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1. What’s new for 2015?
Honda added a new trim level for 2015, the Special Edition (SE) sedan. The SE slots in the middle between the base and mid-level trim levels, and includes nice features like Honda’s LaneWatch system, automatic climate control, 15-inch alloy wheels and upgraded audio. The Civic remains a segment-leading compact vehicle with many variations in body style (coupe and sedan), engine choices and trim levels.
2. How much does it cost (with Trim info)?
The base LX begins at $18,290 for the coupe and $19,290 for the sedan. Next is the SE sedan at $19,990 and the slightly more aerodynamic HF sedan at $20,040. The EX adds more content and prices at $20,390/$21,190 (coupe/sedan). The luxo EX-L is loaded and comes in at $22,640/$22,840, but add $1,500 for Navigation. The performance version, the Si, is $22,890/$23,090, and additional trim levels are available for partial zero emission, natural gas and hybrid versions.
3. What options or trim level is best for me?
The new SE gives good value if you don’t need a luxo compact car. If you want top performance and handling, the Si is your best bet. The EX-L has enough features for the luxury-car buyer, though the $1,500 upcharge for Navigation seems pricey. If you are environmentally minded, you can choose all the trim levels in PZEZ models, or can choose a natural gas or hybrid configuration, though the latter two are anemic performers. Honda usually ties options to trim levels, like the heated leather seating on the EX-L.
4. What engine do you recommend?
The base 1.8L inline-4 delivers good power (143 hp, 129 lb-ft of torque) and excellent fuel economy. Unless you want the extra power of the Si’s 2.4L inline-4 with 205 hp/174 lb-ft, the base engine is a great choice. The gas-frugal hybrid is underpowered, though the electric motor supplies good torque. The compressed natural gas version of the base engine is sluggish and available in only selected areas.
5. How is the fuel economy?
Honda Civic is famous for its good fuel economy. The transmission choices dictate the city/highway mpg for the base engine: manual 28/36; automatic 30/39; and continuously variable CVT 31/41. The larger engine delivers 22/31 and the hybrid 44/47. Figures are not available for the natural gas model.
6. How does the vehicle handle?
The Civic is quite pleasing to drive, thanks to a stiff chassis, solid brakes and precise steering. You might mistake the Civic for a sport sedan — in fact, the Si is a sport sedan. Many folks are ambivalent towards CVT, but the Civic’s rendition is tops. The car, like most compacts, can get noisy on the highway if you’re driving at high revs. The Si is equipped with a six-speed manual, sport-tuned suspension and a helical slip differential, giving it Euro-style driving dynamics.
7. Are the controls easy to use?
The Civic has a somewhat polarizing split dashboard that you’ll either love or hate. Nonetheless, all displays are clearly visible and complete, while the controls are easily reached and used. The new entertainment systems on the upscale trim levels have touch-sensitive buttons like those on a smartphone. Interior layout is excellent, with plenty of cubbyholes and storage spaces all easily found for convenient use.
8. Is it comfortable?
The Civic comfortably sits four adults. Coupe versions have compromised headroom, especially in the second row, that can be rather annoying. If you will regularly have tall passengers, go for the sedan. The cabin features soft-touch materials on the upper door and the instrument panel that lend the car a more expensive feel.
9. What about safety?
The LaneWatch feature utilizing a camera mounted beneath the passenger side mirror is a welcome safety enhancement. The 2015 Civic sedans get an Overall 5-Star Rating from the NHTSA, though only 4 stars for frontal crashes an rollovers. The 2015 Civic coupes got an Overall 4-Star Rating. The 2015 sedan is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, the penultimate rating. A rearview camera is standard, but Civic lacks a forward-collision warning system.
10. How’s the reliability and resale value?
Honda cars are well known for their reliability and long-term value retention. JD Power gave the 2014 Civic sedan 4 out of 5 stars for overall quality and predicted reliability, and a 5-Star Power Circle Rating. Kelly Blue Book puts the price range of a used 2014 EX sedan with 19,500 miles between $16,937 and $20,974, with the fair purchase price pegged at $18,956, about $400 below its suggest retail value.
11. What other models should I consider?
You have many good choices in the compact car market, including the Kia Forte, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruz and Civic’s perennial nemesis, the Toyota Corolla. Frankly, a lot of your decision might rest on which car is offering the best promotion at the time you go shopping. If you can spend a little more money, the compact Mazda3 or Volkswagen GTI are worth considering because they offer upscale features like turbo engines, better audio systems, head-up display and dynamic cruise control.