Ace of Base: 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback LX
Those of us in a certain age bracket, which is to say rapidly approaching our fortieth year or more, recall the Honda Civic as a primarily hatchback form of transportation. Sure, a few weirdos went and got the sedan or coupe but, by and large, the Civic was a hatchback. At least in our town.
Then, it suddenly disappeared from dealer lots in North America. The seventh-gen car was available in coupe or sedan form on this side of the pond, save for the slightly oddball Si and its bent-nail gearstick. Mercifully, it reappeared in volume for the current model.
We’ve studied the Civic sedan and coupe in this series but not the hatchback. Let’s right that wrong today.
Right off the bat, we’ll point out that the base Civic hatchback is only available with Honda’s CVT, a decision which almost scuppered this post before it even started. Its absence is conspicuous thanks to a tasty six-speed manual offered in the one-rung-up Sport trim, which is a $1,100 walk from the $21,750 LX. Consider it carefully.
Under the hood is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four banger making 174 horsepower. An EPA estimated 40 mpg highway is more than enough to conjure memories of another Civic hatch — the high mileage VX from the ‘90s which, incidentally, was rated at a high-sky 55 mpg.
Honda’s proud of its Sensing suite of technologies, a raft of driver assistance kit that is surely a boon to young or new drivers. Adaptive cruise control is on board, along with lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation. These features were the domain of expensive German machinery not too long ago.
Elsewhere, the LX includes features one would expect in a $20k hatchback, such as air conditioning and all manner of power accessories. One vexing item is the infotainment system which, on the base car, is woefully understaffed compared to all other Civics. Its 5-inch LCD screen is smartphone sized and is absent of CarPlay, Android Auto, and even SiriusXM. The Sport, mentioned earlier in this post with a stickshift for an extra $1,100, has a 7-inch screen plus both Apple and Android interfaces. Still no SiriusXM, though.
It’s that final feature (or lack thereof) which robs the 2020 Civic hatch its Ace of Base trophy. A good infotainment is nearly as important as fuel economy and powertrain to some folks; the one found in the LX trim is lacking a few important tools. Take a gander at the Sport trim instead, especially one with the manual transmission. Call the Civic hatchback an “Ace of Base +1,” then.
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.
The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.
Conundrum on Feb 26, 2020
It really is an inelegant little pierce of styling rubbish, this hatchback. A general lack of them in these parts compared to the sedan, itself no visual delight. Excrescense City with built in fake fan jet intake and exhaust defines the hatchback as a toy. Made to appeal to a seven year old with a sci-fi cartoon fantasy obsession - a sense of taste develops at a later age, but not at Honda Styling these days. I mean look at that broken back Odyssey with whimsical side scallops; it's dreadful too, and they don't export them to Japan becoause it's also a minor elephant - they have their own smaller vehicle by the same name and its front end is proof that bad taste never rests there either. If one can get past the looks, I can't, it still shows that Honda can make technically advanced vehicles in the UK to include the CTR at prices well below what BMW apparently needs to knock together a MINI of only average quality in the same country. MINI has a lengthy option list for stuff that should be there in the first place. No three cylinder doohickey in the Honda either - it isn't even a fair fight, a K20 versus a 3 cylinder turbo in the Ace of Bass stakes. So, there's that. Can't stand cutesy MINIs either - I don't get their schtick at all, nor am I convinced they do themselves. Glad I got that of my chest today. I feel much better now, thanks.
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