Two week review: 2018 Honda Civic LX 6MT


I've toyed with the idea of doing a video review of this car.  If you'd like one, leave a comment

So, I've had a 10th Generation 2018 Honda Civic since April 24th.  I had a little car trouble and found myself in need of a car.

Crap.  Nothing like buying a car in the middle of Spring, when everyone else is buying a car thanks to Tax Refunds.   Middle of the model year.  No incentives.  Yaaaaay.

My short list went like this:

  • Ram 1500
  • GM half-ton with the 5.3 V8
  • Buick Lacrosse
  • Lexus GS350
  • Honda Accord
So basically:
  1. Truck or car?
  2. Practical or practical or practical.
I needed something practical I could put my wife and girls in.  I was driving around in a sweet full size Chevy Impala, so I was feeling a car again, hence the Lacrosse being on the list.

I 86'd the GM as it drove too big, and Whitney homed in on the Ram and the Buick as her top 2.  On April 23rd I took off work and we went driving during the morning and early afternoon.  The accord was too stiff, but we drove some Civics and....love.

See...the Civics came with a stick.  We really forgot how much we loved manual transmissions.

So, for invoice price + 6.25% taxes I got a brand spanking new Honda Civic LX.  Sharp-eyed readers will note this is the base model.

That was intentional.  I wanted the simplest car I could get.

So...instead of the EX-T's 1.5L Turbo with its 192 horsepower, I got a 2.0L 158 hp K20C2 engine.  Instead of HondaSense I got....er....cruise control.  Instead of a touch screen + CarPlay + SirusXM I got an LCD display and bluetooth and....that's pretty much it.

So, after 2 weeks, how's it going?

In a word: Great.

The first day with the car was a baptism by fire.  I hit an hour of Austin traffic down I-35 on the way in, then had a good slog on the way home.  I was sore in places I didn't remember.  I missed the ease I'd had in the Impala and the spacious, coddling feeling.   I wondered if I'd made a big mistake.

After that, it got better.  I continue to grow accustomed to the transmission and its dual throttle modes:  In Regular mode, the engine zings to redline pretty easily (I mean it still has a heavy flywheel, but eh, street car.), making smooth shifts a challenge.  In Eco Mode, the throttle is much more progressive, making it easy to seem like a star with the tranny.

Heel-and-toe and double-clutch downshifts are a real pleasure, making me feel like I'm downshifting into a turn at Road Atlanta or something. 

Positives

  • The engine is a sweetheart, particularly above 3k.  
  • The transmission is the reason I bought the car: Precise and light, but positive.
  • The ride is a great compromise between comfort and sportiness.  This is the reason we got the LX trim level
  • Visibility is good 
  • Headroom is great, easily the same as my 2010 Fusion.
  • Getting height-adjustable seats, bluetooth, power windows/doorlocks
  • The 'Brake hold' feature really works, though I'd still rather have had a real handbrake.
  • Still in love with the color.  I really missed having a car with actual color instead of White, Silver, or Grey.

Negatives

The car is a base model.  There's no getting around it.  Some downsides:
  • Value.  Even $20k out-the-door, one could get a Mazda or Hyundai/Kia for much less.
  • No center armrest in the back for my kids.  Crucially, this leaves only the 12oz can sized cupholders in the doors
  • No Apple Carplay, which is a pain.  The bluetooth is easily as good as my 2010 Ford Fusion's Sync system, though that's faint praise
  • The voice recognition is truly dismal.  It simply doesn't work. "Call Whitney Combs" has hilarious results.
  • The Hankook tires are sturdy, but I likely won't be keeping them.  Some Enkei wheels and better rubber call my name.
  • A/C is okay thus far, but indications are it'll be pretty weak when the 100+ days of July and August come to bear.
  • Ergonomics are taking some getting used to
  • Not sure how to quantify this, but Honda's taken a real step backward in switchgear feel.  Back in 2003 and earlier cars, you could depend on the ways the switches...well...switched.  They had a certain tactile feel that helped you know every piece was engineered to the last detail.  
  • The headlights are just halogens and they're pretty weak when you're used to LEDs from your wife's van.
  • Backseat is truly usable, but it's no Accord.  
Given 95% of the time, I'm the only occupant, this car is great.  It definitely fits my "simple" requirement, and I look forward to a decade of driving the wheels off it.

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