All Grown Up. The 2016 Honda Civic.
When I called Honda asking for a new Civic, I was very specific about my demands: I wanted one with excessively cambered wheels and a sticker-bombed bike rack. I wanted to fit in with the stance bros, you see. I even put a Swagway hoverboard on order and was about to take up vaping when Honda flat out told me that they don’t offer such a package from the factory. They then not-so-subtly advised that I’d be better off associating with people my own age, anyway.
As a consolation prize, or because they simply took pity on me, Honda sent me a 2016 Civic Touring. It’s got a turbocharger, so I got that going for me, I guess.
Despite being a dyed-in-the-wool Honda fanboy, I’ve not been enamored with the recent generations of Civic. They stopped looking good after 1999; the multi-tiered dash never felt right, the tossable, fun-to-drive character was missing, and even the Si felt buzzy and unrefined. Oh, and please get off my lawn.
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And though this latest Civic doesn’t inspire dreams of conquering the Osaka loop, it’s by far the best Civic in years. But does it still have that Civic charm?
If anything, it’s certainly an attractive car — especially in the Touring trim. Its bold sci-fi grille effortlessly blends into the swooping greenhouse, bulging rear haunches and stealth fighter-inspired rear. I particularly like the fastback shape, though I’d be happier if it opened wide like a proper hatch.
Inside, Honda finally got the right mix of tech and familiarity. The gauge binnacle has gone back to normal and now houses a full-color, customizable TFT display. This fully loaded Civic also gets the latest version of HondaLink— complete with Apple Car Play —dual-zone climate control, heated seats front and rear, and push-button start.
Granted, these features are common on all vehicles these days. But Honda got its interior-material groove back, further enhancing this Civic’s premium feel. From the leather-wrapped steering wheel to the faux-metal dash trim, the fit and finish are on point, and it all works to help make you feel better about having spent over $27K on a Civic.
Also helping ease the sticker shock is the powertrain. That turbocharger I mentioned in the second paragraph is bolted to a 1.5-liter four-banger. Redline comes in at a relatively low 6500 rpm, so there’s no mashing the pedal and waiting for the VTEC to kick in, yo. But there’s still plenty of power to be found here: 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. And in a very un-Honda-like fashion, that torque comes in all the way down at 1700 rpm.
So, sounds fun, right? Well, not so fast. This engine is mated to a CVT, so that old-school, high-revving, pure Honda joy is nowhere to be found. That’s not to say that the drive is terrible —just the opposite, in fact. This Civic is one smooth operator. With a flat torque curve all the way to 5500 rpm, it's a very willing cruiser. It gives you just enough power to get up to speed, pass slower traffic and climb hills with ease. The ride is comfortable with just enough communication from the chassis, and the overall driving experience is easy. And as someone uncomfortably close to 40, it’s the right drive for me.
That said, this still isn’t the perfect Civic. It lacks the spirit (and the buzz) of the Mazda3, and it dwarfs the classic Civics that still define the nameplate. But like me, this Civic grew up. It’s become a bit bigger, more mature, more stylish, and a lot more respectable.
What this Civic is, then, is the perfect Accord. Welcome to adulthood, Civic.