Honda Ups the Ante
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Completely redesigned and exactly what veteran Honda owners would expect in terms of fit, finish, performance, and quality feel. That is the nation’s second best-selling car and fifth top selling vehicle, the 2016 Civic.
In testing cars, your first impression is erased sometimes as the miles pile up. But that was not the case here.
The first and last impressions were that this is a high quality sedan that is also fun to drive.
You might look at the engine options and automatically opt for the 2.0 liter. Well the 1.5 liter, Honda’s first turbo offered here, just might surprise you.
It packs 174 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 1,700 to 5,500 rpm. That compares to 158 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 138 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm with the two liter.
Neither will shove your back into the seat when floored, but the 1.5 should provide enough power to keep the average buyer satisfied. A mile a minute run from rest should work out to about 7 seconds with the turbo.
It was married to a CVT, the only transmission offered on the more upscale models, and one of the best of its type that I have tested. A 6-speed manual is available only in the base LX model at this time.
Those seeking a more robust driving experience should consider the upcoming Type R with its 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, a 6 speed stick, and 0-60 in some tests of just 5.5 seconds. It is expected to arrive here early in 2017.
However that may be more car than many buyers want, seeking instead what they view as a more sensible set of wheels. That brings us back to the Sens.
It is an EX model with Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, a slightly too sensitive Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keeping and Departure Intervention. A major item for safe operation is the Honda Lane Watch that gives operators on the center dash screen a picture of what may be lurking in the right side blind spot.
Economy wise, don’t fret for this turbo runs on regular unleaded with an EPA rating of 31 mpg around town, 42 on the highway for a combined 35. With mostly rural country road driving I came in at 35.
The 2016 is a bigger than the preceding model, up 3 inches in length and 2 inches in width. Passengers sitting out back will be surprised at the amount of room two of them have in what many consider a small car. All that room should make it easy for parents to secure large child safety seats.
Oh, that increased size means the trunk is way bigger, some 15.1 cubic feet, a volume usually reserved for much larger sedans. And guess what you will find there!!! A Compact Spare Tire, an item that is about as rare as Fred Flintstone’s steak.
Impressive was the comfort of the bucket seats up front, and a driving position that was almost sports car like. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, and both front seats were heated. Your iPad can be safely hidden from prying eyes in the center console. Adjustable lumbar support would have been a nice addition, especially on longer trips. I would imagine it will be added in later models.
The 7-inch touchscreen includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but on occasion, response times can be slow. Navi was not included on the test car.
Fit, finish and materials were up to the old Honda standard, and that means excellent. My guess is that many non-car buff passengers will believe they are riding in a more expense set of wheels.
Kudos to the designer of the Moonroof. Up to about 65 mph it lets in lots of sun and little noise, one of the most peaceful holes in the roof that I have experienced.
One downside to the interior for me was the area where the side of your right knee rubs uncomfortably against the hard plastic of the wide center console. If this were mine, I would conjure up some kind of padding there.
Also, like many others, I do not care for the sliding volume control for the audio system embedded in the information screen. And yes, to be fair, there are controls on the steering wheel.
Standard is a 160 watt audio system with 4 speakers, with a 450 watt premium audio system with 10 speakers and subwoofer an option.
In terms of handling, the EX Sens was more fun to drive than the previous model especially in the Sport Mode, while also dealing very nicely with patch work roads. In these government budget pinching times, there are more than a few of these around the countryside.
For 2016, the Civic earned a Top Safety Pick Plus, the highest score, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when equipped with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. And we should not forget it was named the “North American Car of the Year.”
With the Sens safety equipment and no other options, the test car carried an affordable MSRP of $24,035.
In sort, the new Civic is not only stylish but, again, exactly what Honda shoppers expect in terms of fit, finish, and quality surroundings over the 2015 offering.
After all, the Rolling Stones first album in the U.S. only rose to Number 11 on the charts, and after that, well, we all know what happened. Honda hopes that like the Stones sang, customers will “come runnin’ back” to the new model. And they are. So far sales of the 2016 are up sharply.