2015 Civic New Car Test Drive
Always one of the top sellers in the compact car segment, the Honda Civic gets a few changes for 2014, including a redesigned coupe and a new transmission.
The Honda Civic began its ninth generation with the 2012 model, which was poorly received by some in the automotive media. In a somewhat unusual move for a carmaker, Honda scrambled to tweak the sedan just a year later, followed by a refreshed coupe for 2014.
From a styling standpoint, 2014 Honda Civic sedans carry over unchanged, while coupes get refreshed exterior styling, including a sleeker silhouette, revised front and rear ends and more angular, aggressive lines.
Both body styles offer a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which replaces the outgoing 5-speed automatic transmissions. Instead of using traditional fixed gears, a CVT can automatically select from an infinite number of gear ratios to optimize fuel economy, and ideally, performance. While this translates to better gas mileage, the feel of a CVT can be elastic, though Honda's new transmission doesn't feel as anemic as some.
Also new for 2014 is a revised infotainment display. The 7-inch touchscreen, on EX models and above, can pair with Apple and Android-powered phones, allowing connectivity to apps like Pandora. While the touch screen is large and easy to read, we found it less than intuitive, especially when reaching for the volume buttons or setting radio presets.
Traditional gasoline-powered Honda Civics already achieve excellent fuel economy, though for even more efficiency, the Civic is also available in hybrid and natural gas versions.
Gasoline-only versions of the 2014 Honda Civic sedan and coupe are powered by a 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder engine. In most cases, we found the i-VTEC 143-horsepower engine with its 129 pound-feet of torque to be adequate. Acceleration performance is average but feels stronger because the engine is smooth and cabin quiet. There's an Econ mode that remaps the engine and transmission for fuel mileage over power. EPA fuel economy estimates for the Civic sedan and coupe range from 28/36 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission to 30/39 mpg City/Highway with the CVT, depending on trim level.
A Civic sedan HF uses additional aerodynamics and special wheels, along with low-rolling-resistance tires, to achieve 31/41 mpg City/Highway.
The Honda Civic Hybrid pairs a 1.5-liter SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine rated at 110 hp and 127 lb.-ft. of torque with a 23-hp electric motor. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 44/47 mpg City/Highway.
A refreshed Civic Natural Gas model uses a 1.8-liter inline 4 good for 110 hp and 106 lb.-ft. of torque. As its name suggests, it runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). It achieves a 27/38 mpg City/Highway gasoline equivalent rating.
On the other end of the spectrum, there's the sporty Civic Si, available in sedan or coupe form, with its high-revving 2.4-liter twin-cam four-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 201 hp and 170 lb.-ft. We've had it on the track and its performance is marvelous.
The compact car segment is one of the largest in the market, and as such, competitors to the 2014 Honda Civic are many. They include the Chevrolet Cruze (or even the smaller Chevrolet Sonic), The Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Mazda3.
The 2014 Honda Civic comes in several models. Civic LX, EX, and EX-L are available as a coupe or sedan and come with a 140-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The sporty Civic Si uses a high-revving 2.4-liter and 6-speed gearbox, coupe or sedan. Civic Hybrid features a hybrid gas-electric powertrain; Civic Natural Gas uses a 110-hp 1.8-liter inline-4.
Civic LX Sedan ($18,390) and LX Coupe ($18,190) come standard with a 5-speed manual transmission, fabric upholstery, manually operated air conditioning, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, full power accessories, cruise control, a 5-inch color information display, rearview camera, a four-speaker audio system on sedan (six speakers on the coupe), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Pandora radio connectivity, auxiliary audio jack, USB port, a text-message reading feature, one-piece fold-down rear seatback and 15-inch steel wheels. The Continuously Variable Transmission is optional.
Civic EX Sedan ($21,090) and Coupe ($20,290) come standard with the CVT, and add pushbutton start, 7-inch color touch screen display, the HondaLink smartphone integration system, an HDMI interface, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, sunroof, right-side blind spot camera, automatic headlights and rear disc brakes. Coupes get an upgraded, 7-speaker audio system.
Civic EX Sedan Navi adds Navigation and satellite radio capability.
EX-L Sedan ($22,740) and Coupe ($22,540) upgrades to leather upholstery and adds heated front seats, automatic headlights, heated outside mirrors, foglights and 17-inch alloy wheels. Sedans also get an 8-way power driver's seat. Civic EX-L Navi trims include navigation and satellite radio capability.
Civic HF sedan ($19,940) is equipped similarly to the LX, plus additional features to improve fuel economy, including underbody panels, a rear spoiler, more aerodynamic wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires.
Civic Hybrid sedans ($24,635) are available in four variants: Base, Leather, and Leather plus Navi. Base models include much of the equipment found on the EX sedan, but without the sunroof. Wheels are 15 inches and rear brakes are drums, not discs. All versions come with lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
Civic Natural Gas ($26,305) comes in Base and Leather trims. Standard features on the base include most options found on the LX plus the 7-inch touchscreen with Honda Link, and the right-side blind spot camera.
Civic Si Sedan ($22,715) and Coupe ($22,515) models feature a high-performance 2.4-liter engine and 6-speed manual. Navi and XM radio are available ($1500).