- Spacious cabin
- Excellent value
- Excellent gas mileage
- Choices abound
- Mature, in the right ways
- Standard display screen
- ...and standard headlights
- Hatchback’s busy looks
- Coupe, Si off the menu this year
features & specs
The 2021 Honda Civic doesn’t let social responsibility get in the way of a good time.
The Coupe is gone, Si is on hiatus—but the 2021 Honda Civic still lures us with its winning formula of fuel economy, crash safety, and driving verve.
Sold in LX, Sport, EX, Touring, and Type R editions, we give the 2021 Civic a TCC Rating of 6.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
With the Civic, Honda has long since passed through the awkward economy-car stage of maturity. Today’s Civic is a budget set of wheels hiding behind a stylish wrapper. We like the slick fastback sedan better than the more awkward pup-tent hatchback, though when it comes to cargo space the latter’s the clear winner. Both provide a high-quality cabin for passengers far above the low-$20,000s base price.
Base Civics get a 158-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 teamed to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); we prefer the latter for commuter duty, though the light-effort Honda stick shifts always curl up the corners of our mouths. Better yet is the 174-hp surge from the available 1.5-liter turbo-4; it’s gutsy and more efficient than the non-turbo-4, and it’s standard in the hatchback. We reserve the wild Type R for track days and gameboy fantasies: Its 306-hp front-drive take on performance turns almost any driver into a hero, which is why we named it Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2018.
Interior space abounds for four adults in the latest Civic, with a compromise here and there. The seats are fine, if not throne-like; head room isn’t great but it’s not bad, either. For a compact car, the Civic delivers mid-size interior space, and is especially good at leg room in front or in back—and in cargo space in the hatchback, which delivers up to 46.2 cubes of space, which is perfect for the move back to college, when that becomes a realistic and healthy and viable option once more.
Every Civic has automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control to go with its strong crash-test scores. All versions also come with power features and Bluetooth, but we skip the base car for its teensy audio display and head right to the Civic EX, which bundles a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with heated front seats, 17-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, and a passenger-side blind-spot camera. EPA combined fuel economy of as much as 35 mpg is standard on some models; all get Honda’s meh warranty of 3 years or 36,000 miles.
2021 Honda Civic
Grown out, the latest Honda Civic’s not necessarily grown-up.
Pared down to a sedan body that looks like a hatchback and a hatchback that looks like another hatchback, the 2021 Civic family shows how Honda’s plumped up the Civic and made it look younger.
We give it a 7 for style, with an extra point each for the body and the cabin.
Channeling the big Accord sedan, the Civic sedan wears a fastback outline that’s sleek, well-executed, and pretty. It’s strapped with a lot of surface detail, and that divides us on its appeal. We’re more in the Cocoa Puffs camp than Coco Chanel, but we know she’d throw the first disapproving glance at the Civic’s overly busy rear end. Hatchbacks don’t alter that shape much at all: sedans dip at the tail to create a small decklid, while the hatch keeps going. The hatchback’s more practical, but it’s also more busy, particularly in Sport trim. Don’t get us started on the Type R, not unless we’re allowed to drive.
More sedate inside, the Civic’s still engaging and useful, with lots of cubbies and cupholders and storage. It’s organized along a wide wing-like horizontal line, with bands of brushed-metallic trim or glossy black plastic. Base cars have a small 5.0-inch display screen, though most versions have 7.0-inch touchscreen that breaks up the wide dash.
2021 Honda Civic
The Civic spans a vast performance spectrum, but even base cars aren’t humdrum.
With a focus on the more pedestrian and more common versions, we give the Honda Civic a 6 for performance. If we all drove Type Rs we’d be able to give it a 9. Compromise comprises life.
Honda lets drivers pick from three engines, a pair of transmissions, and five power outputs in the Civic. The default pick of most buyers is the 158-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 found in LX and Sport models. It’s a commuter-duty special with efficiency in its wheelhouse, excitement is somewhere out in left field. It can be wrung out for more pleasure with a light-effort 6-speed manual, but its front wheels most often couple with a CVT that demands little attention and commands little, too, since it doesn’t force the Civic into a loud drone like some CVTs.
Honda warms up the Civic with a 174-hp 1.5-liter turbo-4 that’s standard in hatchbacks and available in the rest of the sedan lineup. It’s more efficient and it’s more powerful, so to us it’s the common-sense powertrain choice. The 6-speed’s also on tap on some models and it’s useful in taming some of the light turbo lag found in the engine, but fuel economy’s better and driveability simpler with the CVT.
Honda grants the Civic—all of them—with communicative steering and taut handling, which makes all Civics a joy to thread through twisty roads and around the town square. It even rides well, especially in turbo-4 trim where fluid-filled bushings quell some ride motions without dulling its precision.
The Civic’s honestly better on smaller 16- or 17-inch wheels, though. Sport and Touring cars have 18-inchers that fill out its wheel wells, but pick up and telegraph more road rash to the driver through the wheel and through the seats—but it’s nothing like it is in the Type R.
Civic Si and Type R
The Civic has a couple of high-performance alter egos, and most drivers would be happy with the Civic Si—but it’s taking a year off as Honda juggles global production and gets ready for a new Civic in 2022.
In the meantime, Honda fans will need to make the leap from the turbo-4 Civic right into the Type R, a rorty hatchback outfitted with a 306-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4, a manual gearbox, two-mode adaptive dampers, summer tires, and nifty add-ons like a performance data recorder. It’s the Civic you’d drive to strafe runways and turn daily commutes into covert missions; it’s also jiggly, noisy, and maybe a little too vibrantly alive for normal Civic duty. Read more about it, if you dare.
2021 Honda Civic
Comfort & Quality
The Civic long ago gave up on cramped cabins and thrifty finishes.
Honda fits the Civic with care, and lays out lots of adult-sized space in either the sedan or hatchback. We give it a 6 for quality and comfort, thanks to the fine cargo room in either body style.
With its low dash and tall side glass, the Civic gives front passengers a wide view of the road ahead, from comfortable cloth seats (in LX, Sport, and EX editions). Spend more and the Civic gains leather upholstery and power front-seat adjustment in EX-L editions.
In back, leg room checks in at 37.4 inches in the sedan, 36.0 inches for the hatchback. The cushions sculpt in space for two passengers outboard, though a third will fit in back for short stints. Seat comfort in all other spots is average or better, though head room’s a little shy for tall passengers because of the Civic’s low roof.
In either body style, the Civic’s rear seats flip down to boost cargo space; the sedan has 15.1 cubic feet of trunk space (14.7 in Tourings) to open up, while hatchbacks grow from 25.7 to 46.2 cubic feet.
We’re most impressed by the Civic’s impression of quality, even in base trim. Its interior materials and fit don’t reveal any economy-car roots. It’s a high-quality environment, one with soft plastics and matte surfaces that work well with its newfound sense of style.
2021 Honda Civic
With better headlights the Civic would rule the safety nest.
Crash-test scores haven’t yet been updated for 2021, but the Honda Civic hasn’t changed—and we expect its excellent ratings to carry over. We give it an 8 here.
The NHTSA says the Civic’s earned a five-star overall crash-safety score; the IIHS gives all versions “Good” ratings while it finds fault with the car’s standard headlights. Touring and Si Civics have better LED headlights, though, and that grants the Civic a Top Safety Pick award.
Every Civic has automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Outward vision isn’t the best, thanks to its slinky roofline, but it’s workable.
2021 Honda Civic
Honda keeps the Civic cheap and well-equipped, just like we like it.
With a base price just above $20,000, the Honda Civic spreads a lot of economy-car joy. We give it a couple of extra points for value and for options, to arrive at a 7.
Civics come in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback form—and in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim (hatchbacks call that latter model a Sport Touring). Then there’s the Civic Type R hatchback, Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2018.
The Civic LX drops a possible point for its 5.0-inch audio display—we prefer a bigger touchscreen—but also has power features, Bluetooth, cloth upholstery, 16-inch wheels, a USB port, and automatic emergency braking.
Our pick is the Civic EX, which adds a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated front seats, a higher-speed USB port, dual-zone climate control, a passenger-side camera (instead of more useful blind-spot monitors), and 17-inch wheels.
The hottest Civic Type R gets a raft of equipment that includes sueded seats, a performance-data recorder, and adaptive cruise control. It’s a performance bargain at about $38,000—but not strictly a value.
Neither is the Civic Touring, though it’s priced from just below $30,000. It gains 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, premium audio, navigation, and heated rear seats.
2021 Honda Civic
Fuel economy remains a Civic duty.
The Honda Civic family earns a 6 for fuel economy, since all of them—not just our top picks—earn above-average EPA ratings.
The most prevalent Civic, a sedan with an automatic and a 2.0-liter inline-4, is pegged by the EPA at 30 mpg city, 38 highway, 33 combined.
Turbo-4 Civics get scores in the mid-30s, and most rate at higher than 40 mpg on the highway. Manual-transmission Civics lose a mile per gallon on the city cycle.
What you won’t find in the EPA tally for 2021: the Coupe body style, which has been discontinued, and the Civic Si, which takes the year off before a new Civic emerges for 2022.