The Honda Civic is a survivor in every sense of the word. It has been on sale continuously for nearly 40 years, and cars from all of those years regularly last for hundreds of thousands of miles. That doesn’t mean that Honda hasn’t continued improving the Civic over the years, and the latest––the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback––is one of the best to ever wear the nameplate.
You may be familiar with the Civic. There’s more than a decent chance that you’ve owned one at some point, but the new cars may be a mystery. After spending a week testing the 2020 Civic Hatchback, we’ve come up with ten things you’ll love about the new cars and two that you might not. Let’s take a look:
The 2020 Civic is available as a sedan, a coupe, or a hatchback, but for this article, we’ll be focusing on just the hatchback. We’ll also skip over the Civic Si and Civic Type R – both of which are hopped-up performance versions of the car.
What You’ll Love About the Honda Civic Hatchback
Unfortunately for most of us, there just isn’t enough time, money, or space in our garages to hold a spare “practical” car, so our daily drivers have to do it all. The 2020 Civic handles everyday duty admirably, with a level of practicality that is surprising for such a small car. With the rear seats upright, the Civic manages 25.7 cubic feet of space. Folded down, that number jumps to 46.2 cubic feet. That’s more than enough for a small family’s grocery run and allows the Civic to carry larger items than would seem possible when looking at it from the outside.
Fun to Drive
The 2020 Civic Hatchback Sport and Sport Touring models come standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pushes out 174 horsepower. After the center-exit dual exhaust is added in, system output increases to 180 horsepower. That may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that the Civic’s small size and curb weight of around 3,000 pounds means that there’s not a ton of car for that engine to haul around. That makes 180 hp more than enough, and the engine’s responsiveness makes things even better.
Great Manual Transmission
Finding a new car with a manual gearbox is getting harder and harder as more people opt to let the vehicle do the shifting for them, but Honda has left the row-your-own option in place for the Civic––to the point of it being the only option in the high-performance Civic Si and Civic Type R models. The manual transmission in the Civic Hatchback has a solid feel, great travel, and is easy to master. Clutch feel is predictable and allows for some truly sporty driving when the mood hits you.
You can spend $30,000 on a new Civic Hatchback, but you don’t have to. Starting at less than $30,000, the Civic Sport with a manual transmission gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, remote start, and a host of other options. That, combined with the car’s high level of every day usability, makes the Civic a great value pick for buyers that want more out of their new car for less money.
Level of Choice
The 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback is offered in five trims, two body styles, and can be ordered with either a CVT or a manual gearbox. That level of choice isn’t often seen in vehicles outside of the customization-crazy domestic automakers’ catalogs, where buyers can individually order options in some cases.
Great Fuel Economy
You could buy a hybrid to get stellar fuel economy, or you could buy a Civic and get great fuel economy while having a great time. The Hatchback with a manual transmission is rated at 29/37/32 MPG city/highway/combined, and with a CVT, it’s rated at 31/40/34 MPG. Those are economy car numbers from a car that can manage to be fun to drive and lively at the same time.
Long List of Standard Features
Every version of the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback comes with Honda Sensing. The safety package includes collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist. That’s in a car that starts below $22,000. The list goes on to include Bluetooth Handsfree and streaming audio, cruise control, automatic climate controls, automatic high-beam headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, a five-inch color LCD screen, a 160-Watt audio system with four-speakers, USB inputs, and steering wheel-mounted controls.
Sitting in the Civic Hatchback, there’s no mistaking that it’s a compact car, but that’s a small concern when the cabin is such a comfortable place to be. The front seats are as wide as they can be and are supportive in all the right places. There is a high enough level of adjustability in the driver’s seat to allow people of nearly any size and height to find a comfortable position. All controls are placed within reach and are located intuitively, making them easy to use when the vehicle is in motion. Front seat passengers will find generous head and legroom, and even the back seat offers enough space to keep most people happy.
Impressive Safety Scores
The 2020 Civic Hatchback earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s thanks in part to its standard Honda Sensing safety tech, but also due to the fact that it managed to keep the crash test dummies in one piece in most tests.
Premium Materials Throughout
Though it’s not expensive, the Civic Hatchback feels premium. Even in its most basic form, the Civic’s interior is well-constructed and features fewer hard-touch materials than would be expected at the price point. The cloth upholstery feels great, and at high trim levels, leather upholstery makes the Civic seem like a downright luxury bargain.
Things You May Not Love
You can buy a Civic Type R and get a variety of wings, scoops, and aggressive bodywork, but even the tamer Hatchback versions can be a little edgy for a grown-up. Some may find the styling to be youthful and fun, but there are still a few too many “aero touches” that make it look busy.
Continuously variable transmissions, usually called CVTs by automakers, have a tendency to cause the engine to drone and whine at higher speeds since there are no traditional gears. Honda’s flavor of the CVT doesn’t suffer from those issues as much, but the transmission seems to suck the life out of the lively turbo engine. If driving fun is on your list of must-haves, a manual gearbox is in order for your 2020 Civic.