2020 Honda Civic Range Review

By David Bonnici and WhichCar Staff

2020 Honda Civic Range Review

Priced From $23,590Information

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
Expand Section

Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

5 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars


4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProSteering; roadholding; ride; smoothness; turbo oomph.

  2. ConConstrained rear vision; noisy turbo engine; costly auto-braking.

  3. The Pick: 2020 Honda Civic VTi-L 5D Hatchback

What stands out?

The dramatically styled Honda Civic is unusually big and roomy for a small car. The hatchback and sedan drive very comfortably, handle responsively, and offer spirited performance from a very fuel-efficient turbocharged engine. The most expensive Civics have auto braking, and can hold their places automatically in traffic. The Civic range is topped by the magnificent Type R hot hatch.

What might bug me?

How long it takes you to park when it’s raining. The Civic has a very high boot line and shallow side windows, so that it is hard to see naturally what is directly behind you. And unfortunately, drops of water blot the lens of the reversing camera very readily.

How hard it is to squeeze into small parking spots. The Civic, originally very compact, has grown. In sedan form it's longer than a BMW 3 Series. (The hatchback is about 13cm shorter than the sedan).

If you are the front passenger, how much skill it takes to get the volume you want from the sound system. Adjusting it requires a deft finger-swipe across a touchscreen. (The driver has a wheel-mounted switch.)

Driving under 80km/h on your space-saver spare tyre, until you can fix your full-sized flat.

What body styles are there?

Five-door hatch and four-door sedan.

All Civics accommodate five people, except the Type R which seats four.

The Civic drives its front wheels, and is classed as a small car, lower priced.

What features do all Honda Civics have?

Cruise control, and a reversing camera.

A sound system with an AM/FM radio, a CD/MP3 player, two USB inputs, an HDMI port, and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, operated from a 7.0-inch touchscreen that accepts swipe and pinch control.

Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allows you display apps from compatible smartphones on the touchscreen.

Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, which carries switches for operating the cruise control, the audio system and your phone. Height adjustment for the driver’s seat, and a rest for the driver’s left foot.

Long-lived LED daytime running lights, which help other drivers see you. Seatbelt reminders on all seats.

A skinny space-saver spare wheel, with a recommended speed limit of 80km/h. A tyre deflation warning, which may give you extra time to get a slow puncture seen to.

Hill-start assist, which operates the brakes automatically to help you take off on steep grades.

Torque vectoring, which brakes the less-loaded inside front wheel in fast turns, to limit wheelspin and help draw the car into the corner.

Six airbags. Electronic stability control – mandatory on new cars – which helps you avoid and control skids. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Civic safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

The Civic is offered with a five-year, unlimited distance warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol that drives the more expensive Civics uses less fuel than the sole alternative, consuming 6.0 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

This engine endows the Civic with a strong and steady turn of speed, performing without apparent effort around town and when touring on country roads. Expect to average about 7.5 litres/100km in the real world, over a range of conditions.

The main reason you would not choose it is that you want to pay less for your Civic. A second reason might be that you expect to use your Civic mainly in suburban driving, and so won’t have much use for the turbo’s performance.

A third could be that the turbo’s gruff note under load offends you, and you prefer the less eager but quieter alternative engine, a non-turbo 1.8-litre four-cylinder carried over from the previous Civic.

On the plus side, apart from from better performance and economy, all 1.5-litre Civics are equipped autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Civics with the 1.8-litre engine still feel responsive, and they don’t use much more fuel (6.4 litres/100km on the test, and 8.5 litres/100km in the real world – about the same as a Mazda3). They do require more patience when overtaking on the highway, however, offering about 30 per cent less thrust than the turbos.

Both engines are available only with a Continuously Variable auto transmission (CVT), with stepped ratio points that make it feel like a conventional auto. Paddle shifters are standard from VTi-L grade and above, giving drivers some manual control over the gearbox.

Then of course you may want the thrills afforded by the Civic Type R hot hatch, which has a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and a six-speed manual gearbox which provides racing car-like performance. Official fuel consumption is rated at 8.8 litres/100km but Wheels magazine testing in November 2017 saw a real-world figure of 11.7 litres/100km. That said you don’t buy a Civic Type R with economy in mind.

(Power outputs and all other Honda Civic specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly Civic is the VTi, which has the 1.8-litre engine, cloth-covered seats, 16-inch steel wheels, and the features common to all Civics.

Spending more for a Civic VTi-S brings you proximity key entry, which means you can unlock and start the car without handling the key. The steering wheel is trimmed with leather, and front parking sensors complement the rear sensors all Civics have. Wheels are made from aluminium alloy, and so are lighter and nicer looking than the steel wheels on the VTi. And you get Lane Watch, which helps you move left safely: when you activate the left turn indicator, it shows on the touchscreen the view from a camera that looks down the left side of the car.

Honda is also offering some additional creature comforts to the VTI-S spec with the +LUXE package that for about $5000 adds leather-appointed seat trim, heated front seats, eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, and metallic or pearlescent paint as standard.

Paying more again for a Civic VTi-L brings you the 1.5 turbo engine. With it comes dual-zone climate control, which lets the driver and front passenger set cabin temperatures independently, and rear glass that is tinted against sun penetration. Headlights switch on automatically when it’s getting dark, automatic high-beams, windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains. The radio receives digital signals. And the wheel diameter rises an inch to 17 inches, with the tyre profile shrinking marginally to match – this is essentially a visual change, bringing a racier look. The VTi-L and all other 1.5-litre Civics also come equipped with Honda Sensing active safety that brings autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

The VTi-L is the most affordable model to come with a suite of active driver aids comprising adaptive cruise control (with low-speed follow), automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and mitigation, and lane keep assistance. (For more on these features, please open the Safety section below).

The Civic RS takes the sporty look further with a body kit and spoilers, but also brings you more luxury. There is a powered sunroof, and leather trim inside. Both front seats are heated, and the driver’s seat is power-adjustable. The audio system sounds better and incorporates a sub-woofer. And the headlights and foglights use very bright and long-lasting LEDs.

The most expensive conventional Civic is the VTi-LX. It drops the tail spoiler but adds satellite navigation.

Then there’s the Civic Type R hot hatch, which ditches anything timid about the Civic with its more powerful 2.0-litre turbo engine and a host of mechanical enhancements including adaptive suspension, which responds better to road imperfections and bends.

The alloy wheels grow from 17-inches to 20 and are stopped by stronger brakes with Brembo brake calipers and bigger, ventilated front brake discs.

The Type R an aerodynamic sports kit including a side skirts bold rear spoiler, and a distinctive triple rear exhaust pipe arrangement.

The interior’s sporty trim matches the external garnishes and features front Type R sports seats with red suede style fabric.

Track orientated extras include G-force meter, lap-timing stopwatch and throttle position indicator.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The 1.5 turbo engine in the more expensive Civics sounds a bit louder and feels a bit coarser under acceleration than the 1.8 engine that comes in the less costly cars. (But it’s stronger.)

The lower-profile tyres on the Civic 1.5 turbos (VTi-L, RS, and VTi-LX) give them a slightly rougher ride than the Civic 1.8s, because there is less rubber and air between you and the road. This is further accentuated with the Type R’s 20-inch wheels.

The Type R loses one of the rear-seating positions and a few creature comforts such as in-built satellite navigation, 12-speaker sound system and power-adjusted and heated front seats. And the ride on the big 20-inch wheels with low-profile tyres is considerably firmer.

The Type R also requires more costly RON 95 premium unleaded petrol.

Of the exterior colours, only Rally Red is standard. All other colours are extra-cost options.

How comfortable is the Civic?

One of the new Civic’s biggest drawcards is its interior space, presentation, and refinement.

From the moment you open the solid-feeling doors, it is clear that Honda has engineered this car to look and feel nicer than most small cars in its price range.

All materials are well chosen and fine to the touch. The sense of space inside is palpable – particularly the width – while the dashboard’s design and layout is impressive. The ambience is very appealing.

Comfortable seats further underline Honda’s stated ambition to create a high-quality family car, backed up by an excellent driving position. And it would be difficult to top the Civic’s clear instruments, simple ventilation controls, myriad storage options, and overall ease of operation.

The Lane Watch camera that looks behind you down the left side of the vehicle when you use the left indicator may also save the life of a cyclist. Brilliant stuff.

But there are a few misgivings, beginning with a fiddly audio volume control that requires a deft and often distracting swipe action.

The sedan's acutely coupe-like tapered roofline leaves a very narrow field of rear vision. In the hatch, a high-mounted spoiler and rear wiper partially block your view through the back window

And rather shockingly for a company with a reputation for sweet engines, the 1.5 turbo has a loud and rough edge to it under load, sounding a tad gruff. This is easily avoided if you squeeze the throttle rather than stomping on it, but it is completely unexpected.

Perhaps the booming engine is obvious because the rest of the Civic is so much quieter than its predecessor. Old noise paths from the suspension and tyres have been largely dealt with, thanks to a stronger body, extra sound deadening, and much better bushes and rubbers.

This Civic is the biggest in the series’ 43-year career in Australia, and so it might also appeal to people who would have been interested in the late and lamented Honda Accord Euro. Even Honda admits it has priced and specified the more expensive Civics to woo medium-car customers.

What about safety in a Honda Civic?

The Civic has six airbags as standard: front and side for the driver; the same for the front passenger; and head-level curtain airbags that protect all occupants against side impacts.

Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with the mandatory electronic stability control are standard, as are LED daytime running lights. And every Civic has a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Autonomous emergency braking is available but only on the 1.5-litre VTi-L, RS and VTi-LX Civics, and Type R. It is lumped together with a suite of other active driver aids in a pack called Honda Sensing.

The Civic’s auto braking (which Honda calls its Collision Mitigation Braking System) and Forward Collision Warning uses both radar and camera-based sensors to scan the road ahead. They warn you of an impending collision (typically with another car that has slowed suddenly), and will brake the car automatically if you do not react.

Honda does not specify a speed range over which the auto-braking system works. But the same sensors feed Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, which will match your speed to that of a slower vehicle ahead on the highway, returning to your set speed when your lane is clear. Low-Speed Follow will control the Civic’s speed automatically in stop-and-go traffic.

The suite also provides Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, and Lane Keeping Assist. The first two monitor highway lane markings and warn you if you have begun distractedly to drift wide, applying a steering correction if necessary. The third is intended to reduce fatigue on long drives by helping you centre the car in its lane, again by adjusting the steering.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded the Civic five stars for safety, its maximum. The sedans were rated in July 2016, and the hatches in May 2017.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Welcome to the most desirable range of Civics in two decades for someone who likes to drive.

If you are familiar with the previous Civic, the Mk10 Sedan will come as a revelation, thanks to quick steering, a bump-absorbing and quiet suspension, and (at last) decent low-speed accelerator response in those cars with the 1.5 turbo engine.

Actually, even the less costly 1.8 non-turbo Civics are spirited and sparkling performers from the moment the accelerator pedal is pressed. But the 1.5 turbos are stronger across the board – maybe too much so for the inexperienced. This is a very quick car point-to-point.

The 1.8s demand a determined right foot at speed – say, during overtaking manoeuvres. The 1.5s don’t need to be spun as hard to produce the same power, and if you do work them hard there’s much more go.

In either case, Honda ought to be praised for its work in making the CVT auto feel like a normal auto gearbox, operating smoothly and naturally and sounding a bit droney only under very hard acceleration – and even then, it isn’t so bad. The paddle shifters fitted to the 1.5 turbo cars add driver involvement.

Progressively weighted yet engagingly responsive electric steering is a highlight, helped out by a fast rack (2.2 turns lock to lock rather than the previous Civic’s 3.1) for agile yet controlled handling, especially at high speeds. There is enough here to involve anybody.

Press on a bit harder and the chassis gels quite enjoyably, offering fluent and predictable roadholding, whether on smooth bitumen or loose gravel. There’s a real sense of security.

Finally, the MacPherson strut-style front and multi-link rear suspension set-ups work together superbly to soak up bumps, making for a comfy and refined ride. That tinniness ever-present in Civics of old has been banished.

The Civic hatch weighs slightly more than the sedan but on the road it feels very similar.

The Civic Type R takes driving enjoyment to all new levels. Judged the Motor magazine 2017 Performance Car of the Year, its 228kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine drives the front wheels though an excellent six-speed manual gearbox that’s Quick, slick, and perfectly precise making an absolute joy to drive. Throttle response is instant and its stability at speed is impressive and the big Brembo brakes bring it to a stop as quickly as it accelerates.

That said it’s not as good around town as the other models. The engine feels lethargic below 2500rpm and ride quality in Comfort mode is bearable rather than brilliant, while Sport is only just tolerable.

How is life in the rear seats?

Except for relatively small rear door apertures and a low rear roofline that will snag tall people when getting in and out, life in the rear seats is fine. Head, shoulder, leg, and foot space are among the best in a small car.

The rear backrest reclines at a comfortable angle, so that it feels pleasant to just sit back and relax. The cushion isn’t especially deep or well padded, but for short trips it ought to be fine. Note that there is no real centre tunnel to hinder an adult’s enjoyment of the middle-rear seat, while girth-wise this Civic is especially generous. This of course wouldn’t be an issue in the Type R, which only seats two people in the back.

There are no face-level rear air vents, but the output from the dash-sited vents should be more than sufficient to keep rear-seat passengers happy. A folding centre armrest contains cupholders, and the doors have storage spaces.

The hatch and sedan feel much the same from the back seat.

Some road and tyre noise is apparent, but this Civic is much quieter out back than previous versions.

How is it for carrying stuff?

A big glovebox (that isn’t illuminated), front door bins, a low centre console area with a large lidded compartment and a sliding armrest, and one map pocket behind the left front seat, take care of your storage needs.

At 519 litres with the 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks upright, the Civic sedan's boot shames sedans that are two size classes above, and the loading aperture is quite large and low.

The Civic hatch has a less commodious boot with 414 litres of seats-up capacity (330 litres for the Civic RS and VTi-LX due to their boot-mounted subwoofers), but compensates with a larger loading aperture and the ability to accommodate taller items when its retractable cargo blind is out of the way.

A space-saver spare wheel resides beneath the cargo area floor.

Where does Honda make the Civic?

Civic Hatches and Sedans sold in Australia are built in Thailand.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

On any Civic but the most expensive, autonomous emergency braking. You get this with any Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla or Skoda Octavia, for example.

Possibly a more affordable but more engaging manual transmission: the Mazda3 and the Golf offer this, for example.

If you plan on doing a lot of country driving, perhaps even lower fuel consumption and a longer touring range from a diesel engine, such as you can have in a Hyundai i30.

If you expect to drive mainly around town, the quieter running and superior fuel-efficiency of a hybrid drivetrain, such as you can have in a Toyota Corolla or Prius.

Maybe the all-weather security of all-wheel drive, which is standard on the Subaru Impreza.

Among other small cars, the Kia Cerato comes with auto-braking as standard and is covered by a seven-year warranty.

The Type R lacks the four-wheel-drive traction of other compact performance models such as the Volkswagen R and Subaru WRX, but it more than holds its own in terms of performance and handling.

Other hot hatch rivals include the new Hyundai i30 N, Peugeot 308 GTi, Renault Megane RS and Volkswagen Golf GTi.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

Even the least costly Civic, the VTi 1.8, provides a spacious, refined, comfortable, easy, and effortless small car experience.

However, and despite its sometimes raucous powertrain, the VTi-L 1.5 Turbo strikes a fine balance between performance, economy, and value and is now equipped with driver aids including autonomous braking. Mechanically identical to the more expensive RS, the VTi-L is our pick of the range. Hatch or sedan is up to you.

Are there plans to update the Civic soon?

The generation-10 Honda Civic arrived in June 2016 as a sedan only. The Civic hatchback arrived a year later.

From 1 July 2017, Honda extended the Civic’s new-car warranty to five years.

The high-performance Civic Type R arrived in September 2017.

In January 2020 Honda gave the Civic a slight facelift, upgraded the infotainment system, and added 'Honda Sensing' active features including autonomous emergency braking to the more affordable VTi-L and RS versions.

From time to time Honda may adjust equipment levels and introduce special edition variants. One such special edition is the Civic +Luxe hatchback introduced in June 2019 that added a bunch of extra features to the VTi-S spec including leather appointed seat trim, heated front seats, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat and premium paint as standard.