2017 Hyundai Elantra vs 2016 Honda Civic: The Compact Sedan Is All Grown Up [Review]

2016 Honda Civic Sedan

2016 Honda Civic – The class leader is back

The Honda Civic practically invented the idea of a practical, reliable, yet also fun-to-drive small car. Unfortunately, the last few years have not been kind to the Civic, as the previous generation suffered from a mediocre design and generally uninspiring performance. Luckily, Honda seems to have taken the criticism to heart, as the new Civic is a completely different car.

The exterior is now surprisingly aggressive, with lots of creases and angular shapes, and a nose that almost seems to be snarling. Although not exactly handsome, the design is bold, unique, and definitely helps the Civic stand out from a crowd. The interior continues the post-modern theme, although in a slightly more reserved fashion. Still a bit ergonomically challenged, the quality of materials is decidedly better than in the previous car. Like other recent Honda models, the button-less infotainment system proves frustrating to use, and some of the switchgear feels a bit cheap but otherwise the interior is a perfectly pleasant space to spend the time.

2016 Honda Civic Sedan interior

Curiously, Honda gave us an EX trim test car that features the less powerful of two engine options, in this case, a 158 hp, 2.0 liter four-cylinder. A manual transmission is the default option, but our test car, unfortunately, came with a CVT. One might think that pairing a high revving naturally aspirated engine with a CVT might seem like a bad combination, the two actually work quite well together. A 174 horsepower 1.5 L turbocharged engine is also available on higher trim levels, although we’re not sure if the extra power is even necessary. The base engine is plenty peppy, and like Honda engines from the past, squeezing out the last few revs is a joy, not a chore. Fuel efficiency is also excellent, with the EPA giving the Civic a 41 mpg highway rating.

Where the new Civic shines the most is from the drivers seat. The chassis, suspension, and steering is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous car, and will put a smile on the face of anyone who drove a Civic in the mid to late 90s. The level of composure when tackling corners is in the same league as sports sedans costing twice as much. The only misstep is a set of all-season Firestone tires that don’t offer much in terms of grip, but exploring the limits is so easy and fun that you almost don’t mind the excessive squealing.

2016 Honda Civic Sedan CVT

Like the Elantra, the new Civic is also impressively roomy on the inside, with plenty of space for up to 5 passengers and assorted cargo. The Civic also presents an excellent value proposition, with our decently equipped EX test car coming in at just over $22k, and the top of the line Touring trim starting at $26,500. For a small car that is this much fun to drive, yet also practical and stylish, the new Civic represents a welcome return to form, and a sure-to-be sales success for Honda.

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