The 11th-generation Honda Civic bowed in 2022, and continues into 2023 largely unchanged.
But wait just a tick. After 24 years as being Canada’s best-selling car, the Civic was dethroned by the Toyota Corolla last year. Did Honda drop the ball? Far from it. This latest Civic is a class act, showing premium interior appointments, a handsome exterior, fine dynamics, and a sense of overall refinement that puts it at the head of the class.
This latest Civic tones down the radical styling of its predecessor for a more measured and mature look. It’s a handsome, muscular design, here enhanced by the optional Platinum White Pearl paint ($300). The Touring rides on 18-inch alloy wheels, which fill the wheel wells nicely and give the little sedan a meaningful stance.
The 2023 Honda Civic gets a comprehensive list of safety features as standard – lane-departure warning and keeping assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, and traffic jam assist. The latter is a semi-autonomous system that allows for a bit of hands- and feet-free driving. Meanwhile, most trims add blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The lane-keep assist feature can be overzealous at times, getting tripped up by indistinct lane markings. The auto-dimming LED headlights proved very effective during nighttime rural driving. Front and rear parking sensors are also included with the Touring trim.
For ultimate Civic practicality, opt for the hatchback. Nonetheless, the sedan benefits from the latest version’s spacious interior with its generous shoulder-, leg-, and headroom. The trunk opening is large with a low liftover height, and with a capacity of 419 L the Civic’s trunk beats out the Toyota Corolla (371 L), Hyundai Elantra (402 L) and Mazda3 (315 L). Fold down the 60/40-split rear bench and you can load longer items, although the opening isn’t very big. The Touring is the only Civic sedan trim to get assisted opening for the trunk.
Up front there’s plenty of useful storage, including a rubberized storage/phone charge shelf ahead of the gear selector, and a generous covered bin between the seats.
User Friendliness: 9/10
Kudos for the Civic’s logical ergonomics and easy familiarity. Pull the mechanical gear selector all the way back for drive and you’re off. A trio of large rotary knobs – still the best layout – control HVAC functions, and the touchscreen gets a volume knob (although a tuning knob would be welcome, too).
The nine-inch touchscreen sits proud atop the dash and sports a menu structure that’s clear and intuitive. Ahead of the driver is a pin-sharp 10.2-inch digital info/gauge cluster. Each dash vent has its own little joystick for adjusting airflow and direction – so simple and effective.
It’s an airy cabin, made brighter by the available sunroof. Forward visibility is good thanks to the Civic’s low beltline, thin A-pillars, and door-mounted mirrors that don’t obstruct the view when cornering. The capless fuel filler is also a nice bonus.
This being the top tier model, the Civic Touring gets real perforated leather, rain-sensing wipers, a nine-inch touchscreen (lower trims get a seven-inch screen) plus an impressive 12-speaker sound system. Cabin quality is top-notch, and the narrow band of honey-comb grille that spans the width of the dash is a delightfully classy design element. Rear seat passengers get heated derrieres, but there’s no seat ventilation or adjustable lumbar support for front occupants.
This top-trim Touring is the only Civic to get Honda’s 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, good for 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque here. It’s a sweet little motor that operates with smooth linearity. It possesses an eager midrange turbo urge that gives the sedan great flexibility, making it one of the swifter offerings in the segment.
The turbo-four is mated to a well-calibrated automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). A six-speed manual is only available in the Civic hatch. While eco mode dulls performance a bit in the name of saving fuel, sport mode sharpens throttle response and the CVT keeps the engine in its power zone.
It’s hard to believe the Civic was once a compact economy car, because it sure doesn’t feel like it now. It’s gown in size to what the Accord was a few generations ago. Combine the Civic’s solid-structure with the Touring trim’s amenities and you arrive at a convincingly ritzy small car experience. The front leather seats are superbly contoured, although they do lack lumbar adjustment. The ride leans towards the sporty side, being firm and well controlled, but far from jarring or uncomfortable. It’s a good balance. The turbo engine goes a long way in giving the Touring a relaxed demeanour.
Back-seat passengers enjoy good legroom, and only the tallest will find the roofline too low. About the only fly in the ointment is some noticeable tire noise at highway speeds, but that’s a small nit to pick.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
As with most Honda products, you get the feeling the engineers who designed and tuned this sedan care about the marque’s reputation for driver engagement and sporty dynamics. Hop into this 11th-generation sedan and its low-slung driving position and well-placed controls telegraph a sporting intent. The front-wheel-drive chassis is expertly tuned, showing sharp turn in, fine body control, and surprising grip from the all-season tires.
Fuel Economy: 8.5/10
The official fuel consumption numbers for the 2023 Honda Civic Sedan Touring are 7.6 L/100 km in the city, 6.1 on the highway, and 6.9 combined on regular-grade fuel. These numbers are better than the base Mazda3 sedan, but trail the Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Jetta.
Yes, $35,580 before taxes is a lot to pay for a compact sedan, but with this top-trim Civic you’re getting plenty of car for the money. The fact that the Civic is not offered with all-wheel drive like the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, and, of course, Subaru Impreza will be a sticking point for some buyers. Nonetheless, the Touring feels and drives like a premium offering, serving up a sense of solidity and refinement that is a long, long way from “economy car” status. There’s nary a shred of evidence that points to cost-cutting.
Once again, Honda has upped the small sedan game with its latest Civic. Granted, getting the full experience requires shelling out for the 2023 Honda Civic Touring with its turbo power, but this sedan leaps to the top of the field thanks to its premium build, interior space, dynamic harmony, and general engineering excellence.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||180 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||177 lb-ft @ 1,700–4,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||7.6 / 6.1 / 6.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||419 L|
|Model Tested||2023 Honda Civic Sedan Touring|
|Price as Tested||$35,580|
$300 – Platinum White Pearl, $300