At the risk of dating myself, let us take a moment to reflect on the storied ancestry of today’s 2021 Honda Civic. This year’s model is part of the 10th generation of a nameplate that has been sold in America since 1973. However, the Civic entered my purview with a high school classmate’s ’99 Electron Blue Civic Si. What a car. The Civic has evolved a lot over the years and this 2021 iteration continues to offer something for everyone wrapped in the high-quality Honda wrapper.
For years, Honda offered the Civic in base and Si form. The base model, which came in a variety of body styles, was just as it sounds – economy car transportation. While the Si added legitimate performance in the form of more motor and retuned handling. These days, the LX sedan is your most basic option, though far from low quality. While the LX is offered with cloth seating and 16” wheels, at the other end of the spectrum is the Touring trim. With leather seats, moon roof and 18” wheels, gone are the days of “economy car.” Along with the sedan, you can choose the hatchback. However, the coupe body style has been discontinued for 2021.
The Si is not being sold for the 2021 model year, but it has been sold almost every year in the past and is likely to return in 2022. For the harder core, there is the Type R was forbidden fruit to U.S. enthusiasts for years until being made available on our shores in 2017. The Civic Type R continues for 2021 along with a special edition.
There are two engine and two transmission options for most Civic buyers. Both inline fours, one of them is naturally aspirated putting out 158 horsepower while the slightly smaller displacement turbocharged four makes 174 ponies. Honda is following the unfortunate trend of dropping a manual transmission option and it continues with the 2021 Civic. While a 6-speed is available on the hatchback in Sport and Sport Touring trim, all other models (Type R excepted) are paired with a CVT automatic.
They Type R is really in a class of its own among Civics. The power plant is a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-4 making an incredible 305 horsepower. That’s a specific output of more than 150 hp/liter, which while no longer unheard of in the new turbo-everything-era, is still awesome. Paired exclusively to a 6-speed manual, the Type R is at home on a track. Its bizarre design is not for everyone, but once behind the wheel you’d be forgiven for not being worried about how it looks. For 2021, Honda has also released the Type R Limited Edition. True to its name with only 600 units coming to America, this is sure to be a future collectible.
Impressively, all Honda Civics come standard with the collection of four safety systems known as Honda Sensing. The Collision Mitigation Braking System can anticipate potential accidents and improve outcomes by alerting the driver and activating the brakes. Lane Keeping Assist uses cameras and steering input to keep the vehicle centered between the lines. And if you cross the lane line without signaling, the Road Departure Mitigation System can adjust steering and braking to keep the vehicle on the road. The final piece is Adaptive Cruise Control, which can maintain a safe distance from preceding vehicles by adjusting speed.
The fact that Honda Sensing is standard across the 2021 Civic model line speaks to the reality of the Civic no longer being just basic transportation. There are several other features on the 2021 model that elevate its standing. Available LED headlights may not sound like a big deal but the difference in night driving visibility from halogen to LED is, pun intended, night and day. A multi-angle rearview camera allows you to choose from three positions – normal, top-down and wide. On the Touring sedan, you can option heated rear outboard seats which is a truly luxury touch. Lastly, on the practical front, choosing the hatchback body offers you 46 cubic feet of storage with the seats down. Simple but very useful.
The Honda Civic is a nameplate that has been around almost FIFTY YEARS. There are not many vehicles that can make that claim. I appreciate that Honda has kept the Civic name running this long and the obviously serious approach they take to constantly improving one generation to the next. This 2021 Civic is no exception. Whether you’re looking for a reliable, well-built sedan or a hair-raising track star, the Civic has you covered. The 2021 Honda Civic is scored 89 by Drivers Only. To see where it ranks check out Best Cars for 2020 & 2021.
Front-engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan or hatchback
- $22,005-$29,055: Sedan
- $22,955-$30,155: Hatchback
- $38,450-$44,950: Type R
- 16-valve DOHC 2.0-liter, inline-4: 158 hp, 138 lb-ft
- 16-valve DOHC 1.5 liter, turbocharged inline-4: 174 hp, 162 lb-ft
- 16-valve DOHC 2.0 liter, turbocharged inline-4: 305 hp, 295 lb-ft
- 6-speed manual
- Continuously variable automatic
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
L/W/H: 177.9-182.7/70.8-73.9/55.7-56.5 in
Curb Weight: 2771-3075 lb
0-60 mph: 7.0 sec
¼ mile: 15.2 sec @ 94 mph
Top Speed: 131 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY