Having already had positive experiences behind the wheels of the Civic sedan and coupe, it’s time for us to strap our gear to the hatchback, which we tested here in its top-of-the-line Sport Touring trim level.
With the 10th-generation Civic, Honda brought back much of what American fans of the storied compact loved through the years, as well as added a few new wrinkles—hello, Type R! But as excited as we are for America’s first ever Civic Type R, it’s the return of the hatchback body style to the lineup that makes that even possible.
Despite there being multiple racing series dedicated to touring cars, the words sport and touring aren’t typically paired together on vehicles you can actually buy (except for some Buicks—go figure—and grand touring is a whole other thing).
That’s because touring conjures thoughts of comfort and space, while sport centers on a more dynamic driving experience, often at the sacrifice of daily comfort or convenience.
The Civic Sport Touring hatchback manages to reconcile these seeming incongruities, however, combining fun to drive, comfort, ease of use, and practicality in one package.
The Civic Sport Touring we tested (and the Sport, which offers a six-speed manual unavailable on this trim) does not differ much at all in its chassis tuning from the rest of the lineup, as Honda is saving the significant handling upgrades for the Si and Type R models.
In fact, only two things change about the driving experience when the Civic goes Sport Touring or Sport: the steering (which has a barely quicker, 11.1:1 ratio versus 10.9:1) and its shoes.
The Sport models get 18-inch rolling stock compared with the 16 inchers on the LX and 17s on the EX and EX-L Navi. All-season rubber is standard on all trim levels.
Under the hood of all Civic hatchbacks lives a 16-valve 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four engine. Although not required, premium fuel is recommended for the Sport and the Sport Touring, which both have upgraded knock sensors.
Honda claims the higher octane—as well as the center-exit dual exhaust standard on the Sport and Sport Touring—will provide a tiny boost in power. Running premium, the Sport and Sport Touring with the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) make a claimed 180 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque from 1700 to 5500 rpm.
Burning regular unleaded, the turbo four paired with the CVT makes a claimed 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft at the same peak rpm, just as it does in the LX, EX, and EX-L, which have the standard knock sensor and single-pipe exhaust.
Compared with the Civic sedan, the hatchback’s wheelbase is the same, while overall length is down by 4.4 inches. But the five-door offers 23 cubic feet of stowage behind the folding rear seats, a marked improvement over the sedan’s 15-cubic-foot trunk.
The cabin is well built, comfortable, and offers good overall visibility, but the interior’s multiple layers, textures, and materials make for a somewhat disjointed aesthetic that might be an acquired taste. (As might be the exterior styling. Many of us dig the racer-mech-meets-practical-box look, but we understand how it may be too much for some folks.)