Cheap and cheerful is gone. The 2016 Honda Civic sedan has raised the bar for a compact car to new levels. After realizing that the 9th generation 2012 Civic was a dud, and quickly adding band-aids for 2013, Honda has gotten very, very serious with the all new 10th generation Civic. In fact, for awhile there the automotive analyst and journalist community was sensing Honda was losing its mojo. After updates to the Accord, the new Pilot, the HR-V and now the New 2016 Honda Civic, it is clear Honda is back. Honda’s development name for the new Civic is “EPIC” Civic and it fits. To achieve this “epicness” Honda benchmarked not only the usual suspects, but also the C-Class entries from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
For reference, the 2016 Honda Civic has 5 basic trim levels: LX, EX, EX-T(urbo), EX/Leather, Touring.
More Expressive Styling: While still quickly identified as a Honda, the new Civic is much more expressive than any Civic before it. The car is larger with a 3.0-inch increase in overall length and a 1.2-inch increase in wheelbase. The car is 0.8-inches lower and going back to an old Honda trick, its cowl is 1.6-inches lower giving better forward visibility. The car is lower and wider to give it the look of a more premium car. The Civic adopts its own version of Honda’s evolving face using an upscale looking grille. Innovative front lighting gives the car a unique look. LED daytime running lights are standard. The top-of-the-line Touring model has LED headlamps as well. The bodyside is creased as is today’s fashion with a slight bulge over the front wheels leading to a upper body character line ending in a muscular bulge over the rear wheels. The C-Pillar has a sharp crease separating the roof from the rear fender. The standard LED taillamps are huge V-shaped affairs.
Interior Much, Much More Upscale: The front edge of the instrument panel sweeps below the windshield in a smooth unbroken arc from A-Pillar to A-Pillar and continue down the door trim panel. This adds a sense of width to the car. The instrument panel pad feels very high quality and nowhere near the hard plastic some cars in this class had in the past. The seats are very comfortable – at least in the EX-L trim level with leather interior – and trimmed in high quality leather. The instrument cluster includes a digital speedometer surrounded by an analog tachometer. Nicely done. Honda has paid a lot of attention to the transformer-like center console. The conventional shifter is where you would expect, but ahead of the shift lever is an area for your cell phone or iPad mini. Next to the driver’s knee is the switch for the electronic parking brake. There is a sliding lid that reveals cupholders and space to hold an iPad. Since all Civics have keyless start, there is storage for the key in the console.
Two Engines – Both Upgrades to Predecessor – Honda’s First Turbo in USA: The base engine for the 2016 Honda Civic is a 2.0L double overhead cam 4-cylinder with 158-horsepower (the old Civic had a single overhead cam 1.8L 4-cylinder with 143HP). The upscale engine is Honda’s first turbo in the USA, a 1.5L double overhead cam 4-cylinder turbo with 174-horsepower. The base engine is available with a 6-speed manual transmission or CVT. The Turbo is available only with the CVT. The 2.0L I4 has more power than Corolla, Elantra or Mazda3. The base Ford Focus with a 2.0L 4-cylinder has 160-horsepower edging out the base Civic by a couple of ponies. The Turbo is bested by entries like Ford’s 252HP EcoBoost 4-cylinder Turbo in the Focus ST (manual transmission only) and 350-horsepower in the Focus RS, but those are rarefied enthusiast entries, not mainstream like the Civic Turbo will be.
Joins Democratization of Technology Club: As with many car lines down the price spectrum, Civic now comes with a long list of available technology features capping out with its Honda Sensing system that includes adaptive cruise control with low speed follow, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning. Honda Sensing is standard on the top of the line Touring model and optional for $1,000 on the lower spec models. Even the base LX is pretty well equipped with automatic headlights, auto up/down power windows, ambient interior lighting. LCD color audio system, electronic parking brake and automatic climate control. You get Lane Watch and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto when you move to the EX model. When you go the EX-T you get the 174HP Turbo engine, heated seats XM and HD radio and dual zone automatic temperature control. When you pop for leather, you get an 8-way power driver’s seat. Touring gets the full package: Honda Sensing, rain sensing wipers, LED headlamps, power passenger seat, navigation.
Driving the Civic Turbo: Honda is, after all, an engine company and the new 1.5L Turbo shows that. It has good power to move the car easily. It is smooth and nicely damped from the interior. The engine is quiet even when outside the car. The CVT, a usually reviled transmission type, has been developed to a point where you cannot really tell it’s a CVT. While you expect Honda to provide an outstanding powertrain, it is the solidity, ride, handling and braking that set this Civic apart from its predecessors and many other small cars out there today. It appears that they implemented many of the lessons learned when benchmarking European luxury car competitors. It is that good. No complaints on the dynamics of the car at all.
Pricing: The base price of the 2016 Honda Civic LX is $18,640 with $835 destination and delivery on top of that. The top of the line Touring Edition comes in at $26,500 with $835 D&D. Comparatively, a 2016 Ford Focus S starts at $17,225 with $875 D&D. The Focus S does not have the feature load of the Civic LX. It lacks a 6-speed manual transmission, automatic climate control and one-touch windows all around. The Focus Titanium with (almost) all the boxes checked comes in at $26,125 plus $875 D&D. So from a MSRP standpoint, the two cars are pretty close and Ford dealers are more likely to go for the deal vs. a hot out of the box Civic.
Now for the Nitpicks: There are, of course, no perfect cars even though Consumer Reports contends the Tesla Model S is better than perfect. Here are my nits for the Civic. 1) The steering column adjustment lever is a long reach under the instrument panel. Even though you might not use it often, it is tough to get to. 2) Radio volume control is a slide on the touch screen for the audio system. Might not be too much of a problem once you figure it out, but it would fail the rental car test. 3) Blind spot monitoring system with cross traffic alert is not available. Honda contends this is not now appropriate for the Civic class of car even though several competitors offer it. It appears that Honda is depending on Lane Watch to handle this important safety chore, but Lane Watch will not help you pull out from between two Suburbans in a parking lot and warn you of approaching traffic. Honda used a similar rationale on the Accord where Blind Spot Monitoring is only available on the top of the line. 4) Honda has lowered the front seats by about 1.5 inches. This reduces the hip to floor distance, creates a more laid-back driving position and hampers ingress/egress. The higher seat height in the previous car was better.
Overall: Great Job on the EPIC Civic.
Funky First Timer – cube Wins VSA First time out of the box, the funky cute Nissan cube (with a small “c”) wins AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact Cars. The cube is a tour de force in packaging winning its class in ease of getting in and out, seating capacity, flexible seating and, possibly most important in this class, cupholder design and size. cube beats some serious competition – Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen New Beetle, Kia Forte, Honda Civic. It doesn’t win by sheer force of winning numerous categories. It wins by having very respectable ratings in all.
The cube is a pleasure to drive if you are just loafing around town. It turns heads and mostly gets thumbs up from other drivers. The buyers run the gamut from GenY through Boomers. GenY buyers are looking for cool transportation that doesn’t cost much and can carry their buddies and some stuff. Boomers are looking for an affordable small vehicle that is easy to live with, easy to get into and out of and can carry adults in the rear seat. When you exit a cube, you usually have a smile on your face.
cube is a FLOATER One of our analysts calls it FLOATING. This is when you just go out for a relaxing drive on the weekend with no particular place or time in mind. cube is perfect for that. It’s a perfect FLOATER.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.
This month, Suzuki offers new competition for Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Kia Spectra, Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer, and Chevrolet Cobalt and replaces the slow-selling Aerio. The SX4 Sport sedan is related to the SX4 Crossover launched last summer, and most distinct from the Crossover in that it carries a trunk and is not available with an all-wheel-drive system. The SX4 family is more competitive than the Aerio hatchback and sedan they replace and continue to offer lots of standard features at a reasonable price point.
On a hot and muggy August day in Traverse City, Michigan, we had our first drive and spent some time with Suzuki product planners and marketing executives. Suzuki developed the SX4 Sport to be a stylish compact with emotionally rewarding driving experience at an affordable price, but also wanted to bring something new to the market. In many ways, and within the context of the compact segment, they met these goals. The SX4 offers a quirky style and an affordable price, but we did not see where it brings something new or unique to the standard compact sedan formula.
Steady and Quiet, Rain or Shine
A strong downpour covered the morning and first of our drive, though the sun opened up and dried out the roads over the course of our three-hour drive. The small, narrow SX4 felt as planted during a strong downpour as on dry pavement an hour later. Though a deep puddle tried to swallow the little car, the SX4 would have none of that and pushed through with the determination of a larger vehicle. The SX4 Sport is nimble and offers a manual gearbox with direct action, little slop, and a light but predictable clutch. Though entertaining for a $15,000 ride, the SX4 doesn’t offer as much pure fun as a Mazda3 nor does it feel quite as substantial as the new-for-2008 Mitsubishi Lancer (click for our drive review of the Lancer
). It does, however, offer an interior environment surprisingly free of road or wind noise.
AutoPacific and VehicleVoice had the opportunity to evaluate the all new 2007 Nissan Sentra on the roads East of San Francisco Bay. The all new Sentra competes with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cobalt. For 2007, every major dimension has been expanded to meet American tastes.
For the Record
Global development effort between Nissan and Renault. Delayed by about a year after bombing in USA product clinics. Went back to the drawing board to get it right.
Built at Nissan’s Aguascalientes Plant in Mexico: Plant underwent a $800 million upgrade to accommodate all new Sentra and all new Versa. 350,000 units per year capacity.
On sale October 12, 2006.
Target Customer: Echo Boomers – Generation Y between the ages of 18 and 29. Sentra needs to serve many purposes – going out with friends, carrying a bike, taking road trips, buying furniture at IKEA.
Strives to be Compact Class Benchmark
No longer a compact car aimed at the lowest common denominator customer, the new Sentra strives to be the benchmark of its class when it goes on sale October 12, 2006. While the Sentra slots into the Nissan car lineup above the all new Versa (which actually is larger in some dimensions) and below the all new Altima, the Sentra has grown over its predecessor in wheelbase (+5.9-inches), overall length (+2.3-inches), overall width (+3.2-inches) and overall height (+4.0-inches). Now the “compact” Sentra nudges the Mainstream Mid-Size Car in basic dimensions.
The Sentra has substantially more passenger volume than Civic, Corolla, Mazda3 and Cobalt. Similarly, it has a large cargo volume only slightly topped by Corolla and Cobalt.
Elantra Owners Helped Introduce the New Car
Hyundai’s Elantra gets a major change for the 2007MY, with sales in fall 2006 after a worldwide introduction at the 2006 New York auto show in April. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were there to get a first look at the new car. Though this reveal was not as dramatic as the fashion show that surrounded the Audi TT’s introduction or the mud-covered Jeep Wrangler unveiling, Hyundai cleverly brought in real Elantra owners to help introduce the new car and gave the presentation a real-world touch.
Wrangler and TT introductions no doubt ranked higher on enthusiasts’ interest scale in New York, but to put this into perspective, Hyundai sold about 109,900 Elantra sedans in 2005 compared with Jeep Wrangler sales of about 79,000 units and Audi TT sales of about 2,800 units (down in part as the Audi ramps up for the new model). The Elantra has been no slouch for Hyundai, and will be a strong contributor to the brand’s goal of breaking the 500,000-unit sales mark in 2006.
Hyundai owners are also satisfied enough to be repeat buyers, making the Elantra a winner by many yardsticks. Since the 2007MY change brings an improved and refined Elantra that the company wisely kept close in spirit to the outgoing product, there is no reason that the new-for-2007MY Elantra will not continue to win over more Hyundai owners.
also took the opportunity to remind us that, with Elantra sales, they will have fulfilled their promise of seven new models in twenty-four months. The promise was made in 2004, and the Elantra will be the seventh car. It follows Tucson, Sonata, Accent, Azera, Santa Fe, and Entourage.
Motorweek, the PBS-oriented car show, announced the winners of its 2006 Driver’s Choice Awards at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show. It will be interesting to see how these winners correspond to the owner awards from VehicleVoice and AutoPacific. The surveys for the annual AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award are in the field during the 1st Quarter 2006 and winners will be announced in early May.
Their winners include:
Best of the Year: Honda Civic
Best Small Car: Honda Civic
Best Family Sedan: Hyundai Sonata
Best Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Best Convertible: Pontiac Solstice
Best Luxury Sedan: Infiniti M-Series
Best Sports Sedan: BMW 3-Series
Best Performance Car: Ford Mustang
Best Small Sport Utility Vehicle: Toyota RAV4 (guess they didn’t measure it… Mid-Size SUV now)
Best Family Sport Utility Vehicle: Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer
Best Pickup Truck: Ford F-150
Best Eco-Friendly: Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Best Dream Machine: Chevrolet Corvette ZO6, Dodge Viper SRT10 Coupe, Ferrari F430
Special Category: Most Jane Car: BMW 3-Series
New vehicles from American Honda have swept the 2006 North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards. The all-new Honda Civic won the Car of the Year Award adn the Ridgeline Sport Utlity Truck won the Truck of the Year Award. The Civic has been on sale since late Fall 2005 and Ridgeline was introduced in Spring 2005. Both are 2006 models.
These awards mimic Car and Truck of the Year Awards by Motor Trend magazine announced earlier.
The new Civic replaces what may be the most lackluster Civic of all time. The Civic had devolved into a typical econobox that sold on the basis of its stellar image and name, not because it was the hiighly desirable Civic of the past. The new Civic corrects that. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific analysts rate the Civic as one of the best small cars on the road today… aspirational, exciting, and fun to drive.
The Ridgeline has not sold up to the expectations that Honda announced when the truck was introduced. Having slightly weird styling and being based on the Odyssey minivan platform, the Ridgeline is a great driving pretend truck. Full of innovative ideas that impressed the Car of the Year judges, Ridgeline deserves to succeed. It has not sold up to expectations likely due to its relatively high price point… substantially higher than “real trucks” like the Ford F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado.
American Honda may use the early lack of success of the Chrysler Pacifica as a case study. Pacifica was overpriced when it was introduced. People did not know what kind of vehicle it is. The idea that Pacific was a “sports tourer” did not mean anything to anybody. But Chrysler played around with its positioning and Pacifica now sells in respectable volumes.
It’s interesting that Honda’s press release announcing its achievement is pretty matter-of-fact. Ho-hum.
Reflex Introduction at 2006 NAIAS
It is said around town that Ford is considering how and when they may re-enter the (very) small-car segment, which includes cars priced from around $10,000 to $15,000 or so fully equipped. This segment is expected to see substantial growth over the next several years. These cars are smaller in size than entries like the Ford Focus or Honda Civic, and most typically wear sedan or hatchback bodystyles. Chevrolet’s Aveo, Toyota’s all-new Yaris and the defunct Echo, the Scion xA, the Hyundai Accent and Kia’s Rio are among examples of vehicles in this segment.
While the 2005 Ford SynUS concept explored the possibilities a boxy urban vehicle might provide (certainly in part inspired by the Scion xB), on the 2006 auto show circuit the concept is for a sporty small car that takes into account room for small children. Enter the Reflex. Reactions by VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) analysts are very positive.
Honda introduced the latest version of its Civic in early Fall 2005, the eighth generation of a product at the core of Honda’s existence in North America. Though Accord remains Honda’s best-selling product, Civic is a close second. Civic’s annual sales have remained at or above the 300,000-unit mark since about 1997, despite that the seventh-generation was a shadow of former generations and received heavy criticism from public and press alike for its de-contented feel and lack of enthusiasm versus prior iterations. In spite of this, as recently as 2004 the Civic outsold its nearest competitor (Ford Focus) by more than 100,000 units. Though the seventh-generation sold well, it did so by skating on a solid image generated by previous iterations. The new-for-2006MY Civic restores the substance behind the reputation.
The results of this transformation are being immediately felt. The eighth generation is praised even more than the prior car was criticized. It recently won Motor Trend Magazine’s Car of the Year award and is a finalist for the same honor in the North American Car of the Year competition. With such advance praise, we were looking forward to a turn behind the wheel. Now that a Civic EX has spent a week in AutoPacific’s Southfield, Michigan office, we’re happy to say that we’re also impressed.
The Civic has returned, long live the Civic!