2020 Honda Civic

By March 23, 2020

It’s difficult to put the 2020 Honda Civic into a box, with its three body styles, four powertrains, and dozens of options. It comes as a sedan, coupe or hatchback. The sedan with its more reserved styling and more comfortable rear passenger area is most popular. It might be seen crossing over into the box with its siblings, the midsize Accord sedan and the Insight hybrid. The Civic Si comes as a sedan or coupe with a manual transmission only, while the Civic Type R is a hatchback. 

They are each almost totally different animals. In any guise the Civic has an upscale cabin with high-quality materials, while automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic headlights come standard. 

The base engine is a 2.0-liter inline-4 making 158 horsepower, mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or 6-speed manual in some cases. The optional 1.5-liter turbo-4 engine with 174 hp gets better gas mileage. 

The Civic Si takes that engine and increases the turbocharger boost to get more than 200 hp. The wild Type R makes more than 300 hp, and it’s a serious track performer.

The Civic sedan with 2.0-liter inline-4 and automatic transmission is EPA rated at 30 mpg city, 38 highway, 33 combined. When equipped with a 1.5-liter turbo-4 the Civic reaches about 35 mpg combined in coupe, hatchback, and sedan body, with more than 40 mpg on the highway. 

The manual transmission reduces fuel economy by just 1 mpg. The Civic Si gets 26/36/30 mpg with its manual transmission. 

The NHTSA gives the Civic five stars overall for safety. The IIHS gives it the top “Good” scores on its tests, including the challenging driver- and passenger-side small impact crashes. The Civic’s standard automatic emergency braking system was also rated “Superior” at avoiding forward crashes at 12 and 25 mph. However the headlights rate “Poor.” 

Model Lineup

The Civic is available in LX, Sport, EX, and Touring trim levels spread among sedan, coupe, and hatchback. (The hatchback offers a combined Sport Touring trim.) The Civic Si is available as a coupe or sedan, the Civic Type R is hatchback only. 

The 2020 Honda Civic LX starts at $20,680. It’s an excellent value, with standard equipment including power features, cloth upholstery, a 5.0-inch display for audio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, 16-inch wheels, and the active safety equipment.

The Civic EX is $24,630 as a sedan, $24,430 as a coupe, or $25,080 as a hatchback with the 1.5-liter turbo-4 engine. The EX includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a higher-speed USB port, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch wheels, and a passenger-side camera system that displays the passenger-side blind spot on the infotainment screen.

The Civic Touring costs more than $28,000 and adds leather seats, 18-inch wheels, navigation, premium audio, and heated rear seats. 

Exterior

The Civic sedan’s fastback profile resembles the Accord, as well as other fastback sedans and even some luxury sedans with a sleek roofline. Actually, the sedan and hatchback have similar profiles until they reach the rear, where the sedan dips at the tail and the hatch just keeps going. 

The coupe is even sleeker than the sedan. Its long lines belie the car’s smallness. The coupe is eye-catching in Sport trim with 18-inch wheels and black accents. 

If the Civic appears a bit racy for your tastes, take a look at the Insight in your dealer’s lot. 

The hatchback pays for its practicality with a busy exterior. The Civic Type R hatchback is over the top, exactly where some buyers want to be. 

Interior

Honda does an excellent job of packaging in the Civic, providing a spacious cabin from a compact footprint. The sedan is best for more than two occupants, the hatchback is the most versatile, and the sleek coupe is fine for just two.

The cabin is fairly sedate while being clean and functional, with many storage bins and cupholders. The low and wide dash is visually separated by horizontal bands of glossy black plastic or brushed trim, while a 7.0-inch touchscreen on models beyond the LX further breaks up the space. Unlike the smaller and cheaper Honda Fit, the quality of the materials exceeds the Civic’s price, with low-sheen plastics and soft-touch surfaces. 

The view through the windshield for the driver and passenger is superb. The comfortable front seats come in durable cloth with LX, Sport, and EX trims. Leather-clad, power-adjustable seats are available on EX-L and Touring trims, while the Si and Type R get their own grippy fabrics. 

In the rear of the sedan there is very good leg room, more than 37 inches (the coupe and hatchback have 36). The outboard seats are comfortable and supportive, however a long trip with three broad-shouldered adults wouldn’t be a good idea.

The trunk of the sedan holds about 15 cubic feet, good for a compact. The coupe comes in at just 12 cubic feet, while of course the hatchback is tops with 25.7 cubic feet behind the second row. Drop that seatback and it expands to 46.2 cubic feet. 

Driving Impressions

The engine in most LX, Sport, and EX Civics is a 158-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 that’s fine for around town and commuting. It’s most often mated to a CVT. The 6-speed manual that’s available on LX and Sport models is very easy to use, but it’s not the better match for the engine, because the CVT returns about 30 mpg. 

The optional engine in sedans and coupes, and standard in hatchbacks, is a 1.5-liter turbo-4 that makes 174 hp (or 180 hp in some trims). It’s not only quicker, it’s more fuel-efficient. There is some turbo lag, and the available 6-speed manual helps to tame it, but that might only be because the time it takes to downshift gives the turbo time to spool up; a CVT demands immediate response. 

All Civics deliver especially taut handling and clean steering, making the car a joy to drive on twisty roads. Turbo-4 versions get fluid-filled rear bushings that further sharpen the handling.

The 16- or 17-inch wheels and tires are comfortable and quiet. The 18-inchers on Sport and Touring models look better in the Civic’s small wheel arches, but transmit more road noise and imperfections into the cabin.

The Civic Si comes as a coupe or sedan, powered by a 205-hp 1.5-liter turbo-4. It’s paired exclusively with a 6-speed manual that wrings out the most from the busy engine. The Si spins up to 60 mph in less than seven seconds and features two-mode adaptive dampers that toggle between Normal and Sport settings for a firmer feel. Summer tires are optional from the factory, and a good idea for warm-weather buyers—the little Civic Si has a big grip on twisty roads. 

The Civic Type R is the silly-fast one, with more than 300 hp from its 2.0-liter turbo-4, with a 6-speed manual transmission. 

Final Word

The six or more identities of the 2020 Honda Civic cater to an awful lot of new-car buyers. The sedan is solid and stylish, with an optional turbo-4 engine that’s both more powerful and more efficient, at more than 40 mpg highway. The prettier coupe is for single people or couples. The hatchback comes standard with the turbo-4 engine and brings along a huge amount of cargo space. The turbo-4 in the Si sedan and coupe makes another 25 or 30 hp more than the hatchback’s turbo-4, with only a 6-speed manual gearbox, so it’s the sport-sedan version. The Type R is a flat-out extreme pocket rocket.

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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