People’s Test Drive: 2014 Honda Civic Coupe

The legendary Honda Civic. First introduced in 1972 the Civic was a basic, bare-bones sub-compact. It arrived in North America just in time for the fuel crisis, and subsequently the Civic sold like hotcakes.

The 2014 edition of the Honda Civic Coupe has come a long way from its historic brethren, growing in size and becoming more upscale, but one thing remains the same: The car is still a best-seller, especially in Canada.

Last year in this country the Civic out-sold the competition, namely Hyundai’s Elantra and Toyota’s Corolla. For 16 years, the Civic has been Canada’s best-selling nameplate.

The latest (ninth) generation of the Civic was unveiled in 2011 for the 2012 model year, and it was updated again for 2013. Now, the 2014 Civic Coupe resembles its sedan stable mate, but has been further refined with a more expressive grille, front fascia and headlights and new taillights.

“The Civic has a very appealing design,” says Calgary’s Rob Price. “The front and rear fascias look great – not really ‘boy racer’ – but it’s got a nice, dramatic stance.

“However, I did think there was an awful lot of room in those wheel arches, and larger diameter wheels than the stock 16-inchers would fill them in quite a bit better.”

Price, originally from Ontario, moved with his family to Calgary about 13 years ago. He learned to drive his dad’s 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic, a car equipped with a 350ci engine and rear wheel drive.

“Driving that made for someone who understands how to regain control of a car – not that I’m anti-technology or that I don’t trust what it will do, I just don’t like what it’s taking away from the driver.”

Price’s 2014 Civic Coupe, which he spent a week driving around town and southern Alberta, was the EX version, upgraded with the $1,300 constantly variable transmission. As tested, his EX cost $22,255.

The Civic range consists of the base LX, the EX, the EX-L Navi and the Si. All except the Si are equipped with a 143 horsepower, 1.8-litre inline-four cylinder engine, and the LX and EX come standard with a 5-speed manual gearbox, with the CVT as an option. The EX-L gets the CVT, while the Si, with its 2.4-L engine capable of 205 h.p., is equipped with a 6-speed manual.

he 2014 Honda Civic.

The 2014 Honda Civic.
Christina Ryan/Calgary Herald,

After Price inherited his dad’s Caprice, he drove it until it literally rotted away. His next driver was a 1984 Pontiac Parisienne, which left him at the side of the road with a holed piston. Soured by the used-car buying experience, he bought a 1991 Mazda MX-6. Other vehicles he’s owned include a 2002 Subaru WRX, and his current driver is a 2013 Kia Optima Turbo. His wife maintains a 2011 Toyota Highlander, which they’ll drive to the family cabin. His Kia is a commuter/work vehicle, and he adds about 40,000 km to the clock every year.

When shopping for a vehicle, Price considers handling, power and price as important considerations.

“I’m frugal by nature,” he laughs. And, at 6’4”, it’s not every car that will accommodate his frame. The Civic, he’s afraid, didn’t fit him very well. Not that he had any trouble getting in or out, but once in, his head was brushing the headliner.

Inside, Price says all controls and gauges were angled towards the driver, and everything was exactly where he expected to find it. That is, with the exception of the start/stop button. Price says it’s hidden behind the steering wheel, and he had to search around for a moment.

“Everything else was right handy,” he says.

Price liked the cloth-covered heated seats, and initially, he was comfortable in the six-way manual adjustable driver’s chair.

“It had a long cushion to support my legs, and there was room down in the footwell – I could fully extend my left leg, which I’m not always able to do in every vehicle I drive,” he says.

However, after a highway trip to Lethbridge, Price had changed his mind about seat comfort.

“I found it wasn’t as comfy as I first thought,” he says, and adds, “maybe that’s because I had to recline it back further than I would prefer due to the low roofline, or perhaps because it’s lacking a lumbar support, but my back got sore.”

He did the highway drive on a windy day, and the cabin remained quiet with no obnoxious wind noise or whistles.

Performance, Price says, was adequate yet not overwhelming, and the CVT transmission did an admirable job of channeling power to the front wheels.

The Civic's powerplant.

The Civic’s powerplant.
Christina Ryan/Calgary Herald,

The cockpit felt open and airy, but Price had some trouble shoulder checking due to what he thought were thicker than average B and C pillars. Honda has, however, installed their LaneWatch blind spot display system in the EX. LaneWatch consists of a small camera mounted to the right-side exterior mirror, and when activated the system relays what it sees to a seven-inch screen in the centre dash – it’s activated by pushing a button on the turn signal stalk, or by clicking to turn right.

This was one piece of technological kit that Price says he liked, although he would continue to shoulder check himself even if it was in a vehicle he owned.

Price felt the ride was well suspended, and somewhat firm and sporty.

“But it didn’t live up to its promise,” he says. “It felt like you could push it into a corner, but it sort of wallowed out. It could have been the tires letting down the chassis and suspension, and that’s what I suspect.”

Steering felt well connected and sharp, Price maintains, and the brakes had good feel without being grabby or mushy.

When it comes to the Civic’s utility, Price found the trunk to be small, and he lamented the fact the trunk lid didn’t have a handle or a strap to help pull it closed.

“In my opinion, it’s really just a two-person car with a spot to throw your briefcase,” Price says. “At least, that’s how it would work for me.”

He wouldn’t buy one, though, simply because he says he’s “stuffing too much body into a smaller car,” but he’d definitely recommend the Civic to someone shorter.

He concludes, “Honda has incredible reliability and high resale value – and I thought the Civic was well thought out and very well screwed together.”


Type of vehicle: Compact coupe

Engine: 1.8L SOHC I-4

Power: 143 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 129 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm

Transmission: CVT

Brakes: four-wheel anti-lock disc

Tires: P205/55 R16 89H

Fuel economy ratings: 6.9/100km city, 5.1L/100km highway, 6.1L/100km combined

Price (base/as tested): $20,995/$22,255

Destination charge: $1,495

Standard features: LaneWatch blind spot display, HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response, automatic climate control w/air-filtration, vehicle stability assist w/traction control, tilt/telescoping steering column, driver’s 6-way manual adjustable seat, heated front seats, speed-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers, multi-angle rearview camera, AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/Windows Media Audio playback capability and 6 speakers, 2 USB connectors

Options: $1,300 CVT transmission


Day One: First impression — sporty looking. I like the dark grey colour with the black trimmed wheels, and the little side windows behind the B pillars. However, that thought changed when shoulder checking. First impression on a short drive is that the seats are relatively comfy with decent cushion length and good side bolstering without being invasive. Nice big touch screen with just the right amount of sensitivity. Lots of storage cubbies. Driver’s left armrest slopes downward but it’s not totally uncomfortable; the right armrest is quite short and is much less comfortable.

Day Two: Noticing some cons. Side view camera looks like a wart hanging off the side view mirror. Map pockets hard to access and not nearly deep enough. Info centre to right of speedo is too light to read. Engine has enough punch with one person but add a second adult and there’s noticeably less “oomph”.

Day Three: Went to pick up groceries – trunk is pretty small. Really liking the side-view camera. Suspension is maybe a little too firm but relatively well composed over the rough stuff.

Day Four: Transmission is smooth. Stiff suspension has me bumping my head off the roof liner many times.

Day Five: Refreshing to have a car relatively loaded but with heated CLOTH seats. I don’t really feel leather is the best seating material in this climate.

Day Six: Trip to Taber and Lethbridge. Despite a seemingly slippery shape there is considerable buffeting on Hwy. 2 from large trucks and in Lethbridge’s high winds. Touch screen is not too sensitive or insensitive – it’s just right. With all the warning lights and signals in the Civic — and especially with this double dash layout (maybe I’m too old, but I don’t really like the two-tier gauges)– at night with a CD playing, cruise control on and high beams, it looks too much like Star Trek.

Day Seven: Time to return the car. I got an observed 6.1 to 6.2 L/100km on the highway, and about 7.1 L/100km combined.

About Greg Williams