Driven: 2020 Honda Civic
  • Car Review

Driven: 2020 Honda Civic

By Chris Teague | April 15, 2020

Autolist rating: 5/5
But would we buy it? Yep!
Price range: $21,605 - $37,950 , including destination but before options

Key takeaways

  • The Civic in all forms continues to offer loads of value for the money.

  • The high-performance Si and Type R models are pricier but have substantial performance upgrades and excellent powertrains.

  • The Civic is one of a dwindling number of new vehicles that are offered with a manual transmission, and it's a good one.

  • Honda's standard infotainment is clunky and unintuitive, but most Civic models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring 008

What is it?

As many automakers move to abandon their passenger car lines in favor of larger SUVs, Honda has stuck to its guns with the Civic and larger Accord, both of which have been part of the company's product lineup for decades. The 2020 Civic hits dealer's lots mostly unchanged from the year before, but the hatchback model was updated with new tech, new appearance touches, and a quieter cabin.

The Civic is offered in three body styles: A coupe, a hatchback, and a sedan. Coupe models come in five trims: LX, Sport, EX, Touring, and Si. The hatchback is available in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, Sport Touring, and Type R. The Civic Sedan comes in LX, Sport, EX, EXL, Touring, and Si trims.

The Civic is aimed at new car buyers that want a compact car with a sportier driving experience and a high level of value. Its competition includes the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and Nissan Sentra.

The 2020 Honda Civic comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. EX and higher trims come with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring 007

A six-speed manual transmission is standard for LX, Sport and Sport Touring hatchback models, while a CVT comes with EX and higher trims. The Civic Si comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that has 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque and only with a six-speed manual. On top of the Civic lineup, the Type R has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that has 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, also only with a manual.

What's good?

TLDR: The 2020 Honda Civic is fun to drive, is very user-friendly, and packs plenty of value

Fun: No matter the trim, engine, or body style, the Civic is just plain fun. When equipped with a manual transmission, the Civic is legitimately enjoyable and brings many of the same engaging driving experiences that are expected from vehicles costing two or three times as much. The Si and Type R are quick and agile, but even the lower LX and Sport trims have an entertaining and fun ride that proves more power doesn't always make a better car.

Usable: The Civic's roots as a budget car that lasts forever weren't lost on the 2020 model, but it's buried beneath a useful interior with plenty of storage and an attractive exterior. Inside, there is generous small-item storage, enough head and legroom to keep almost anyone comfortable, and a trunk that is large enough to accommodate the whole family's gear. The Civic is comfortable overall, but the Si and Type R models' front seat designs may be too confining for taller or larger passengers.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring 054

Value: In the middle of the Civic lineup, the Sport and EX trims come with several popular tech features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto while holding the overall price tag below $25,000. The high-performance Si and Type R models are more expensive, but the level of power and refinement rivals cars costing many times more.

What's bad?

TLDR: The Civic's styling may be too busy for some, there's a strange mix of options, and the ride leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Styling: Many people mocked the Civic Type R when it was released, because of its sky-high wing and over-the-top vents and scoops. That hype has mostly passed, but whole Civic lineup shares styling that can seem busy by some, becoming more so as you move moving up through the trim levels. The Civic's interior does not match up with the car's exterior, but there's a lot to take in from almost every angle.

Options Mix: Honda has traditionally had a simple model lineup and no factory options. Still, the proliferation of model levels with all of the different engine or transmission choices makes the Civic's 2020 range confusing at first. Yet, some models have recently been simplified, and the company last year made its Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance technologies standard across the board.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring 042

Busy Ride: The Civic's ride is busy and does little to cope with the rough road surfaces. Sportier variants like the Si or Type R feel jittery. They can be quite loud over all but a perfect stretch of pavement, and even the lower trims with smaller wheels and more comfortable suspension tuning struggle with less-than-perfect road surfaces.

5 stars of execution

Safety Features? YES

  • Honda Sensing comes with all 2020 Civic models, which includes collision mitigation braking, a road departure mitigation system, a lane keep assist system, and adaptive cruise control.
  • Those features, coupled with the car's existing safety equipment, were good enough for the 2020 Civic to earn a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS.
  • The agency says that the award only applies to Sport Touring and Type-R hatchbacks with a different headlight design, as all other models earned a "Poor" rating for their lights.

2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan 019

Value? YES

  • There's not much else on the market that can stand up to the Civic on value. A car that costs less than $25,000, packs outstanding technology, and manages to be one of the most reliable vehicles ever is worth a look.

  • The inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for most trim levels brings navigation and other high-end features to the infotainment system without added cost.

Efficiency? YES

  • This one is a "Yes, but…" because the Civic's fuel economy looks great on paper, but in real-life driving, the car falls just short.

  • The EPA says that the Civics with the base engine a manual transmission is good for 25/36/29 mpg city/highway/combined and 30/38/33 mpg city/highway/combined with the CVT. Those numbers change to 32/42/36 mpg for the EX trim and above models with the 1.5-liter turbo.

  • In our week of mixed driving, we saw 32 mpg combined from a Civic EX with a CVT, which is still respectable for this type of car, but noticeably off the estimates.

Driving experience? YES

2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan 011

  • Even the base Civic model is buzzy and lively, feeling almost like a go-kart in everyday driving.

  • Things get more enjoyable at the Si and Type R levels, as the car becomes downright fast, and has an engaging driving experience that many cars costing twice as much don't have.

Execution? YES

  • Honda missed the mark slightly with the Civic's styling and packaging, but the car overall is a strong entry in the compact segment.

  • Even the Toyota Corolla, which is a newer design, can't match the Civic on driving experience and value.

Total Rating: 5 stars

What's it gonna cost me?

The base Civic LX has a starting price of $21,605 after a $995 destination charge. It comes with a 2.0-liter engine and six-speed manual, LED daytime running lights, a multi-angle rearview camera, power windows and door locks, cruise control, cloth upholstery, a five-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth and a USB port. It also includes the Honda Sensing group of driver assistance technologies.

The Civic Coupe LX has a starting price of $22,005 after destination and the Civic Hatchback LX has a starting price of $22,705 after destination.

The Civic Sport has a starting price of $22,505. It comes with a center-exit exhaust system, fog lights, keyless entry, a decklid spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, folding rear seats, a seven-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities and a 180-watt sound system.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring 062

The Honda Civic EX has a starting price of $24,755 after destination and includes a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, remote start, automatic transmission, Honda LaneWatch blind-spot camera, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver's seat, SiriusXM Radio and HD Radio.

The EX-L trim comes with leather upholstery and has a starting MSRP of $25,955.

The Civic Touring has a starting price of $28,655 and comes with paddle shifters, chrome door handles, side mirrors with LED turn indicators, rain-sensing windshield wipers, LED headlights, a 4-way power passenger's seat, a navigation system, and a 450-watt sound system. The equivalent hatchback model is called Sport Touring.

The Civic Si has a starting price of $26,155 after destination and comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, a 6-speed manual transmission, 18-inch matte black alloy wheels, a lap timer, a G-force gauge, a rev-limit indicator, a sport mode indicator and a turbo boost meter.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring 066

The Civic Type R has a starting price of $37,950 and comes with a 306-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, a lightweight single-mass flywheel and adaptive dampers.

Our money would buy the Civic Si Sedan, which has all of the usable space and utility that the standard cars have but also has a more powerful engine and an excellent manual transmission. That's all without an outrageous price tag. If the lack of an automatic transmission is an issue, consider the EX as well.

2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan 020

Also consider:

The Toyota Corolla is the Civic's most prominent rival in terms of sales numbers. It was redesigned for 2019 and now offers a hatchback model. The Corolla doesn't match the Civic on driving experience or value, though. The Hyundai Elantra packs much of the same tech and comfort features that are more elaborate than the Civic's but lacks the engaging driving experience that Honda offers.

The Nissan Sentra is redesigned for 2020 and has the most standard tech and safety features than any other car on our list. It's also the least expensive, with an all-in price of under $22,000. The Mazda3 is one of the most refined and upscale cars in its segment and has one of the best driving experiences as well.

More Photos:

See more 2020 Honda Civic photos here.