The field guide to the Honda Civic lists many different subspecies for this entry-level compact. It can be experienced in the wild as a spacious five-door hatchback, or as a thrifty compact sedan or, in Si form, as a sedan with a little sport injected into it, or as a hot hatch Type R. But where it really outshines the competition is as the endangered species known as the coupe.
The 2020 Honda Civic earned a TCC rating of 6.5 out of 10, topping the overall Coupe competition to earn Best Coupe To Buy 2020. The Car Connection caps Best Car To Buy nominees under $50,000, and the Civic Coupe is well below that threshold by starting at $21,880, including the $930 destination charge.
The sleek two-door has long lines and a stubby rear that combine to make it look larger than it is, and the center exhaust on Sport trim adds some flair. It comes with 16-inch wheels but we like the Sport trim and its 18-inch alloy wheels and better features for an extra $800. Inside, the Sport model comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, as well as sport pedals, all three of them, because this lovely little coupe can be had with a lovely little 6-speed manual in Sport trim.
Otherwise, in LX, EX, and Touring trims, and for an $800 upcharge on Sport trim, the Civic Coupe has a continuously variable automatic transmission. It's mated to either a 158-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 on LX and Sport, or a 174-hp 1.5-liter turbo-4 on EX and Touring trims. We recommend the more efficient (up to 40 mpg highway) and more potent turbo-4 if you're not into the manual on the Sport trim. Regardless of engine choice, the Civic Coupe has taut handling and clean steering that makes ripping away from the humdrum daily commute a joy on less crowded, less straight roads. The 18-inch wheels look good but can transmit nuances from the asphalt in both a rougher and louder ride.
The Civic Coupe is nearly six inches shorter than the sedan, but front seat passengers get just about the same amount of space. In back, well, it's tighter. Intrepid college road trippers could fit four, and a young urban family could start off with it, but the Coupe is mostly for two. There's only 12 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, but the 60/40 split fold-down rear seat helps transport bulkier items.
Base LX models come with a 5.0-inch display screen, Bluetooth connectivity, and Honda's suite of active safety features including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. When it comes to safety, the small Civic is solid, earning a 5-star rating from the NHTSA and top scores from the IIHS. For better features, it's best to step up to at least the Sport trim for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and keyless ignition.
There's a lot to love about the smallest Civic, especially for urban dwellers on a budget.