If you love this thing, get one quick, while you still can.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2021 Honda Civic Sedan
Base price (Touring trim): $29,200
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $31,000
Yep, this Civic is on its way out. Weird that Honda would still send a press car for an essentially obsolete model, as the all-new (except the engine) 2022 Civic is waiting in the wings. But that doesn’t diminish how great this car is – and that it will be a fantastic choice as a used vehicle down the road.
When it comes to the current generation’s styling, the Civic Sedan won the lottery because unlike the Coupe, it doesn’t get festooned with oodles of ridiculous-looking air intakes and vents on both ends, most of which are fake. Yes, it still has the fake vents, but they’re not nearly as obnoxious as on the Coupe.
It’s a low-slung small sedan that blends sleek, inoffensive styling with aggressive and athletic touches and in my opinion, it looks awesome. The 2022 will not be as interesting to look out from the outside, which is too bad.
LED illumination is found everywhere – headlights, foglights, daytime running lights, turn signals and tail lights.
The lovely 18-inch rims are fitted with relatively massive 235/40-sized tires.
Materials are decent – the soft plastic are not the softest but they look great. You’ll find plenty of hard plastics too, but they are beautifully textured giving the impression they are higher end materials than they really are. Combine this with some stitched panels here and there and the feel is above and beyond what is essentially an entry-level vehicle.
Honda has always been able to put great steering wheels in cars and this one is no exception. It’s perfect for sporty driving. Behind it is a digital dash, anchored by a 7″ customizable centre display.
The comfortable perforated-leather seats are heated, power-adjustable and very well bolstered.
Front and centre is a touchscreen, managing your phone, navigation and the excellent 452-watt 10-speaker audio system. You get a volume knob and some hard buttons, which are appreciated and you can use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s not a beautiful system, and I would say the user interface is fine – it’s not great and it’s showing its age.
Below the screen is the dual-zone automatic climate control system. Overhead is a standard sunroof.
There is a full suite of driver assistance technology in this trim – forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning and road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, a back-up camera and the LaneWatch blind spot display.
The Civic sedan boasts a big win the space department back here. I’m 5’10” and sitting behind my own driving position, I found myself with a significant amount of leg room to spare. Headroom is more limited, and I had about an inch to spare. The outboard seats are heated and very comfortable. The middle position isn’t terrible – you have to straddle a small floor tunnel, but it’s passable even for adult passengers if required.
The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with a couple of cupholders. Otherwise there’s nothing else in terms of comfort or convenience for rear passengers.
At the bottom of the centre stack is an inset wireless charging mat. The armrest lid is an interesting one. It pops up on hinges, but also slides back to reveal a sliding organizer tray, a USB charging port, dual sliding cupholders and a carpeted bin. It’s a nifty flexible storage space and I like it a lot.
This is complemented with a relatively big glove compartment, decent door pockets and a rubberized open space underneath the centre console – along with USB and 12V power plugs – all together, it makes for excellent in-car storage options.
The trunk is quite big for a small car at 416L, and we ended up being able to fit a ton of stuff for a huge family picnic in there.
Pull the remote release levers in the trunk, and the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split to add some cargo capacity, although the pass-through from the trunk is relatively narrow.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel drive Civic is powered by a 174HP 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder that puts out a nice, solid 162 lb.ft of torque at a low 1,700 RPM. Power is fed through a continuously-variable transmission.
Fuel economy is rated at 7.8/6.2 L/100 km (city/highway). We averaged a stellar 7.1 L/100 km during our week in the Civic.
The shift to a turbocharged engine has changed the character of the Civics that come so equipped. No longer a high-revving affair, it pulls hard (enough) from the get-go, and it still does like to rev – just not to stratospheric heights. It’s strong enough off the line, and as it builds momentum, it has strong, linear power. Keep it in the meat of the power band, and it performs admirably enough in most driving situations.
The CVT is fine, although not particularly engaging. You can choose a Sport mode, which hangs on to higher revs longer, and you can pretend you’re shifting (even though there aren’t any gears to shift) with paddle shifters if that’s your thing.
There are Sport and Econ driving modes, each swinging the car’s responsiveness and sportiness one way or the other along the spectrum from the normal driving mode.
Where the real sportiness comes from is the Civic’s handing – it has always been its strong suit and this car is no exception. The steering is responsive, it’s happy to carve corners and attacks any situation you throw it into. It also has a good ride that’s plush enough to sort out all but the biggest hits.
The brakes are excellent – powerful enough, not grabby and easy to drive with. Visibility out of the car is good. Noise levels are surprisingly quiet, with one exception – on certain road surfaces like older, rougher asphalt, the road noise became excessive, so I’m chalking that up to the tires.
I’ll keep saying it in my Honda reviews because I like it. They add remote starters to most trims of most of their vehicles and it’s much appreciated!
As above, as long as Honda keeps cheap-skating the consumer, I’m going to keep calling out the thing I don’t like as well – there is no handle inside the trunk to close it with. That means that, should your car be dirty or grimy – especially in the winter – you’ll be getting your hands dirty as you have to touch the top of the trunk lid to close it. A 50 cent plastic handle is all it takes to clean that problem up, yet Honda continues not to do it. And I hate that and it drives me crazy.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was average. She said it looks like more expensive car than it is from the outside, and she enjoyed the styling. She also felt it was easy to drive, but somehow the interior didn’t resonate with her this time around.
There’s not a lot to say about this car. I like it, and it’s a great vehicle. It drives nicely, it’s sporty and comfortable, offers more than enough room and utility for a sub-compact sedan, and has essentially everything that a discerning driver would want in terms of technology, even though some of it is showing its age.
That’s where my advice comes in – if you like this, but want the most current thing, wait a little while – the 2022 Civic looks different from the outside (not as nice as this one in my opinion) and the inside (some very modern touches, including the coolest air vents I’ve seen in a very long time – maybe ever). If this current Civic cuts the mustard and checks off all your boxes, it’s a fantastic alternative to a small crossover and there’s no reason not to add it to your shopping list. While you still can.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Honda Canada.
If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other vehicle reviews under the car reviews tab at the top of my blog.