Honda Civic Si Review: What If An Inexpensive Stick Shift Sedan Could Actually Be Fun? 

Honda Civic Si

That’s what Honda thought, too. 

I’m pretty sure anyone who saw me driving the 2020 Honda Civic Si thought I was driving my son’s car or I was having a mid-life crisis. It’s not really the car for a mom from the ‘burbs. (Maybe it’s the sport spoiler on the trunk the gives it away, or the blacked out wheels or the air intake vents on the front, all of which scream “Fast and Furious!”)

However, anyone who thought this car wasn’t for me was the only one thinking that. I was all out having fun in this car. 

That’s because Honda took the Civic, the 4-door sedan that we all know and love and have since 1972, added sport steering and suspension, a 205 horsepower turbo engine (versus 158 HP in the standard model and 174 HP in the turbo model) and for it’s core fans who love a stick shift, a manual transmission, the only transmission option available. Note to automatic fans: The Civic is available in a sport model with automatic transmission and paddle shifters. 

Then, they priced it at $25,000.

Related: Channel Your Inner Teenage Boy in the Honda Civic Type R Track-Born Hatchback

Honda Civic Si

A look at the tail lights and the very subtle rear spoiler on the Honda Civic Si. ?Scotty Reiss

The Honda Civic Si is All About the Net

As in, buyers are purchasing the Si experience in a complete package. It’s designed to appeal to drivers who want the sportier drive experience of the Civic sedan without distraction. There are no trim levels and very few options— you can choose wheels, paint, floor mats and a few sport details. However, it is nicely outfitted with everything you need, so it’s not at all ‘base.’ And it’s available in a 4-door or a 2-door coupe; both are priced the same— $25,200. With the $930 destination charge the total comes to $26,130. And that is it.

Related: Learning to Drive a Stick Shift? Here’s What You Need to Know First

Honda Civic Si

The gear shifter on the 2020 Honda Civic Si. ? Honda

What We Loved 

For the price there’s a lot to love in this car. Here’s our list: 

  • Sport mode
  • Hill start assist—a must on a manual transmission car! 
  • Lane watch feature; when the right turn signal is engaged a video view of the right side of the car is displayed on the infotainment screen
  • Under console storage — in a stick shift! 
  • Oversized arm rest console and sliding cup holders — cup holders slide back revealing a pocket large enough to fit an oversized sport drink
  • Infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 
  • Smart key with push button start
  • Honda Sensing safety suite of features including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation and crash mitigation with pre-crash braking
  • Premium sound system 
  • Leather steering wheel and shifter
  • Red and black heated “Si”seats 
  • Sport pedals
  • Folding rear seats 
  • Power moonroof
  • Capless fuel tank
  • The sporty spoiler on the trunk

Related: 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Review: This Might Be the Most Luxury For Your Money, Ever

Honda Civic Si

This is clever: the center console cupholders (left) slide back to reveal an even larger cup holder (center) or forward to reveal a deep storage compartment (right). ?Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know 

  • Cloth seats are the only option 
  • 3 year/36,000 mile warranty
  • Fuel economy estimated at 26 MPG city/36 MPG highway; we averaged about 31 MPG
  • Summer tires are standard, so you may need to buy tires or work with the dealer to get the right tires if you don’t live in the land of endless summer
  • No automatic transmission option 
  • 2 USB ports
  • 4-door or 2-door option 
  • The cabin and trunk are the same size as other Civic models: roomy
  • No AWD option. But in a stick shift you may not need it; you’re in control! 
Honda Civic Si

Steering wheel controls on the Honda Civic Si include display choices on the left and adaptive cruise control on the right. ?Scotty Reiss

Adaptive cruise control? In a Stick Shift? Yes!

I was excited to see this. A stick shift and adaptive cruise are two of my favorite things in a car, and even though they are contrary to one another, they are both great to have. In the Honda Civic Si, it’s available at speeds over 22 MPH. Simply click the button and set your speed to engage the system to slow the car as traffic ahead of you slows and increase your speed as traffic picks up. 

So, I tried to use it. I really did. Even though it’s not the most natural thing in a manual transmission car, because, you’re driving not cruising. When I engaged cruise control it did not seem as responsive as other adaptive cruise systems. Could be that I didn’t give it enough time, or that really, with the temptation of a clutch and stick, I couldn’t resist. But I’m glad this car has it.

Honda Civic Si

Apple CarPlay in the 2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan. ? Honda

This Car is Fun to Drive 

And that’s the point. Hop in, pop it into gear, tap the sport mode button and let it go. The clutch is soft, springy and easy to use; the gear shifter has a shiny rounded knob that fits nicely in your hand. And it’s easy to shift.  It picks up speed easily and even when loaded with passengers, has a lot of pep. It has a nice balanced drive feel, not like a 4-door sedan at all, but more like a sports car. 

Being a mid-sized sedan, you don’t sit at ground level. The hip height of the Civic’s seats are more normal-person height (not as high as an SUV but not as low as a sports car) so getting in and out is easy. I appreciated the ability to ratchet up the seat height, and yes, these are manual seats with a pull bar to position the seat forward or back and a pull lever on the side of the seat to move it up or down. 

Driving around town and out to the country I didn’t feel fatigued at all (despite the cloth seats, which I’m not a fan of).

Honda Civic Si

Honda lane sensing activates a video camera on the right side of the car and displays the image when the right turn signal is on. ?Scotty Reiss

All You Love in a Civic, Just Sportier

And this is maybe what I like the most about this car, but I’m a fan of 4-door sports sedans: You have all the trunk space, passenger space and flexible cargo space you need. This is a good car for someone who really wants the fun sporty drive experience but has responsibilities to tend to, like kids in car seats, shuffling back and forth to college or a side hustle delivery job. 

All in all, I felt quite natural driving this car despite being a mom from the ‘burbs. Think what you want, judgy people. I’m having fun and if you’re not in the Honda Civic Si, you’re not. 

Honda Civic Si

Me with the 2020 Honda Civic Si. ?Scotty Reiss

What We Listened to in the Honda Civic Si

Because premium sound is standard, and sport driving needs a sound track!

Disclosure: Honda provided the Civic Si for this test drive. All opinions are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss