Honda has never been a company known for taking risks, which doesn’t mean they don’t roll the dice once in a while. Conservatism has paid off so far for the Civic, yet it was time to move forward. Not only has the 2016 Honda Civic been totally redesigned, but it’s changed significantly.
The car’s shape is the first obvious clue that Honda did things differently this time around. The Civic sedan boasts a fastback roofline, yet is still equipped with a proper trunk. This new styling might not represent a bold move for Hyundai or Mazda, but it is one for Honda.
The same design philosophy is applied to the car’s cockpit. The two-level driver instrument panel is gone, but every trim except the base DX gets digital speedometer and tachometer readouts. The fake dashboard stitching in our EX-T tester looks a little cheesy, but you can’t blame Honda for trying to add some detailing to the overall look.
The Civic also gains connectivity features, yet the centre stack touchscreen lacks sensitivity for quick finger tapping while driving, and the button zones are too thin. A proper volume dial is sadly absent, too, despite wheel-mounted controls. The older crowd who appreciated the Civic for its simplicity might not like this.
As before, occupants sit low in the 2016 Honda Civic. However, the seats are comfortable for road trips and outward visibility is good, despite the fat rear pillars. Rear-seat space is fine for two adults, but three people across will fight for legroom. Civics of yore used to offer more foot space. On a more positive note, trunk space has grown considerably from 340 to 428 litres.
Another innovation can be found underhood, and that’s a force-fed engine. The optional turbocharged, 1.5-litre four develops 162 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft. of torque. For now, the only transmission choice with it is a continuously variable automatic.
Performance is interesting, but this ain’t no Civic Si. We did manage an excellent average of 6.5 L/100 km during our test, though. Base versions of the Civic get a naturally aspirated, 2.0-litre four that develops 158 hp; fuel consumption is virtually the same as the Turbo’s, but at least a six-speed manual is available.
The 2016 Honda Civic feels solid, built by Canadians in Honda’s Alliston, Ontario plant, and it handles like we except it to. It’s not as sporty or as a Volkswagen Jetta or a Mazda3, but refined and comfortable without feeling spongy.
The new Civic is a significant step forward for Honda, but it’s just slightly ahead of the game in its market segment, as it had some catching up to do. That was enough for it to nab AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year title for 2016.