2021 Honda Civic Review

From economy sedan to hot-rod hatch, the 2021 Honda Civic's got something for everybody.

1 month ago
Colin Ryan
Contributor
PROS
  • Broad appeal, from economy to enthusiast
  • Sedan and hatchback models available
  • Manual transmission available on some models
  • Type R packs a genuine punch
  • Spacious and practical
CONS
  • The only automatic is a CVT
  • Adaptive cruise control not available with manual transmission
  • No all-wheel drive available

The 2021 Honda Civic is a popular compact car that is offered in both sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles. It’s relatively affordable to buy, running costs are bearable and Civics hold their resale values well. Over the years of ownership, the Civic should provide reliable and roomy transportation, along with a pleasant, easy-going driving experience with the potential for a thrill or three. 2021 Honda Civic prices start around $21,000. 

Civic Exterior

The Civic comes in sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles. Both have five seating positions, although that middle rear spot is something of a squeeze. The exception is the Type R, which is a 4-seater. The coupe body and sporty Si models have been discontinued. However, a new generation of Civic is due for the 2022 model year, so there’s a good chance they will be reborn.

It’s perhaps a blessing and maybe a curse, but this generation of Honda Civic (the 10th) has a kind of generic and forgettable look up front. The blessing is that it’s not too radical or “out there” to polarize opinions and won’t suddenly look dated after a few years. The curse is that it could never compete with the Mazda3.

The rear end’s curved taillights bring more individuality. And the hatchback, which incorporates a sloping roof, veers toward busy at the back end. The Type R, sporting a rear wing and other aerodynamic parts, looks like a 13-year-old boy’s fever dream.

The LX sedan has 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. The LX hatchback comes with 16-inch alloy rims. As a general rule, the sportier the Civic the larger the wheel diameter.

Civic Interior

The top Touring models have the nicest cabins, of course, because of their leather seating surfaces and quality trim pieces. But there’s an overall sense that the Civic’s interior design is to keep things simple, functional and aesthetically acceptable — as opposed to adding much in the way of styling flair. That’s OK. It all works, which is the main thing.

Despite that sloping roof, the Civic hatchback doesn’t lose any rear headroom over the sedan. Both have around 37 inches. Rear legroom is the same: 37.4 inches. The Civic is one of the most spacious compact cars.

Luggage space is equally generous. The sedan’s trunk measures 15.1 cubic feet. That’s the same as the midsize Toyota Camry’s, which is far from stingy in this department. The hatchback starts out with 25.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats, expanding to 46.2 when they’re folded down.

2021 Honda Civic

Civic Powertrain

The basic setup in the 2021 Civic LX and Sport sedans is a 2.0-liter/4-cylinder engine (158 hp/138 lb-ft of torque). EX trim and above receives a turbocharged 1.5-liter/4-cylinder (174 hp/162 lb-ft of torque).

This turbocharged engine is in every 2021 Civic hatchback. In the Sport and Sport Touring versions it is boosted for even more power (180 hp/177 lb-ft of torque). The range-topping Civic R (306 hp/295 lb-ft of torque) boasts one of the most powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter/4-cylinder engines in production.

All Civic sedans use a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) — the Sport and Touring models gaining paddle shifters mounted beneath the steering wheel. The Sport and Sport Touring hatchbacks have a 6-speed manual transmission as standard, but offer the CVT with paddle shifters as an option. The Type R has its own close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission. Every 2021 Civic employs front-wheel drive.

One of the few things the Civic doesn’t offer is all-wheel drive. That feature is optional in the Mazda3 and standard in the Subaru Impreza. Anyone interested in a hybrid should check out the excellent 2021 Honda Insight compact sedan, which is based on the Civic’s platform.

The most fuel-efficient Civic is the EX sedan with the turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, achieving 32 mpg in the city, 42 mpg on the highway and 36 mpg in combined driving. Unsurprisingly, the thirstiest Civic is the Type R, at 22/28/25 mpg. Regular gasoline is fine for the rest of the lineup, but Honda recommends premium for the Type R.

2021 Honda Civic

Civic Driving Experience

Even in its most basic form, the Honda Civic feels well-engineered and precise. The ride quality is supple without ever approaching sloppy. There’s a composure to the handling tempered by just the right amount of compromise. Sport versions have slightly quicker steering, but the regular setup is just fine.

Naturally, the 1.5-liter turbo engine is more entertaining than the entry-level unit. It develops maximum thrust at lower revs, so responses are quicker.

The Civic is simply easy to drive. Locating all the controls quickly becomes second nature and nothing requires any particular effort.

The Type R does deserves its own mention, however, for its performance-focused character, amazing engine power and incredible grip. We’ve run the Type R in the mountains and it has held its own against drivers in respected sports cars such as the Porsche 911 (yes, the Type R is that good). This year’s Limited Edition version loses some weight, including ditching some sound-deadening material. The consequent extra noise and stiff ride is only going to appeal to a small group of enthusiasts.

2021 Honda Civic

Civic Trim Levels and Pricing

The 2021 Civic starts at around $21,000 for the LX sedan and goes up to about $37,500 for the Type R hatchback.

  • LX (sedan approx. $21,000, hatchback approx. $22,000) — The entry level, yet still with several driver assistance features and automatic climate control. The 5-inch infotainment screen is teeny, though. And the 16-inch wheels are steel, not alloy. The hatchback has 60/40 split/folding rear seats.
  • Sport (sedan/hatchback approx. $23,000) — The hatchback has a manual transmission as standard. Smart Entry with Walk Away Lock, push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 7-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and 18-inch alloy wheels are also included.
  • EX (sedan approx. $24,000, hatchback approx. $24,500) — Comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, Lane Watch (blind spot monitoring), heated side mirrors, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and satellite radio.
  • EX-L (sedan approx. $25,500) — Leather seating surfaces, self-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage door opener are added.
  • Touring (sedan approx. $28,000) — The most luxurious Civic, bringing 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic on/off LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated rear outboard seats, navigation with traffic updates, and a 450-watt/10-speaker audio system.
  • Sport Touring (hatchback approx. $28,500) — Comes with a manual transmission as standard and a 540-watt/12-speaker audio system, but otherwise equipped like the Touring sedan.
  • Type R (hatchback approx. $37,500) — This hot hatch has a steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara (simulated suede), aluminum shift knob, sport seats, Brembo front brakes, adaptive dampers, helical limited-slip differential, oil cooler, adaptive cruise control, 20-inch alloy wheels wearing high-performance tires, and a 540-watt/12-speaker audio system.
  • Type-R Limited Edition (hatchback approx. $44,000) — Newly available for 2021, this special run of 600 units sheds 49 pounds, receives an even sportier suspension and steering setup, and has BBS alloy wheels with Michelin Cup 2 summer tires.

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price a Civic on Honda’s official web site.

2021 Honda Civic

Civic Best Features

The sheer range of the Civic lineup is impressive, from an affordable and affable commuter car to a wild track machine in the Type R. Somewhere in between there is the luxurious Touring version.

Crash test scores are also top-notch, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) making the Civic a Top Safety Pick. Factor in the reliability and strong resale values, and it seems like the best thing about a Civic is its ability to excel in so many areas.

2021 Honda Civic

What is Our Favorite Version of the Civic?

We’d go for the EX trim because it has so many desirable features, yet the price is still reasonable. And there’s no fuel consumption penalty — quite the opposite. Although we’re not big fans of CVTs, we realize that most people don’t care as long as it’s an automatic of some kind. And this one is more than bearable.

Civic Notable Safety Features

Adaptive cruise control is not available in versions of the 2021 Civic with a manual transmission (except for the Type R). When a CVT is in the picture, it’s standard across the range, along with forward collision mitigation, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, road departure mitigation and automatic high beams.

Honda’s Lane Watch feature (otherwise known as blind spot monitoring) comes in at the EX trim level. This system has a camera in the passenger-side mirror and displays its image on the infotainment screen. There isn’t a corresponding setup for the driver’s side mirror.

2021 Honda Civic

Who Should Buy a 2021 Honda Civic?

Anyone who thinks they can negotiate a great bargain. Honda dealers will be wanting to make some space on the showroom floor for the next generation of Civic when it arrives in 2021 as a 2022 model, so there’s a motivation to sell.

Buyers who would find a Civic ideal are seeking serious value for money. They realize that purchasing a cheaper car might become a false economy and would rather pay a solid amount up front to acquire a solid car.

2021 Honda Civic

CarExpert’s Take on the 2021 Honda Civic

A brilliant mainstream compact car with a broad appeal, the 2021 Honda Civic can be recommended without a split-second’s hesitation. As a sedan or hatchback, it’s spacious for the class and undoubtedly practical. Yet there’s also a pleasurable aspect to owning a Civic — it’s not just transportation for transportation’s sake.

The 2021 Honda Civic earns a spot on CarExpert’s recommended list.

2021 Honda Civic

Civic Competitors to Consider

  • Honda Insight
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Kia Forte
  • Mazda3
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Volkswagen Jetta


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OVERALL RATING8.5
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8.6
Ride Comfort 8.4
Safety 8.6
Fit for Purpose 8.5
Handling Dynamics 8.5
Interior Practicality and Space 8.5
Fuel Efficiency 8.6
Value for Money 8.4
Performance 8.4
Technology Infotainment 8.2