DEARBORN, Mich. -- Running along the bumpy-bumpy Southfield Freeway that divides the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, we play with powertrain combinations including a new turbo engine available on a new rendition of Honda's compact 4-door best-seller, the Civic Sedan.
With an all-new vehicle architecture for 2016 models marking the tenth generation, the Civic Sedan series pops out of Honda assembly plants at Greensburg, Indiana, and Allison, Ontario, Canada, using domestic and globally sourced parts.
Civic 2016 in the slick new package -- sporting a sharp and aggressive face and swept-back lines over the body -- is a significant departure for the series and a remote concept from the original version, Honda's first Civic in America, the CVCC hatchback of 1973.
Put a ruler to the new 2016 Civic and its 2015 predecessor, and the numbers reveal a body nearly three inches longer on an inch longer wheelbase with the front wheel track plus overall body width measuring almost two inches wider. These larger dimensions elevate Civic size-wise to the top of the compact class.
Civic for 2016 earns a new ultra-rigid platform architecture, two new powertrains including the first Civic application of Honda's turbo engine technology, the sophisticated new exterior design and a 5-seat passenger compartment that's far more spacious and stocks quality materials, plus major boosts in safety technology including Honda Sensing safety and driver-assist technologies.
Honda casts the 2016 Civic Sedan in five trim designations -- entry-level LX, uplevel EX and EX-T, loaded EX-L (that L tag denotes leather upholstery), plus new line-topping and sport-tuned Civic Touring.
The Civic LX and EX grades draw power from a 4-cylinder aluminum engine which displaces 2.0 liters and carries DOHC (dual overhead cams) and Honda's special i-VTEC (variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain. The plant generates 158 hp at 6500 rpm plus torque of 138 lb-ft at 4200 rpm.
The price-leader Civic LX comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. For automatic shifting, Honda adds a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that's optional for Civic LX and standard for EX.
Civic EX-T, EX-L and Touring grades pack a new single-scroll turbo-charged and direct-injected DOHC 1.5-liter aluminum in-line-4 in the first application of Honda's turbo technology to the Civic series. The turbo 4-pack, tied to a standard CVT, musters 174 hp at 6000 rpm with torque running to 162 lb-ft at 1700-5200 rpm, and it achieves EPA fuel economy estimates of 31/42 mpg city/highway.
Civic's new ultra-rigid unibody structure supports a suspension with MacPherson struts mounted in front with hydraulic bushings, plus a compact multi-link design in back with a rigid subframe. Civic LX rolls on 16-inch steel wheels with 2-tone wheel covers as Civic EX gets 16-inch alloy wheels and the EX-T plus EX-L and Touring issues stock 17-inch alloys wrapped in 215/50R17 all-season tires.
The dual pinion and variable ratio rack and pinion steering system has electric power assistance, which eliminates hydraulic gear and adds to powertrain efficiency.
With a disc at each wheel (11.1-inch ventilated front rotors with single-piston calipers and rear 10.2-inch solid rotors with single-piston calipers) the brakes have electronic ties to Honda's VSA (vehicle stability assist) equipment with traction control operating with ABS (anti-lock brake system) and EBD (electronic brake distribution). Also standard on all trims, the Agile Handling Assist device automatically deploys the vehicle's brakes to enhance initial turning response and overall cornering ability.
The optional Honda Sensing package of safety and driver-assist features includes Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist System and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow.
Civic's expansive passenger compartment features a new design in nicely bolstered seats with more comfort for riders and a heap of standard features. For entry-issue Civic LX the content includes a multi-angle rearview camera, automatic headlamps, cruise control, automatic climate system, electronic parking brake, Bluetooth connectivity, 5-inch touchscreen, variable intermittent wipers, cloth seat upholstery and a folding rear seatback.
Honda's price chart for Civic 2016 dips to $18,640 for Civic LX with a manual shifter. Top model Civic Touring tallies to $26,500.