Tuesday, October 27

Honda Civic Hatch Provides Frugal Fun


CHATHAM, Mass. – The sharply creased refreshed 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring (a mouthful meaning top-of-the-Civic range) provides an entertaining driving experience in a tight, reliable and economical package.

Regardless how hard I pushed the four-door compact with the familiar Honda family appearance or sped away from traffic lights, the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission (with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters) returned approximately 32 miles per gallon, which is the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s rating for combined city (29 mpg) and highway (35 mpg) driving.

The aforementioned engine produces 180 horsepower and 177 pounds-feet of torque, which may not sound impressive in today’s auto world of ever increasing horsepower numbers, but as I said, the engine revs willingly and moves quickly when you push the accelerator.

The performance aspects of the Civic Hatch are rewarding because the eager motor is married to a nimble, buttoned-up front-wheel-drive chassis that begs to be pushed through challenging curvy backroads.

Most Cape Cod vacationers don’t see them, but off the Mid Cape Highway (U.S. Route 6) you can find challenging asphalt that not only has a variety of curves, but multiple changes in altitude and terrain. It might not be the hills of the far Western states, but these roads can be challenging and a ball to drive in the right car – and the Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is the right car for them.

The magic happens thanks to well sorted suspension components. These include MacPherson-type struts in front; a multi-link setup in the rear; stabilizer bars at both ends, and lightning-quick steering that takes a mere 2.11 turns to go from one extreme to the other (“lock to lock”).

Holding everything together on the road are 235/40 R18 low-profile all-season tires surrounding 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside the wheels are 11.1-inch ventilated rotors in front, 10.2-inch solid ones in the rear and, of course, these brakes are controlled by a sophisticated anti-lock system (ABS), emergency brake assist and electronic brake distribution.

Its ride is firm in a sporting way; some bumps are a bit jarring, but the exhilaration you feel negotiating the next curve helps your backside forget it.

Honda Sensing – advance driver assist system (ADAS)

Last year Honda Sensing – the brand’s advance driver assist systems (ADAS) – became standard on all Civic models. This brought adaptive cruise control; collision mitigation braking system; lane keeping assist system, and road mitigation system to America’s most popular car. The last two systems help keep the Civic within the lanes and on the road at speeds exceeding 40 mph – and they work! The Civic tugged the steering wheel in the correct direction when I let the car drift over one of the road’s lines.

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What is not included in the Honda Sensing suite or available on any Civic Hatchback is passive blind side monitoring which would warn the driver without any activity on his or her part if a vehicle was approaching in either the right or left blind spot. This feature is either standard or available on virtually all the Civic’s competitors (many of which also have rear cross-traffic warning systems as well).

The Civic Sport Touring does come standard with Honda LaneWatch. Activating the right turn signal turns on a camera which shows the area on the right of the vehicle and behind it on that side, including blind spots. You can see cars, bicycles, pedestrians and objects before making your move to the right. It’s not the same as a passive blind-spot monitoring system which is always active, but once you turn LaneWatch on, it provides even more information than the passive systems (but is limited to the right side; nothing on the driver’s side).

A cabin with everything you might need

The Sport Touring has everything Honda offers in the Civic Hatchback line – the only choice for the buyer is six-speed manual or CVT; all the rest comes as standard. Inside for the driver and  passengers this means leather covered, heated seating surfaces front and rear; power adjustment for the front sport seats (eight-ways for the driver, four for the passenger); dual-zone automatic climate system; power windows, locks; keyless entry and push-button start/stop; one-touch power moonroof; rain-sensing wipers; 60/40 folding rear seats, and clever cubbies and storage bins throughout.

If the road straightens out and the drive alone does not provide enough entertainment possibilities, the Display Audio with Honda Navigation system can pick up the slack. Supplemented by a couple of buttons (many within easy reach for the driver on the steering wheel), the seven-inch color touch screen at the center of the dash commands a system which includes AM/FM/HD radio/SiriusXM satellite radio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto playing through a 540-Watt, 12-speaker premium amplification system with subwoofer.

In addition to the touch screen controls, the Civic Sport Touring Hatchback has voice recognition to activate these systems as well as your Bluetooth connected smartphone.

It all works to make the inside of the Honda Civic Sport Touring Hatchback an enjoyable place to spend time.

As we said this Civic is complete, without options. It has a MSRP of $28,850 ($28,050 with the six-speed manual transmission). The Civic Hatchback range begins with the LX, including lots of features like Honda Sensing, for $21,750.

There are three more steps up the Civic ladder with different levels of features before reaching the complete package Sport Touring. Considering Honda’s well-earned reputation for quality and reliability and the fun quotient, this is a particularly good choice in this competitive compact market. And for the past several years the Civic has been the choice of more car buyers than any other car in the United States.

About Author

Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Senior Editor for The BRAKE Report. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.