The humble Honda Civic has long been a microcosm for the Honda brand at large: tidy, zippy, well-built, and reliable. In the decades since it was first trucked into dealerships, competitors have strengthened, matured, and spent earnestly in trying to build a better Civic – and they have perpetually come up short. Nowadays the compact sedan class is as fierce as ever, but, despite the cutthroat competition, the 2019 Honda Civic remains a leader.
What's New for 2019
With the new model year come a host of small but noteworthy updates across all variants of the diverse Civic lineup. Many will rejoice to hear that physical buttons have now returned for key radio inputs as well as fan speeds, the latter only on cars equipped with dual-zone climate control. The interior also gets larger cupholders, a new steering wheel, and a revised electronic parking brake switch. All models now come with the Honda Sensing suite of active-safety features as standard. Small styling updates such as lower bumper designs round out the changes.
Choosing Your Honda Civic
One of the reasons the Civic remains perennially popular is that it comes in a raft of body styles and trims. Want a bare-bones hatchback? The LX will fit the bill nicely. How about something cheap and cheerful with a chassis inspiring enough to win over the critics working the mainstream rags? Take your pick between the Si or the Sport. Want 306 raging horsepower? The extreme Type R awaits.
No matter what trim you decide on, engines all displace either 1.5 or 2.0 liters. The lower-spec sedans and coupes get the larger, 2.0-liter engine. It's a naturally-aspirated affair that makes 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, and pairs up with a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fuel economy checks in at an EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway, and 29 combined with the manual, or 30/38/33 mpg (city/highway/combined) with the CVT.
For a bit more grunt, there's the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It comes standard with all hatchbacks as well as sedans and coupes in EX, EX-L, and Touring trims. Generating 16 psi of boost, the turbo lets the little engine make a respectable 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. All 1.5-liter cars are paired with the CVT. Keep your foot out of it, and gas mileage is a thrifty 32/42/36 mpg.
The long-running Si models represent the mid-range performance trim, slotting above the Sport – which is essentially a LX subtly tuned for sharper response – and the track-ready Type R. Like EX and up cars, the Si uses the turbo 1.5-liter engine, but boost has been cranked up to 20 psi. The added pressure translates to 31 extra hp and 30 more lb-ft of torque. Expect to learn stick shift if you want an Si, as the only transmission offered comes with six gears and three pedals. It's also the only trim which pairs the 1.5-liter engine to a manual.
Atop the Civic throne is the mighty Type R. It uses an exclusive 2.0-liter turbo-four that generates 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Unlike competitors such as the Golf R or Focus RS, the Type R retains the front-wheel-drive setup of its lesser kin. Sending over 300 horses to the front wheels has traditionally been a recipe for torque steer, or in other words, the car pulling in any direction but straight when the throttle is pinned. Honda has gone to great lengths to mitigate this phenomenon by building the Type R with a suspension that's a class or two above what's found in lesser Civics, including an adjustable suspension and unique dampers, springs, and shocks. Unsurprisingly, the only transmission is a six-speed manual, while zero to 60 mph comes in a tick under five seconds.
For 2019, all Civics now get Honda Safety Sense, which is the marque's suite of active-safety features. It includes automatic emergency braking, a multi-angle rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and road departure mitigation.
Available body styles include coupe, sedan, and hatchback. The Si is only available in coupe and sedan, and the Type R is exclusively a hatchback. Oddly enough, the coupe isn't offered in EX-L trim despite being available in top-tier Touring spec. All other trims are offered in all three body styles.
Other than the $800 CVT available on LX and Sport models and the Si's Performance Package, there are no options or packages available on any Civic trim. If you want extra features, Honda demands you step up to the next-highest trim.
Unless mentioned otherwise, all sticker prices below are for sedans and include a destination charge of $895. Hatchbacks are roughly an additional $2,000, while coupes add between $500 and $1,000 to the stated price.
Of all the choices in the 2019 Honda Civic lineup, an EX hatchback or Si sedan would be our top picks, depending on whether performance is a priority or not. If you don't give a hoot about handling prowess or extra power, the balance of affordability, practicality, and feature count of the EX hatch is about as harmonious as it gets. If you feel otherwise, the Si won't disappoint.