2017 Honda Civic Sedan Touring Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.


One of the best small cars ever created 

The new Civic certainly doesn't fly under the radar like some older generations, the latest redesign making a high-tech visual statement.

My most recent Civic Sedan tester came in top-line Touring trim, which included full LED headlamps and LED front turn signals, the combination truly jewel-like. Together with chrome surrounding trim that appears to seamlessly meld into the bold brightwork grille, they glitter in sunlight like brilliant cut diamonds.

For just $26,990 plus freight and dealer fees the Sedan Touring also includes de rigueur LED turn signals on the side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, wireless device charging, leather upholstery, an eight-way powered driver's seat and four-way powered front passenger's seat, heatable rear outboard seats, navigation, voice recognition, plus a 450-watt 10-speaker audio upgrade with the addition of satellite and HD radio plus a subwoofer, and that stereo might just be worth the price of admission on its own.


 

Of course, every other feature you might expect a top-line compact to offer has been pulled up from lower trims, which start at only $15,990 for the base Civic Sedan DX, some highlights including auto on/off headlights, fog lamps, LED taillights, remote start, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, walk-away powered locks, heatable powered side mirrors, one-touch turn signals, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, multiple USB ports, a powered moonroof, and the list goes on and on, so suffice to say you'll be well taken care of with respect to convenience and comfort.


 

Unparalleled refinement for the compact class 

On that note the Touring's full soft touch dash top, rubberized bolster ahead of the front passenger, and pliable composite front door uppers are plenty pampering while also pulled up from lesser Civics, although its soft padded leatherette door inserts and armrests, with light grey contrast stitching no less, match the leather upholstery and therefore are exclusive to top-line trim, while the centre armrest, finished just like those on the side, wraps all the way around the front cupholder and includes a middle section that slides rearward to uncover a second cupholder if needed. If all this sounds nicer than most compact models, it is, but Honda doesn't stop there.

Instead, its electronic interfaces are some of the slickest in the industry, its primary gauge package easily the stuff of the luxury class with a seven-inch TFT multi-information display at centre that's surrounded by a large semicircular analog-style tachometer/multi-digit speedo. Again, neither this colourful digital lightshow nor the wonderfully large and beautifully detailed infotainment touchscreen overtop the centre stack, also improved upon by touch sensitive controls, are exclusive to the Touring, my previous EX tester featuring both.


 

The former is actuated by near perfectly fitted, well damped steering wheel controls that even include a touch-sensitive audio volume slider that curves to follow the left thumb's natural rotation, just one more item that's unexpected in the Civic's compact class, while the latter is a crystal clear display infused with HondaLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SMS text message and email functionality, Wi-Fi tethering, dynamic guidelines for the multi-angle rearview camera, the aforementioned 450-watt audio system, an additional USB port, HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response, and more. It's a tablet style display that seems to float slightly above the instrument panel as it sticks up out of the dash, a stylish brushed aluminum-look inlay underneath, while the dual-zone auto HVAC interface that's positioned lower down the centre stack is a prime example of good, simple design.

A big rectangular "CLIMATE" button at centre changes the infotainment screen to a useful set of HVAC graphics when applied, a smart way to ease access to oft used controls. At the base of the centre stack, almost hidden in a separate bin that's large enough for my gargantuan smartphone.


 

An interior that wows the eyes while comforting backsides 

The brushed metal inlay mentioned a moment ago visually stretches across the entire instrument panel and then over to the doors, its lower edge bordered in satin-silver, while the smoother silver treatment also highlights other key areas around the cabin. There's some piano black lacquered plastic too, but this is tastefully limited to an extension of the gearshift surround. Additional interior highlights include a leather-wrapped and padded ergonomically-shape sport steering wheel with more light grey stitching to complement the seats and door panels, plus a leather-wrapped shift knob and boot, grey thread also enhancing this latter item. And incidentally, the Civic's high quality switchgear goes beyond the steering wheel controls, the new Econ button and electromechanical parking brake toggle down by the shifter especially nice. Three-way front seat heaters warm to therapeutic levels when set to their topmost temperature, and the two-way elements in back will truly be appreciated by cold kids, arthritis inflicted parents, or anyone else you regularly shuttle around.

The leather-clad Civic Touring seats are very comfortable and supportive due to inherently good design, while they look fabulous, their inserts done out in perforated leather with a stylish textured leather strip extending from the top and bottom. Likewise, those in back should find the outboard positions comfortable and legroom is very good for the compact segment, while even though the Civic Sedan now wears a four-door coupe-like roofline, which makes it appear more like a sporty hatchback, there's a lot of headroom in all seating positions.

As long as we're talking capacities, those rear seats fold in the usual 60/40-split to expand the already spacious cargo compartment beyond its 428-litre volume, that number actually 75 litres greater than last year's trunk.


 

It's larger but hardly heavier 

Yes, it's all things bigger and better for the 2016 Civic Sedan, the new model 75 millimeters lengthier with a 30-mm longer wheelbase, and 46 mm wider, although it's 19 mm lower resulting in a leaner profile. To think Honda could get away with upping the Civic to near mid-size dimensions without any weight gain would be optimistic at best, but I must admit to being surprised when learning that only 14 kilos was added to the 1,244-kg base DX model and just seven to the top-line Touring model tested, that car now weighing in at 1,339 kg. This has everything to do with a 59-percent increase in high-strength steel and 14 percent more ultra-high-strength steel (which are up 55- and one-percent respectively), this not only reducing the mass needed for a structurally rigid body shell, but also making for even more strength that aids quietness, handling and crash test results.

With respect to the latter the Civic achieves a best-in-class five-star NHTSA rating, although by that I'm referring to five stars in all three categories (a car can earn five stars overall and still be get four when it comes to side or rollover tests), while Civics with optional front crash prevention upgrades, which come standard with the Touring, earn a coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.


 

Safety-first Honda Sensing technology

Those active safety upgrades are part of the Honda Sensing system that includes forward collision warning with collision mitigation braking, plus lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation, as well as adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, which as you may have guessed is most of the electronic equipment needed for an autonomous car, although the Civic is not set up to self-drive just yet.

Honda's exclusive LaneWatch blindspot display is one of my favourite active driving aids. It shows a passenger-side rearward view on the infotainment screen when flicking the right turn signal, while other safety kit includes the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, hill start assist, four-wheel discs with ABS, plus all the class-average electronic aids and usual count of airbags.

Also notable, all Civics improve their driving experience via Agile Handling Assist (AHA) that provides torque vectoring capability to aid responsiveness while increasing road-holding through the stability assist system. Basically AHA applies light unnoticeable braking force to the inside wheels when the steering wheel is turned, and then the same to the outside wheels when steering is returned. Added to this is Straight Driving Assist that reduces steering effort when on a sloped or crowned road surface.


 

Excellent performance is a Civic trademark 

As you might expect the Civic's ride quality is very good despite my tester's upgraded 17-inch alloys on sportier 215/50R17 rubber, and while my particular car was still outfitted with winter-ready Bridgestone Blizzaks that don't come standard, it still handled wonderfully. All Civics benefit from a fully independent suspension that includes a multi-link rear setup along with front and rear stabilizer bars, while the steering is an electrically assisted rack-and-pinion design with direct response and good feedback for the front-drive compact class. It holds its own when pushed hard through sharp curves yet it's also compliant over bumps and potholes, the Civic Touring's balance of comfort and sport probably spot on for most peoples' tastes.

Getting up to speed certainly won't be an issue, the Touring sporting Honda's new 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder good for 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, which is up 16 horsepower and 24 lb-ft over the base Civic's already generous 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft. With so much torque available from low in the rev range the Touring model's standard continuously variable automatic (CVT) is the ultimate benefactor. It gets a Sport mode that allows revs to spin higher between shifts, but I left it in Eco mode more often than not, which certainly paid off when it came time to refuel.


 

Of course all Civics are fuel-efficient 

Despite its performance gains the little turbocharged engine allows a slight fuel economy advantage over the base engine/CVT combination at 7.6 L/100km city, 5.5 highway and 6.7 combined compared to 7.8 city, 5.8 highway and 6.9 combined./

The new Civic Sedan Touring is all about finding an ideal balance of performance, comfort and efficiency, a combination that will once again make it Canada's bestselling car. While some manufacturers are now putting most of their emphasis on SUVs, Honda has proven there's no lack of interest in cars, as long as you come to market with something compelling, and they've done just that with one of, if not the best small car ever created. The new Civic is that good, and without doubt will be number one for many years to come.

 


Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.
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