• Available continuously variable transmission
  • Base 5-speed manual for some versions
  • 5-speed automatic discontinued

Honda announced a handful of changes for its latest Civic compact coupe and sedan. Some new technology is available, and the latest Civic coupe receives some styling changes, too. But the big news for the 2014 Honda Civic is the availability of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) instead of the 5-speed automatic previously offered for the model. The new optional transmission improves fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon compared to the automatic-equipped 2013 Civic.

Because of the fuel economy advantages they offer, CVTs have become increasingly popular. Automakers including Nissan, Toyota and Subaru have turned to CVTs to meet consumers' and regulators' increasing demands for greater fuel efficiency. While a CVT differs mechanically from an automatic transmission with discrete gears, most drivers won't notice a big change in the way the car performs. There's no clutch pedal. Just shift into drive and go.

Honda still offers a 5-speed manual for drivers who prefer to row through the gears themselves -- at least for some Civic versions. The Civic Coupe in LX and EX trims comes standard with a 5-speed manual. Both trims are also offered with the CVT. The top-trim Civic Coupe EX-L is equipped exclusively with the CVT.

Among Civic sedans, only the base Civic Sedan LX includes the 5-speed manual as standard equipment. The mid-range Civic Sedan EX and top-trim Civic Sedan EX-L are now offered only with the CVT, as is the Civic HF, Honda's most fuel-efficient Civic model.

Improving fuel economy is Honda's reason for dropping the 5-speed automatic in favor of the CVT. Indeed, the latest models post higher city and combined fuel economy ratings with the new transmission. Equipped with the CVT, the Civic Sedan LX, EX and EX-L are now rated at 30 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined. That tops the CVT-equipped 2014 Toyota Corolla by 1 mpg for each rating. The gas-sipping 2014 Honda Civic HF now matches its Toyota counterpart, the Corolla LE Eco, with a combined city and highway fuel economy rating of 35 mpg.

While efficiency is important for today's drivers, thriftiness alone is seldom enough to woo buyers. To that end, Honda has a few other changes for the 2014 Civic. Coupe models receive some styling updates and newly available features, including an audio system display with a 7-inch touchscreen and Honda's LaneWatch, a blind spot monitoring system that debuted on the Accord.

What it means to you: Instead of the 5-speed automatic transmission available for 2013 models, the new 2014 Honda Civic offers a CVT that boosts its city fuel economy rating by 2 mpg.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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