Traditionally, efficiency and affordability attracted buyers to the compact car segment, but advances in styling and technology have made many models much handsomer and much more fun to drive. The 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback is the latest example.
It’s been more than 25 years since the Civic offered a hatchback version but in 2017, one joined the tenth generation of the coupe and sedan (redesigned in 2016). Available in five trims, the top-of-the-line Sport Touring made its way to Austin for testing by Latino Traffic Report.
The five-door hatch offers more versatility than a coupe or sedan, including a cargo capacity of 46.2 cubic feet of room and an innovative cargo cover that retracts to the side rather than from the top for added convenience.
A 1.5-liter in-line four-cylinder turbo engine powered the test model. The horsepower jumps from 174 to 180 on the Sport and Sport Touring trims, as does the torque, from 167 to 180 lbs.–ft., on models equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. The test model, however, came with a Continuously Variable Transmission that normally offers the best city/highway fuel economy of 31/40 miles per gallon (mpg). Because the Sport Touring trim is specially tuned, the EPA estimated fuel economy for the test model dropped slightly to 30 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. It earned an average of 34.4 mpg on the test drive. Paddle shifters, standard on the Sport Touring model, enhanced its performance.
As the top-of-the-line trim, the test model included upgrades like Honda Sensing, a suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies like the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Forward Collision Warning integrated with the CMBS, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, plus 18-inch blackened alloy wheels.
The test model also included Honda’s version of a blind spot monitor or LaneWatch, standard on the EX trim and above, that displayed a live view of traffic on the seven-inch touch screen when I engaged the right turn signal. However, a traditional blind spot warning system, with audio and illuminated alerts on the side mirrors or A-pillars, is less distracting and as such, possibly more effective.
Still, standard features on all Civic hatchbacks include the Eco Assist system, ECON Mode Indicator, and ECON button to improve fuel economy, a multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, cruise control, and a 60/40 split rear seat that folds down, among other features.
Creature comforts on the test model included heated front and outboard rear seats, a moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, a leather trimmed interior, Apple Carplay/Android Audio, and navigation.
Pricing for the 2018 Civic Hatchback starts at $21,045. The as-tested price, with no optional features or packages, came to $29,645.
Sí: The new Civic’s super sporty styling and competitive fuel efficiency increase its appeal.
No: While its interior styling reflects improved fit and finish, the knobless touchscreen added to driving distraction and a conventional blind spot monitor would be preferable to LaneWatch.