- Sharp style in every body
- Incredible value across lineup
- Great turbocharged engines
- Stellar safety record
- Impressive fuel economy
- Buzzy base engine
- Breathtaking number of trims
- Boy-racer look on some models
- The Si could use more power
The 2018 Honda Civic is a good car made better by plenty of options and value at nearly every stop.
For those convinced that the words “compact car” are synonymous with “blase,” let the 2018 Honda Civic change your mind.
The Civic spans a breathtaking number of configurations and trim levels, but none of them are cheap or boring. Honda makes available the compact car in a sedan, coupe, or hatchback body, with a trio of turbocharged engines (and one naturally aspirated version) and a grip of automatic or manual transmissions. Two common themes, regardless of body style or engine: a good ride and great fuel economy.
We rate the range at 7.5 overall with the implicit understanding that scoring such a staggering lineup is like rating all the fish in the sea collectively. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year the Civic range is unchanged after a flurry of activity last year. The Civic is offered as a sedan, coupe, or hatchback in a long list of trims.
The LX trim level signifies a base version of coupe or sedan, with EX, EX-L, EX-T, and Touring grades increasing niceties and price along the way. Trim levels with the “T” appendage denote an optional, uprated turbocharged engine; trims with an “L” in their name denote leather upholstery. Along the way, “Navi” and “Honda Sensing” add navigation and active safety features, respectively. Touring models get both, along with other creature comforts.
Hatchbacks ascend from LX to EX, EX-L, Sport, and Sport Touring, the latter two providing bigger wheels, sportier looks, and center-mounted exhausts. Hatchbacks are only fitted with turbocharged engines.
Last year Honda added high-performance versions, the Civic Si and Type R, that are mercifully monospec.
It’s too much to ask before coffee, so we advise an alert mind when considering the options. Interspersed among the trim levels are a few options, but the Civic is well-equipped regardless of variant.
The base 2.0-liter engine found in LX and EX models (without a “T”) is a commuter special, quiet and uninterrupted in many ways. The uprated 1.5-liter turbo-4 in the Civic is a revelation—its 174 horsepower is more than competent, and it’s the basis for the 205-hp Civic Si that’s entry-level performance.
The Civic Type R will attract eyeballs and the most money—it starts around $35,000. It’s a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 306 hp and all the tricks: VTEC, VTC, and turbocharging. Our colleagues at Motor Authority called it the 2018 Best Car to Buy.
Even base Civics get a 5.0-inch display for their audio system, but it doesn’t take much more to get a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Combined with very good safety ratings from official testers and available advanced safety features, the Civic is a good car hiding in plain sight.
2018 Honda Civic
The 2018 Honda Civic spans three body styles with varying degrees of civilized behavior between them.
Few lineups have the breadth of the 2018 Honda Civic: it goes from mild to wild without much effort.
All versions boast an exterior that better than good, it’s excellent. The cabins range from relatively stark to nearly obscene. We rate it at an 8. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Civic spans three body styles, with moderate levels of flair or class all the way up. Sedans will be the most popular sight on roadways and it’s one of the better drawn four-doors we’ll see. The sedan is more formal than prior generations of the Civic and busier than other models in the Honda family.
Along the sides, big wheel wells meet deeply surfaced sills and gracefully arched rear arches; the gently sloping roofline reaches the tail without any buttress frippery or untoward behavior. It’s acceptable in almost every configuration.
The coupe shares similar styling features, although with two fewer doors and a look that we prefer if rear-seat conveniences aren’t a pressing need.
The hatchback model was added late to the Civic lineup and it’s not going to be pleasing to all eyes. We like that.
The hatchback takes all of the cues from the sedan and coupe from the rear door forward, but the rear is all its own. It’s 2 inches shorter overall than the sedan, although it doesn’t ruin the proportions.
It’s a busier look than the sedan, and Sport versions amp up the look with center-mounted exhausts.
The Civic Si and Type R have their own styling, angled toward outre style for both. The Civic Si coupe takes a rear wing that’s (thankfully) deleted on the sedan version. The Type R looks takes a techno samurai look toward the edges of good taste.
Inside, the Civic turns the volume lower. The old, two-tier dash has been ditched in the name of good taste. The new horizontal array is a meld of contemporary themes and conservative lines. Thicker at the edges, the Civic’s interior blends into the middle where it reaches a 5.0-inch display on base models—or a 7.0-inch touchscreen on pricier trims.
Base models are relatively dark inside, but as prices rise so do interior trim materials and accents. Some verge on boy-racer, but that may be what performance-minded buyers are looking for.
2018 Honda Civic
Pedestrian to punk rock, the 2018 Honda Civic has a wide variety of powertrains to satisfy. There’s a common thread: a very capable and quiet ride.
The 2018 Honda Civic has a range of turbocharged engines that transform the car from a capable commuter to a powerful performer.
Regardless of powertrain, the Civic boasts an excellent ride and competent handling. It earns a 7 out of 10 on our performance metric. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Base versions of the Civic coupe and sedan get a 2.0-liter inline-4 that’s rated at 158 horsepower mated to either a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or a 6-speed manual. It’s not particularly thrilling in any application, but it’s a commuter special that will fade into the background for most daily slogs. In other words: it’s exactly what you expect.
For new carbuyers, or shoppers who’ve sat on the sidelines for a while, Honda’s CVT doesn’t behave like a normal automatic transmission. The CVT uses a system of gears and pulleys to simulate one gear that adjusts engine speed for maximum efficiency—and in some cases, power. That kind of transmission can sometimes drone, or feel like a rubber band, in bad applications; fade into the background in good applications. Honda’s CVT is one of the better ones we’ve found, although other versions that we like more use paddle-shifters to simulate gears.
Coupes and sedans at the EX-T trim level or higher (and hatchback models) get a 1.5-liter turbo-4 that we recommend for several reasons. First, its 174 hp and 162 pound-feet of torque are better suited to motivate the Civic’s mass on interesting roads. Second, it’s more fuel-efficient when the roads aren’t interesting and helps the Civic manage up to 35 mpg in multiple configurations.
The turbo-4 is eager to rev in most places and sounds sweet at full song, although when paired to the optional automatic, it has some slack between turbo lag and CVT drag. It’s no replacement for the old VTEC engines, but more on that in a minute.
The Civic uses a new power steering rack that changes ratio for better response in corners or calmer behavior at highway speeds. The setup moves the column along the rack directly while using an independent motor to provide boost in a better-buffered way. The system is more complex than prior generations, but it winds and unwinds the steering in more predictable ways.
The Civic uses a traditional suspension setup with front struts and a rear multilink design, although EX-T, EX-L, and Touring (coupe and sedan), Sport, Sport Touring, and EX-L Navi (hatchback) models get hydraulically filled rear bushings, which damp out fussy road behavior.
Base trim levels ride on 16-inch wheels that prioritize comfort well ahead of grip, while premium versions have larger wheels that quell road imperfections in concert with the slightly better rear suspension.
We’ve found that the Civic doesn’t smother unkempt roads as much as it micro-manages them. Each bump or rut is handled separately, and the Civic filters off compliance in a way that compact American and Korean cars haven’t.
Type R and Si
The performance twins of the Civic family carry on a tradition of surprising performance and value in a compact shape.
The Civic Si deploys stronger boost to the 1.5-liter turbo-4 to make 205 hp and is mated exclusively to a 6-speed manual transmission, adapted from the normal Civic models with a shorter throw.
The Civic Si lacks the VTEC wizardry from prior generations, a capitulation to cost, fuel-efficiency, and supremacy of turbocharging. It lacks the wail at higher revs, but retains all of the approachable performance of older models.
Adjustable suspension is surprisingly standard on all Civic Si models, which is a boon to overall performance. Toggling between normal and sport modes is handled by a button near the shifter, and both programs act with distinction. It may be the least-expensive car on the planet with adjustable dampers—a testament to its value at less than $25,000 to start.
The Civic Si is uneasily at home on a track (better brakes will help there) but the Type R relishes in the opportunity.
The Honda Civic Type R uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 fitted with VTEC and VTC—valve-timing wizardry that encourages free revs and peaky performance. The result is a whopping 306 hp and 295 lb-ft sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual.
A standard helical limited-slip front differential attempts to keep the Type R’s wheels in shape, and a sport-tuned suspension helps ZR-rated tires grip at ridiculous levels.
Rivals such as the WRX STI and Focus RS rely on all-wheel drive to master track-day drives, but the Type R’s refined behavior and quieter cabin keep it master of the roadways everywhere else. Our partners at Motor Authority called it their 2018 Best Car to Buy.
2018 Honda Civic
Comfort & Quality
Rethink what you know about the Honda Civic—it’s no longer the small car you may remember.
The 2018 Honda Civic wraps a compact shape around a mid-size cabin that’s longer, lower, and wider than before.
In some ways, it lives up to its decidedly mid-sized 112.9 cubic feet of cabin space. In other ways, not so much.
By our scale, it seats four adults—or five in a pinch—well, with plenty of room for their cargo and small items. The sedan will be the most popular models, but even two- or five-door models adhere to that same basic philosophy. It earns a 7 out of 10 for comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Honda Civic is among the tops in its class for interior room, verging on mid-size territory for compact money.
Inside, the Civic makes good use of its smart packaging and lower dash structure, which helps open up the cabin. The front seats are thinner than before, with deeper sculpting for our rumps and ample leg room up front. Taller drivers shouldn’t want for space in any models—our leggiest editors at 6-foot-3 could extend the driver’s seat well beyond the reach of their feet. (A longer steering column that extends further into the driver’s midsection means it may be the first compact sedan with Manute Bol in mind.)
Head room is plentiful, even in cars equipped with a moonroof, and there are numerous pockets, consoles, and trays for water bottles, keys, and phones.
In back, the Civic will accommodate two full-size adults with ease, although coupe models are predictably not suited well for the task. Sedans sport the most rear leg room of the bunch (37.4 inches) followed by hatchback models (36 inches) and the coupe (35.9 inches). Three abreast in the back is acceptable, but not preferred for long trips.
The rear seat backs aren’t deeply sculpted, but the outboard positions have enough to accommodate relatively wide bodies and, on LX models or higher, have a fold down armrest for better comfort.
All models and trims (except the base sedan) sport a split-folding rear seat that tumbles forward to extend the cargo area’s reach. Hatchback models are kings of versatility with 25.7 cubic feet with the seats up, 46.2 cubes with the rear seats down. Sedans get 15.1 cubic feet of room in the trunk (with a good-size opening, we might add), which is up 2.5 cubes from the previous generation.
Coupes aren’t far behind with roughly 12 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. EX and Touring models slightly eat into available cargo space with their standard subwoofer.
From the front roof pillars forward, the body styles are virtually indistinguishable, a boon to overall style and packaging that benefits interior space.
Hatchback models get a clever tonneau cover that extends left or right across the cargo area and, in addition to covering items from view, helps eliminate cabin boominess that’s common to hatchback models.
2018 Honda Civic
The Honda Civic boasts impressive safety scores and affordable active safety features.
Federal and independent testers agree that the 2018 Honda Civic is safe in a crash, and when optionally equipped, can avoid one altogether.
Federal regulators and the IIHS give the Civic top scores all the way around for crashworthiness. The IIHS gave the Civic “Good” scores across the board, including the small overlap crash test, which simulates a car striking a light pole or other small object at 40 mph.
Transportation department officials gave the Civic a five-star overall rating, with five stars across the board in every rating for every model, with only one exception—a four-star rating for front-crash safety in coupe models.
Those scores, coupled with available advanced safety features on most models, nets a 7 by our book for safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Poorly rated headlights, according to the IIHS, keeps the Civic from higher reaches on our scale, but all models should be considered safe picks.
Every Civic comes equipped with a standard complement of airbags, traction and safety control systems, seatbelts, child-seat anchors, and a rearview camera.
Honda offers its active safety suite, dubbed Honda Sensing, on all four-door models for $1,000 extra. The system is standard on Touring and Sport Touring models.
Honda Sensing adds adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. The IIHS gave the system its top “Superior” rating at avoiding crashes.
The 2018 Honda Civic is proof that bigger isn’t always safer.
2018 Honda Civic
From nearly $19,500 to more than $35,000, there’s a Honda Civic to fit nearly every budget.
Good news and bad news, folks: The 2018 Honda Civic comes in more editions than “Spider Man.”
Civic sedans are offered in LX, EX, EX-T, EX-L, and Touring trims. Civic coupes come in LX, LX-P, EX-T, EX-L, and Touring trims. Civic hatchbacks come in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Sport Touring trims. The Civic Si is just one trim level, as is the Type R—if that makes it any easier?
Interspersed among the trim levels are options for navigation (conveniently named “Navi”) and advanced safety options (called “Honda Sensing”) within the trim levels.
At the base LX trim level, the Civic includes 16-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a four-speaker stereo, and 5.0-inch screen for infotainment.
That’s good base equipment, including the infotainment screen. We land at a 7 out of 10 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
EX models add more creature comforts including 17-inch wheels, an upgraded eight-speaker audio system, rear-seat armrests, keyless ignition, a blind-spot camera for the passenger side, and an upgraded infotainment system that includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Coupes and sedans offered in EX-T trims have largely the same equipment, but swap out the base 2.0-liter inline-4 with a 1.5-liter turbo-4. EX-L trims add leather upholstery instead of cloth. EX-L trims can be fitted with navigation or advanced safety features (but not both), and top Touring models go the distance: leather, advanced safety, LED lights, upgraded stereo.
Hatchback models not called Type R are trimmed nearly identically to the sedans, but offer Sport and Sport Touring trims that add sporty appearance packages, its own 540-watt stereo, 18-inch wheels and center-mounted exhausts.
Civic Si variants are best considered as a consolidation of options, packaged in a value proposition that adds horsepower too. Civic Si trims feature 18-inch wheels (with available summer tires), deeper front buckets, upgraded audio, center-mounted exhausts, and adaptive dampers.
The Type R is the mountaintop of Civic country and features 20-inch wheels, specially made ZR-rated tires, performance meters, a sport steering wheel, navigation, and a serial number on the console.
2018 Honda Civic
Almost every 2018 Honda Civic variant manages combined mileage near 35 mpg, and the one that doesn’t is still brilliant.
The news for the 2018 Honda Civic’s fuel economy ranges from good to great. Nearly all models manage around 35 mpg combined—and if it’s not, it means you’re having more fun.
The most popular version of the Civic sedan, an EX trim level that is equipped with a 1.5-liter turbo-4 and automatic transmission, manages 32 mpg city, 42 highway, 36 combined, according to the EPA. That’s good enough for a 9 by our book. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There are quite a few permutations of the Civic’s body style and powertrain, but thankful not much variance when it comes to fuel economy. We’ll hit the highlights below, mostly because numbers are boring.
Entry-level LX sedans, which feature a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-4, are rated 31/40/34 mpg with an automatic; 28/40/32 mpg with a manual.
Coupes are rated within earshot of similarly powered sedans, although each loses 1 or 2 mpg in city and highway rating. An EX 1.5-liter turbo-4 is rated at 30/41/35 mpg with a manual; 31/40/35 mpg with an automatic.
Hatchback versions of the sedan are the same song, third verse. They’re only available with a 1.5-liter turbo-4 and are rated at 31/40/34 mpg with an automatic; 30/39/33 mpg with a manual. Civic Sport hatchback models require premium fuel and the manual-equipped model is rated identically, but the dual-clutch automatic penalizes highway efficiency by 3 mpg.
Both the Civic Si coupe and sedans are rated identically: 28/38/32 mpg on premium unleaded.
To do much worse requires the Civic Type R, which is rated at 22/28/25 mpg—the lowest by efficiency, but the pinnacle of fun.