Cars

Does It Really Matter Which Honda Civic You Buy?

New or used, the Honda Civic is an extremely popular car. Although the Civic had some missteps in the past, the latest model is a return to the reliability and quality that made it and Honda household names. And part of that appeal is the Civic’s bandwidth: there’s basically a model for everyone.

The 2020 Honda Civic lineup

2020 Honda Civic Sedan Touring
2020 Honda Civic Sedan Touring | Honda

For 2020, the Honda Civic is available as a sedan, coupe, or hatchback. The sedan and hatchback offer the most trims: LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring/Sport Touring. The coupe doesn’t offer the EX-L trim.

2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan
2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan | Honda

There’s also the sportier Honda Civic Si and Honda Civic Type R. The former is available as a sedan or coupe, while the latter is hatchback only.

2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan interior
2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan interior | Honda

The LX trim is the only one that doesn’t get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But all trims get Honda’s advanced driver-assistance suite, which comes with emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Higher-end trims add additional ADAS features, as well as accessories like LED headlights, navigation, and leather-trimmed seats. And all but the Type R are IIHS Top Safety Picks.

The standard Civic engine is a 158-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a CVT. Sport trims can get a 6-speed manual instead. Moving up to the EX trim swaps the 2.0-liter for a 175-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Interestingly, Car and Driver reports the turbo engine is actually slightly more fuel-efficient. Meanwhile, the Honda Civic hatchback’s base engine is the 1.5-liter turbo. The Sport and higher trims get a different exhaust which bumps the engine up to 180 hp.

The Civic Si also gets the 1.5-liter turbo, paired solely with a 6-speed manual. However, the Si’s engine is boosted to 205 hp, and it gets a standard limited-slip differential.

2020 Honda Civic Type R
2020 Honda Civic Type R | Honda

Finally, there’s the Honda Civic Type R. Revised slightly for 2020, the Type R is also manual-only. It gets the biggest engine of the lineup, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder developing 306 hp. Like the Si, it also has a standard LSD. Apart from the deliberately-stripped-down limited edition, it’s also equipped with basically every desirable feature, including adaptive dampers, according to Car and Driver.

Which Honda Civic trim is best for me?

Although in the past Honda Civics have had some noticeable issues, the latest models are all equally reliable.

The entire Civic lineup was named to Car and Driver’s 10Best list in 2019, as well as being named a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy. The Civic was also named to Car and Driver’s Editor’s Choice list in 2020. And although the previous-gen Civic was removed from Consumer Reports’ recommended list, the latest models are once again CR recommendations.

For those interested in more performance and improved handling, the Si and Type R trims are the ones to get. And despite the Type R’s more aggressive styling, it’s surprisingly capable as a daily driver. Motor Trend reviewed one long-term, and several reviewers tried to buy it from Honda when the test was finished. Although, MT notes the Honda Civic Si is almost as fun on the streets—apart from a rev-hang issue—at significant savings.

Pricing

Although dealer markups continue to plague the Type R, overall, the Honda Civic lineup is affordably-priced.

The Civic EX sedan starts at $20,650; the Touring starts at $27,700. The coupe’s trims are similarly priced, going from $21,050-$27,250. The hatchback’s trims offer a bit more standard features than the equivalent sedan and coupe trims, which raise the hatchback’s price slightly. The Honda Civic EX hatchback starts at $21,750; the Sport Touring stickers at $28,150.

The Civic Si sedan and coupe have the same base price: $25,200. And fittingly, given its extensive features list, the Type R is the most expensive, with a $36,995 MSRP.

Vs. the competition

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
2019 Volkswagen Jetta | Volkswagen

Although the Honda Civic has quite a few compact car rivals, it’s overcome most of them. The Volkswagen Jetta, for instance, provides fewer standard features than the Civic, despite costing more.

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE | Toyota

The Toyota Corolla, despite its sales figures, is less comfortable, has a smaller trunk, and fewer safety features. And it’s only $200 cheaper than the Civic.

2019 Mazda3 hatchback
2019 Mazda3 hatchback | Mazda

The Mazda3 also lost out to the Honda Civic. The Mazda didn’t have the Civic’s standard safety features, struggled to merge on the freeway, and had a poorer ride. The Honda Civic’s biggest competition, though, is likely to come from Hyundai and Kia.

The Kia Forte GT is shaping up to offer Si-level performance at a lower cost. Throttle House found the Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line, while not as sharp as the Si, slightly better in daily driving. In addition, though Car and Driver found the Hyundai Veloster N wasn’t as sharp or fast as the Type R, it is cheaper and slightly easier to live with. That being said, although CR ranked the Hyundai Elantra ahead of the Honda Civic, the Civic actually had better road test scores.

In short, although some competitors have minor advantages, the Honda Civic remains a compelling all-around good car.

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