2023 Honda Civic Review: The only car you'd ever need?


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Pros: Cool and well-made interior; very spacious; powerful and efficient turbo engine; well-balanced driving dynamics

Cons: Pricey point of entry; no hybrid (yet); Si interior is a bit tacky

Even if you could spend a lot more than the 2023 Honda Civic costs, there's a very good chance you should still consider it. This not-that-compact sedan and hatchback are just that good. Thinking about getting a midsize sedan or small SUV? Consider a Civic, too, it’s surprisingly spacious. Entry-level luxury car? The Civic is surprisingly luxurious. Weekend sports car? The Civic Si (and even the Sport Touring with a manual) is a blast. The latest-generation Civic, introduced last year, is just so well-rounded and so well-executed that it really does transcend its simple compact car segment and open itself up to all sorts of buyers.

Now, those on a tighter budget may admittedly not be among them this year as Honda nixed the old LX trim level and jacked up the prices. Still, when you consider just how much car you’re getting for your money, the Civic still offers tremendous value given its mix of space, equipment, refinement, performance, fuel economy, safety … we could go on. Again, it’s well-rounded.

It's also worth pointing out that it looks pretty darn good, especially the ultra-cool interior with its full-width honeycomb air vents. Frankly, if you thought the Civic Hatchback looked better inside and out than the mechanically related Acura Integra, we wouldn’t argue. Ditto its various traditional competitors, the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Kia Forte or Toyota Corolla. Beyond aesthetics, none of those can really match the blend of positive attributes and/or model variety offered by the 2023 Honda Civic. Seriously, it’s just terrific.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features


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What's new for 2023?

The LX trim level is discontinued for 2023, meaning the new base trim level is the Sport, making the 2023 Civic’s base price higher than last year. After being completely updated last year, the Civic otherwise goes unchanged, but an all-new Civic Type R does rejoin the team. We also know that a Civic Hybrid is coming to replace the Insight, but the timing of that was not known at the time of this writing.

What are the Civic interior and in-car technology like?

In a segment filled with surprisingly impressive interiors, the 2023 Civic interior delivers even in the base Sport trim level with cloth seats and the base infotainment system (pictured in the large picture above). This is still an economy car, so there's plenty of hard plastic about (center console, door sills), but what you see and touch most come together in a tasteful, modern design that looks (and feels) like it belongs in a much pricier car. There's more than a whiff of Audi right down to the way the buttons and knobs click satisfyingly. We also have to call out the dash-width air vents, with their honeycomb openings, metallic finish and clever knob controllers (they're outlined in red in the Civic Si). They're so great Audi probably wishes it had come up with them first.

Perhaps most important, however, the Civic is no longer held back by its infotainment system. There's a 7-inch base touchscreen (below left) and the Tourings get a 9-inch unit with increased functionality (below right), but both represent improvements over the last-generation system with quicker responses, a more sensible menu structure and no glitches during our time with it. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard (wireless in the Touring), and with CarPlay at least, we like that Honda doesn't lock out touchscreen controls for the Music app (a common annoyance).

The LX, Sport and EX have a combination of analog speedometer and 7-inch multi-purpose display, but it all appears to blend together into one unit. It's traditional in design, yet modern in functionality. The Touring and Si get a completely digital, 10.2-inch instrument panel that's similar in basic appearance but provides greater functionality and flashier graphics.

Finally, one minor note about the Si. As with its many predecessors, the interior features lots of little red accents, including cross stitching, air vent trim and, most notably, the front seat centers. However, the back seat is not only just black, but a different upholstery. It looks cheap. There’s also the questionable aesthetic choice of making a red interior mandatory even if the outside is painted orange or electric blue.

2022 Honda Civic Si
2022 Honda Civic Si

How big is the Civic?

The 2023 Civic is available in sedan and hatchback body styles, although the latter is more like an Audi A7 “Sportback” in body style than an old-school, Civic hatchback. The sedan is 4.9 inches longer, all of which is behind the back wheels, making the trunk a longer, more voluminous space than the Hatchback. That’s right, we found the sedan could hold more luggage than the hatchback despite having less cargo volume on paper: 14.8 versus 24.5. What’s up with this? Basically, all the hatchback’s extra volume is up high where you’re less likely or able to utilize it for actual stuff. It does provide greater versatility, however, as lowering the seats grants a substantially larger space that’s fairly similar to what you’d find in a subcompact SUV. In short, either body style provides an exceptional amount of cargo space for a compact car. You may even find you don’t need to step up to a midsize sedan like the Accord or a small SUV like the HR-V.

That verdict carries over to the back seat as well. In the segment, its 37.4 inches of rear legroom is bettered only by the Hyundai Elantra, and is about 2 inches more than most competitors. For a compact car, it's definitely not compact back there. A 6-foot-3 driver with the seat pushed all the way back still found enough space in the back seat of both body styles to sit comfortably "behind himself." There was also just enough headroom. There’s also plenty of room left up front in the passenger seat after installing a rear-facing child seat in the back.

What are the Civic fuel economy and performance specs?

The Civic is available with a choice of four engines, but that’s including those in the Civic Si and Civic Type R.

The Civic Sport is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four that produces that produces 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, which is a typical amount for the segment. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard on every Civic sedan, but the Hatchback Sport gets the option of a six-speed manual. Fuel economy is 30 miles per gallon city, 37 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined for the sedan. The Hatchback Sport with the CVT returns 29/37/32 mpg, while the manual option drops to 26/36/29.

The EX and Touring sedans, plus the EX-L and Sport Touring hatchbacks get a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four that produces 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. A CVT is standard on all trims with this engine, but the Sport Touring hatchback can be equipped with a sweet-shifting six-speed automatic. Besides its significantly better performance, this engine is also more efficient: 32/42/36 mpg for the EX and 31/38/34 for the Touring, with the EX-L and Sport Touring hatchbacks likely being 1 mpg lower, respectively (figures for 2023 were not available at the time of this writing). The Sport Touring hatchback with the six-speed manual should return 28/37/31.

The Honda Civic Si also has a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four, but it produces 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual are mandatory. It returns fuel economy of 27/37/31, but unlike the other Civics, requires premium fuel. It is also only available as a sedan.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R has a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that pumps out 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque – 9 hp and 15 lb-ft more than previous. It too is exclusive paired with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission. Performance figures and fuel economy estimates were not available at the time of this writing. It is only available as a hatchback.


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What's the Civic like to drive?

Through its 11 generations, the Honda Civic has always been at its best and most competitive when it was responsive and even fun to drive. The 2023 Civic picks up the torch and builds on the significant progress made by the last generation. It's indeed fun to drive, with a lightweight and agile feel that encourages you to seek out winding roads. The steering is precise and consistently weighted, imparting a sense of connection to the driver. Throttle response is also as you'd expect from a driver-focused car, though selecting Sport mode in the Sport or Touring trims really wakes things up with old-school, hair-trigger reactions that any driving enthusiast should appreciate. Importantly, it’s also impressively comfortable, refined and even quiet for a compact car.

The turbo engine remains the one to get given its greater torque, strong acceleration and superior fuel economy. That said, the naturally aspirated base engine is certainly acceptable – it has comparable power to its competitors, but it's smoother and sounds better. It is a Honda after all. The almost-mandatory CVT makes up for some slightly blender-like noises by limiting the yo-yoing between high and low revs associated with this increasingly common transmission. It also simulates gear changes like other CVTs, but does so in a more natural way than what you'll find in a Subaru, for example.

Now, if you don't like the idea of a CVT at all, the Hatchback alone offers a sweet six-speed manual with either engine. The gearbox is flickable, but weighty. Notchy, but not burdensome. Easy to shift for newbies, but oh-so-fun to play with for experts. Seriously, the shifter feel in this approximately $30,000 Honda puts to shame those in much more expensive sports cars. It also does wonders for the turbo engine, making it feel and sound like a much more athletic (and classically Honda) powerplant.

Of course, if athleticism is your goal, there is the Honda Civic Si (as well as the mechanically related Acura Integra). We could wax poetically about the joy it is to drive those, but it’s probably best to dig into both deeper in our Civic Si review and our Integra review. We would add, though, that the Civic Sport Touring hatchback with the manual is such a delight to drive, that we’d seriously consider saving money at the dealer and at the pump and just going with that. Especially versus the Integra.

As for the Civic Type R, we had yet to drive that at the time of this writing, but you can read about it here. We doubt we’ll dislike it given its joyful predecessor.

What other Honda Civic reviews can I read?

2022 Honda Civic First Drive Review

Our first turn behind the wheel of the new Civic, including more in-depth information about its changes, engineering and design. We also drove the range-topping Touring trim.

 

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback First Drive Review

Get an in-depth look at what's different about the Civic Hatchback, including its cargo capacity and the six-speed manual transmission that isn't available on the Civic sedan.

 

2022 Honda Civic Si First Drive Review

Dig deeper into the performance-oriented Civic Si, including details about its engineering, design and what it's like to drive.


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2022 Honda Civic Sedan Luggage Test

The new Civic nearly has the trunk space of a midsize sedan. We put it to the test with all the luggage from our garage.

 

2023 Honda Civic Type R Revealed

Read the details about what we know about the high-performance Civic Type R.


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What is the 2023 Civic price?

Civic pricing is up considerably for 2023. MSRPs are up across the board, but the base price goes up the highest since the old base LX trim level has been discontinued. Frankly, we don’t think that’s such a big deal considering we urged shoppers to skip it last year considering how much equipment the Sport added versus its price premium. Nevertheless, you’re looking at a starting point of $25,745 for the Sport sedan, including the $1,095 destination charge, or $26,545 for the Sport hatchback. The Si starts at $29,195. Pricing for the Type R was not available at the time of this writing.

Sedan

Sport: $25,745
EX: $27,145
Touring: $30,745
Si: $29,195

Hatchback

Sport: $26,545
EX-L: $28,845
Sport Touring: $31,645
Type R: TBA

2022 Honda Civic
2022 Honda Civic

What are the Civic safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Every Civic comes standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with steering assistance and stop-and-go capability. Blind-spot warning is included on all but the Sport.

The NHTSA gave both styles five out of five stars for overall, side and rollover crash protection, and four stars for frontal crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2022 Civic Sedan and Hatchback a Top Safety Pick+ after it received the best-possible performance in every single category, which is a rare feat.

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