Like it or not, the Civic perpetually resides at or near the top of automobile sales charts in America. Even in 2020, a notably tumultuous year, Honda sold over a quarter-million of the things, good enough for eighth place on the best-seller list (they also sold over 333,502 CR-V crossovers, if you’re wondering).
While we’re eons away from the old days of Civic Nation and underglow lights, any new compact sedan from the Big H is worth talking about. There are four trims on offer at launch – LX, Sport, EX, and Touring. Which is our favorite? You know we’re gonna ask you to click the jump and find out.
Exactly a year ago, your suddenly fearful author found himself in the market for a new car. Hating the shopping experience, and with little free time, the choice soon boiled down to two scorching models: a base Chevy Cruze manual, or a similarly sparse Hyundai Elantra, also with a manual.
Twelve months later, neither vehicle exists in the United States. The Cruze is dead, and for the 2020 model year, Hyundai Motor America has decided to ditch the six-speed manual transmission, outfitting the recently updated sedan with a new continuously variable transmission.
For the 2020 model year, Hyundai’s subcompact Accent and compact Elantra ditch their six-speed automatics in favor of a continuously variable unit — a move that’s not likely to elicit too many cries of protest.
Honestly, given the models’ modest torque figures, a traditional slushbox hardly amounts to motoring bliss, and drivers stand to gain faster manual shifts with a CVT. They also stand to gain a significant bump in fuel economy.
Christmas get-togethers across North America were ruined when we reported, last December, that the manual transmission would soon leave the Chevrolet Cruze stable. That sad bit of information came by way of VIN decoder documents submitted to the NHTSA by General Motors for the 2019 model year.
For now, the stick shift lives, both in gasoline- and diesel-powered Cruzes. However, an update to the 2018 VIN document suggests an early arrival for the continuously variable transmission.
An optional CVT, to be clear.
We all know true motoring — as Mother Nature intended — should involve the manual changing of one’s own gears, but even scrappy, youth-infected Honda knows that stick shifts are not the way to have customers beat down your doors.
Hence the availability of a traditionally tepid transmission in its upcoming Civic Type R.
It’s longer, lower, wider, and yes, more global than before.
Subaru has unveiled the next generation of its perennially popular Impreza, adopting a more contemporary style while placating purists who worried their fun compact could become too beige.
Revealed at the New York Auto Show in sedan and five-door guise, the 2017 Impreza brings tasteful, flowing lines to a body that once delighted in being chunky. There are more subtle curves here than a coastal highway.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
The Town & Country I worked so hard to import into Japan was supposed to be my wife’s. I had planned to buy whatever I wanted and, although I hadn’t quite decided on what that was going to be, classic Japanese iron was on my mind. The second-generation Toyota Soarer and the ’90s-era Toyota Celica GT-Four were leading candidates. I was having fun considering other options, too.
A second minivan, however, was not among them.
TTAC commentator Patrickj writes:
Sajeev, an update:
My 2006 Ford Freestyle that started this series has been traded in after 184,000 miles. It’s replacement is a 2015 Subaru Legacy, so I guess I wasn’t scared off by the CVT.
The reason for getting the Subaru is mostly because of the second A/C failure of the summer in the Freestyle, though it also needed four struts, assorted bushings, and a steering shaft (u-joints doing a weird stick-slip thing). CVT and engine have been been fine to the end, with only two transmission fluid changes.
My wife drives a first-generation R50 Mini base model with the dreaded CVT. This is a transmission widely reported (read: complained about on message boards) to not last well beyond 75,000 city miles. Hers is just now clearing 80,000 and it shows no signs of early struggles, even under the hellish torment of stop-and-go traffic in Houston temperatures.
Perhaps coincidentally, my wife has never put premium fuel in this car, despite it being a requirement. Premium fuel would supposedly generate 114 horsepower; without premium fuel, I would guess 7-9% lower, at, say, 105 horsepower. It is a slow car no matter what, but at least it makes up for it in urban maneuverability.
Honda broadcasted Wednesday night its all-new, 10th-generation Civic that’s longer, lower and wider than the current model and looks nothing like the cheap car I drove through college.
The 2016 Honda Civic will sport a 2-liter or 1.5-liter turbocharged engine up front, leather seats in the middle and fastback styling at the rear for a full about-face from its current model. Most models will be mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, although a six-speed manual will be available at the base, LX trim with the naturally aspirated 2-liter mill. Honda will also offer a sportier Civic Si, ahead of a Type R model — which will be the first time that model will be sold in the U.S.
The car is two inches wider, one inch lower and its wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than the outgoing model. Honda didn’t say how much the car would cost when it goes on sale later this year.
TTAC commentator Anomaly149 writes:
Sajeev, here’s one for you:
I have a CVT-equipped 2004 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe with ~140,000 miles. While you can write a book on the things that are weird with the car (key won’t release from cylinder sometimes unless you push this button inside the steering column, sometimes the neutral safety switch actuator machine-guns when stopped at a stoplight, it eats front sway links like it’s a contest, etc.), so far it’s been reliable and efficient.
Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system is around $2,600-$3,000 effectively making the Subaru a much better value than the base Volkswagen that is front-wheel drive with a manual. This value proposition is the key to understanding Subaru in general and the Legacy in particular.
My 2013 Outback 2.5i is fine and I don’t have any questions about it. Instead I wonder:
1. Why do car reviews measure acceleration in time but deceleration in distance?
2. Why do high performance electric cars need conventional brakes? I think there was a Mini concept a few years back that had 4 in-wheel electric motors that did all of the accel/decel.
3. Why don’t cars with CVTs have a ‘downshift’ button? Is it too hard on the transmission? Should I stop using the paddles to do so?
TTAC commentator Raincoaster writes:
I currently drive a 2011 Honda Fit(Manual) and I’m mildly interested in a CVT for my next car purchase. I have never driven one, and one thing that gives me pause is all the “fake gears” that they set them up with. I understand that this is to make them drive in a manner familiar to traditional automatic transmissions, but this seems unnecessary and possibly inefficient to me. Are there any cars/companies that don’t fake it and just let the engine/trans cook up the best ratio at any given time? I’d like to test drive something like that to see how it feels.
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