Can you believe that the Honda Civic is already on its 10th generation? The first car to wear the nameplate took to the streets back in 1972 and has been a sales success ever since; by the late 1990s, Honda was selling more than 300,000 Civics a year in the United States, and this year the Toyota Camry is the only car (as opposed to truck or crossover) to find more buyers.
My thoughts about Honda’s cars are heavily colored by my very first exposure to one. It would have been in the early 1980s in London, a time when a friend’s mother drove an Accord and would sometimes ferry us about in it. I remember thinking that its dramatically styled interior, complete with a bright green LED clock, wouldn’t look out of place in Battlestar Galactica—the original, which shared the same beige-brown color palette. Ever since then my brain has expected to see an element of science fiction starfighter in Honda’s vehicles, and I’m glad to say the current-generation Civic—either in sedan or hatchback form—does not disappoint.
Some people might find the new Civic fussy, particularly compared to the restrained and curvy shapes that Honda’s stylists used to draw. But to me it works, like a folded up Gundam suit or something. I find the styling of the Civic hatchback even better, and there’s also a coupé that you could buy in fluorescent yellow, if you’re an extrovert’s extrovert.
The interior is maybe a little more restrained than 1983-me would like but still looks more like it’s from the future than competitors like the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Volkswagen Jetta, or Nissan Sentra. The trio of digital displays in the main instrument panel helps in that regard, as do the silvery accent panels on the dash. Most of the interior plastics that you touch feel of a high quality, like the slightly squidgy material Honda has used for the dash, which should mean fewer creaks and rattles a few years down the line. Rear leg room is a little more generous than some other alternatives in this class at 37.4 inches (950mm), and the trunk has a capacity of 15.1 cubic feet (428L) but lacks hooks, tie downs, or other ways of securing your shopping bags.
The driving position is comfortable, with good sight lines, and the layout of the main controls is not objectionable. The 7-inch infotainment system is so-so; VW is still head of the pack in this regard (in this end of the market), with the Korean brands probably its closest competitors. But Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both present and correct.
In the absence of mandates from an effective regulatory agency, the penetration of advanced active and passive safety systems into new cars is being driven by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, which is continually raising the bar when it comes to the features a car requires to obtain its coveted “top safety pick” rating. Honda calls its suite of advanced driver assistance systems “Honda Sensing,” and it is standard on all Civic sedans and coupes, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping.
Listing image by Honda