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With its reputation preceding it by decades, the 2015 Honda Civic compact sedan waltzed into this comparison test as the reigning Kelley Blue Book Small Car Best Buy of 2015. Boasting a unique combination of famous reliability, thorough refinement, satisfying driving manners, affordable pricing and great resale values, the Honda Civic remains one of the easiest cars to recommend and one of the best-selling cars in the country, year after year after year.

The ninth-generation Civic debuted for the 2012 model year and is now among the segment's older entries, but significant updates in 2013 and 2014 have kept it current into this, its final model year (grab a sneak peek of the all-new Civic for 2016). As a segment staple we've been driving and praising for four years, perhaps the only thing we learned about the Civic in this 450-mile, seven-car comparison test was that it remains a standout and benchmark in a segment full of fresher faces.

The Civic again proved comfortable enough on the highway and eager enough in curvier conditions, but where it continues to shine brightest in comparison to its competitors is in the stop and go of city streets and parking lots. Sporty standouts like the Mazda3, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Jetta were all more fun to drive when pushed, but nothing in the test was more attuned to its driver in everyday driving than the Honda. Step on the gas and the Civic pulls away smoothly from a stop, and with exactly the amount of acceleration you ask for. Braking is similarly consistent. Likewise, the steering is easy and responsive, giving the Civic a satisfying liveliness on the road and welcome ease in parking lots.

Several editors praised the Honda's continuously variable transmission as the best of its kind in the group, delivering seamless acceleration without the eccentricities associated with past and lesser units. Honda has built a reputation as an especially engineering-focused automaker, the benefits of which become more apparent when you drive its cars back to back with others.

2015 Honda Civic at a Glance

2015 Honda Civic Compact Car Graph

Compared to its outstanding driving manners, the Civic's infotainment system is more of a mixed bag. On one hand, the Civic's standard equipment list includes an impressive suite of tech features. For a starting sticker price of around $19,000, the 2015 Honda Civic includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, text-to-voice message reading, Pandora internet radio integration and a 5-inch customizable LCD screen. And while all but the entry-level Civic LX include a 7-inch display audio touchscreen that functions very well, it isn't as easy or intuitive as favorites like the Dodge Dart's Uconnect system or the Mazda3's system, which includes a central controller like those found on many European luxury brands. For example, while there are volume controls on the steering wheel and on the display audio unit itself, the lack of a proper volume knob was among our Civic's biggest shortcomings in the eyes of several editors. It's a knock, but it's also a pretty hearty endorsement of just how good the Civic is overall.

The Civic's roomy but supportive front seats were among our favorites during the test, and the rear seat also rated above group average. Split-folding rear seat backs and trunk-mounted latches add cargo flexibility and ease, while a personal storage bin ahead of the transmission selector offers easy-access USB and power ports.

The Honda Civic is a storied hall-of-famer that's still winning MVP titles. The compact car category is full of appealing specialists, but the remarkably well-rounded Honda Civic is just plain special.

Here's how the 2015 Honda Civic stacks up against the others:

Honda Civic vs. Dodge Dart

The Dodge Dart offers a richer interior than the Civic, a more intuitive infotainment system and sportier style, but the Civic trumps the Dart in just about every other practical measure.

Honda Civic vs. Ford Focus

We gave Focus the nod in styling, fun-to-drive and infotainment, but the roomier Civic and its refined powertrain make it a more practical choice and a more satisfying daily driver.

Honda Civic vs. Mazda Mazda3

While the Honda Civic is our Small Car Best Buy for 2015, the Mazda3 has earned a spot on our annual list of 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 for 12 years in a row. That pretty accurately captures the difference between these two perennial favorites.

Honda Civic vs. Subaru Impreza

Standard all-wheel drive remains the Impreza's key strength in the small car category, but it's not without other charms. While the Civic offers its own impressive suite of tech features, the Impreza is the only car in the category to offer adaptive cruise control, via its camera-based EyeSight system. If you live in a snowy area or regularly visit one, put the all-weather Impreza at the top of your list. If not, the Civic has plenty of attractive advantages.

Honda Civic vs. Toyota Corolla

Two of the bestselling cars in the country, Civic and Corolla are also the most similar cars in this test. Both built their reputations and sales leadership with proven and consistent reliability, and each favors practicality and comfort over flash and fun. We tend to prefer the Civic's execution, but they're equally smart buys.

Honda Civic vs. Volkswagen Jetta

Combining turbocharged power with European driving manners and subtle but high-quality design, the Jetta almost feels half a class above the Civic and the others in this test. But it's not as smooth around town, its resale values aren't as strong, and its reputation isn't as stellar.

More Compact Cars

Build and price your own 2015 Honda Civic, read our full review or check out our Compact Car Buyer's Guide to see more options in the segment.

 

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