The Honda Civic has long stood as one of the best economy cars on the market. For most of its history, it’s won praise for offering an economical ride that doesn’t scrimp when the driver wants to have a little fun.
Right around the turn of the century, though, something felt… off. The seventh generation seemed to lose any semblance of the fun it once possessed, rendering the Civic just another bland econobox with little to offer families beyond two rows of seats and a trunk. Matters improved with the eighth-gen model in 2006, but the Civic that immediately followed it was so bad that it necessitated a substantial refresh after just one year.
What a breath of fresh air it was, then, when Honda debuted today’s 10th-generation Civic. It has some wacky styling, sure, but it once again attempts to stand out in a very crowded segment using Old Honda’s tricks — a blend of efficiency and sportiness that’s hard to match.
Even the hatchback has returned, once again offering expanded cargo space without sacrificing any of the aforementioned qualities. In its Sport trim, it proves once again that Honda can build one hell of an entertaining, affordable car.
Styling that isn’t for everybody…
The last Honda Civic had all the trademark contours of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. For the 10th iteration, Honda has leapt across the design spectrum and opted for something significantly more wild than mild — and not to everybody’s enjoyment.
My tester’s black-and-red motif looks positively premium, or at least more expensive than the Hatch Sport’s $21,300 sticker price would seem to indicate. Its black-painted wheels are a nice touch, although constant parallel parking will eventually wear those puppies back to silver. The center exhaust outlets are a nice touch, too.
My biggest points of consternation with the styling are the vents — or more accurately, “vents.” There are two honkin’ expanses of black plastic up front, and two even larger ones out back. They stand out, and not always in the best way. Perhaps most damning is that the front “vents” only have tiny holes in them for cooling purposes, and the ones out back appear to do nothing at all. They’re tacked-on, non-functional affectations, an aesthetic decision that isn’t consistent with Honda’s storied history of engineering-led design.
…at least on the outside
Fans of more traditional vehicle appearances will find more to like in the Civic’s interior. The cloth seats have a durable feel and are comfortable on multihour journeys, but they are magnets for dog hair. By virtue of the hatchback’s higher rear roof line, tall occupants will find plenty of headroom in the second row, and there’s plenty of legroom out back, too.
There’s interesting layering on the dashboard, and while it’s obvious that the Sport model’s carbon-fiber trim isn’t real, it stands out nicely against an otherwise monochrome experience.
The gauge cluster is easy to read, with a large digital speedometer tucked inside the tachometer, which is the only analog gauge. The fuel and temp gauges use red lighting elements that are a little tricky to figure out until you see them in action. Instant fuel economy is always on display, with range and trip meters just below.
Weirdness comes in two different places in the cabin, only one of which is welcome. The 12-volt and USB ports live in a lower, nearly hidden portion of the center stack, but there’s a smartly devised hole that allows for cords to be routed to the storage binnacle just below the climate controls.
The cupholder, on the other hand, is awkward and feels cheap. It slides back and forth, and lifting the armrest reveals empty space that replaces a dedicated center console. I would prefer a more traditional layout, or at least something that offers a bit more privacy.
The hatchback provides an excellent amount of storage. With the rear seats up, it offers 25.7 cubic feet of storage space, more than both the Volkswagen Golf and Chevrolet Cruze hatchbacks. It loses the numbers game once the rear seat folds down, though. 46.2 cubic feet is commendable, just not as much as the competition.
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