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2020 Honda Civic Hatchback: 8 Things We Like (and 2 Not So Much)

honda-civic-2020-01-angle--exterior--front--grey.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

The 2020 Honda Civic hatchback gets some subtle exterior styling tweaks to keep it looking fresh among rivals that include the Kia Forte, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf. What sets the Civic apart from the competition has more to do with what’s beneath the car’s sheet metal, however. That’s because the Civic continues to prove it’s one of the smartest, safest and most economical compact cars available today.

Related: 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Review: Still King of Compacts

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The Civic hatch is also noteworthy for offering more cargo room than you’ll find in either the Civic sedan or coupe models, but there’s a premium to be paid for this extra space (more on that later). You can read our complete review of the 2020 Honda Civic hatchback by following the related link above. But if you’re short on time during your search for the perfect compact car, then keep scrolling to see our rapid-fire rundown of what impressed us — and what depressed us — during a recent test drive.

Here are eight things we like, and two that we didn’t, about the 2020 Honda Civic hatchback:

Things We Like

honda-civic-2020-02-exterior--front--grey.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

1. Peppy Engine, Smooth Transmission

The Civic hatchback comes standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 174 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque to the front wheels. These figures are for the Civic hatchback equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission, but if you choose the Sport or Sport Touring trims, output ticks upward to 180 hp and 177 pounds-feet of torque. During our time with the Civic, we found the engine to be peppy, and the transmission proved smooth and refined. That’s not always the case with CVTs, but Honda has done an excellent job with the one offered in the Civic.

honda-civic-2020-09-engine--exterior.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

2. Easy on Your Fuel Budget

The Civic has a reputation for being a fuel sipper, and this holds true with the latest edition. With its 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder and CVT, the 2020 Civic hatchback returns an EPA-estimated fuel economy average of 31/40/34 mpg city/highway/combined. That’s more than competitive with direct rivals.

3. Rear Legroom

A compact car shouldn’t mean anyone sitting in the rear is squashed like an oversized suitcase stuffed into an airplane’s overheard storage compartment. It’s lucky for those coming along for the ride in the Civic hatchback that there is enough room for real-size adults in the front and back.

honda-civic-2020-28-interior--second-row.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

4. Child-Seat Friendliness

New families should take note here: You don’t need to automatically jump into an SUV just because you have kids and car seats to tote around. We found the Civic hatchback to be accommodating when placing two car seats in the back. It wasn’t always perfect; we did have some issues installing a forward-facing convertible seat due to the fixed head restraints in our Civic test vehicle. But lower Latch anchors and top tether anchors were easy to access.

5. Lots of Cargo Space

The hatchback is the Civic model to choose if you need to prioritize cargo-hauling capability. With the rear seatbacks in place, there is a roomy 22.6 cubic feet of cargo room. Position the split-folding rear seat down and volume expands to more than 46 cubic feet.

honda-civic-2020-31-interior--trunk.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

6. Standard Safety Tech

The Civic comes standard with a long list of active-safety features for a compact car built to go easy on your budget. These include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. 

7. Honda LaneWatch

Also available on the Civic hatchback is Honda’s LaneWatch safety feature. When you activate the turn signal to make a right-hand turn, a camera mounted on the passenger-side mirror gives a view of any potential hazards on the car’s right-hand side. This is extremely useful at spotting, say, a bicyclist or pedestrian who otherwise might have gone unnoticed.

honda-civic-2020-24-controls--dashboard--detail--front-row--interior--safety-tech.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

8. Controlled Ride, Nimble Handling

Did it really take us this long to mention how comfortable and agile the Civic is during daily driving? Sorry Honda fans, we almost take it for granted that the Civic continues to balance a firm but comfy ride with quick responses that make darting through traffic a breeze.

More From Cars.com:

Things We Don’t

1. Multimedia System Needs a Reboot

honda-civic-2020-19-center-stack-display--front-row--interior.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

The multimedia system in the Civic is better than it used to be, especially thanks to a long-overdue volume knob added for the 2019 model year. But all in all, the system is looking dated even if it’s generally simple to use. Similarly, the availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity certainly helps — yet the system’s old-school graphics and confusing blend of touch controls and physical buttons make it a bit clunky to operate.

2. Hatchback Comes at a Cost

 You’d better need that extra cargo room, because the Civic hatchback is about $700 more than what you’d pay for the base Civic coupe and $1,900 more than what you’d pay for the base sedan. That’s a hefty amount in the price-sensitive compact-car arena. At $22,705 to start (including destination fee), the Civic hatch is a good value, but it’s pricier than some key rivals — including other members of the Civic family.

honda-civic-2020-05-exterior--grey--rear.jpg 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

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