by: Jag Dhatt
There are certain vehicles that become crowd, no wait, society favourites because they offer great reliability, value, and driving experience. If you have two of these three, you’ve got a vehicle that will sell well; have all three and you’ve got a winner. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, Honda vehicles continue to surpass buyers’ expectations because they’re simply great, practical vehicles that last, similar to the Toyota’s; they’ve also been a family favourite of ours as well. For 2015, the Civic continues to dominate sales numbers in Canada, for this segment of course.
There’s not much that’s changed for the sedan, but the Coupe carries a different shell for sure (we’ll look at this in a separate review). In 2013, the Honda design team did a substantial styling change to the sedans. Gone was the bland exterior and the cheap-looking interior. For 2015, the Civic still has the sporty stance similar to last year’s model, which was a welcome change to previous conservative looks. Now, the most noticeable differences on the outside are the bigger wheels and the expanded view side mirrors. Unless you’ve got an eagle eye, you won’t notice many other changes compared to the 2014.
Step into the cockpit and you’re now surrounded by more leather and softer plastic materials on the door panels, front of the dash, and armrests. Where there is hard plastic, it is probably the best looking hard plastic used in any make of car. The split-level dashboard, which will be gone in next year’s model, has been tweaked slightly with softer colours and more options. I really like the dashboard on this Civic because everything is neatly organized and easy to read. My biggest criticism of the car still has to be the optional navigational head unit. Rather than seamlessly conforming to the dash as a factory unit should, it seems like a dealer add-on; again, the 2016 model is a makeover.
In addition, the Bluetooth integration, although aimed at being more safety oriented, becomes annoying. For example, when the car is being driven, half of the Bluetooth options are only available via spoken commands. Compared to the navigation and Bluetooth systems found on the Accord and Pilot, this one is disappointing. The power, leather heated seats, again standard on the Touring Edition, offer excellent support for short and longer drives. Cup holders are ergonomically placed so that you don’t have to reach far to grab your beverage. The back seats continue to be quite comfortable. A big plus for the rear seating area of the cabin is the lack of the dreaded middle hump in the floor – this offers a lot of extra leg room for 3 passengers, especially when entering and exiting the vehicle.
During my week with the car, I couldn’t believe how quiet and comfortable the car was. I had always complained that there was excessive road noise from most of the Honda models. Honda has made significant changes to the Civic’s suspension, springs and steering, offering a much smoother and quieter ride; I have to say, they did a great job. The addition of acoustic glass to the windshield and side windows now allows passengers to have a normal conversation without having to raise their voices.
The Honda Civic is powered by its trusted 1.8L 4-cyliner engine, producing 140-hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. In 2014, following competitors, the Civic also got a CVT transmission, which supplies good power for all-around driving, while giving excellent fuel economy. Even though I’ve never been a fan of CVT’s, this one is pretty good. Both Honda and Nissan have done well with their CVT’s, although I’ve got to give the nod to the Civic when comparing it with the Sentra. Honda has used an algorithm that mimics gear shifts so that it feels more like a traditional automatic transmission. Thus, merging onto a highway and taking off, off the line feel pretty good. Now of course, if you need more power, then there is still the Civic Si, which offers way more horsepower and torque.
On the road, the Civic is a great little car to drive. The finely-tuned electric steering is responsive and offers much more feedback for the driver as compared to previous models. The independent rear suspension also offers more stability and better road handling. For a car of this size, parking and getting around the city is no problem. As mentioned before, the seats are supportive and comfortable, and the seating position offers great visibility. My wife and both really liked driving it around town. It did everything we needed at a great sticker price.
There’s a reason why the Honda Civic has been Canada’s best-selling car for the past 15 years. It has a tried and trusted motor, great drive train, good interior room, and has excellent functionality. For a reliable family commuter that doesn’t dig deep into the pockets, the Civic is a great choice.