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2019 Honda Civic: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by AutoTrader October 2018

Looking for a compact sedan? How about a coupe or a hatchback? And at an affordable price? The 2019 Honda Civic checks all those boxes exceptionally well, whether you're looking for basic transportation or something that excites.

Regardless of the version you get, the Civic boasts a spacious and surprisingly premium cabin, loads of features and a driving experience that strikes a great balance between comfort and driver involvement. Even the high-performance Civic Si and Civic Type R have adaptive suspensions that suit them for the daily commute. It also possesses excellent safety credentials and Honda's superior reliability and resale value.

The Civic really has something for everyone, and it's even better thanks to a number of key updates this year. In short, the Civic is a must-drive.

What's New for 2019?

The current generation gets its first significant updates this year, including a mild styling refresh that replaces much of the previous design's chrome trim with glossy black. Honda Sensing accident-avoidance tech is now standard on all trim levels, including the new Sport trim level that features special styling elements alongside a handful of feature upgrades over the base LX. The touchscreen interface found on most trim levels gains a volume knob. And finally, bad news for manual transmission fans: You can no longer pair manual transmission with the turbocharged engine in the sedan or the coupe.

What We Like

The spacious and high-quality cabin; best-in-class power and fuel efficiency with a 1.5-liter turbo engine; refined ride and handling; three body styles; the reasonably priced Si model; the bonkers-fun Type R model

What We Don't

The frustrating touchscreen interface; hypersensitive forward-collision warning; no automatic transmission on Si or Type R; Si is a bit lacking in power relative to competitors

How Much?

$20,345-$36,000

Fuel Economy

There are four Civic engines available, all of which correspond to different trim levels.

A 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine comes standard on the sedan and coupe. It produces 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. The optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) returns fuel economy estimates of 30 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined. The standard 6-speed manual is down considerably at 25 mpg city/36 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined. The coupe models vary negligibly.

Standard on the EX, Touring, EX-L sedan and every hatchback is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque (180 hp, 177 lb-ft in the Civic Sport hatchback). The CVT is standard with this engine in the sedan and coupe, but the hatchback still offers it as an option with the 6-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy is actually better, at 32 mpg city/42 mpg hwy/36 mpg combined in a CVT-equipped sedan. The coupe is 1 mpg combined lower, while the hatchback should be 1-2 mpg combined lower depending on transmission.

The Civic Si gets an upgraded version of the 1.5-liter that produces 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual is the only transmission available. Fuel economy data for 2019 was not available at the time of this writing, but we would expect it to be similar to last year's figures of 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy/32 mpg combined. That's exceptional for a performance-oriented model.

The Civic Type R has a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that cranks out 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It too comes with a 6-speed manual only. Fuel economy for 2018 was 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined and we expect it to be similar for 2019.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Honda Civic sedan and coupe offer LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, Touring and high-performance Si. The sedan adds the EX-L. The hatchback can be had in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, Sport Touring and ultra-performance Type-R.

The LX ($20,345 sedan; $21,545 coupe) offers 16-inch alloy wheels, forward-collision warning and automatic braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and high beams, LED running lights, a backup camera, automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a one-piece folding back seat, a USB port and a 4-speaker sound system. The hatchback comes standard with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine.

The Sport sedan ($22,045) and coupe ($22,345) add 18-in wheels, fog lights, distinct exterior styling elements, a central exhaust outlet, quicker steering, proximity entry and push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth/simulated leather upholstery, a 60/40-split back seat, a 7-in touchscreen, an extra USB port, an 8-speaker sound system, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sport hatchback (pricing not available at the time of this writing) is equipped similarly but adds a more powerful version of the turbocharged engine.

The EX ($24,295 sedan; $24,095 coupe) comes standard with the turbo engine, but reverts to base steering and upholstery. It adds 17-in wheels, Honda's LaneWatch blind spot warning camera, heated mirrors, a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, satellite and HD radios.

The EX-L sedan ($25,495) only adds leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The Touring ($26,700 sedan; $26,300 coupe) adds 18-in wheels, the Sport's steering, LED headlights, automatic wipers, a 4-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats and integrated navigation. The sedan also adds a 10-speaker sound system.

The Sport Touring hatchback combines the regular Sport trim's wheels, styling, exhaust and engine tune with all the Touring's trim equipment. It also has a 12-speaker sound system.

The Civic Si (pricing not available) is equipped like the EX, but gets a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers, bigger front brakes, a limited-slip differential, special sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, styling flourishes and a 10-speaker sound system.

The Civic Type R (pricing not available) is comparable to the Touring in terms of equipment, but also boasts 20-in wheels, bigger brakes, its own sport-tuned suspension and dampers, and even sportier styling inside and out.

Safety

The 2019 Civic comes standard with six airbags (front, front-side and side curtain), a rearview camera, forward-collision warning, automatic-braking assist and lane-keep assist. Honda's LaneWatch blind spot camera comes standard on the EX trim level and higher.

In government crash tests, the 2018 Civic sedan and hatchback received a perfect five stars in every crash category. The coupe fell short in only its 4-star frontal score. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave every Civic body style the best possible scores for crash protection and prevention.

Behind the Wheel

The Civic feels like a more sophisticated car than other compacts. It's notably quiet and comfortable, and although it isn't quite as sharp as the Mazda3, it nevertheless strikes a great balance between comfort and driver involvement. The hatchback errs a bit more on the side of handling due to its standard sport-tuned suspension, but it's still quite comfortable. For the engine, the base 4-cylinder is perfectly capable and efficient, but the turbo's best-in-class acceleration and fuel economy make it a near no-brainer.

Then there's the Civic Si, which is one of the best performance bargains around. Although down on power relative to other sport compacts, its superior handling more than makes up for it. The hyper-performance Civic Type R is in another realm entirely, and is one of today's best performance cars, period.

Inside, every Civic boasts top-notch quality, clever storage and a relatively large cabin. Even the coupe can accommodate four average-sized adults. The hatchback also benefits from one of the larger cargo areas in its segment.

Its technology disappoints, however. The base radio's buttons and knobs work well, but it lacks feature content. The 7-in touchscreen found on most trim levels is chalk-full of content but frustrates with its menu structure, small virtual icons and lack of supporting physical buttons. The added volume knob for 2019 doesn't change that.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Mazda3 -- The Mazda3 is the strongest alternative. Its fuel-efficient engines, sharp driving dynamics and handsome styling are top consideration points.

2019 Hyundai Elantra -- The value-packed Elantra boasts classy styling, impressive refinement and the typical Hyundai virtues of abundant features for the money and an industry-best warranty.

Volkswagen GTI and Golf R -- Here are your best bets when seeking Si and Type R alternatives. Each is a bit more grown up and refined, but still a lot of fun.

Used Honda Accord -- If you like the Civic's equipment, features and dependability, but you need more interior room, you'll probably want to consider an Accord. It's priced higher, though, so you may need to find a used one.

Autotrader's Advice

We can't recommend the superb 1.5-liter turbocharged engine enough, so that means our recommendation begins with the EX sedan and coupe (every hatchback already includes it). That trim should also give you everything you really need, plus abundant niceties like a sunroof, heated seats and the full touchscreen infotainment suite.

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2019 Honda Civic: New Car Review - Autotrader