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2015 Honda Civic: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2014

After a full redesign for 2012 and substantial updates for 2013 and 2014, the Honda Civic is finally taking a rest for 2015 -- for the most part. New for this year is a value-packed SE trim but not much else, marking 2015 as the first year since its arrival that the ninth-generation Civic hasn't offered major changes.

That doesn't mean that the 2015 Honda Civic is falling behind. On the contrary, updates over the last few years have kept the latest Civic near the top of its class, boasting a wide range of desirable standard equipment, cutting-edge technology and a fuel-saving automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that helps the small car return excellent fuel economy. After nine generations and 4 years in its current body style, the Civic is still one of today's top compact cars.

While the Civic has seen a few changes over the years, the model still offers the same old lineup that's proven popular for decades. For the masses, there's the 4-door Civic sedan. For drivers interested in a sporty flair, there's the Civic coupe or the more powerful Civic Si. For those interested in fuel efficiency, there's the Civic Hybrid. Honda also still offers the Civic Natural Gas for those who want a true alternative-fuel vehicle. In the end, it's no wonder that the Civic remains one of the most popular compact cars on the market.

What's New for 2015?

Following major updates over the last few years, the Civic mostly stays the same for 2015 -- with the exception of a new, value-packed SE trim level.

What We Like

Plentiful model variations; great fuel economy; lots of standard features; good CVT

What We Don't

Uninspired driving experience; pricey compared to some competitors

How Much?

$19,100-$27,200

Fuel Economy

The Civic comes with a wide array of engine and transmission choices. The majority of Civic models are powered by a 143-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 129 lb-ft of torque. It returns 28 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission, or 30 mpg city/39 mpg hwy with the new CVT automatic. Fuel-economy-focused HF models do even better, returning 31 mpg city/41 mpg hwy. HF models offer only the CVT.

If you want more performance, you'll be interested in the sporty Civic Si. That model uses a 201-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and comes with a 6-speed manual. It returns 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Topping the Civic's fuel economy range is the gas-electric Civic Hybrid. While it makes only 110 hp and 127 lb-ft combined, the Civic Hybrid makes up for its lack of power with exceptional gas mileage (44 mpg city/44 mpg hwy) with the standard CVT automatic. Finally, the natural-gas-powered Civic Natural Gas returns 27 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Civic is offered in eight trim levels. Traditional Civic models offer LX, HF, EX, and EX-L trims, along with a new-for-2015 Civic SE. Sport-minded drivers can pick the Civic Si. For fuel economy buffs, there's the Civic Hybrid and the Civic Natural Gas.

Available as a sedan or a coupe, the base-level Civic LX ($19,100) includes air conditioning, power accessories such as power windows, locks and mirrors, a 5-inch center display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a sound system that boasts a CD player, an auxiliary plug, Pandora Internet radio and an iPod interface.

Step up to the Civic HF ($20,600) and you'll be driving a model designed to maximize fuel economy. The sedan-only HF boasts low rolling-resistance tires, aerodynamic wheels and underbody panels, and a rear spoiler.

Above the LX and below the EX is the new Civic SE ($20,900), which is offered only as a sedan. In addition to including a standard CVT automatic, the Civic SE adds keyless access with push-button start, Honda's LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system, automatic climate control, a 7-in touchscreen and 15-in alloy wheels.

Next up is the Civic EX ($21,100), which is once again offered as a sedan or coupe. It adds a power sunroof, 16-in alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers, HondaLink smartphone integration, and a 60/40-split folding rear seatback.

Topping the traditional Civic range is the EX-L ($23,300), which includes larger alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats and fog lights. EX-L sedan models also include a power driver's seat.

Shoppers who opt for the sporty Civic Si ($23,400), offered as a sedan or a coupe, will get a more powerful 4-cylinder engine, along with a limited-slip differential, sport suspension and fog lights. Many of the Si's features mirror the Civic EX's equipment.

If it's fuel economy you're after, the Civic offers two choices: the Civic Hybrid ($25,300) or the Civic Natural Gas ($27,200). The Civic Hybrid's equipment roughly mirrors that of the Civic EX, though some EX-L features are optional. The Civic Hybrid also adds standard forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning systems. The Civic Natural Gas boasts the same features as the Civic LX does.

Like most Honda models, the Civic offers few options. The exception is for Hybrid, Si, EX and EX-L trims, which are available with a voice-activated navigation system.

Safety

The 2015 Honda Civic comes standard with stability control, side-curtain airbags, front-side airbags, a rearview camera and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes. EX and EX-L models also boast Honda's LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system, while the Civic Hybrid includes forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning systems.

In government testing, the Civic earned five overall stars -- a score made up of 4-star ratings on frontal and rollover tests and a 5-star rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's side-impact assessment.

Behind the Wheel

The simplicity of the Civic is palpable, and it has a wonderfully effortless driving feel. While it's not the most entertaining car in terms of performance, it exhibits a feeling of lightness that inspires confidence in the driver.

The braking is forgiving and firm, and the steering is light and exact. The climate control is laid out in a highly intuitive fashion, the drivetrain barely makes noise, and although it's a very fuel-frugal vehicle, the Civic has the power to get up and go if you need it. Viewed with a positive attitude, this is a Zen-like driving experience.

Small touches such as silver trim, and more obvious changes such as black carpeting, give the Civic's interior a more upscale appearance. More soft-touch surfaces and better material on the seats, door panels and headliner improve the look and feel, too.

Still, the interior of the Civic remains simple and sturdy. All its bits are robust and well built with no extraneous items to worry about ruining or breaking. While modern, its sturdiness is reminiscent of vehicles from an earlier time.

The Civic isn't a big car, but delightfully, the interior isn't small. Even tall drivers will find it roomy and comfortable in every direction. That's truly rare in small, fuel-efficient vehicles of any kind.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Focus -- The Focus comes as a sedan or a 5-door hatch, making its lineup a little more practical than the Civic's. The Focus also boasts a plug-in hybrid model and a sporty ST version, which offer advantages over the Civic Hybrid and Civic Si, respectively.

Mazda3 -- The Mazda3 is one of our favorite compact cars due to its excellent combination of fuel efficiency, style, equipment and performance. We also like the available 5-door hatchback body style.

Toyota Corolla -- Only offered as a sedan and not available as a hybrid model, the Corolla was fully redesigned last year. Pricing, interior room and equipment are similar to the Civic -- so we suggest you drive both models.

AutoTrader's Advice

To us, the all-new 2015 Civic SE presents the most compelling case of any model in the Civic lineup. One reason is its standard automatic transmission, which already gives it excellent value. Throw in a larger touchscreen, keyless access with push-button start, alloy wheels and Honda's excellent LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system -- all for only a slight premium over the base-level LX -- and you've certainly got our attention.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Honda Civic: New Car Review - Autotrader