By on May 8, 2020

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Fast Facts

1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (180 hp @ 6,000 rpm w/CVT, 180 hp @ 5,500 rpm w/six-speed manual; 162 lb-ft @ 1,700-5,500 rpm w/CVT, 177 lb-ft @ 1,900-5,000 rpm w/six-speed manual)

Continuously-variable automatic transmission, front-wheel drive

29 city / 35 highway / 32 combined (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)

8.0 city, 6.6 highway, 7.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $29,780 (U.S) / $32,721 (Canada)

As Tested: $29,780 (U.S.) / $32,721 (Canada)

Prices include $930 destination charge in the United States and $1,786 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

The Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring exists to fill a niche in the Civic lineup.

If the Civic Hatchback Sport presents as the value “sporty” choice – a sleeper version of the cranked-up Si and pumped-to-the-max Type R, complete with available manual – the Sport Touring aspires to be a more luxurious version of that car while retaining characteristics that make it an enthusiast’s choice. The #savethemanuals crowd will be happy – you can get it with a stick.

It also is the nicest Civic hatch you can get with three pedals, and arguably the nicest Civic you can get in hatchback form, period – and very possibly Honda’s nod to Si intenders who bemoan that car’s lack of an available hatchback body style.

The car I sampled was saddled with a continuously variable automatic trans, so that was obviously a bummer for this three-pedal fan.

The problem with the Sport Touring (priced at almost $29K as tested) isn’t just that it’s the priciest Civic hatch you can buy, but it’s undercut by a better performance buy – the Si. Sure, you give up the hatchback bodystyle and some features to get an Si, most notably factory nav and leather seats, but for a few grand less you have a hotter car. And the Sport hatch is close to the Si, feature-wise, yet cheaper.

So the Sport hatch is clearly the value buy and/or the car for the Si buyer who really needs a hatch. Who, then, is the Sport Touring customer? The status-conscious shopper who’ll be embarrassed by a car with cloth seats and no factory nav? The one who needs hatchback utility and will be fine with a portion of Si performance for a few extra grand as a compromise?

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

Whoever he or she is, the car won’t be a letdown in terms of driving dynamics. This Civic is swift in traffic, emits fun four-cylinder sounds from the center-mounted dual exhaust tips, and has dialed-in, appropriately weighted steering that reminds you that Honda’s performance-oriented reputation is well-earned.

[Get new and used Honda Civic pricing here!]

You do pay a penalty in terms of ride – it’s definitely stiff. A bit jarringly so, given that this is still a commuter car at heart. A MacPherson strut setup underpins the front suspension, and the rear is a multi-link setup.

It’s also not exactly the quietest compact car out there. I mentioned the exhaust noise, but the N part of NVH is also a factor.

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

Speaking of hearts, a 1.5-liter turbocharged four making 180 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque (177 with the manual) resides under hood. While I’d prefer said manual, the CVT was inoffensive and there are paddle shifters for those who like to pretend.

Honda design, especially as pertains to the Civic lineup, remains polarizing, but I don’t hate the car’s angular looks. I do admit, though, that the front looks better than the rear – from the C-pillar back, the car looks like it got plowed into by a Mack and never fixed. An aero kit and spoiler does not help dispel the boy-racer vibe.

Inside, it’s the same story, with colors and fonts that resemble an old racing arcade game. There’s a volume knob now (rejoice!) but Honda fonts and gauge layouts remain a bit outdated and gaudy. The center-stack infotainment screen could be better integrated, too.

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

There’s good news here – the HVAC controls are simple and easy to use, and most other switchgear has a low learning curve, too. And the use of CarPlay/Android Auto will blot out the info screen. I also applaud Honda for not saddling the Civic with the odd push-button transmission shifter seen in the Accord and other products.

It’s not the prettiest interior, but it’s functional, and you’ll put up with it because the Civic Sport Touring is generally delightful to drive. And it’s fairly fuel-efficient, to boot, with a combined mpg of 32.

Standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, heated front seats, heated rear seats, leather seats, navigation, premium audio, Bluetooth, USB, Honda LaneWatch, satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, tilt/telescope steering column, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and starting, remote start, and a capless fuel filler. As is standard Honda practice, there are no options, save for the CVT (you can opt for pricier wheel designs and some accessories, but no factory options or packages).

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

The problem with the Sport Touring is simple, as I laid out above. Who’s the buyer? If you want/need a hatchback Civic that’s a joy to drive and/or you want to shift for yourself, and the if the Type R hatch is beyond your budget, the Sport offers almost all the comfort/convenience/safety features you’d want for six grand less. If you don’t need a hatch or an automatic trans, the hotter Si awaits for less money.

I don’t see the point in nav when you can get CarPlay or Android Auto. Leather will appeal to some, sure, and LaneWatch, which isn’t available on the Sport, is handy in the urban environs where I do most of my driving. And yeah, the Sport’s stereo isn’t as uplevel.

There’s a lot to like about this Civic, especially if the current gen’s exterior and interior styling don’t bother you. But not enough to serve as a viable alternative to other Civics in the lineup, not at this price.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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30 Comments on “2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Review – Price Rains on the Performance Parade...”

  • avatar

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that a lot of people in my social circle prefer to buy a “hard loaded” version of a lower-tier vehicle than step up the chain to a base or lower optioned vehicle. I personally wouldn’t do it that way, but there might some method to the madness here.

    As far as the vehicle itself goes, I prefer the Corolla or Elantra GT to the Civic although the Civic hatch does offer decent interior and cargo volume.

    • 0 avatar

      People like features.

      The “higher-tier vehicle” can bring one of three things: more room, more power, or brand prestige. If you’ll never use the power because all your driving is in stop-and-go traffic, and you don’t need the room because you’re not huge or you don’t have kids, and you aren’t motivated by showing everyone you can afford “a BMW,” then going for the features probably makes sense.

      • 0 avatar

        The people I know going for “hard-loaded” are also considering the usual top-trim engine upgrade an important “feature” although these are my friends and family we’re talking about so that may be less common.

        Like my mother replaced her Matrix XRS that had every option with a Forte GT that also has every option.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I know it is the previous gen bones underneath, but at this price, if I care about the things that push this car into this price (features) and I am good with the auto, the Acura ILX gets me my Honda goodness, over 200hp without any of the 1.5T worries in the back of my head, a more attractive body and a better transmission for less money. You have to reeeeealy want that hatch back.

      • 0 avatar

        Dealership availability ends up mattering in some cases.

      • 0 avatar

        @ Art – And to that I’d add dealership experience. It’s probably not a uniform truth, but the notion that customers get treated better by Acura (or Lexus) than by Honda (or Toyota) does seem to be rooted in reality. It’s definitely the case with my local Toyota dealer and local Lexus dealer.

    • 0 avatar

      Civics are remarkable cars – light, stiff, precise and a blast to drive. With a Hondata tune – any rev hanging is gone with a nice dollop of torque and HP added. Such a good car. The sport hatch does seem the right one.

    • 0 avatar

      I have veered towards this position. I like amenities. Also, since my most recent rides have been used compacts, it makes sense to hold out for the loaded trims since they’re not much more than the mid-range trims. My financial position is secure, I have no desire to project status, don’t need a big car, and no family or kids. I buy what I need that fits my life as it is, not the fantasy version of it.

  • avatar

    It’s not really a Civic anymore.

    That’s fine and all things must change; I’m just making an observation.

  • avatar

    The Sport Touring doesn’t make a lot of sense, the EX trims are the sweet spot of the Civic lineup if you’re looking for a good daily. 90% of the equipment minus some pointless things like the paddle shifters, and a much better price.

    Another way to save money is to just get the sedan. The trunk’s big enough and you don’t get those idiotic fake vents.

  • avatar

    I’m probably the target customer. I have a sport car for fun. So for normal running around town, a small practical car with some comfort features is about right. Bonus points for the manual. Minus points because I’m still not a big fan of it’s looks, especially the rear.

    • 0 avatar

      This. Once you can have more than one car, you don’t need a swiss army knife. I have a share in a Lemons car, my go to work car is the c43, my wife prefers to commute short in the Jetta S (but will snag the C for runs to her parents) and we’ve a beater truck for suburbia tasks.

      Likewise, the Jetta is choice for city runs, tires with lotsa sidewall and easy parking….and some runs you’d rather not have a “flash motor” as the Brits say.

      One car has to have 100% uptime. A motor pool is easier that way…even if one is down/getting fixed somewhere, another will get you to work.

      I always ended up with a GTi style car when I lived in the City….it is where the venn diagram always crossed for a former city dweller. This would be a candidate….

      Oh, and no CVT. In any car, any application.

  • avatar

    Tim, unless I missed it, the as-tested price isn’t listed in the review.

    Seems that might be important if its the biggest downside of the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    But if I am the sort that doesn’t want the Si, but does want the most loaded and nice civic and cares about things like leather and what not, shouldn’t Honda be steering me towards an Acura ILX? I mean this is well into A-Spec territory.

    I know, the Acura is an older generation but at the end of the day if I wanted this sort of fun to drive car and was looking at an auto the ILX brings more power and a better transmission.

    So this would be for people that have to have leather and a hatch. Again, they used to sell Integras to those buyers. The whole thing shows how lost Honda is with respect to Acura right now.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    No money can take the ugly out of this car. Its exterior is busier than a 79 Trans Am Screaming Chicken, which is clean compared to this.

  • avatar

    Give the Sport Touring hatch the Si’s engine, suspension, and mechanical LSD, and I’d have no issue with the price. I might even want one.

    As it stands, if I replaced my 2010 TSX with a current Honda, it would be either an Si sedan or Accord 2.0T.

    • 0 avatar

      I vote for the Accord 2.0T, I skipped the Sport and Turing because of the 19″ wheels, I have the EX-L 2.0T with the 10 speed, you’ll be amazed at what this car can do, the combination of that engine and A/T is insane.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, I’ve driven the Sport 2.0T with both 10AT and 6MT, and the automatic is a fantastic match for the engine. It is a stellar drivetrain, easily the equal of 2.0T/AT combos from some premium marques. My commitment to MT had been softening due to the increasingly oppressive traffic where I live (pre-pandemic), and the 2.0T/10AT drive weakened it further. If I go with an AT Accord, I’ll also want to avoid the Sport’s 19″ wheels–and its totally lame stereo.

        I’m looking forward to seeing what Acura does with the 2.0T/10AT in the upcoming 2G TLX.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Just give me a freaking ILX with a manual.

  • avatar

    Is it just me or are steering wheels, center stacks, and center consoles all starting to look the same. I mean the only difference seems to be if the screen flows into the dash or looks like a tacked-on iPad, but otherwise, it all is starting to look the same to me.

  • avatar

    I have a white ‘19 Sport Touring as my daily and it’s my favourite car I’ve owned. It’s the jack of all trades. Quick and fun to toss around, economical, and the one of the most premium feeling in the segment tied with the Mazda 3 and a little behind the Golf in terms of refinement imo.

    My only complaints are the lack of real blind spot monitoring, the small-ish infotainment screen, and the sometimes fiddly infotainment system. For the price I could’ve gotten an Accord Sport or an EX, but it would’ve been a much larger car than I needed, lost some of the dynamics, and some of the equipment.

  • avatar

    Hondas: Still so good, still so much road noise.

    With apologies to Larry David, one drive “curbed my enthusiasm”.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t purchase a car with cloth seats.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting. I prefer cloth to leather or the Hyde of Nauga. Cloth breathes, the others don’t or require a fancy fan for flow through…which seems a too tech solution to a very simple issue. I had a BMW with a microfiber cloth seat-it wasn’t in the US catalog, but I had the German catalog, and they were willing to do the German market black cloth interior for a build to order car- and it lasted 14 years and 300k miles with only a slight shine to the driver’s side, the rest was almost new when it went to the scrapper for tinworms. In the US, cloth has always been the loss leader and you probably are thinking of crappy GM cloth seats.

  • avatar

    I do like leather seats but my 2006 Mazda3 cloth seats are still like new.

  • avatar

    Why oh why Honda wont you make your cars quiet? I know you can…. Guess no one cares or they buy something else. I bought something else.

  • avatar

    Testing the most expensive version with ancvt means you can’t complain about price and performance – it is what you had. These can also be easily modded by Hondata and the sport hatch is a wonderful car. The fundamentals – light, agile, quick – are all there- no need to guild the lilly .

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