Honda famously muffed the ninth generation Civic. Into one of the most competitive segments in the automotive market, Honda brought its “B” game.
The 2012 Honda Civic wasn’t so much bad. It was that it wasn’t as good as it could have been, confusing inexpensive with cheap. Honda must have known it from the beginning, because it took Honda only to the next model year to enact a fix with the 2013 Honda Civic. That’s amazing quick, actually, considering how much it takes to make all the changes behind a simple outward change.
But Honda has introduced the completely new tenth generation of the Civic for 2016. Doing the math, that’s only four years from the ninth generation, about the same time manufacturers give a model a makeover, facelift, or minor update. But the new on the 2016 Honda Civic—longer, lower, wider—goes all the way to the bone.
Not only is the body design all new, but the body of the 2016 Honda Civic 4-door is 63 percent high-strength steel and 12 percent ultra-high-strength steel, up from 55 percent and 1 percent respectively on last year’s. It represents a 76 pound reduction in the weight to the unit body structure for better fuel economy and increased safety.
Honda redesigned the 2016 Civic’s multilink rear suspension for better ride and handling (already a plus as some models in this market use a simpler—rear “cheaper—twist-beam rear suspension), and mounts it on a rigid rear subframe, a first for Honda, and a boon for ride and handling.
The suspension also now boasts a number of technical details, such as hydraulic compliance bushings on EX-T trim levels and above (Honda also includes special ducting to provide cooling flow of air to prevent heat build-up in the bushings that would hurt ride). Honda also installed larger anti-roll bars with bonded bushings for improved handling.
You don’t have to know what these items are, and in fact it would be easy to write an entire article on the improved suspension alone, to appreciate their effect. The 2016 Honda Civic reaches out of its class in quality feel behind the wheel.
Speaking of behind the wheel, a high-tech feature not found even in more expensive class of vehicle is dual-pinion electric power steering. What this does is put direct steering into the steering rack with one pinion, and adds assist from an electric motor via a second rack. Sensors can read the effort in steering from the direct steering shaft, and calculate the steering assist needed in any given situation. The takeaway from all that is sharper handling and a more natural feel.
The steering system also has a variable gear ratio, normally found on more expensive cars. It allows faster steering change at the ends of the steering range. It reduces the number of turns from lock to lock, which means less steering wheel-spinning when parking.
The 2016 Honda Civic has stability assist, which uses the electronic throttle and brakes to maintain direction when braking, acceleration or cornering, and also has “Agile Handling Assist,” which applies braking to the inside front wheel to initiate turning effect. Neither of these two systems is stability control as such, which is fully reactive. AHA is proactive.
Another driving aid sounds counterintuitive–isn’t straight what cars do?–but Straight Line Assist uses the electric power steering to reduce the effort to drive straight ahead when driving on a crowned or slanting road. Cool.
However, for the 2016 Honda Civic 4-door, the overall feel is still one that’s more “sedan” than “sports sedan.” Our notes call the ride “comfortable” but “not the sort of car that makes you want to go out and carve corners.” In other words, just what Civic sedan owners want, but much better at it than the Civic ever has been before.
Two new engines are available in 2016 Honda Civic models. The base LX and upgrade EX come with a new 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, an upgrade with more power and torque as well as improved fuel economy. It’s an advanced design with a lightweight aluminum block, and includes features including thin slits between the cylinder bores to improve cooling, cracked connecting rods, “cavity-shaped” piston faces and, with apologies to the engineers who developed the engine for us not saying more, much more.
The engine for the 2016 Honda Civic EX-T and Touring, however, is a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four, the first turbo engine ever offered in North America by Honda. Featuring direct injection and a low-inertia mono scroll turbo system with electrical wastegate and dual Variable Valve Timing Control (VTC), the engine puts out 174 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque starting at 1700 all the way up to 5500 rpm.