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2016 Honda Civic LX 2.0 CVT and EX-T 1.5 turbo


regfootball

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(edit, down further is an update with a spin in the EX-T 1.5 turbo)

 

DRIVEN:  2016 Honda Civic 2.0 LX cvt, MSRP around 20,200

 

HIGHS:

 

New style! That looks good and is bound to find favor with existing Hondaphiles and bring in new fas as well, sexy shape and not overboard.

(Looks much better in the metal, than in the pictures)

Larger size, the car pushes the limits of the compact class, and it's a perfect size.

Spacious interior, the front seats are spacious and even my 6'1 girthy self fit into the back seat with without cramped legs and still with a bit of headroom to spare

Vastly different interior layout is spot on for a semi sporty environment and everyday comfort and usefulness

Nice dash gauges, and simple radio controls, e brake frees up room too.  And a singular king big gulp holder is the boss.  Great armrest and console.

Dashboard layout and style is simple yet stylish and logical and plastics all over are good.

Really nice shifter placement and size, doesn't take up much room, just right especially for newer drivers

Visibility outward is refreshing in the age of ever increasing bunkers.

Trunk maximizes all the space available too.  One of the largest in the class.

If you are bound and determined to get a car with CVT, this has one of the better CVT's.

Honda engines rev pretty well.  Its at least not a complete dog, when you lay into it.

About the right amount of quick in the steering.

This car will score big with youths and Honda fans, and even draw in new people to the brand.

 

LOWS:

 

Not a new revelation, but Honda still doesn't do much to quell cabin noise, including this car

Engine gets on the drone when pushed hard and in tandem with the CVT

I would have liked more powertrain smoothness

Mirrors on the doors seemed cheaply made

Base trim tires and suspension were commuter car adequate, but not anything sporting or enthusiast approved

Previously mentioned steering was sort of mushy (but that again could be the tires)

Drivers seat didn't feel overly supportive and it was a bit narrow for my girth

Drivers who care may find the Mazda3 nicer from a driver's car standpoint

Doesn't feel substantial in any way (again, a typical Honda comment)

Some folks think the change in the look and size of the Civic is too different for a Honda.

Or, that it looks like a Crosstour.  (I don't agree with that).

 

SUMMARY

 

I am not a Honda fan.  The junk they've been foisting on the car world the last few years is not up to their past rep, and despite selling well, in my opinion exposes how they've downgraded what they sell and quite honestly, a lot of it had gone weird.  The now previous generation of the Civic is a perfect example.  There was a certain off centered ness to it, and so Honda has regrouped and decided to evolve and change the Civic and reach down for younger drivers again and try to make the car attractive to those outside the Honda fold.  I believe this car scores on both both counts that way, and also should help it fend off upstarts like the Chevy Cruze and revised Focus.

 

The size increase alone, pushing the length and width and making the car nearly as big as old Accords is risky, but has paid off.  Now it is not as big a gap between the Accord and the Civic.  The car is a great size for commuters, a second family car, and the single folks who only need one car, that is big enough to feel like something, but not so big to not feel 'personal'.  The personal car theme continues inside with the semi-cockpit, intimate feel.  Yet it is not claustrophobic, it just fits like a glove.  There is no silliness on the dash, just a simple design, with old school large Honda gauges, and a simple to use radio.  In terms of overall usefulness, this car scores big, and has carefully measured sportiness about it that will appeal quite well to the masses.

 

I really wanted to drive the turbo, but those will be non existent and scarce for awhile yet.  The base engine is passable and is really what Hondaphiles are used to.  IMO, the current Cruze has a smoother powertrain to a point (I will get into that in another review), and many competitors are upping their game, so I believe it would be wise to sample the 1.5t until passing final judgment.  I am still on the fence on CVT's.  I have driven MANY cars with CVT's and this is definitely among the better ones, but there is still that rubber bandy disconnectedness that can make you still appreciate a typical automatic more and more (particularly the newest ones).  But i will say this, the Cruze probably doesn't touch this car for mpg in the real world.  Give Honda props for its mpg potential here.

 

This car arrives in the market at the perfect time for Honda.  It should score big in sales, and in a way to me this defines the mainstream car in 2016 and the era of tyrannical regs on MPG and emissions pushing down people into smaller and lighter cars.  Upsizing the Civic hits the new sweet spot for size, efficient packaging, and value for the dollar.  Accords may become luxury cars due to price and size, and soon we think maybe those early twenty somethings will eventually finally get a car.  Well, a Civic may just top their list.  And it would seem like a luxury car to them.  Perhaps it is more a commentary of our times that a droning CVT car with not a lot of go would be considered a personal luxury; but such is the way.  Many buyers don't have money for a car, or don't want to spend so much, and there is a value to this car that i believe will resonate.  It's large enough to bring friends along, and looks and feels sporty enough to not be a penalty box.  Plus it sheds the weird, something the Mazda3 seems to have acquired in its place.

 

I expect the upper trim levels will drive a bit better and the turbo should help detract from the middle of the road base powertrain.  I'll give this car an A- because it shows me Honda really learned what they were lacking, and took some risks, and found out a great new formula for moving ahead.  Now, bring on the better powertrains.

Edited by regfootball
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  • 4 months later...

"I expect the upper trim levels will drive a bit better and the turbo should help detract from the middle of the road base powertrain.  I'll give this car an A- because it shows me Honda really learned what they were lacking, and took some risks, and found out a great new formula for moving ahead.  Now, bring on the better powertrains."

 

UPDATE TESTED

 

2016 Honda Civic EX-T sedan 1.5t CVT

 

This is primarily an update to address the Civic with an upgraded turbo motor.  The car I drove had the EX-T package and cloth seats, and included a sunroof and heated seats, as well as a fancy 'lane watch' feature.  When making a right turn, your blind spot, right rear vision pops up on the dash screen.  It is a really cool idea and I believe works nicely.

 

Now you see my quote above......about expecting the turbo version to drive better.  I would say pretty much everything of my original review sticks, and this the disappointing part......the roughness, noise, lack of refinement or sense thereof, was not really improved with the turbo motor.  And the go juice is not from low throttle....it takes a few revs to wind up the turbo and the torque.  On the boil, the car moves nicely, but it's not sports model acceleration.  And, even if it's a good CVT, it's still a CVT and that comes through in the impression as well.

 

So my take is the turbo is a good volume model powertrain choice because it gets you the extra power over the base engine.  But it does not elevate the experience of the car.....it's not a nicer place to be, quieter, or more luxurious, or sportier.

 

There's plenty of good in this car, and i recommend the turbo engine over the base engine.....but my usual Honda complaints are unaddressed here.  I stick with my high marks for the car because for its class and price it does most things well, but Honda at some point in time needs to move away from making such tinny cheap feeling cars.   (Especially since i also drove a new 2016 all new Chevy Cruze today and honestly the Cruze is a luxury quiet and classy in comparison).

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