- Most significant changes: Six-speed manual transmission is now standard on EX-T trim models.
- Price change: Base prices on all models are $100 higher; the destination charge is unchanged at $835.
- On sale: October 4
- Which should you buy, 2016 or 2017? 2017, because price changes are minimal.
The 2016 calendar year has been rough for most passenger vehicles as more buyers shift to SUVs, but the Honda Civic has bucked that trend. Civic sales are up nearly 14 percent through September, and this compact car has slipped ahead of the Accord sedan and CR-V compact SUV to become Honda’s best-selling U.S. model.
For 2017, the Honda Civic receives two significant changes: the addition of a new hatchback body style, and for the returning sedan and coupe covered here, a six-speed manual transmission becomes standard on the EX-T models. Previously, the EX-T sedan and coupe came only with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
With base prices of $22,335 for the Honda Civic EX-T trim sedan and $22,435 for the EX-T coupe (including the $835 vehicle destination charge), the stick-shift versions are $800 less than CVT-equipped models.
The sedan lineup consists of LX and EX models with a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and EX-T, EX-L and Touring models with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder. The 2.0-liter produces 158 horsepower and the 1.5-liter produces 174 hp. The six-speed manual transmission is standard on the LX and EX-T; the CVT is optional on those two and standard on the EX, EX-L and Touring.
For the coupe, the LX and LX-P use the 2.0-liter engine, and the EX-T, EX-L and Touring get the 1.5-liter (there is no EX coupe). The manual is standard on the LX and EX-T coupes, while the CVT is optional on those mpg-conscious Honda Civic models.
The base trim LX models aren’t lavishly equipped, but standard features include some Honda Sensing features, like backup camera and dual-zone automatic climate control, and all Honda Civic EX, EX-T, EX-L and Touring models come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The 2.0-liter engine is sluggish and buzzy with the CVT, making the turbo 1.5-liter a more satisfying choice, but mpg fuel economy is good with either engine or transmission.
While other automakers struggle to get buyers to even notice their passenger cars, Honda continues to attract buyers, not just lookers. A switch to more engaging styling for 2016 has helped, but the secret sauce for the Civic remains what it has always been: It delivers an attractive combination of performance, economy, practicality, reliability and durability at a reasonable price.
Other compact cars may offer sexier styling, stronger performance or more high-tech features, but you probably won’t ever have to explain why you bought a Civic.