by Roger Biermann
While the Honda Civic range has something for everyone, the Civic Coupe continues a long-standing tradition of Honda producing some of the finest front-wheel drive coupes around - despite the continuing trend of cutting such models in favor of high-riding crossovers to satiate market demand. Based on the tenth generation Civic sedan, the Coupe measures shorter than even the hatch, but doesn’t cut back on any of the things we loved most about that model, not least of all the endearing driver’s chassis, crisp six-speed manual gearbox, and the available potent 1.5-liter turbocharged engine developing 174 horsepower as an alternative to the base 158 hp 2.0-liter. With few, if any midsize front-wheel drive coupes left on the market, the Civic Coupe finds itself for all intents and purposes as the front wheel drive rival to the BMW 2 Series. That’s tough competition but priced between $20,650 and $26,850 the Civic Coupe’s four trims have price on their side.
For 2019 the Civic Coupe benefits from the same slew of changes as the Sedan, with updated styling including a sharper front end design, the addition of a Sport trim, and interior updates like a volume knob and physical buttons for the infotainment touchscreen, larger cupholders, redesigned steering wheel control, and improved levels of sound insulation. The exterior colors have also been updated with two new additions to the color palette: Platinum White Pearl and Tonic Yellow Pearl. Crucially from a safety perspective, the Honda Sensing suite of driver aids is now standard across all trims.
Benefiting from the same styling updates as other Civics, lower trims receive halogen projector headlights and LED taillights. However, the top-of-the-line Touring receives automatic LED headlights along with chrome door handles as opposed to body-colored items on lesser trims. All trims except the LX feature front fog lights, while only the EX and Touring models receive a shark-fin roof antenna and a power sunroof. The Sport trim also receives sport-specific exterior trimming and is the only model in the range to feature a center-mounted exhaust outlet.
The Honda Civic Coupe rides on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as its counterparts, but measures shorter in length at 176.9-inches. It rides lower overall as well at 54.9-inches, but retains the same width, while weighing in at 2,889 lbs, making it lighter than the hatch and sedan variants. The LX derivative gets 16-inch wheels, the EX 17-inch alloys, and the Sport and Touring models both receive 18-inch alloy wheels.
Unlike the turbo-only Civic Hatch, the Coupe derivative offers two engine choices. On the LX and Sport trims a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder churns out 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque, while on higher trims, a 1.5-liter turbo engine delivers 174 hp and 162 lb-ft. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard on all models but the Sport, which gets the option of a fantastic six-speed manual. Even with the CVT blunting performance, the turbo motor is the hot performer of the range, with the EX derivative capable of a mid-six-second 0-60 mph sprint. Urgent responses and a broad torque spread ensure the 1.5 is the better engine both in town and at highway speeds. It’s a pity the manual isn’t available with this engine as it is in the hatch, as it shifts sweetly and immerses the driver in the experience.
With less weight and more compact dimensions than either the hatchback or sedan body styles, the Civic Coupe continues Honda’s legacy of enjoyable front-wheel drive coupes. The chassis is alive and agile, displaying keen changes of direction and supreme composure under duress. Body-roll is kept to a minimum and mid-corner bumps fail to unsettle the Civic’s composure, while grip levels are high, particularly on the Sport trim with its low-profile tires. The steering lacks intimate feedback, but provides more feel than many rivals in this segment. Handling prowess and driver enjoyment, however, don’t come at the expense of overall comfort, as the Civic Coupe competently deals with changing road surfaces and bumps, removing the discomfort without eradicating the sense of connection with the road. The downside to the Civic Coupe’s performance is its braking ability, which while not terrible is below the standard of the compact segment.
The turbocharged 1.5-liter motor is the most efficient engine of the two available options, with EPA-rated gas mileage estimates of 31 city/40 highway/35 combined mpg in the EX trim compared to the 30/38/33 mpg of the LX model’s naturally aspirated 2.0-liter. The Sport trim with the manual gearbox is less efficient still. With a 12.39-gallon fuel tank, the Civic Coupe EX achieves in excess of 430 miles range in mixed driving scenarios.
The Civic Coupe retains the key interior elements that make other derivatives so great including comfortable, supportive seats, high-quality finishes, and an abundance of space. With a wide range of manual adjustment and heating on EX and Touring derivatives, comfort levels are high for drivers of all sizes, while both front occupants have an abundance of headroom and legroom. Due to the sloping roofline and two-door configuration, climbing in and out of the rear seats is tricky, and headroom is not suited to adult passengers. Black cloth upholstery is standard on all models but the Touring trim, which receives leather in either black or ivory. Elsewhere, interior finishes are soft to the touch, and a range of colored accents can be equipped.
With nearly six inches removed from the rear of the Civic for the Coupe body, the trunk takes the biggest knock, measuring in at just 12.1 cubic feet in LX and Sport trims and a puny 11.9 in EX and Touring guise. That’s more than three cubic feet less than the sedan’s trunk size, but it’s the compromise you make for style. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split for extra storage, but overall the Coupe lacks practicality. It redeems itself somewhat with interior storage, though, with large cubbies up front and decently sized cupholders. The rear seats are also more usable as storage than actual seating.
The equipment list for the Coupe largely mirrors that of the Hatch and Sedan, with only minor variations. The Coupe does not receive Honda’s Lane Watch blind spot camera, but does receive a reverse camera across the range, while luxuries like a power sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats are available from the EX trim, while the Touring adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Honda Sensing suite of driver aids is standard on all models.
The Civic Coupe LX gets a basic infotainment system with a five-inch color screen and four speakers, making do with AM/FM radio and Bluetooth hands-free. The Coupe’s Sport trim receives the seven-inch touchscreen audio system as it does in the sedan - updated with a volume knob for 2019 - but retains four speakers, while the EX and Touring receive ten speaker premium audio systems. The touchscreen system incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with SiriusXM and HD radio, while on the Touring trim satellite navigation is also equipped.
Several recalls have been issued for the current Civic Coupe, but only one is of great concern, affecting 2017-2018 models where a magnet comes loose on the steering system and may affect the level of control over the vehicle. The Civic as a whole has become more and more reliable through its lifespan, so current models have fewer problems than previous years, but Honda covers the Civic Coupe with a three-year/36,000-mile limited vehicle warranty and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty for added peace of mind.
The Civic Coupe scores generally favorable reviews with the IIHS and NHTSA. The NHTSA gave the Civic Coupe a five-star overall rating, while the IIHS gave it best available scores of Good in all aspects with the exception of the headlights and LATCH anchors. The Honda Sensing suite, standard on all trims, gives the Civic Coupe forward collision alert with emergency braking, lane departure warning, and road departure mitigation.
By cutting size and weight from the sedan package, the Civic Coupe is even lighter and more nimble than its siblings, combining high levels of grip and stellar driver engagement at the expense of practicality. The 2019 updates are most noticeable inside the car, where the updated touchscreen infotainment interface is a welcome update on the Sport, EX, and Touring trims.
However, unlike the Civic Hatch, the base derivatives of the Coupe still receive a naturally aspirated engine which feels weak in a vehicle of this size. The six-speed manual gearbox is immensely fun and makes better use of the 2.0-liter engine, but the 1.5-liter turbo equipped on higher trims is really the better offering, and it’s a crying shame Honda hasn’t paired the manual gearbox with the turbo engine. The Civic Coupe is fun to drive, but those seeking a proper performance coupe will need to look higher up the pecking order at the Civic Si Coupe.
The cheapest model of the four-strong Civic Coupe range is the LX model at a price of $20,650. That’s before the registration, licensing, and a $920 destination charge. From there, the Sport carries a base MSRP of $21,450 while the EX costs $23,200. At the top of the Civic Coupe range, the fully loaded Touring model is priced from $26,850 before extras. Prices for 2019 see a slight bump over last year, but with initial demand now satisfied, dealer markups should be lower and exciting incentives may be available.
|LX||2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$19,193||$20,650|
|Sport||2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual or Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$19,933||$21,450|
|EX||1.5-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$21,554||$23,200|
|Touring||1.5-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$24,933||$26,850|
With a base engine, a CVT, and a basic infotainment system, avoid the Civic Coupe LX at all costs, despite the affordable price. Purists may be enticed by the manual gearbox in the Sport derivative - and they’d be right in thinking its an absolute joy to drive. But unlike the Civic Hatchback, the Coupe in Sport trim doesn’t receive the turbocharged engine, making do with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter and lower performance potential. If the experience matters more than speed, it’s well worth it, but remember this is no Miata. Equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a complete range of safety features, and endearing styling the Sport has most creature comforts covered too.
But the best pick is actually the EX. Despite no manual gearbox, the 174 horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter is punchy, frugal, and has a throaty engine note to boot, while a power moonroof, heated front seats, premium ten-speaker audio system, and dual-zone climate control take care of the luxury items. It misses out on the navigation, leather seats, LED headlights, and paddle-shifters of the Touring derivative, but at $3,650 less it’s exceptional value.
Two derivatives cut from the same cloth, the Civic Coupe trades in the practicality of an extra pair of doors, usable rear seats, and a decent sized trunk in favor of a stylish coupe body and more compact dimensions. On a like for like basis, the Coupe is the marginally cheaper derivative, but the sedan offers a cheaper entry point with a manual transmission on the LX derivative, while also giving buyers an added trim in the form of the EX-L. Both body styles are better off with the turbocharged engine, and neither equips it with a manual gearbox as they should, but the Coupe’s performance is marginally better due to lower weight and a lower center of gravity. The choice is simple, if you require practicality, the Coupe isn’t for you, but if you’re able to live without the use of rear seats, the Coupe is a fun alternative that swims upstream in the midsize segment.
Where the Civic Sedan gives buyers more practicality than the Coupe, the hatchback gives more still. By virtue of the hatchback opening and tall trunk storage, the Hatch gives you nearly three times more available storage capacity behind the rear seats and usable rear seats, too. However where the Civic Hatch establishes dominance is in its engine line-up, equipping every trim with the turbocharged 1.5-liter and giving buyers extra power in Sport and Sport Touring trims. That means you can buy a Civic Hatch with a turbo engine and a manual gearbox, making it an exclusive combination as far as Civics go. The Hatchback is more expensive than the Coupe, and the Sport model doesn’t get a touchscreen infotainment system, but for the availability of the turbo engine and the immense practicality, the Civic Hatch is actually the best of all three Civics.