2023 Honda Civic Becomes More Expensive After Ditching LX Trim

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2023 honda civic becomes more expensive after ditching lx trim

For 2023, the Honda Civic LX is getting the boot – effectively making the Sport the new base trim. But this also means the model will become $2,100 more expensive than the previous generation. The good news is that the Sport comes with more features, though that may be of little consolation to cash-strapped buyers that had hoped the sickly global economy would result in cheaper and more practical automobiles taking the stage.

Then again, we probably all should have seen this coming. While dealerships are becoming despised for leveraging production shortages into absolutely ludicrous markups, automakers’ ongoing inability to assemble vehicles at a normal pace – combined with the general economic downturn and record levels of inflation – is the foundation upon which this entire mess rests.

Car manufacturers are also raising their prices independently, with Honda having previously nixed LX models for the 2023 CR-V – raising the base price by roughly $4,000. As with the Civic, customers are technically getting more for their money. The updated crossover is larger than its predecessor and comes with more standard tech (though a lot of our readers probably won’t care about the latter). But something feels a little off about automakers continuing to lean into bigger and more expensive models when consumer savings are evaporating. 

It’s a similar story with the Civic. For 2023, the Sport will be offering a few things the LX did not. This includes proximity key entry, paddle shifters, 18-inch wheels, some visual accouterments, and a continuously variable automatic transmission that has gotten better over the years – but still isn’t going to be all that exciting to drive unless you get a lot of enjoyment out of maximizing your fuel economy. Though those interested in configuring their vehicle with the more-involved manual transmission will be happy to learn it’s a no-cost option on the hatchback.

The above also means the Sport is now the only Civic that comes to our market equipped with the naturally aspirated 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-four engine. Higher trims come with the more powerful 1.5-liter turbo-four offering increased power. But shoppers hoping to keep their Civic for as long as possible will probably prefer the larger powertrain that has abstained from utilizing forced induction. 

Situated above the now-base-model Sport, Honda has elected to keep the EX, Touring, and – for the Civic hatch only – Sport Touring trims. However, the hatchback loses its mid-grade EX-L trim and every option will see price increases of their own ranging between $500 and $700 vs the previous model year. The Si is also still here, except Honda has dumped the option to have it fitted with summer tires. The sporty Civic now comes exclusively with all-season rubber and sees a $600 price bump against the 2022 model year. 

But here’s the rub. While much classier than its predecessor, the current Honda Civic carries over the majority of its hardware from the previous incarnation. Similar to how dealerships began applying increased values to automobiles as availability became a problem, Honda said the Civic’s price increase “better aligns” with its present availability and demand. The company has been among the worst hit by supply chain shortages created in the wake of pandemic-related lockdowns – represented by its sales having been weakened by roughly 50 percent through the first three quarters of 2022. Civic supplies are limited and Honda seems to think it can make up the difference by selling more upscale models at a higher price. 

Perhaps. But American automakers pursued similar goals when they began abandoning small, less-profitable cars to focus on higher-margin crossovers, pickups, and SUVs after 2010. Granted, they were seeing better margins but the strategy had its drawbacks – with the biggest being the loss of entire segments that catered to cash-strapped drivers and typically see a surge in popularity whenever the economy is struggling. 

That’s not to suggest it’s not a winning strategy for those companies, especially since most brands are trying to maximize per-vehicle profitability by doing something similar. But with EVs failing to see meaningful price reductions, they’ve effectively given away a subset of the market to the competition. This may also be true for Honda, albeit to a lesser extent, as the Civic becomes less competitively priced. 

At $25,745, the Sport trim is now the absolute cheapest way to get into the new Civic. However, the Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra both come with an MSRP below – and in the case of the Kia, well below – $22,000. The VW Jetta may likewise make a compelling option at around $21,500. But the real threat is the Toyota Corolla. While arguably not as well-rounded as Honda’s entry, Toyota’s reputation for above-average dependability (earned or imagined in the current era) will always appeal to cash-conscious consumers, and the base model Corolla enjoys an MSRP of just $22,600. It also comes with the 169-hp 2.0-liter that was previously reserved for higher trims, reducing the base model Civic’s formerly obvious performance advantages. 

Frankly, I would still argue that Honda still has the edge in terms of offering one of the best overall compact cars currently in existence. But its price is reaching a point where I’m not so sure it makes sense after you’ve cross-shopped it with the Toyota Corolla. Meanwhile, the Mazda3 is ready and raring to go at $23,550 and comes with the 191-hp 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G as standard for those wanting something designed to deliver more driving excitement and an upscale appearance. Obviously, a lot can change after you move away from the base models or start confronting dealer markups. But these two really seem to be forcing Honda to fight a war on two fronts regardless of trim level.

[Images: Honda]

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2 of 21 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 18, 2022

    MaintenanceCosts--I know exactly what you are saying that has happened to me before. When I mentioned I was paying cash for the Maverick the salesman did not mention credit and no credit report report was run. I did get an extended warranty on top of the current warranty and the dealer did not gouge me on that. Everything to my surprise was straight forward with no hidden surprises. I did not have the same experience with the Honda dealership although it was not terrible I still wanted to take a shower after I got home.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 18, 2022

    Matt Posky--Not a fan of newer Chevrolets but I would take a Trax over a Nissan Kicks with the Jatco CVT. The turbo 3 would be my main concern with the Trax but I have concerns about any turbo engines but Honda would be the one to get a turbo engine right. I think new vehicles have gotten beyond the reach of the average person making an average wage. A couple of thousand dollars would make a difference to someone who is deciding between the affordability of a new vehicle versus used especially if they are not making much and at least it is a new vehicle with a warranty. Might prefer a Trax over some of the Hyundais and Kias with the problematic engines.

    It you really want an inexpensive new vehicle it would be the Mitsubishi Mirage.

  • Jwee More range and faster charging cannot be good news for the heavily indebted and distracted Musk.Tesla China is discounting their cars. Apart from the Model 3, no one is much buying Tesla's here in Europe. Other groups have already passed Tesla in Europe, where it was once dominant.Among manufacturers, 2021 EV sales:VW Group 25%, Stellantis at 14.5%,Tesla at 13.9%Hyundai-Kia at 11.2% Renault Group at 10.3%. Just 2 years ago, Tesla had a commanding 31.1% share of the European EV marketOuch. https://carsalesbase.com/european-sales-2021-ev/@lou_BC, carsalebase.com changed their data, so this is slightly different than last time I posted this, but same idea.
  • Varezhka Given how long the Mitsubishi USA has been in red, that's a hard one. I mean, this company has been losing money in all regions *except* SE Asia and Oceania ever since they lost the commercial division to Daimler.I think the only reason we still have the brand is A) Mitsubishi conglomerate's pride won't allow it B) US still a source of large volume for the company, even if they lose money on each one and C) it cost too much money to pull out and no one wants to take responsibility. If I was the head of Mitsubishi's North American operation and retreat was not an option, I think my best bet would be to reduce overhead by replacing all the cars with rebadged Nissans built in Tennessee and Mexico.As much as I'd like to see the return of Triton, Pajero Sport (Montero Sport to you and me), and Delica I'm sure that's more nostalgia and grass is greener thing than anything else.
  • Varezhka If there's one (small) downside to the dealer not being allowed to sell above MSRP, it's that now we get a lot of people signing up for the car with zero intention of keeping the car they bought. We end up with a lot of "lightly used" examples on sale for a huge mark-up, including those self-purchased by the dealerships themselves. I'm sure this is what we'll end up seeing with GR Corolla in Japan as well.This is also why the Land Cruiser has a 4 year waitlist in Japan (36K USD starting MSRP -> buy and immediately flip for 10, 20K more -> profit) I'm not sure if there's a good solution for this apart from setting the MSRP higher to match what the market allows, though this lottery system is probably as close as we can get.
  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Unrelated to this article but of interest I found this on You Tube which explains why certain vehicles are not available in the US because of how the CAFE measures fuel standards. I remember you commenting on this a few years ago on another article on TTAC. The 2023 Chevrolet Montana is an adorable small truck that's never coming to the USA. It's not because of the 1.2L engine, or that Americans aren't interested in small trucks, it's that fuel economy legislation effectively prevents small trucks from happening. What about the Maverick? It's not as small as you think. CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy is the real reason trucks in America are all at least a specific dimension. Here's how it works and why it means no tiny trucks for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eoMrwrGA8A&ab_channel=AlexonAutos
  • Gabe A new retro-styled Montero as their halo vehicle to compete against the Bronco, Wrangler and 4Runner. Boxy, round headlights like the 1st generation, two door and four door models, body on frame.A compact, urban truck, Mighty Max, to compete against the Maverick. Retro-styled like the early 90s Mighty Max.A new Outlander Sport as more of a wagon/crossover to compete against the Crosstrek and Kona. Needs to have more power (190+ HP) and a legit transmission, no CVT.A new Eclipse hybrid to compete against the upcoming redesigned Prius. Just match the Prius's specs and make it look great.Drop the Eclipse Cross, I am not sure why they wanted to resurrect the Pontiac Aztec. Keep the Mirage and keep it cheap, make the styling better and up the wheel size. The Outlander seems fine.I like the idea of some sort of commercial vehicle, something similar in size to the Promaster City but with AWD.