2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe 3,000-Mile Road Trip Review: A Great Companion, But There’s One Thing I’d Change

Over a long journey, the Civic Si cemented its reputation as a fun, affordable and remarkably comfortable driver's car

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT
What is the 2020 Honda Civic Si like to live with on a long journey? [Photos: TFLcar]

The 2020 Honda Civic Si is a solid, remarkably fun car for the money. That we already know, given our extensive testing with the car in the first half of our three-month long-term loan. We’ve even had it on the track with its bigger Type R brother, where the Si put down a respectable 1:08.06 lap time on the IMI Motorsports track. But there’s still one question we have yet to answer: How easy is the Honda Civic Si to live with?

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to take it on a 3,400-mile road trip to see my parents, where I could really work out whether it’s a perfect road trip companion and daily driver.

2020 Honda Civic Si Overview: The basics

As it turns out, the 2020 model year will be the last for the current-generation Honda Civic Si. There will be no 2021 model. A new version is undoubtedly coming, but that doesn’t mean you should brush off the car that’s available here and now. Few changes came for the 2020 model year — mainly just some changes to the headlights, front fascia and the bumper. By this point in the tenth generation, the Si is as sorted as it needs to be, so minor tweaks were on the docket for its ultimate year before the next one comes along.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT

Under the hood, there’s a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission. It puts out 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, which offers plenty of acceleration in normal driving conditions. Unlike the Type R or less powerful Sport, the Civic Si is only available as a two-door coupe or a four-door sedan. For this loan, we have the sportier looking Si Coupe, complete with the large (though not Type R-size) rear wing across the trunk and “look at me” Rallye Red paint scheme.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT

With a 10-speaker premium audio system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, standard Honda LaneWatch and Honda Sensing driver assistance systems, heated sports seats and more luxurious touches like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and one-touch power moonroof, the 2020 Honda Civic Si is a great deal on paper, with its $26,130 price tag.

An sportier upgrade

The only major addition to the Si’s handling character is the HFP (Honda Factory Performance) Package, at $4,179. For that, you get HFP sports suspension and larger 19-inch alloy wheels. Underbody spoilers also come in the package, as do a host of HFP badges. Spend an extra $200 over the base price for the “HPT” version, and Honda will swap out the all-season rubber for a set of 235/40 R-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 high-performance summer tires, which we have here.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT

Getting on the highway (then off it again)

Setting out east from Boulder, Colorado, my final destination was a town just outside Augusta, Georgia — a trip that involves two solid days of driving, if you take the fastest possible route. Now, odds are you fall in one of two camps in how you approach a road trip. Either you’re the kind of person to just roll down the Interstate and hammer out the miles, or you take some of the back roads, doing some exploring along the way.

To be honest, I’m a more of a destination-minded kind of guy, so I like to drive as much straight through as I can and cover the miles. There would be plenty of opportunity to do that throughout the trip, though, so I wanted to see how well the 2020 Honda Civic Si works for some exploring. Nothing too strenuous mind you — we are still talking about a front-wheel drive, sporty coupe here — but what’s life if you don’t leave the Interstate every once in awhile?

After the first few hundred miles of my trip, I turned the Civic off the main highway once I hit Oakley, Kansas, just thirty miles away from one of the last things I’d expect to find among rolling hills, wind turbines and endless green and amber fields.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT
If you’re ever in western Kansas, you should check this place out.

Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark

Getting to “Monument Rocks”, a series of large chalk formations, is actually a greater test of handling and ride comfort for the 2020 Honda Civic Si than I imagined. It’s nothing the car couldn’t handle, but taking 20 miles of narrow, washboarded county roads offered an appropriate workout for the adaptive damper system, which lets the driver change up how firm the car feels by a simple “Sport” button on the center console. Press it, and you get more aggressive throttle response and a sharper ride.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT

Even on dirt, the Si stays well-planted, and the excellent grip from those summer tires kept the rear end from sliding out in the corners, a situation that easily could have landed me in a ditch. I also ran into some cattle blocking the road along the way, so I had another chance to admire the wide open skies as I waited for them to clear a path.

On the back roads, the 2020 Honda Civic Si avoided the ditches, the cattle and a puncture from sharp rocks, bringing me to one of the coolest natural landmarks in Kansas, just hidden in the middle of unassuming ranch land.

Trying out the Civic Si’s features

After the detour, I did end up back on the highway, where I had the chance to test out the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance features. Those include adaptive cruise control as well as lane keep assist and “Road Departure Mitigation” to keep you centered in the lane and keep you from wandering out of your lane without signaling. If you’re unfamiliar with Hondas, you activate these systems by pressing the “MAIN” switch on the steering wheel, after which indicators will pop up in the digital instrument cluster to show whether the ACC and LKAS are active.

On the subject of the gauge cluster, the Honda Civic Si also packs useful screens like a boost gauge, stopwatch, shift light indicator, g-force meter and throttle/brake position screen, as well as a trip computer that’s helpful to judge fuel economy on a road trip (more on that later).

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT

Easy to use, easy to live with

All the systems performed perfectly well, and kept the car centered down the lane without steering too aggressively when it neared the edges of the lane. In fact, it’s so good that it can handle steering, accelerating and braking without your input. However, this is not a completely hands-off system, and the car will warn you after a few seconds and disengage the system if you don’t put in some steering effort.

One of the Honda Civic Si’s greatest strengths, to my mind, is the straightforward control layout. All the buttons to control the stability systems, engage sport mode, engage the brake hold system and work the climate controls are simple to use. While the stereo buttons are a bit finicky to operate, the menus are intuitively laid out, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto runs flawlessly off a USB connection to your smartphone. On top of the infotainment screen, there’s even a day/night mode button to dim the screens while you’re driving in the dark.

What about comfort?

As I pushed through Kansas City into Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky, I hardly felt the strain thanks to the Civic Si’s comfortable and supportive seats. When you’re on a road trip though, it’s the minor things that tend to annoy you. In this car’s case, it comes down to the interior materials. While Honda was thoughtful in using leather for the steering wheel and cool aluminum for the shift knob, the center stack and most of the dash is finished in hard plastic. I can’t fault a $26,000 car for having it. But as I’m six feet all, resting my right knee against a rough surface for hundreds of miles on end was nearly unbearable.

There’s one more caveat as well if you buy the Si Coupe. Because of the longer doors, the seat belt mounting point is farther back than it is in the sedan. I had to twist around to reach it every time I got back into the car, which may get a little aggravating after awhile. Finally, since it is a coupe, rear seat space is also extremely tight. At 35.9 inches, legroom is at best 1.5 inches shorter than the sedan, while headroom and shoulder room are both compromised more than two inches.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT

Still, as I was driving by myself, experiencing a blood-red sunrise over central Missouri, I didn’t much mind the lack of rear seat space. Over the next four states into the sweltering Georgia heat, the 2020 Honda Civic Si stayed cool and impressively comfortable as the miles rolled on.

Loading up the Honda Civic Si: Practicality test

After a few days visiting my parents, I readied myself for the trip back home. Another day-and-a-bit long drive, another 1,600 miles to cover. I packed fairly light for the trip, but I had some useful cargo for the return trip. To test out just how practical the Honda Civic Si Coupe can be, I loaded up a window-mounted air conditioning unit into the trunk. At 11.9 cubic feet, it’s less than half the space of the Civic Hatchback, but it was still just enough to swallow up the unit without having to fold the seats down or shove it in the back seat.

Fortunately for the everyday grind, the Civic has decently sized door pockets, two cubbies in the center stack (one under the infotainment and climate controls) and a sliding armrest for storage.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT
Even as I filled up in Missouri, there were relatively few flaws I could find in the Civic Si.

Fuel economy: How does the 2020 Honda Civic Si manage?

Up and down the entire 2020 Honda Civic range, you can expect to get at least 30 mpg in mixed driving, with the exception of the 306 horsepower Type R. According to official EPA figures, the Civic Si should manage 26 City / 36 Highway / 30 Combined mpg in both sedan and coupe versions. While you can run the Civic on regular unleaded fuel, Honda does recommend premium for the best performance and economy.

For the sake of finding the best case for fuel economy on my cross-country journey, I stuck to premium fuel the entire way. At U.S. fuel stations, that meant either 91 or 93 octane, depending on the state. The Civic Si only has a 12.39 gallon fuel tank, so even with decent fuel economy I had to stop nine times to fuel up over the entire trip.

Still, over my cross-country adventure I managed to average a respectable 33.5 mpg overall, with each fill-up running between 31 and 36 mpg. All in all, I spent $215.17 on fuel in 3,400 miles. There are more fuel efficient versions of the Civic, with CVT-equipped models capable of up to 42 mpg on the highway. However, mixing both fun and efficiency is a strong suit for the 2020 Honda Civic Si, and the numbers fall right in line with what you’d expect from the EPA figures.

Looking through the “Eye of the Needle”.

Verdict: There’s just one thing I’d change

In our buddy review of the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe, Roman mentioned that he’d give it a “Lease it” rating until he learned what it’s like to live with. After a solid week and two days’ worth of solid driving, I would wholeheartedly recommend you buy the Honda Civic Si. It’s a solidly fun car, and you can’t balk at the $26,355 asking price. But, a word of caution — There’s one thing I would change if I were in the market for one myself. I would not buy this Honda Civic Si.

Instead, I would by the Civic Si sedan.

Actually, I would really prefer the hatchback, but you don’t get the same level of power with the “Sport” model. However, for the exact same price, you can get the Si Sedan two extra doors, a slightly more restrained rear wing, and much more everyday practicality. The Si Coupe looks cool, but the extra 5.5 inches of length makes a world of difference in terms of both passenger and cargo space. The sedan also only weighs 17 pounds more than the coupe, and its weight distribution is actually slightly better because the weight is shifted more over the rear axle.

In a world where the manual transmission is sadly dying a slow, painful death, the 2020 Honda Civic Si stands out as one of the few options left for enthusiasts. So it helps that it’s a damn good option at that, and after hours of debate I would take this over the Type R, even though I said the top-dog Civic is worth the extra cash. Day-to-day, though, this car has everything I need. Just make sure you buy one now, because you won’t have the chance to get one new next year.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe Specs:

Base Price:$26,355 (includes $955 destination)
As tested:$26,355
Engine1.5-liter Turbo (20.3 psi boost)
Horsepower:205 hp
Torque:192 lb-ft
Transmission:Six-speed manual
Fuel economy
26 City / 36 Hwy / 30 Comb.
(33.5 mpg combined)
Drivetrain layout:Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Suspension:Front: MacPherson strut
Rear: Multi-link
Brakes:Front: 12.3-in. ventilated discs
Rear: 11.1-in. solid discs
Dimensions (L x W x H):177.3 x 70.9 x 54.7 inches
Wheelbase:106.3 inches
Legroom (F/R):42.3 in. / 35.9 in.
Headroom (F/R):36.5 in. / 34.5 in.
Passenger volume:88.6 cubic feet
Cargo volume:11.9 cubic feet
Curb weight:2,889 pounds
Weight distribution (F/R):61.4% / 38.6%