From fuel economy to reliability, resale value, cost of ownership and sportiness the 2014 Honda Civic is a good choice…
Being the best at something is an achievement, and doing it repeatedly is impressive.
The Honda Civic’s 16-year streak as the best selling passenger car in Canada is nothing short of astounding. For the introduction the 2014 Civic, Honda chose the usually sunny and hot Tampa to introduce their latest update. It was sunny but anything from hot, with overnight temperatures near freezing.
Honda has been improving the Civic continuously since the seventh generation model was introduced as a 2012 model. Last year, for 2013, they updated the styling, handling and interior of the 2013 model and now for 2014 they are at it again.
The styling focus for 2014 is on the coupe. Roughly 15 percent of all Civics are sold as a coupe, the most dominant player in the small coupe market. Last year the sedan received updates to the front and rear styling to help make it look more upscale and sophisticated, this year the coupe gets a similar update to the front and back but the changes are meant to provide a sportier look with a bit more aggression.
The most aggressive version of both the sedan and coupe is the SI model that gets an even more forceful grille and front bumper design plus a rear spoiler and lower air diffuser. Wheel sizes have also changed with the regular coupe receiving 16-inch wheels, up from 15-inches, and the SI now bumps the size from 17-inches to 18-inches.
I have to give credit to Honda for making changes to their 2013 Civic sedan, as the 2012 model was widely panned by journalists for the lack of detail and underwhelming design. The sedan now has an upscale design that looks fantastic and this new 2014 coupe is a nice balance of familiarity and edginess that Honda owners will appreciate.
One of the reasons that the Civic is the best selling car in Canada is the practical, yet sporty interior in both the sedan and coupe. Many people, including me, didn’t initially like the split dash with the speedometer on the top and the tachometer on the bottom, but over time this design has proven to be a winner.
I was wrong.
The split design now incorporates more information to see without having to take your eyes off the road. The trip computer and other functions like radio station information are just below the front window. In addition, the front seats are very supportive and the steering wheel is low and small for a racy feel.
What is new for both the sedan and this coupe is the introduction of Display Audio system that is available on the EX and Touring models. This is a large iPad-like touch-screen design that lets the driver access many functions from the radio to apps that piggyback off your iPhone. (No Android apps yet but they are working on this.) This taps into the power of your phone, in the big screen, with full integration. I liked the speed and function of the design but really missed a rotary dial to adjust the volume over a touch screen volume design. Yes, there is a volume control on the steering wheel but one next to the radio would complete the package.
Honda has made one small change and one big change to help with fuel economy. The small one is the exhaust system has been adjusted in both the sedan and coupe to let the engine breath better, improving horsepower slightly from 140hp to 143hp. The big change is the introduction of an in-house continuously variable transmission (CVT), replacing the old 5-speed automatic. This actually makes this little car more drivable and might be the best CVT on the market. The car snaps away from a stop and cruises with ease on the highway, with quick changes in the gear ratio that helps mimic a conventional automatic design.
In addition, there is a sport mode and paddle shifters on the steering wheel to help liven things up. Honda has done a first rate job here and their efforts have been rewarded with a six percent improvement in city fuel economy and an overall drop from 6.2L/100km combined to 6.0L, something very hard to do with such a small car.
The driving dynamics of the Civic has always been very good due to a fully independent suspension and willing engine. The 143hp is a nice match for this car and the CVT is a great complement. The 5-speed manual is a blast to drive but it could use a 6th gear on the highway, as the high-revving engine can get noisy. The steering is crisp and the car overall instills a high level of confidence.
Honda admits that their Civic might not be the top choice in every reason to buy a compact car but they are near the top in all categories. From fuel economy to reliability, resale value, cost of ownership and sportiness this car is a good choice.
They know this and have built off their strengths. One is safety, with the introduction of a unique Lane Watch system that projects an image from a right side-view camera onto the large radio screen. This wide-angle lens allows the driver to instantly see what is beside the car when the right turn signal is on. I would like the ability to use this camera when backing up but the rear-view camera overrides the side camera when the car is in reverse.
The many improvements made to the car over the past three-model-years, has taken the Civic from rather ordinary to rather extraordinary. They know how to make a good, solid, reliable car and for 2014 things just a little bit more interesting.
Power: 1.8L 4-cylinder with 143hp or 2.4L with 205hp
Fill-up: 6.7L/5.0L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $15,690-$26,655