2016 Honda Civic Touring

11/07/2016

Shahed Hussain

Compact coupes are popular with young enthusiasts for affordability and sporty handling. The Civic has earned its place as one of the best-selling coupes due to its outstanding reliability and extensive performance and styling aftermarket support. Honda offers the Civic coupe as five different models: LX, LX-P, EX-T, EX-L, and Touring. For 2017, the base LX starts at $19,150 and tops out at $26,225 for the Touring. Our 2016 Civic Touring was priced at $26,960 including the $835 destination and handling charge.

As the top tier in the Civic lineup, the Touring model is comprehensively equipped with leather seats (heated in front), navigation system, rearview camera, side mirror camera, moonroof, 10-speaker audio system, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.

The previous 2.0L inline-4 is joined by a new 1.5L direct-injected turbo. The 2.0L inline-4 equips the Civic LX and LX-P; the 1.5L turbo is reserved for the EX, EX-L and Touring. Both engines are all-aluminum with dual overhead-cams, but only the 2.0L has Honda's i-VTEC variable valve-timing. The 2.0L puts out 158-bhp @ 6,500 RPM and 138 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 RPM. With up to 16.5 PSI of boost, the direct-injected turbo four is rated at 174-bhp @ 6,000 RPM and 162 lb.-ft. from 1,700-5,500 RPM.

Available transmissions include a 6-speed manual or a CVT (continuously variable transmission). For 2016 Civics, the manual gearbox or CVT can be mated to the 2.0L four, but the only the CVT is available with the turbo. The 2017 Civic EX-T can be equipped with the 6-speed manual and the turbo four. The EPA rating for the turbo and CVT combination is 31/41 MPG (city/hwy.). We averaged 32-33 MPG in mixed urban and highway driving.

As before, the Civic retains an all-independent suspension: MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar in front, and a rear multi-link layout with dampers, coil springs and stabilizer bar. Disc brakes are at all four wheels with ABS and stability control. All Civic coupes have standard 16 in. or 17 in. diameter alloy wheels. The Civic Touring gets 215/50R17 Continental ProContact all-season tires mounted on gloss black and silver 5-spoke alloy wheels. Variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering is standard. With only 2.22 turns lock-to-lock, the Civic has exceptionally fast-ratio steering. ABS and stability control (VSA) are standard on all Civics. Curb weight for the Touring model is 2,888 lbs.

A completely redesigned interior includes configurable digital instrument gauges flanked by analog coolant temperature and fuel level indicators. A bar graph turbo boost gauge is available by scrolling through the various display options. The leather-wrapped steering wheel included integrated audio, phone and cruise control buttons. A flat panel infotainment display controls navigation and audio functions. Although the infotainment menu system is intuitive, the lack of tactile feedback requires the driver to scan the display to verify system response. We preferred the steering wheel controls for adjusting audio settings. The climate control system retains knobs and buttons for improved usability.

Dual cupholders are located on the center console. The CVT shifter has a Sport mode that maintains higher engine RPM for faster acceleration and throttle response. Next to the shifter is the electronic parking brake lever and the Econ button for increased fuel efficiency. The center console bin has smaller interior bins for storage. USB and 12V power outlets behind the console are difficult to access.

Touring and EX-L models gets standard perforated leather seats (heated in front). The 6-way driver's seat lacks lumbar support adjustments, but we found overall comfort and support to be better than expected. At this price, we would have expected a power driver's seat, but the no Civic has this option. Front headroom is adequate for occupants shorter than 6 ft. tall. Rear seat comfort is above average for a compact coupe, but the sweeping roofline cuts headroom for passengers taller than about 5 ft.-8 in.

Honda has consistently tuned its compact cars for lively handling, and the current Civic is no exception. Communicative, accurate steering enhances confidence, while minimal understeer and body roll ensures that the Civic arcs cleanly around curves with minimal understeer. The suspension tuning is comfortable over patched roads, but the firm damping ensures excellent body control. The Civic's exceptional stability at highway speeds is a testament to Honda's chassis tuning prowess.

Small displacement inline fours cannot produce much low-RPM torque; even adding a turbo makes little difference. As expected, below 2,000 RPM throttle response is unimpressive, as the turbine takes a couple of seconds to spins up to boost available torque. Selecting Sport mode can mask some turbo lag by increasing engine revs, but the engine drones at full throttle as the CVT holds the optimum RPM for maximum acceleration. Above 3,000 RPM, the turbo is spinning fast enough for decent boost, so the Civic's CVT can make the most of the available torque. At highway speeds the CVT maintains engine RPM below 3,000 RPM minimizing the typical buzz common with small inline fours. Wind and tire noise are also commendably low, making this Civic a relaxed tourer for road trips.

Among the many choices in compact coupes, the Civic continues to be an easy recommendation. However, the steady price creep among compact cars now results in overlapping pricing with midsize cars. When an Accord LX or EX coupe costs about the same as the Civic Touring, it's difficult not to move up to the midsize Honda. So although the top of the range Touring is the most luxurious Civic, the affordable LX and LX-P models are the more rational choices.

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