2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Review by David Colman
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
You have to love the utter practicality of this Hatchback Civic. I recently received a set of 4 new tires which needed transportation to a local tire store for mounting. I looked at the tires, looked at the interior space available in the Honda and did a mental computation. With the rear seats folded down, I reckoned that all 4 should fit inside the Civic - provided the rear seats were folded flat. The plan worked out to a tee. All four tires plus two occupants up front made the Civic Touring an ideal delivery wagon. If you plan on carrying such sizeable loads of any description, this Honda makes a great alternative to the cumbersome, tippy SUVs that are all the rage today. Unlike SUVs that barely make driving tolerable, this compact sedan actually makes driving fun.
With the exception of the race ready Civic Type R, the Honda we tested represents the top of the Civic line. Models available start with the LX ($21,750), Sport ($22,850), EX ($24,250), EXL ($25,450) and our test Sport Touring ($28,850). The only addition to our hatchback’s base price was a Delivery Fee of $930, making the total delivered price $29,780. In addition to a long list of standard features, the Sport Touring echelon adds these refinements missing on lesser Civics: under body spoiler kit, center mounted dual exhausts, rain sensing wipers, 540-watt audio system, dual mode paddle shifters, and LED headlights with automatic on/off actuation. Our test Honda’s seats were leather trimmed, likewise the steering wheel and shift knob. The exterior of the Sport Touring is distinguished from lesser Civics by its piano black grill, black mesh fascia inserts and 18 x 8J alloy rims shod with Continental Sport Contact all season rubber (235/45R18).
Although our test Civic was fitted with a CVT automatic transmission, you can up your driving fun and involvement by ordering yours with an available 6-speed manual. The 6-speed also saves 67lbs. of curb weight over the CVT. The Sport’s 1.5 liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged motor makes 180hp and 162lb.-ft. of torque. If you opt for the manual gearbox, torque output of the engine jumps to 177lb.-ft. Honda sees no need to encapsulate their handsome power plant with a molded dust cover, so you can see and service everything in the engine bay without having to remove any beauty screens. Since the turbo makes its peak horsepower at a rather lofty 6,000rpm, it proved handy to regulate its output with the paddle shifts. If you plant the console mounted stick in the “S” setting, the paddles allow you to assume control of your shift points. We especially appreciated the fact that in “S,” the transmission did not automatically upshift to the next higher gear without authorization from the driver.
Despite the fact that the Civic carries 60.7% of its 3,012lbs. of curb weight on the front wheels, its handling never feels nose heavy, nor does it push its nose when you accelerate through a turn. The suspension system of the Civic Sport is well suited to aggressive backroad motoring, thanks to MacPherson struts up front and multi-link independent architecture in back. The addition of a sturdy 25.5mm tubular front sway bar and a solid 16.5mm rear bar ensure stable compliance during directional changes. We really appreciated the quick steering response provided by the 11.12:1 steering ratio Honda selected for this model, a responsiveness that is magnified by the ultra-sporty 2.11 turns required to move the steering wheel from lock to lock.
After a prolonged period of Dark Age obtuse infotainment system programming, Honda now offers one of the most logical, easy-to-use systems available today from any brand. We were able to select and install favorites on the standard (3-month free) SiriusXM list in a matter of seconds, a supposedly simple task that has caused us much grief in other vehicles. The Sport Touring model offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, as well as the full suite of Honda Sensing safety oversight (adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation),
In a time when eating in your car has become more practicable than ever, we should mention the Touring’s brilliant adaptability to our brave new world of dining. The front center console with armrest is a marvel of engineering. You can slide the armrest section fore and aft. In the forward position it covers dual beverage holders. When slid to the rear, the armrest exposes the cup holders but covers a deep storage compartment. This multiplicity of choices made the Civic a great place to lunch, and my wife and I enjoyed two A&W takeout meals in our Honda during just one week.
This top line version of the Civic is an ingenious device. For an all-in price under $30,000, you have yourself a delivery van, a backroad charger, and a comfy dining room all rolled into one vehicle that now looks better than ever.
2020 HONDA CIVIC HATCHBACK SPORT TOURING
ENGINE: 1.5 liter Inline 4, direct injection, turbocharged
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 29MPG City/35MPG
HIGHWAY PRICE AS TESTED: $29,780
HYPES: Space Intelligent, Responsive Drivetrain
GRIPES: I’d Buy the 6-Speed Manual
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10