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Rundown: The Honda Civic Hatchback

A gray 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is driving in a city at night.

 

Okay, so I’m pretty sure no one has ever called the Honda Civic “sexy,” but why should we hold that against this car? Not every car on the road needs to be a sleek, visually sensual experience that makes us picture cruising along the oceanside in some classic Italian movie. That being said, the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback is actually surprisingly sleek and visually sensual––if you saw it without knowing its name, you could be surprised.

Once we get past that noteworthy and improved exterior, there’s some really good stuff going on inside this sedan too. Now that hatchbacks are cool (or have they been cool for a while? No one tells me these things), the Honda Civic has really come into its own and established itself as a slick piece of machinery to be reckoned with. How slick? Paddle shifters. The 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback has available paddle shifters on the wheel––I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

Enough silliness, though, let’s take a deeper look at what the Civic has going on inside and out. You want numbers? Oh, we’re going to have numbers. Let’s do a rundown on this beast and see what’s what!

Consider the Engine

Starting off, let’s consider the engine in the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback and see what it has to offer. There is just one engine available, which is not particularly surprising, and it’s a pretty decent one, so that’s not a real problem. It’s an I-4 Turbocharged engine that produces up to 174 hp and up to 162 lb-ft of torque on most standard models. The Sport and Sport Touring models, however, have the engine tuned a little higher for up to 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, though this requires a certain transmission (we’ll get to that below).

So, all things being equal, that’s a fine engine for a four-door sedan hatchback like this. You’re not going to see speed and performance from it like you will in a Mustang or Camaro, but that’s not what you should expect here either. When you factor in the Civic’s fully independent multi-link rear suspension and other design features, it makes for a solid all-around driving experience that is fun and surprisingly sporty.

A gray 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring races down a city street at night.

Two Transmission Options

If you really want the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback to be “sporty,” then you should choose one of the sport-focused trims. You see, there are two different transmission options for this car, depending on what trim you go with. Most standard models feature a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that utilizes the full range of “gears” while you drive. Some people like CVT designs, and some don’t, so your mileage will vary here.

What I like, however, is that the Sport and Sport Touring trims instead come with a 6-speed manual transmission––that’s right, manual, not automatic. They also have dual-mode paddle shifters on their steering wheel (the paddle shifters are available on the Sport and standard on the Sport Touring). This transmission is what comes with the slightly more powerful engines (we looked at them up above), so if you want a much more exciting driving experience, then a Sport trim is the way to go.

Robust Fuel Economy

So we’ve seen the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback has a pretty good engine––not mind-blowing but certainly powerful enough––and a couple of transmission options that actually did surprise me a bit. But if you’re picking a four-door sedan like this, then you probably want good fuel economy; I mean, that’s one of the best reasons to pick something like the Honda Civic––along with the reasonable starting price.

Estimated fuel economy on the Civic depends on what trim and transmission you’re looking at, but either way, it’s quite impressive. The more practical trims with CVT and the basic engine get an estimated 31/40 MPG in the city and on the highway, with an estimated 34 MPG combined. That’s pretty impressive for a conventional engine and will certainly go easy on your wallet.

Even if you want one of the Sport trims with the 6-speed manual transmission, then you still get an estimated 29/35 MPG in the city and on the highway, with an estimated 32 MPG combined. Not bad at all, really.

Lovely Interior

Let’s take a look inside the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback and see what it has to offer in terms of comfort and technology. Some of the interior features depend on trim level, of course, but even looking at the starting trim, I can see it has illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls, cruise control, and automatic climate control. When we start looking at higher trims, I see things like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, push-button start, and illuminated vanity mirrors up front. Dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and heated seats also show up at higher trims, plus more leather details throughout.

In terms of the technology inside, the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback starts off with a 5-inch infotainment screen, 4-speaker sound system, and full Bluetooth support. At higher trims, the interior tech features become much more impressive, including a 7-inch Infotainment display, support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and HD radio. The highest trim also features Navigation and a 12-speaker sound system with a subwoofer.
Overall, your trim choice will definitely impact what you get inside, but what I can see is solid and will certainly make for a fun ride.

The two rows of seats in a 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring are shown from the side at dusk.

Safe and Sound

Any time I look at a vehicle, the safety features are often what I check out last. That’s not because I think they’re least important, but because they are the most important. Once we’ve gotten flashy things like powerful engines and interior lighting out of the way, I can focus on just how safe a vehicle is.

Standard safety features on the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback include Honda Sensing Technologies, featuring a collision mitigation braking system, road departure mitigation system, and a lane keep assist system. Every model also includes a forward collision warning and lane departure warning, and models with a CVT have adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow functionality. Vehicle stability control with traction control, brake assist, LED daytime running lights, and a comprehensive airbag package are also all standard.

There’s really just one safety feature that is only found on higher trims, which is the Honda LaneWatch technology. This uses a small camera on the right side mirror, which is activated when you turn on the right signal. It then displays an image on the infotainment display, giving you a much wider view than just looking at the right-hand mirror. It’s a great feature, but it’s the only safety feature restricted by trim. That’s incredibly rare in the auto industry and something that I’d love to see a lot more of.
You shouldn’t have to pay more to feel safe; with the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback, you don’t have to.

Final Analysis

All told, I’d say the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback is a pretty impressive bit of sedan-ery (that’s not a word, but it should be). A pretty decent engine, with an option for 6-speed manual transmission, great fuel economy, and terrific interior options, all come together in a tight hatchback package. And the standard safety features are some of the best I’ve seen on a car. So, final thought: great hatchback that’s as fun to drive as you want it to be.

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