With the 2016 Civic, Has Honda Blurred Brilliant with Boredom?
2016 Civic is perfectly competent, and sportier.
It is the perfect small car — large enough to comfortably serve a family of five, small enough to move well in a crowded city, affordable enough in purchase price and overall operating costs to flatter common sense. Based on recent reviews of the 2016 Honda Civic, the new compact is capable enough of doing what it should, and may even be a perfect car in its class, but may be too solid for its own good to the point that it’s “boring.” Washington Post auto columnist Warren Brown called the new Honda Civic “the perfect small car,” a vehicle that moves around well enough in city traffic and is affordable enough for the average consumer. It also comes with the necessary tangibles — more than enough power for competent expressway motoring, highway fuel efficiency (I averaged 41 miles per gallon) that merits bragging rights and a full suite of advanced electronic safety equipment that rivals anything offered in more expensive automobiles. The ground breaking SUV was the first family sized SUV to be built on an efficiency sized platform, setting the gold standard for SUV fuel efficiency that the industry follows to this day.
The Si’s four-banger will make approximately 230 horsepower — 25 more than today’s model but roughly 70 less than the Type R — and it will be bolted to a six-speed manual transmission that will spin the front wheels. But at the same time, there are those among critical communities who’ve accused Honda of failing to distinguish the line between solid performance and a car that borders on boring. The latter is currently the chart leaders in the large SUV segment and this is owed to its decent styling, great practicality, low running cost and superb comfort.
A report published on enthusiast forum CivicX claims Honda will sell the tenth-gen Civic as a coupe, as a sedan (pictured), and as a hatchback in every market, but whether all three body styles will get a Si-branded model hasn’t been confirmed yet. Honda has time to make up its mind because the new Civic hatchback hasn’t been introduced yet, and the Si isn’t expected to land until late next year at the earliest. While Fleming felt like the 2016 Civic is too fault-free for anyone to truly love, he was impressed with the car’s styling cues, which have a definitely European feel to them. “In the past, we targeted other compacts in the U.S. market — and the last one didn’t do so well with the critics,” said Michael Willrich, Honda senior product planner, who was quoted in the L.A. Technical details for the range-topping model in the Civic lineup haven’t been announced yet, but recent rumors claim that Honda is developing it with the United States market in mind.
Dubbed “Earth Dreams,” the technology in Honda’s 3.5-liter V6, when paired with the EX-L’s solid 6-speed transmission, helps the pilot achieve nearly 27 miles per gallon on the highway. Standard features on the Touring trim reviewed by the Washington Post include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto support, push-button start, heated seats, leather upholstery, and more, with a safety-oriented Sensing Package providing adaptive cruise control, assisted collision braking, and others.
Under the hood is something sportier, too: a new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, the Civic’s first turbo, which makes 174 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, up from the earlier vehicle’s 133 and 129. This system not only distributes power between the wheels, but also redistributes the engine’s 262-foot-pounds of torque between the right and left rear wheels in the all-wheel drive model, allowing Pilot to go places most other SUVs can’t. It will add to that and this four-door sedan three more models, the hatchback, SI, and R versions. (The latter will probably come with a 2.0-liter turbo engine, Willrich said.) The coupe comes in three trim levels, the sedan in five, from the entry-level LX to the top-of-the-line Touring.
But that concession and the valid arguments that prompt it miss the point, which is this: Honda is back, and back with an apparent rededication to reality, a commitment that I humbly suggest other car manufacturers would be wise to follow. Though it has held the line on price – the 2016 LX model costs only $150 more than the 2015 – Honda has dropped into the Civics a number of amenities usually associated with more expensive cars. Available only on select models, including the EX-L, this package represents the most comprehensive suite of collision detection and prevention technologies Honda – and the auto industry – can offer. For people who – like me – are too old, too stiff-necked or simply too lazy to turn around when they make a lane change, the 7-inch display screen even broadcasts a side- and rear-view picture when you hit the right-turn signal.
A road mitigation system helps keep Pilot on the road between 45 and 90 miles per hour, first with vibration warnings and then with engine torque and brake adjustments that can veritably steer the Honda away from danger. Over the past 12 years, Honda’s innovative spirit with the Pilot earned the brand a reputation as one of the most brand-loyal models in Honda’s lineup – over 60 percent of Pilot owners choose the Pilot again for their next vehicle. There might be too much happening on the steering wheel, where tiny buttons to operate the audio system compete for space with even tinier buttons for making phone calls, sending texts and changing the information on the dashboard display. Honda says the Civic is “bi-modal,” which according to Willrich means it is expected to appeal both to young consumers who might be buying their first automobile and older buyers who might be emptying the nest and downsizing to a smaller vehicle.
Willrich declined to name nameplates, but he said he hoped the remade Civic would steal some customers not just from traditional rival Toyota but also from some European brands. “It was always a two-horse race between us and our competitors up the street, but we do believe we are going to catch buyers from other manufacturers,” Willrich said. There is another Honda reality, one that is key to the company’s long-term popularity worldwide and its resurgence after a stumble in 2011-2014 (Japan’s earthquake-tsunami damage and the Takata air-bag supplier woes). It remains to be seen whether buyers still attracted by the great fuel economy will be impressed by the Civic’s new European wardrobe, or whether the chic exterior will attract buyers who care more about styling than economy. Issuing its November auto sales numbers earlier, Honda reported Civic sales up 8.6 percent, an early reflection of the new model’s renewed popularity.
It positively answers a variety of family transportation needs and wants — construction quality, safety, fuel economy, comfort, appearance and zippy driving.
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