No, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great little car
I have been waiting to drive the Honda Civic. I’ve been reading great things about it lately, but also, I’ve always loved these cars for their value, reliability and fun.
Clearly, I’m not alone: Honda is the #2 most popular brand among women according to IHS, the business insights company, and it is easy to see why: Honda makes cars for customers in every stage of life, from empty-nesters to families to first time car buyers. While Civic might best fit that last group, it can accommodate any of them.
And the Honda Civic continues to impress, even five years into its tenure as a used car. It’s held up well when compared to the competition, though its entertainment system can kick the bucket. But if you want a great, reliable car in the mechanical sense, scroll to the bottom to see how the Civic has held up over the years.
Who the Civic is For
- Singles or couples who appreciate a great value
- First time car buyers
- Teens or college-age drivers
- Small families
- Buyers who need a small, agile car, especially for driving and parking in cities or compact spaces
- Buyers who want top safety features without paying a lot
- Buyers who occasionally need flexible cargo space
- Buyers who want a reliable, easy-to-maintain car (Honda says no maintenance other than fluid and filter changes for the first 100,000 miles)
- Drivers who want good fuel economy
The Civic’s best feature: Top safety technology
Safety shouldn’t be held behind a velvet rope just for the privileged, and Honda agrees. Available in even the base model level—an $1,800 add-on that takes the price of the Civic LX up to about $21,000— Honda’s “Sensing Technology” suite gives buyers safety features that keep you safe on the road and lowers your stress level. The Sensing suite includes:
- adaptive cruise control
- lane keep assist
- collision mitigation braking (anticipates when traffic ahead is slowing and starts to brake before you can react)
- forward collision warning (alerts you if the system detects a crash is imminent)
Probably my favorite safety technology in the Civic, though is the Lane Watch feature: Put on your right turn signal and a camera under the right side mirror shows you the right side of the car; the image is displayed on the touch screen, even while you’re driving. I could see pedestrians, other cars and cyclists who might be in or approaching my blind spot. I could also tap a button on the end of the turn signal stalk that produced the image on the touch screen—great for parallel parking or just taking a look to get a closer view.
Here is our walk through the 2016 Honda Civic:
Wait: This isn’t black???
When the Civic first pulled up in my driveway, I thought, oh, it’s black. But as I walked around it snapping photos for this story, I noticed deep sparkles in the paint and beneath them, an iridescent shade of purple. Not quite eggplant, but livelier than black. I looked at the Monroney and saw that the paint color is called Cosmic Blue. This made me smile; as a car owner I’m tired of black, but always love it because it does some nice things for you: It blends in, it looks elegant, it feels a little bad-ass. And, so does Cosmic Blue.
Go ahead, splurge. You can afford it.
Probably the biggest surprise in the 2016 Civic Touring edition was the price: for just $6,000 over the base model price you’ll get a whole lot more: leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a touch screen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, rain sensing wipers, a moon roof and more. The touring package gives this budget friendly car a very complete feeling. If you think you’ll own your new car for more than just a few years, or if you will spend more than a minimal amount of time in it, the touring package is worth the investment.
How the car seat fits–just fine
A small sedan isn’t usually the ideal car for kids, but often, it’s a reality for families on a budget. So we tried installing our Britax Click Tight car seat in the Civic and found two things: It fit just fine in the passenger’s seat, leaving room for two more passengers in the back, and rear doors open wide enough to get it in, making a car seat easy to install. I had enough room to maneuver the seat and to buckle it in snuggly.
I also appreciated that the rear seats, which fold flat for extra cargo space, are a 60/40 split with the ’40’ on the passenger’s side; that means if I have a baby in the car seat on the passenger’s side, I can also fold down the driver’s side rear seat if I need to.
A sedan-style trunk in a hatchback-looking car
One thing that is striking about the Civic is that it has been redesigned as a sedan, but still has the look and feel of a hatchback. This means the trunk is not an open space, like it was in past Civic models, but is fully enclosed. We found the trunk to be pretty roomy; it can easily fit several suitcases and tote bags, even with the B-Agile stroller in the trunk. One caveat is that the trunk has a rather high lip so I had to lift the stroller up to get it over the lip.
Lots and lots of room for stuff
Honda’s engineers might have been ship builders in another life: the center console is almost ship-like in its approach to holding your things. There is a storage compartment in front of the gear shift and another compartment below it. The lower compartment (which could hold a small evening bag, your sunglasses, phone or other small items) has a USB port and a 12 volt power port. A pass through from the lower space to the upper one lets you thread your phone’s charge cord through so you can see your phone when it’s stored neatly on the upper shelf.
Between the center console and the arm rest is a deep well with an additional USB port, a customizable cup holder and change tray: you can slide the cup holders back to make room for something large, such as a 32 oz Gatorade bottle, or slide them forward to hold your Starbucks cup. A change tray can slide forward or back so you can position it where you like. The leather covered arm rest lifts up to give you access to the compartment, or folds down to partially hide it.
Great MPG, but at a price?
We averaged 34 miles per gallon during our test drive, a number that made me cheer. But it also made me thing that it’s a great thing that the 2016 Civic has so much safety technology on board; that MPG comes partially from the fact that it’s a lightweight car. You’re reminded of this when opening and closing the doors and trunk: they feel light and hollow. The car doesn’t feel lightweight on the road, though; it handles and accelerates nicely, which is part of Honda’s charm: they are fun to drive.
What We Loved
- Honda Sensing safety technology package
- Lane Watch feature
- Storage nooks in the front seat
- “Customizable” cup holders
- Heated front and rear seats
- Capless gas tank
- Awesome Cosmic Blue paint
- Smart key with push button start
- Audible warning if the key is left in the car or if you walk away with the key while the car is running
- Small, agile size—easy to maneuver and park
- Wide opening rear doors that make infant car seat installation easy
- Great fuel economy: 31 city/42 highway
What you need to know
- Two USB Ports, one 12V charge port
- Base price: $26, 500; price of the model we drove: $27,335
- Seating for 5 but more comfortable for four
- Uses regular gas
- 3 year/36,000 mile road side assistance included
- 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty
- 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty
- 3 month Sirius XM subscription included
How Does the 2016 Honda Civic Touring Fare as a Used Car?
Reliable, green, comfortable, and practical: the 2016 Honda Civic lives up to the company’s promise of quality. The big issue with this car is the fact that the infotainment system is prone to failure — but if you’re just looking for a reliable car in terms of functionality, the Civic is your best bet.
You can generally score a used Honda Civic for $16,125 to $19,400. If you opt for the touring edition, that’s a top-end trim and will likely resell at the upper end of the price spectrum, but it’s also important to factor in location, wear, and other packages to tell if your used price is a good one.
- The electronic parking brake may not set properly
- An incorrectly built engine can cause it to overheat and then seize
- The infotainment system can freeze or break
What Owners Are Saying
- “After owning a 2009 Honda Civic I find the interior of the of the 2016 far better and more comfortable. I am glad the “double” instrument panel is gone. Honda has also seemed to have improved on road noise. Precise steering, well-tuned suspension provide a smooth ride as well as sweet handling. My 2009 was very loud compared to the 2016 version. The seats have improved comfort wise (anything would be better than my 2009) but they are still not great. The climate control is great. I love the heat” – Betty H., Washington
- “We are impressed by the interior finish of the Civic. Comparing it to our MDX I would judge the interior finishes equal, although the Civic has the upgraded cloth seats compared to the basic leather of the MDX.” – Anonymous
- “Fast, smooth, and handles great. Fun to drive compared to the Accord and Camry” – Stephen B., California
Disclosure: Honda loaned me the 2016 Civic Touring edition for this test drive; all opinions are my own.