The car has not been built that is all things to all people, but the 2020 Honda Civic makes a good run at it.
The Civic is the best-selling compact car in the U.S. It’s available in sedan ($19,750), coupe ($20,950) and hatchback ($21,650) body styles.
A great first car, the Civic will satisfy small families, downsizing seniors and anyone who needs solid transportation wrapped in Honda quality.
Of course, families with more than a pair of children need not apply. Nor should off-roaders or anyone who tows. Buyers seeking luxury must also look elsewhere, as Honda bucks the trend that has automakers loading up their entry-level cars with opulent accoutrements.
Balanced, athletic, engaging
Even in its topmost Sport Touring trim, the Civic comes across less as a luxury wannabe than a refined, well-built and thoughtfully designed family car.
Moreover, Civic balances a quality ride with engaging, athletic dynamics and a steering system that is responsive, accurate and communicative. In all of its configurations, the Civic boasts a comfortable ride and rewarding handling.
With their tuned suspensions, three models — Sport (180-hp), Si (205 hp/$25,000) and Type R (306 hp/$35,000) — openly flirt with enthusiasts.
The hatchback offers the utility of a large, open cargo area and the sedan boasts one of the segment’s largest trunks.
The coupe is all about looking good.
Newly aggressive presence
Other than the coupe, whose slippery fastback does serious damage to rear seat headroom, all Civics comfortably seat four adults.
The current, tenth-generation Civic debuted in 2016. Last year Honda gave the sedan and coupe a mid-cycle refresh. This year, the hatchback takes its turn.
The hatch is available in five trim levels, LX ($21,650), Sport ($22,750), EX ($24,150), EX-L ($25,350) and Sport Touring ($28,850).
A handful of sheet-metal updates — a new grille, new bumpers and new headlights and fog lamp housings — give the hatchback a more aggressive presence.
Inside, there are welcome infotainment-system updates and fresh interior trim packages.
Honda’s updated Display Audio touchscreen interface has a straightforward and user-friendly menu structure. An audio-system volume knob replaces the last generation’s challenging capacitative-touch slider. And Honda mixes in a set of hard buttons, simplifying the management of oft-used functions.
Extensive use of noise-suppression materials throughout the hatchback’s cabin and cargo area produces the most tranquil Civic cabin in memory.
A model of spatial efficiency, the Civic cabin is packed with casual storage opportunities. In every model and trim, Civic’s cabin is roomy and well-equipped. Even the base LX gets Honda’s Safety Sense suite of driver-assist features.
Two four-cylinder engines are offered, one turbocharged, the other not. Both are efficient and powerful enough to satisfy nearly every driver.
Two engines, two transmissions
The base sedan and coupe are powered by a 158-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A turbocharged 1.5-liter four makes 174 hp and powers upper trims of the sedan and coupe. The same engine is standard on the hatchback, where it is tuned to make up to 180 hp.
Two transmissions are available, a continuously variable unit and a six-speed manual. Both are first-rate examples of their individual breeds. The stick reminds us that no one does front-wheel-drive transmissions better than Honda.
And, with its simulated shift points and available paddle shifters, the CVT even has a bit of snap when needed.
Equipped with the 2.0-liter four, the Civic runs the 0-60 dash in 8.2 seconds; the turbocharged engine does it in 6.8 seconds.
With the stick, the Civic gets between 26 and 29 mpg in the city and 36 and 37 mpg on the highway. The hatchback with the CVT gets up to 31 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.
Honda rounds out the picture with a host of trim-level enhancements, including:
- The Sport trim adds keyless entry and ignition and the upgraded Display Audio system.
- The EX adds an 8-way power driver's seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
- The Sport Touring trim can now be had for the first time with the 6-speed manual transmission.
Honda has sold more than a million 10th-generation Civics since 2016. It can’t be all things to all people, but it’s clearly satisfying a bunch of them,
Questions or comments? Contact Don at email@example.com.
2020 Honda Civic Hatch Sport Touring
Vehicle base price: $19,750
Trim level base price: $28,850 As tested: $29,760 (includes destination and handling)
Options: The Sport Touring is a fully equipped trim; our tester included no options.
EPA rating: 32 combined/29 city/35 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified