Compact Hatchback Comparison: 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback
Over-the-top excellence for under $30,000
Starting Price: $20,575 | Price yours
Above Average: Intelligent fun, quality and value that you can get all emotional about
Below Average: No volume knob, no tuning knob, no worse than that
Consensus: Even in its name, this new 5-passenger hatchback prioritizes "Sport" before "Touring," but the 2017 Honda Civic Hatch Sport Touring includes both personas in its progressive playbook
The bar for being a great compact sedan went higher last year, and the Honda Civic cleared it with room to spare -- it's still our Overall Best Buy award winner. This year, compact hatchbacks are making a fresh run at the U.S. market, promising both more fun and more utility. Not to be left out, Honda is importing its 5-door ace of spades from its manufacturing facility in England: the 2017 Civic Hatch. You have several variations of the new Civic hatchback to choose from, starting at just over $20,000. All are powered by an ambitious 1.5-liter turbocharged engine -- tuned to as much as 180 horsepower in the Sport models -- with one of the world's best continuously variable automatic transmissions translating power to the front wheels. A 6-speed manual gearbox is available in the base (LX and Sport) models. At the high end of the Civic Hatch spectrum is our test car, the $29,135 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring model. Our Sport Touring Civic was as loaded (as were the other participants in our comparison test), as it was striking to look at -- with every wicked edge and angle soaked in Sonic Gray Pearl paint.
Capturing a 1st or 2nd spot in all but one of our ratings categories for this comparison test, the new Civic hatchback's charted results below testify to the car's 360 degrees of strength in virtually every area. It doesn't matter whether you're built for comfort, speed or utility, the 2017 Honda Civic Hatch Sport Touring will find a way to pay off.
2017 Honda Civic
If your lifestyle finds you out on the highway a lot, a Civic Hatch may still be your best friend forever, but that buddy might not be the Sport or Sport Touring version. While the two Sport versions are superb corner carvers, their wide, low-profile mid-performance tires on 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels can stir up a lot of road noise at highway speeds. In spite of that soundtrack, however, the ride quality isn't a deal breaker. If you require more peace in the cabin and don't need the "Sport" breeding in your Civic Hatch, Honda offers quieter, more easygoing versions at every price level.
In honor of safety and convenience, now is a good time to tell you about the smartest extra $1,000 you can spend on a 2017 Honda Civic Hatch: Honda Sensing. Available on all but the base Sport trim, the Honda Sensing package is an all-out bargain, using sensors and cameras to help keep your drive accident-free and easy. It includes active cruise control (set a speed and following distance, and the car will maintain both automatically), lane-keeping assist and Road Departure Mitigation (automatically keeps you centered in your lane and steers you back in if it detects lane-drift), and Honda's Collision Mitigation Braking System (if it senses an impending collision, it'll warn you and can engage the brakes if you don't respond). Easily the best grand you'll ever spend.
Every Honda Civic specializes in urban excellence, a trait shared -- and even emphasized -- by the hatchback. Just grocery shopping can be a treat with the convenience of loading/unloading, and a good sense of the car's four corners makes parking lots a cinch to navigate. The 1.5-liter four is so tractable in any situation that it will baby you effortlessly around town, then launch the Civic Hatch cleanly to attention when the need to pass or merge arises. Standard on every Civic Hatch is a multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines to make backing up an exercise in peace of mind.
It's a given that a Honda Civic should be a natural for city driving, and a better-than-average partner on the highway. The driving double-take for us, however, was how dead-on steady and quick our Sport Touring hatchback dispatched the tangled spaghetti of driving roads in the hilly sections of our comparison route. The sublime combination of always-on engine power and quick CVT "gear" changes from the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, plus the car's responsive steering, fade-free brakes, hardworking suspension and sporty Continental ContiProContact tires sent the Civic Hatch Sport into and out of corners with authority. The 5-door Civic impressed us as a completely satisfying sport hatchback, on par at times with the Mazda3 -- the current performance benchmark in compact cars.
Inside the beast, human beings feel welcomed, body and brain alike. You can read our anti-Valentine to Honda's infotainment system in the next section, but outside of that, the Civic Hatch's interior is a modern, high-quality residence. Of primary concern to the driver is the good outward view to the front and sides, the clear instrumentation, and the adaptable center console. Even without the benefit of adjustable lumbar support, the car's seats engulfed each of a wide range of editors' bodies and gave them all good comfort and great support over miles of highway, city and snaky-road driving.
In logical Honda fashion, equipment levels for the Civic Hatch vary depending on trim level, and there are very few standalone options. While base LX and Sport versions give you good value for the dollar, it's at the $23,675 EX trim that your dreams start to get fulfilled. That's where you get things like a one-touch power moonroof, push-button starting, dual-zone climate control, and significant infotainment upgrades. If you want leather, power-adjustable seating, navigation and heated seating, you'll need to step up to the EX-L Navi ($26,175) and Sport Touring levels.
Oh, that the romance could last forever, but no -- Honda keeps insisting on messing around...with a knob-free infotainment setup that nobody asked for. Beyond that irritating audio crime of doing away with simple knobs to adjust volume and tune the radio stations, the Civic Hatch acquits itself pretty well with decent-but-expected audio at the base levels. The big bump in infotainment quality starts at that magical EX trim level where you get to enjoy a lifestyle upgrade that includes a 7-inch high-def customizable touchscreen, better and better audio systems, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Rear Seat Room
Absolute proof that Honda whiteboarded every inch of the new Civic Hatch's interior comes from a quick ride in the back seat. Everything from ingress and egress, to rear-seat comfort was exactly calculated to never pose a problem, even for long-legged, tall-torsoed adults. In all but the base LX models, a center armrest is included in the "Ahhh, nice" Civic Hatch features, and when you get to the Sport Touring level, well, that's where the leather seats (also standard on the EX-L Navi trim) get heated both front, and rear (only on the Sport Touring).
The rear hatch of the Civic hatchback opens wide enough to swallow any of the other cars in our comparison whole, or so it seems. Seriously, take a gander at the gaping maw of the Civic's opening and it becomes obvious that this car was purpose-built to haul a class-leading lot of stuff -- 25.7 cubic feet of stuff. In the interest of easy loading and unloading of that stuff, the Civic Hatch's liftover is nice and low, plus the 60/40-split 2nd-row seatbacks fold nearly flat to accommodate even more. One extra-cool Honda benefit that's standard on every Civic Hatch is the side-pull cargo cover that keeps rear cargo out of sight and rolls up and neatly out of the way when you're not using it.
On paper (EPA fuel economy: 30 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, 32 mpg combined) and in person (our 2-day comparison workout logged an average of 30.1 miles per gallon), the Civic Hatch earns fuel-economy gold. That anecdotal above-30-mpg fuel-economy number is all the more impressive when you consider the real-world nature of our drive routes and testing. Only the Cruze hatchback, with its slightly smaller turbocharged engine and preference for regular gasoline (versus the Civic Hatch Sport Touring's need for premium fuel) was in the running to best the Civic's numbers.
Forever is a long time. And while you may be tempted to keep your Civic Hatch until the end of time, the odds are against it -- due to either time, taste or needs, you'll eventually let it go. When the time does come to sell your Honda hatch, you'll be greeted by some very, very good news: Your car has stubbornly held on to its value over time. In point of resale-value fact, the Honda Civic has become a regular visitor to our Best Resale Value Awards podium over the past two years, bested in the Compact Car category only by the Subaru Impreza -- which says more about Subaru's weatherproof resale strength than it does about Honda's bulletproof quality and reliability.
Photo Gallery: 2017 Honda Civic