- Lots of standard features
- Hybrid earns 44-mpg rating
- Refined ride quality
- Reduced noise levels
- Excellent crash-test scores
- Complex dash surfaces
- Brake feel
- Low-speed Hybrid feel
- Rear-seat room is impaired
The 2014 Honda Civic brings better refinement back to the lineup, but there's more to come, we're told.
The 2014 Honda Civic sedan and coupe are back in sync. In its 2012 redesign, the Civic emerged with a cheaper interior, more sluggish powertrains, and less crisp handling. Honda faithful revolted--and Honda itself went on a crash program to bring the Civic back up to snuff.
As a result, the Civic now has a better CVT in some versions, and a revised infotainment system, both of which amplify the fixes from 2013, which included a new front end, an upgraded interior, and a revised suspension tune.In one of the quickest turnarounds ever seen from Honda, Civic sedans were refreshed last year with new faces, new interior finishes, and retuned suspensions, all to shore up its reputation as one of the leaders of the compact-car class. This year, the Civic continues with its more Accord-influenced exterior: the front end clearly mimics the Accord’s face, from the new "open-mouth" lower bumper to the black honeycomb mesh grille. The Civic also dons integrated fog lamps for the upper trims and new clear-lens cornering lamps (plus a chrome finishing bar in back and new Accord-like rear bumper design). In all, it looks more sophisticated from the outside. Inside, Honda hasn’t completely redesigned the funky contours of the instrument panel, but it’s redone pretty much all of the materials and surfaces, subbing in requisite soft-touch dash materials.
With this revamped Civic, Honda has made major gains in refinement that translate to a far more pleasant cabin experience. Compared to the pared-down 2012 model, the current Civic's body has been stiffened with more high-strength steel, side pillars have been upgraded, and thicker windshield and front door glass have been applied. There's also more soundproofing for the dash, floor, doors, and rear tray. The difference is that you barely hear the engine when it's idling, road noise has been cut way down, and the softer dash materials make even the acoustics inside feel a bit softer.
Interior appointments essentially carry over--with decent front seats but back-seat accommodations that could be better contoured and could really use better head and shoulder room.
Performance is one area where the 2014 Honda Civic is mostly unchanged--although some modest suspension changes (firmer springs, stiffer anti-roll bar, quieter bushings, and quicker steering ratio) go a long way toward making this staid compact sedan feel a little perkier again. Much of the lineup continues with the 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. But for 2014, the five-speed automatic is being retired, in favor of a new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) -- or you can still get a five-speed manual on much of the lineup. Si models get a more muscly 201-hp, 2.4-liter four, and Civic Hybrid models will be back with their IMA mild-hybrid system that provides EPA ratings of 44 mpg, city and highway.
Steering is probably still the biggest letdown; it's overly light and too quick. But the Civic's mild retuning gives it better composure. Ride quality feels a bit more settled than in the 2012 car. Front brake rotors also get an upgrade in size, although we've noted that brake feel is a little mushy.
The most recent Civic has received some structural upgrades, and based on crash tests, its occupant protection is better than ever. It's achieved top 'good' ratings in the new small overlap frontal test, and it's now an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. Safety-feature content has been bolstered, too, with the introduction of a new SmartVent airbag design—like what’s been introduced in the 2013 Accord—and the Civic Hybrid will get standard Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) systems.Features are the other area where the Civic was most changed for 2013; those upgrades carry over this year. Honda has in the past saved some of its best, most useful features only for its top models, but all Civics get Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity and audio streaming, text-message functionality, Pandora integration, and a rearview camera system. In addition, navigation systems have been upgraded with more points of interest and a new FM-based (subscription-free) traffic service). Whichever trim level you go with, we'd advise you go without the nav system, as the base audio system's interface is better and more intuitive.
2014 Honda Civic
The 2014 Honda Civic is conservative, yet contemporary enough; and the few nips and tucks Honda gave it last year made it more handsome.
With last year's design tweaks, the Honda Civic added some influence from the latest Honda Accord on the outside, while upping the level of sophistication inside--if not quite in the way the cabin looks, in the way the materials feel.
Surprisingly, Honda made some significant changes then, after the Civic had received a full redesign just a year earlier, for 2012. That's because many cried foul over the new Civic's apparent cost-cutting throughout, as well as a a lack of overall detailing that left the newer model looking quite bland.
Those 2013 changes carry over to the 2014 Honda Civic, and while this model doesn't look particularly edgy or daring, it sizes up well against the competition--both in terms of styling and functionality.
With its "open-mouth" lower bumper and black honeycomb mesh grille, the Civic's look is a little more chiseled on the outside; and integrated fog lamps help punctuate the look in the upper trims, with new clear-lens cornering lamps (plus a chrome finishing bar in back and new Accord-like rear bumper design). From the rear, the lights and rear fascia serve to widen the look just a bit, although we're not big fans of the generic wide chrome bar that runs across the edge of the trunklid, connecting the taillamps.
Fundamentally, the Civic's footprint and stance haven't changed much in many years. In this current generation, its flanks are a little more sculpted—including a raked-upward character line—yet the roofline looks remarkably familiar.
Sporty 2014 Honda Civic Si models do get a set of racier upgrades—including new wheels, a blacked-out eggcrate grille, chrome-tipped exhausts, and a noticeable rear spoiler—that are bound to draw a little more attention. To complement that, there's a sportier theme inside: darker trim, sport seats, and details like a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Civic Hybrid, on the other hand, blends in with the rest of the line—with the exception being different wheels and a (marginally) unique front fascia, as well as a small spoiler on the trunk lid.
Inside, the funky, oddly contoured, and asymmetrical instrument panel is probably what you'll first notice. Honda completely redid the materials for it last year, subbing in soft-touch surfaces, and the vast spans of grained gray plastic have been replaced with darker trims.
The upper tier of the dash is covered with a softer padded surface that extends around to the upper door trims (to the front doors, at least). Seat upholsteries were updated just last year, including faux-stitching that recurs throughout. Along with some of the other detailing, it helps with first impressions but up close it's not all that.
2014 Honda Civic
The 2014 Civic offer a responsive, refined driving experience, for what it is; but the performance-oriented Honda Civic Si no longer wows.
The 2014 Honda Civic isn't one of the more exciting compact sedans to drive, but thanks to the additional refinements added this past model year, it's one of the more enjoyable to drive.
Last year, Honda made some modest suspension changes (firmer springs, stiffer anti-roll bar, quieter bushings, and quicker steering ratio), and altogether they go a long way toward making this staid compact sedan feel a little perkier again. We think the steering might be a little too light and quick, but the mild retune (and greater noise-reducing measures) given to the suspension makes it feel more settled--both in ride quality and handling in tight corners.
Performance is respectable from the 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that's included in all but the Si, Hybrid, and Natural Gas. It's paired with a five-speed manual, or new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that, for the most part, works quite well, with a natural, even feel to acceleration. It's neither an engine worth working into its high rev ranges, nor one that's all that torquey in the low revs.
Several other different models of the 2014 Civic—including standard gasoline versions, a Hybrid, the sporty Si, and a Natural Gas version—each drive a little bit differently.
The 2014 Civic Hybrid is a "mild hybrid," meaning it can't move the car on electric power alone. This is Honda's first hybrid with a lithium-ion battery pack, which takes up relatively little room in the trunk and weighs far less than the older nickel-metal-hydride battery in its predecessor. A very thin 15-kilowatt (22-horsepower) electric motor, inserted between the 1.5-liter engine and Honda's continuously variable transmission (CVT), provides a level of boost that's weak, yet enough to maintain steady city speeds (up to 36 mph) for short distances. The Civic Hybrid can't accelerate in electric-only mode at low speeds, like that of the Prius, however. Because the Civic Hybrid has to restart its engine to move away from a dead stop, it's not as smooth to drive as a Prius-style full hybrid.
Si models get a more muscly 201-hp, 2.4-liter four, along with various performance upgrades. But it doesn't feel quite as sharp as its predecessor, with increased road noise as well. As always, you still have to spin the engine toward its 7000-rpm redline to extract the most power.
Front brake rotors were also given an upgrade throughout the Civic model line this past year, and stops are confident, although we've found brake feel a little mushy.
2014 Honda Civic
Comfort & Quality
Well-configured seating, a pleasant ride, and upgraded materials all make the Civic's interior one of the better ones in this class.
Last year, the series of upgrades that Honda made on the Civic lineup had its most significant impact here--where shoppers consider comfort, convenience, and overall cabin ambiance.
While the improvements are all relatively minor, they add up to major gains that lift the Civic up from its previously drab state.
Overall, passenger space is adequate in the four-door, but definitely tight in the coupes. The seats among the better ones in this class now; although they are somewhat short and flat. The Civic's steeply angled windshield won't be to everyone's liking from a functionality standpoint either, as there's a sense that the dash extends considerably into the cabin. Getting in and out of the back seat is pretty easy, but the seating position itself feels oddly contoured for adults and lacks headroom (despite the Civic's larger outside, we'd rather be in the back seat of the subcompact Fit hatchback, actually).
Trunk space is impressive in the Civic, and in the Civic Hybrid it's no longer significantly compromised. It's the first Honda hybrid fitted with a more compact lithium-ion battery pack, which takes only about 6 or 8 inches out of the trunk depth. Although Hybrid and Natural Gas models do still forgo the folding rear seatbacks.What's really changed for 2013 is cabin noise. When you pull up to a stoplight-- until you look down at the front-and-center tachometer--it's no longer apparent that the engine is even idling.
You'll find one of the quietest, most refined rides in the compact-sedan class here in the Civic. The body has been stiffened with more high-strength steel, side pillars have been upgraded, and thicker windshield and front door glass have been applied. There's also more soundproofing for the dash, floor, doors, and rear tray. Softer interior materials help damp harsh sounds in the cabin, too, and you barely hear the engine when it's idling. We only wish that Honda had extended the soft door trim you get in front to the back-seat positions as well; it's an odd omission, considering they made the effort with rear-seat ducts and a center armrest.
The oddly contoured, dual-level dash is something that some Civic buyers will have trouble warming up to. Honda has placed the tachometer close, just inside the steering wheel, while the speedometer and other displays are up above, and ahead--so it does make sense from a functionality standpoint, even if it's strange. A multi-directional button on the steering wheel lets the Civic driver navigate through various menus.
As for the layout, skip the still-fussy navigation upgrade; it's at its best with the base audio setup, which has large buttons, an intuitive layout that you can be comfortable with almost right away. Although we would have liked to have seen the main audio controls pushed above the seldom-used (in many cases) CD slot.
2014 Honda Civic
The 2014 Honda Civic is one of the safest compacts you can get; and a standard backup camera leaves it without any significant safety shortcomings.
Among compact cars, you'll find few if any models that rank as high in occupant protection as the 2014 Honda Civic. It's one of the top performers in its class for safety; its safety feature set is one of the best as well.
Significant structural upgrades were made on the Civic for the 2013 model year, and those enhancements carry through to 2014. With Honda's ACE II body structure and an enhanced front-end structure, the Civic aces the tough new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small overlap frontal test, and it gets top 'good' ratings in every other category. That makes it one of the few compact cars to get the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ accolade.
It's also earned top five-star overall results from the federal government, although it earns four stars in frontal impact (five for side impact). Coupes, we should add, figure to four stars overall.
2014 Honda Civic
Standard features in the 2014 Civic include Bluetooth and even Pandora integration.
Last year, Honda significantly shuffled the value equation for the Civic--and ended up with a much better hand against the competition. It makes a lot more sense now, with standard features including cruise control, power windows, a rear-view camera system, Bluetooth, and Pandora connectivity. Meanwhile pricing is much more competitive.
It all starts with the 2014 Civic LX, at well under $20,000, and ranges to around $28k for a leather-lined Civic Hybrid (and a little more yet for the Civic Natural Gas). Considering the fuel savings, added tech, and additional standard features, those cars could be worth it depending on how you drive and run the numbers.
EX models upgrade to a six-speaker sound system, automatic climate control, and the chance to upgrade to navigation, while top EX-L models get leather upholstery, heated front seats, and heated mirrors.
All Civics include a 160-watt sound system, and even this base system is impressive for this class of car, providing clean sound on both the high and low ends of the range. iPod integration is intuitive and easy to use, although the USB port wouldn't charge unknown devices like the Blackberry we connected.
The navigation systems have been upgraded with more points of interest and a new FM-based (subscription-free) traffic service). But over several drives, we've found a number of disappointments in the navigation-system and audio interfaces, and we recommend the standard audio setup unless you really need nav functionality onboard.
2014 Honda Civic
The 2014 Honda Civic Hybrid is one of the highest-MPG compact sedans; meanwhile the HF adds to fuel economy on a tight budget.
The 2014 Honda Civic Hybrid model is the mileage champ of the lineup. It now has EPA ratings of 44 mpg on both city and highway cycles, and it provides more boost than in pre-2012 form, from a larger 15-kilowatt (20-hp) electric motor
EPA ratings for most of the lineup are at 28 to 30 mpg in the city and up to 39 on the highway. And in most Civic models there's an Econ mode that allows a gentler throttle calibration, along with more conservative transmission and accessory settings, but in the Hybrid you might need to turn it off to better keep up with traffic on hilly stretches.
In real-world driving, from our observations, the Civic Hybrid is very impressive. Over nearly 400 miles of driving—leaving the car mostly in 'Econ' mode—we averaged more than 45 mpg. As for the other models, we managed to about match the EPA city number in mostly city driving.
The Civic Si, with its larger 2.4-liter engine and lower gear ratios, is the 'guzzler' of the Civic line. It's (surprisingly) significantly thirstier than a V-6 Accord, especially if you tend to do mostly highway driving.