been reworked with stiffer springs and rear bushings along with thicker roll bars front and rear, while the body structure benefits from a number of strengthened components. A retuned electric steering setup is also among the changes, as are upsized 11.1-inch front brake rotors.
The Civic's powertrain carries over for the latest model year. The motor - a SOHC 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 140 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque - is slightly underpowered relative to the competition. It does return excellent fuel economy, however - teamed with the optional five-speed automatic, the 1.8-liter is rated for 28/39 city/highway mpg. The standard gearbox, a snick-snick five-speed manual, helps unlock extra acceleration but reduces efficiency to 28/36 mpg.
Standard and Optional Features
Previously characterized by a dearth of standard kit, the Civic received a number of new standard features for the latest model year and is now one of the better-equipped rides in the compact segment. The Civic is available in LX, EX and EX-L trim levels (the latter of which offer navigation system-equipped sub-trims).
The LX comes standard with A/C, power windows and locks, a four-speaker, 160-watt AM/FM/CD sound system with USB and AUX inputs, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity with Pandora radio compatibility and 15-inch wheels with hubcaps. Notable upscale standard features include a rearview camera and a five-inch LCD information screen mounted atop the center stack.
Stepping up to the EX brings a standard automatic transmission, a sunroof, automatic climate control, two additional speakers for the sound system and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The top-shelf EX-L adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, auto on/off headlights and heated power side mirrors.
Both EX and EX-L models can be had with a satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition.
The Honda Civic Sedan's safety features include two-row side curtain airbags, dual-stage, multiple-threshold driver's and front passenger's airbags, driver's and front passenger's side airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and anti-lock braking (ABS) with brake assist.
The Civic sedan plays in the heart of a crowded segment against the stalwart Toyota Corolla, the efficient and well-appointed Hyundai Elantra and the sporty, Euro-chic Ford Focus sedan.