Kelley Blue Book Best Buys of 2016: Overall Winner

By KBB.com Editors on November 12, 2015 3:07 PM

Overall Best Buy Award Winner 2016

2016 Honda Civic

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Redesigned Civic reinvents the high-value compact car category

Last year's winner among small cars, the 2015 Honda Civic, was the runaway favorite in its category. Building on that strength, the impressive new 10th-generation 2016 Honda Civic has jumped to the head of the class as Kelley Blue Book's Overall Best Buy. While last year's overall winner, the 2015 Ford F-150, changed the pickup truck landscape with its aluminum body, this Japanese compact sedan alters the playing field with its attention to detail, use of high quality interior materials and world-class drivetrain featuring Honda's first mass production turbocharged engine.

Even though gas prices have plunged, there remains an imperative for automakers to produce fuel-efficient small cars in an effort to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which are quickly ratcheting upwards. Oftentimes, these econobox entries come across as penalty boxes built to hit mpg and pricing targets more than anything else. Not so with the 2016 Honda Civic. This model has long been one of Honda's crown jewels, earning a reputation for innovation, great packaging, good fuel economy and solid value as evidenced by strong resale resiliency. In short, Honda Civic traditionally has had all bases covered.

Raising the bar for compact cars

The completely redesigned 10th-generation Civic has raised the bar for compact cars in general to a new level. Not only is the new Civic larger than the model it replaces, stretching the wheelbase, length and width by one to three inches, it's also lighter and more fuel efficient. The 174-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which is mated to  acontinuously variable transmission (CVT) and found on uplevel models, and the base 158 horsepower 2.0-liter, which comes with a standard 6-speed manual on base models, deliver almost exactly the same mileage, 31 mpg city for both, 42 mpg highway for the former and 41 mpg on the latter.

In terms of package size and amenities, the 2016 Honda Civic gives the impression of being almost a midsize in comfort and convenience while being priced and positioned against compact rivals. The styling is sleek and modern, yet inside the low-slung body is a passenger cabin fit for adults front and rear, plenty of cubbies and bins to store stuff and a large trunk. And the new cabin also addresses the few nits we had to pick with last year's class winner, namely replacing the busy two-tier dash layout with a simpler 5- or 7-inch touchscreen (depending on model) featuring state-of-the-art applications like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Solid performance and value

Honda's Civic typically has a high fun-to-drive quotient, a trait that's now complemented by a body structure that feels more solid and much quieter than the previous model. Attention to noise, vibration and harshness through the use of sound deadening materials and a laminated windshield imbues this compact with the comfort and cabin quietness often associated with larger, premium sedans. The longer wheelbase helps to improve the ride without sacrificing the nimbleness you'd expect from a compact.

The 2016 Honda Civic also provides stellar performance whether you're rowing through the precise 6-speed manual mated to the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder or rapidly accelerating up to highway speeds with the strong 1.5-liter turbo. Base 2.0-liter models can be fitted with an optional CVT, which is standard equipment on all turbocharged models. The CVT has been greatly improved by Honda, which has tuned the transmission to deliver seamless operation that virtually eliminates the elastic feel and engine droning associated with past and lesser versions of the technology.

Value is another Civic hallmark and that equation continues with the 2016 model that sees a pricing strategy that starts below $20,000 for the base LX model and extends up through the top-line Touring that can top out at $27,000 or so. Honda has an industry leading reputation for quality, reliability and high resale value, and the Civic has consistently finished at or near the top of our annual 5-Year Cost to Own Awards in the compact car class, a trend we expect to continue with the all-new 2016 model.

More to come

The best part of the 2016 Honda Civic story is yet to come as the sedan will soon be joined by other variants, including a coupe, 5-door hatch and sporty Si and Type R performance models, the latter of which hasn't been seen in the U.S.

If you want to know more read our 2016 Honda Civic full review, or build and price your own to unlock this week's Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more. While the Honda Civic is both the Overall Best Buy winner and Small Car Best Buy winner, don't make a move without first consulting our Compact Car Buyer's Guide to weigh all your options.

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