Strengths and weaknesses:
- dashing good looks
- dependable performance
- fuel economy
- rear seat access in coupe
- uninspired driving experience in sedan.
A Civic for all means and needs
"It really comes down between what you can afford and how you intend to use your new Civic."
The Honda Civic has been the best selling car in Canada for the past 14 years, so looking into buying one isn’t out of the ordinary. But which one do you choose?
Honda has kept the trim levels and prices pretty even between the coupe and sedan bodystyles (the Hybrid is only a sedan and attracts a completely different demographic, so we’ll keep it out the equation), so it really comes down between what you can afford and how you intend to use your new Civic.
The coupe comes in LX, EX and Si trim levels with MSRPs of $18,240, $20,240 and $25,990, respectively. Except for the Si, all are available with an optional $1,200 five-speed automatic, and the EX-L level gets only the automatic. The sedan adds a five-speed manual only DX level at the entry point (starting at $14,990); otherwise sedan prices are $500 lower than coupe prices. The Si models come only with a six-speed manual and are priced identically at $25,990.
Structurally, the sedan is longer, lower in height and rides on a longer wheelbase, translating directly into more passenger room shoulder to shoulder, above occupant’s heads and in front of their knees. There is also a marginally larger trunk.
Getting in and out of the rear seats is naturally easier with the four-door bodystyle, but there is also better comfort offered back there (and less of a hump for the centre occupant you may have to squeeze in every now and then).
Conclusion: if you want your Civic as a personal vehicle, you’re going to pay more.
Our test sedan comes in EX-L trim level, a step up from the EX (in which our test coupe is delivered). The “L” part of the equation adds leather upholstery, heated front seats (sedan gets a power driver’s seat), satellite radio (coupe gets an upgraded sound system), navigation system and auto headlights.
Conclusion: those are nice things to have, but everyday drivers probably won’t miss them as much as they’ll miss the $3,450 premium buy-in.
With those exclusions, our test Coupe EX and Sedan EX-L are equipped pretty much the same way (even the 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels are identical) with the notable difference of the manual transmission in our coupe and automatic in our sedan, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Honda manuals are probably the best on the mass market, with crisp precise throws and an easy clutch. You want to be able to row the gears in order to get engaged in the type of sporty excitement promised by the low, sleek coupe stance. The sedan has a more formal presentation with a more elegant grille, and the persona fits in better with the automatic transmission granting a less urgent feel to the chore of driving.
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine puts out identical power and reportedly uses the same amount of fuel, but we’d argue with those ratings since the coupe weighs less than the sedan (5-11 kg, depending on the trim level). The difference between our Coupe EX and Sedan EX-L is a whopping 47 kg (103 lbs.), which is the weight of a small passenger, even when the car is only holding the driver.
As a result, our rear world economy is considerably better in the coupe than in the sedan, though they’re both near the top tier of our rankings.
Conclusion: based on my needs and usage, I’d take a Civic sedan because it would make it easier for my family to get in and out in our daily travels; plus, I’d save some cash up front. However, give me a couple years and I’d probably go for the coupe just so I could better enjoy my mid-life crisis.