Mountain Wheels: Re-remade 2016 Honda Civic yields stylish, sporty results
2016 Honda Civic Coupe Touring
Powertrain: 174-HP 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine; CVT transmission
EPA figures: 35 combined (31 city, 42 highway)
After some 43 years of revolutionizing the small car market, the Honda Civic continues to change with the times — sometimes a little more frequently than you’d expect.
The absolutely all-new version of the literal uber-car (probably used by a few Uber drivers here and there) comes as a relatively quick re-remake of a less-than-stellar model introduced not so long ago.
Reacting quickly to consumer concerns, the 10th generation 2016 model is now a sexy, comfortable, totally modern and stylish update that looks just a bit like a hatchback — maybe a bit like that Subaru Outback-styled Crosstour version of the larger Accord — but is not a hatchback, let me assure you. By stretching the wheelbase 1.2 inches and the body and track two inches, the result is presence and more rear legroom.
You can also power it with an optional 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder that provides 174 uphill-happy horsepower; the standard choice is a 158-HP 2.0-liter, one of the model’s most powerful base engines in history.
In fact, the only complaints that have been heard in the auto trade relate to the fact that this much larger-looking Civic is not especially huge on the inside (remember that this was always the case with the Civic, but maybe they forgot about that as everyone else got gigantic).
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I’d counter that you’ll find this new Civic as spacious as you’d require in a car of this size, and a particularly inviting machine, considering that they start at just $18,640. I got to try it out last weekend heading to the impossibly empty holiday week slopes at Beaver Creek and Vail in the top-of-the-line Touring edition, which has an MSRP of $26,500, and was universally impressed by its looks, its wintertime handling and its modernized but practical interior.
All models except the very base get a continuously variable transmission that’s extremely well suited for the car and is hardly noticeable except in cases of intense acceleration; paired with the 1.5-liter turbo in the Touring edition, this makes for a comfortably speedy, quick-to-react machine that felt absolutely grounded even on frosty, sub-zero roads, and was able to dig in and stay planted on snowy streets. It also produced an absolutely solid 40 miles per gallon overall.
Yes, you’re going to have a hell of a time finding elements of most 2016 imports that really differentiate them from each other — the ubiquity of this decade’s automotive styling is starting to get a little like the clone wars — but the new Civic still creates a striking posture with its own enticing mix of new bits.
These include a wedgy and active nose fronted by a chrome grille bar that extends across the top of the almost Acura-styled headlamps, and is also the sole piece of bling on the entire face of the car. Big, heavily pronounced character lines on the edges of the hood also accentuate the look, and a window at the bumper line holds the cameras and such for the new Honda Sensing system, which includes adaptive cruise control, low-speed following and other safety systems.
It’s also large and angular in the rear end, with giant c-shaped brake lamps, an aerodynamic deck-lid and some of those new, stylistically patterned but nonfunctional reflector inserts seen on way too many different cars all at the same time.
Interior execution details are also ahead of the curve this go-round, with mixed results. A pleathery-topped open cup holder and storage channel in the center console has edges a little too tough to be comfortable as armrests. Blackened silver plastic bars on the doors and dash offset the preponderance of black plastic; the new pass-thru setup on the front of the console is useful for threading and hiding charging cables to your various devices.
And the honeycomb-shaped instrument details, including a couple of angular temperature and fuel gauge pots book-ending an absolutely, 100-percent digital speedometer/tachometer/trip computer screen, are also new and flashy; a seven-inch display includes a lot of great media inputs and controls, but featured in my vehicle a lower-level navigation system more akin to a Garmin (welcome to the new world of austerity, I guess).
In the rear, the 60/40 split rear seat was also handy for easily throwing a ski bag into the Civic. Seating is also comfortable and, for whatever reason, is accentuated with carbon fiber-inspired black trim right down the middles of the seats.
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