Reviews

2017 Honda Civic Driving Impressions


The 158-hp standard 2.0-liter engine is as boring as the whole car had become two years ago.

The 1.5-liter turbo is much quicker, as the Civic weighs less than 3000 pounds, and the engine’s 174 horsepower can just handle that weight. It’s a small turbo with an electrically driven wastegate. It sounds sweet at full throttle, though there is some turbo lag. The turbo engine has a Sport mode that helps things, as well as an Econ mode that gains fuel mileage but robs power. The turbo comes with a continuously variable transmission, which is smooth and quiet but not quick or exciting.

The Civic Si coupe features a pumped-up turbo engine and six-speed manual gearbox.

The new Type R hatch gets a 2.0-liter turbo.

Ride and handling is where the Civic excels. It’s precise, composed, and beautifully compliant. It doesn’t dance over bumps, it manages them. The suspension uses struts in the front with hydraulic bushings, and multi-links in the rear with a rigid subframe, with hydraulic bushings on EX-T models and above, as well as 17-inch wheels and tires. Same with the turbocharged Civics.

The Civic LX and EX ride on pedestrian 215/55HR16 tires that run out of grip and ability to cushion the ride on bad pavement, but still the ride’s not bad. Handling is predictable even when grip is not, as we observed on wet roads covered with leaves.

Because the steering column is thicker (for crash worthiness, which the Civic aces), the Civic uses a sophisticated steering system, a dual-pinion, variable-ratio setup like on the Buick Verano. There’s a motor in the steering rack that provides gradual and consistent steering boost.

The brakes are firm and fast to respond, with a short pedal stroke.

The Civic Si turns up the turbo boost to get 205 horsepower out of the busy engine. The suspension uses solid bushings to tighten it up, and the six-speed manual has a short throw and smooth clutch.

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