|The 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback even looks well-equipped in base LX trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Other than a blip on the screen that saw the British-built Civic SiR arrive and leave between 2002 and 2005, this brand new 2017 Civic Hatchback is the first of its kind on North American shores since Honda abandoned the practical design way back at the turn of the millennia. Now, after a week behind the wheel, all past sins are forgiven. Or should I say, most. It’s clearly better than ever, although it’s styling is somewhat controversial.
|Rear styling is certainly racier than the already sporty sedan. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Honda chose a base LX model for the press fleet it keeps in my area so I booked it for a weeklong test, but as is most often the case they omitted its entry-level six-speed manual gearbox and instead provided the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Unlike the Civic Sedan, all Hatchback trims can be had with both
|These halogen projector headlamps look great for a base model. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Also unlike the Civic Sedan, the Hatchback gets one single turbocharged and direct-injected 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, albeit in various states of tune. It makes 174 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque in the LX, although in CVT guise its torque drops to 162 lb-ft, while second-rung Sport and top-line Sport Touring trims get a 180 horsepower version of the engine that puts out 177 lb-ft of torque. Once again, CVT-equipped models utilizing this loftier engine are detuned to
|Even this entry-level Civic Hatchback gets a sporty front fascia. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Even base LX models should impress compact buyers thanks to a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display that doubles as the primary gauge cluster, this flanked by two bright and colourful digital metres for engine temp and fuel, plus over on the centre stack an equally large 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s filled with high-grade graphics plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Wi-Fi tethering, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth wireless phone and audio streaming, SMS text and email functionality, two USB ports, 180-watt eight-speaker audio, and the list goes on.
|These machine-finish 16-inch alloys with black painted pockets are standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Those upgrading to previously noted Honda Sensing get auto high beams and adaptive cruise control with the manual or alternatively both of the above plus low-speed following capability with the CVT, the latter automatic transmission also allowing
|The hatchback’s hinges cause dual buttress-style ridges along each side of the roof, which extend into the rear spoiler. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Honda’s willingness to lend journalists this most basic Civic Hatchback shows just how confident they are in the car on the whole (believe me, we’re rarely provided base models of anything). First off, a quick glance immediately shows a nicer set of alloy wheels than most entry-level economy cars get, these being machine-finished 16-inch rims with black-painted pockets that match up well next to all the glossy black trim contrasting my tester’s White Orchid Pearl paint. The only chrome is on the badges front and back, although the headlights give off a jewel-like glitter.
|The rear hatch includes a classic lower window a la second-generation CRX and CR-Z, providing better rearward visibility. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All Civics boast impressive interiors no matter the trim, but I particularly like the Hatchback LX model’s etched metallic instrument panel and door inlays, plus the black and grey striped woven cloth seat upholstery. The centre stripe is actually made up of thinner grey and black diagonal lines, while grey contrast stitching to each
|The Civic Hatchback includes a high level of standard refinement. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Like the rest of the Civic lineup the Hatchback is a wonderfully comfortable place to be, the driver’s seat providing excellent lower back support and a decent level of lateral bracing, while there’s at least as much room in back as the sedan. Another benefit gained by moving from four-door to five-door Civic is immediately noticeable from the driver’s perspective, a larger rear window to aid rearward visibility when peering through the centre mirror. This combines with good visibility
|Yes, this is the base Civic Hatchback LX cockpit. We knew you’d be impressed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
As noted earlier, the Civic Hatchback’s standard instrument panel is a literal lightshow of dazzling colour, its digital displays as plentiful as this class gets and the quality of resolution also at the top of the pack. Where Honda differs from most competitors is the inclusion of this same quality gauge cluster and touchscreen from near base to top-line Civic models, while this Civic Hatchback gets the same class-leading electronics all the way through the line. This is a clear example of how well Honda understands the market it continues to dominate, the Civic having been the best-selling compact car in Canada for a very long time, let alone the top-selling car in this country period.
|How’s this for a standard set of gauges, the centre colour TFT display measuring seven inches diagonally. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Agile Handling Assist (AHA) comes standard, this being a torque vectoring technology that applies near imperceptible braking force to the inside wheels when
|These steering wheel controls are some of the best anywhere for any money. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The positive is a five-cycle fuel economy rating of 7.7 L/100km city, 6.0 highway and
|The Civic’s centre stack design and execution is second to none. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The addition of the CVT resulted in my as-tested 2017 Civic Hatchback LX starting at $22,790, with the only factory options available for this trim limited to the $2,300 Honda Sensing suite and exterior paints including Lunar Silver Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic (grey), Crystal Black Pearl, Aegean Blue Metallic, and the pearly white exterior shade mentioned earlier.
|While I would’ve preferred the manual, the CVT provides smooth operation and better economy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If you want to add more luxury and excitement to your Civic Hatchback I’d recommend the upgrade to Sport or Sport Touring trim. Along with the additional power, CVT models get paddle shifters behind an upgraded leather-wrapped steering
|Great looking grey centre stripe adds sporty style to the base Hatchback LX. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The move up to Sport Touring trim enhances the list to include full LED headlights with both high and low beams, LED front turn signals, LED indicators on the mirror caps, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, navigation with detailed mapping, voice recognition, wireless device charging, a 542-watt audio system with 12 speakers including a sub, plus HD and satellite radio, leather upholstery,
|The rear seats are comfortable and roomy, although not as stylishly upholstered. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Cargo access with the Civic Hatchback is considerably better than either the Sedan or Coupe for obvious reasons, this model actually providing a level of passenger and cargo versatility unmatched by any Honda car this side of the subcompact Fit. Its capacity dwarfs its two Civic siblings as well, the Sedan capable of 428 litres (15.1 cubic feet) in its larger than average sized trunk and an undetermined amount when its 60/40-split rear seatbacks are tumbled forward, and the Coupe’s trunk allowing 337 litres (11.9 cubic feet) plus who knows how much more when its divided seats are laid flat, whereas this Civic Hatchback can manage up to 728 litres (25.7 cubic feet) behind its rear seatbacks and 1,308 litres (46.2 cubic feet) when they’re fully lowered.
|This is currently Honda’s largest cargo compartment, at least as far as its car lineup goes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Suffice to say the new Civic Hatchback offers a lot for the money no matter the trim level chosen, but plenty of compact hatchback challengers were already in the
|Could a Civic Wagon be next? We can only hope. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Last year’s lead was almost 14,000 units ahead of its nearest rival with close to 65,000 Civics down the road, while after just six months of 2017 the total number of Civic deliveries was almost 9,000 units beyond its closest rival at 37,180 units. By August’s close that number grew to 50,898 sales compared to just 37,177 for the runner-up. Certainly, if Honda can continue this pace it’ll be a record year, all the more impressive considering some of its challengers are temporarily opting out of the small car business altogether.
The new Civic is proof positive that money and effort spent to engineer and produce a much better car than average can result in extremely strong sales, more so than any SUV currently available despite all the talk about crossovers taking over the automotive industry. In fact, the Civic’s growing sales make it abundantly clear that plenty of consumers don’t want an SUV at all, and thanks to this practical five-door Hatchback version increasing our Civic options we have yet another reason to choose Canada’s favourite car. Could it be time to reintroduce the Civic wagon?
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