The current-generation Honda Civic has been a work in progress since its introduction in 2012 and as a consequence it gets better with each passing year. The biggest change for 2014 was the addition of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that improves the city fuel mileage rating from 28 to 30 and also boosts acceleration slightly.
Some CVTs seem sluggish because there are no defined gear shifts, but the one in the Civic responds quickly without a mushy, stuck-in-one-gear feel. The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine’s i-VTEC valve control system delivers its 128 pound-feet of torque at relatively low engine speeds so it feels stronger than the 143 horsepower might indicate. The car moves away from a stop with reasonable vigor.
There are six Civic models. Prices begin at $18,390 for an LX and top out at $24,240 for an EX-L with navigation. The higher-performance Si sedan has a six-speed manual transmission.
I drove an EX-L that had heated leather seats, fingertip steering wheel controls and a voice-activated, satellite-linked navigation system and premium audio system with seven speakers. All Civics have Bluetooth, a rearview camera, an iPod interface and Pandora functionality.
The Civic’s interior was overhauled for 2013 after reviewers and consumers voiced concerns that the 2012’s cabin was too plain when compared to its competitors. The compact segment is fiercely competitive. Opponents such as the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze and Mazda3 offer sharp styling and handsome interiors, so Honda also revised the front grille and added chrome trim front and rear for a more premium look.
The interior’s two-tone color scheme creates a feeling of space because the bottom part of the cabin is lighter. The instrument panel has fewer seams and richer textures. The two-tier design, with a digital speed readout up top and the tachometer and secondary gauges behind the steering wheel, seems like a good idea, but not for me. When I adjusted the seat and steering wheel so I felt comfortable the digital speedometer readout was obscured by the steering wheel. I had to lower the wheel a bit so I could see it.
A small information display to the right of the speedometer shows navigation instructions on cars equipped with the navigation system, and that was most handy.
The front seats have excellent lumbar support and good legroom. The back seat is big enough for adults. The interior is fairly quiet.
Also new for 2014 are keyless ignition, a 7-inch touch screen, a blind-spot camera display and enhanced smartphone integration.
Retuned steering and suspension adjustments improve ride and handling while the addition of body structure reinforcements brings improved crash safety and a more comfortable ride. I like the sporty ride and sharp handling
The test car’s base price was $24,240. Destination charges brought the sticker price to $25,030.
Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is email@example.com
2014 Honda Civic EX-L Navi
Engine: 1.8-liter, 143-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Curb weight: 2,930 pounds
Base price: $24,240
As driven: $25,030
MPG rating: 30 in the city, 39 on the highway
At A Glance
Point: The 2014 Civic continues to evolve and it remains one of the top compact sedans on the market. Well-equipped models feel more luxurious than the price would suggest. The addition of a CVT transmission has added 2 mpg to the city mileage rating.
Counterpoint: The two-level instrument panel can make it hard for shorter drivers to see the speedometer.