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2016 Honda Civic Coupe: Style and tech in a compact package

2016 Honda Civic Coupe (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

In the past I’ve dinged Honda for its boring design. Sure, its vehicles are reliable and practical, but they blended in with crowd, looking like every other on the road.

But that changed with the reveal of the 2016 Honda Civic.

Finally! A vehicle with some personality.

Inside and out, the all-new Civic Coupe is chockfull of interesting design features and technology.

Design

Gone is the look-like-everything-else-on-the-road design. In its place you’re seeing a lot of curves punctuated by some hard horizontal lines. I especially love the C-shaped LED taillights that seem to pop out of the rear of the vehicle.


The previous gen Civic Coupe had a weird sloping hood and looked more peculiar than cool, and the interior was more functional than classic. The new Civic gets a serious upgrade inside, and things look more classy than functionally staid.

One thing I did not like is Honda designed away the volume knob. Instead of a physical dial, the audio volume is controlled by a touch-screen slider that works poorly in cold weather or with fat fingers. I first saw this feature in the Honda Fit. I hated it then, and I still hate it now.

Ride & Handling

For 2016, the Civic gets two new engines: a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine and a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. The two engines deliver 158 and 174 horsepower, respectively.

The test vehicle was the Touring edition, and I found it to be quite peppy. However, it’s one of those vehicles that gives you everything you need but nothing more. So, while you can merge quite well with highway traffic, you’re not going to win any drag races.

One of the things that always impresses me about a Honda is how quiet and calm it is, and the 2016 Civic Coupe is no exception. Whether you’re driving on roughly paved roads or hitting the clover-leaf on-ramp, it is competent and collected.


Fuel economy

It always amazes me when an automaker adds more horsepower, but also manages to maintain or improve fuel economy. The 2016 Civic Coupe is an example of this.

The previous gen topped out at 37 mpg on the highway with the 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine and the automatic transmission. Now, the 1.5-liter turbo, which has the highest horsepower, has the best fuel economy with city EPA estimates of 31 mpg and 41 mpg on the highway.

The 2.0-liter engine gets city/highway EPA estimates of 26/37 mpg and 30/39 mpg with the manual and automatic transmission, respectively.

Tech & gadgets

For a car that tops out under $30K, the Civic Coupe has a fair amount of technology. At one level up off the base model, you’ll get standard features such as push-button start, remote engine start and Honda LaneWatch. Leveling up to the EX-T brings standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And if you top out at the Touring trim, you’ll get standard tech favorites such as Honda Sensing and navigation.

I am a bit peeved, however, that you have to level up to get more technology. Apple CarPlay, for example, isn’t available at a base level – even as an option. Nor are auto on/off headlights – you can only get them on the Touring trim, where they become standard.

While I like how Honda packs up-level standard features into the higher trims, I would at least like the option to add selected features a la carte at the lower levels – especially the Honda Sensing, which is the safety tech technology that brings the Civic Coupe top marks in the safety ratings. But alas, it is only available at the Touring trim.


Trims

Base price for the Civic Coupe is just under $20K, but the really nice thing is you don’t have to spend a lot of extra money to completely kit up this car. The test vehicle was a top-tier Touring model with all the whistles and bells, which topped out at about $27K– without options or accessories.

LX: At this base trim, the 6-speed manual transmission is standard as is the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine. Other standard features include automatic climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels and LED front daytime running lights. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) will add $800 to the price tag. Base price is $19,885.

LX-P: This trim adds a standard CVT, push button start, LaneWatch, power moonroof and remote start. Base price is $21,685.

EX-T: This trim upgrades to the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and adds standard features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and dual-zone automatic climate control. Base price is $23,135.

EX-L: This trim starts to add standard luxury features such as leather trimmed seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Base price is $24,260.

Touring: This trim is the whistles-and-bells edition with standard features such as navigation, auto on/off LED headlights, premium audio, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking and road departure mitigation. Base price is $26,960.


Safety

The Civic Coupe comes standard with all the safety equipment you’ve come to expect, including a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, side-curtain air bags and front side air bags. Some interesting standard safety features include a new driver’s spiral front air bag, a new front passenger safety vent air bag and Honda LaneWatch, which shows what’s in your right-side blind spot as soon as you hit the right turn signal.

Available safety features include collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. The caveat is these features, which are included in the Honda Sensing package, are only available at the Touring trim – at which time they become standard.

The 2016 Civic Coupe is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick +, achieving “Good” scores in all crash tests and a “Superior” rating for front crash prevention. But, of course, this is only when the vehicle is equipped with Honda Sensing on the Touring trim.

The Civic Coupe also gets high marks from National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, achieving an overall 5-Star crash test rating.

There is currently one recall of note on the 2016 Civic, and that involves the parking brake, which may not properly engage.

Not sure what the safety ratings mean? We break it down for you here.

New for 2016

Pretty much everything is new for 2016. In addition to the exterior changes, Civic is built on a new architecture, has a more premium interior, offers two new engines and makes the Honda Sensing safety technology standard on the top-tier Touring trim.

Some Civic-first features include remote start, a capless fueling system and an electric park brake.

A few of my favorite things

What I like the most about the new Civic is that you can get a really tricked out model for a decent price. Even though someone doesn’t have a ton of money to spend on a car, that doesn’t mean they want something that’s “cheap.”

You can get a top-tier Civic Touring Coupe that’s fully loaded for just under $27K. That means you get all the current high-tech safety features and navigation for under $30K. Love. It.


What I can leave

Honda’s cord management system stinks. I hate that I have to play twister to plug in my USB charging cord underneath the center console, and then thread it through a cord port so that my phone can rest on a tray in front of the gear shift while it charges.

When I pointed this out in social media, a friend who just purchased a Civic said that she plugged the chord in once and leaves it there all the time. But, for the OCD among us (or for those who live in an urban environment), leaving this chord chronically visible isn’t an option. Which leaves the rest of us in an awkward Downward-Facing-Dog yoga position every time you want to plug in or unplug your charge cord.

I mentioned this earlier, but something else I can leave: The lack of a volume knob. The saving grace is the redundant volume thumb wheel on steering wheel that lets you either press up or down to control volume or simply slide your thumb around the wheel to adjust.

The even better news: It seems Honda finally heard the numerous complaints from owners about the slider, and it’s putting a volume knob back in its vehicles starting with the recently revealed redesigned CR-V.

The bottom line

I love that there are no compromises with the new Civic Coupe. It has a great price and tons of tech to boot. For a car that hovers around the mid-$20K point, it’s a nice, solid vehicle with decent ride and handling. An inexpensive car that’s not cheap.

I love the sporty look of the coupe model, and it’s perfect for a single person in the city or a DINK in the ‘burbs. Cargo capacity is decent, the seats are fairly comfy, and the fact that it’s a Top Safety Pick + is a huge bonus.

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