Another refresh. Last year, we saw the standard Civic sedan and coupe get slight updates that massaged their front and rear ends. In 2020, it’s the Si and hatchback models’ turns, as they get body-color crossbars swooping across the fog-light housings, updated grilles, black-out headlights, and body-color crossbars on the rear bumper openings.
The 2020 Honda Civic Si goes a touch further with its updates, as it also gets revised interior trim and updated gearing for a quicker in-seat feel.
Oh so many looks. The Honda Civic has so many looks to pick from that your head may spin if you walk into a showroom without a firm plan in place.
Want something traditional looking? The Civic sedan is a great pick. You can add a little sportiness without going over the top in the coupe model. On top of the coupe and sedan models are the light visual upgrades in their respective Si models.
Prefer to haul some cargo around? The Civic hatchback has up to 46.2 cubic feet of space, but it does so at the expense of subtlety, as the hatchback variant has a much bolder look.
The Civic hatch takes this about 10 steps further in the Type R variant with its body kit, large spoiler, hood scoop, and more. All around, Honda bred the Civic hatchback particular tastes in automobiles.
While having all these options is great, in some cases, it can cause decision paralysis for some buyers. Those who have a hard time choosing one thing and sticking with it may be better suited with a simpler lineup, like the Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra.
Care for fuel efficiency, power, or something in between? If the range of designs wasn’t enough for you, there are four – yes, four – engine options available in the Civic.
They all start with the timid 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit that delivers a modest 158 horsepower. This may not seem like much, but it beats the base Corolla by 19 hp and the base Sentra by 9 hp. Plus, it does this while delivering up to 38 miles per gallon highway, according to the EPA.
Want more pep and fuel economy? There’s the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s optional in the sedan and coupe but standard in the hatchback. This engine delivers 174 hp, but its real claim to fame is its 162 pound-feet of torque that chime in from 1,700 rpm and up to 42 mpg highway. And because the powerband kicks in so low, this engine delivers its power smoothly, without the neck-snap typically associated with boosted engines.
Outside of pure performance models, only the Mazda Mazda3’s 186-hp, 2.5-liter and the Hyundai Elantra’s 201-hp, 2.0-liter get the better of the Civic’s 1.5-liter.
At the top of the range is sheer insanity with the Civic Type R’s 306-hp, 2.0-liter boosted four-cylinder. Only the top performance models in this class come close to this, including the 288-hp Volkswagen Golf R. But with the Ford Focus ST and RS now gone, that herd is thinning out.
Do none of those powertrains work? There’s one more slammed right in the middle, and that’s the Civic Si’s upgraded 1.5-liter unit that pumps out 205 ponies. This model delivers slightly quicker acceleration than models with the lower-grade 1.5-liter, but its big improvement is in corner-carving with its adaptive dampers and thicker stabilizer bars.
Spacious cabin, but beware of the base model. Inside, the Honda Civic boasts a mature-looking cabin with lots of storage space and gobs of passenger room. This includes up to 37.4 inches of rear legroom and a 15.1-cubic-foot trunk in the sedan.
Its legroom beats virtually all its competitors by at least 2 inches – only the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Jetta rival it at 37.2 and 37.4 inches, respectively. The trunk is much of the same, as most rivals are 1 to 2 cubic feet smaller. The Kia Forte has a small advantage at 15.3 cubes.
The Civic’s cabin is huge and there are loads of useful features in higher trim levels, including a 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 450-watt audio system with 10 speakers, navigation, and more.
That said, be wary of the base Civic LX, as it comes pretty much stripped of all the essential tech features young buyers seek today. This model underwhelms with its standard four-speaker stereo system and a 5-inch non-touchscreen infotainment system that lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Fortunately, it does come standard with the key advanced safety tech buyer want like automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning.
While that standard four-speaker audio system may not be a deal breaker for some, the lack of smartphone integration likely will be. Buyers who put standard smartphone integration at the top of their lists can find it in rivals like the Corolla, Forte, and Jetta.
Final thoughts. There's no doubting the 2020 Honda Civic’s status as the top dog in the compact car segment. It offers a broad range of powertrain and body options to fit all buyers, and it has more features than most would expect.
However, Honda reserves many of those features for every trim above the base LX, as this model comes stripped to its core. If you’re a base-model shopper looking for as much value as possible, you may want to forgo the Civic and look elsewhere.
Buyers who want a performance compact can either opt for the Civic Si or Type R, or they can shell out thousands on aftermarket parts to soup up a competitor and potentially void the warranty.
Check prices for the 2020 Honda Civic »