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Small but mighty, the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback is continuing its trend of being one of the standout performers in its class. With the Coupe body style permanently deleted from the line-up and the Si off for a one-year hiatus, the Civic Sedan, Hatchback, and Type R are what is left over. And none of them are bad options. Far from it. But when it comes to sportiness balanced with practicality, the Hatchback wins our vote for the best body style choice.
The performance that you get from the Hatchback's turbo engine is beyond exciting. It is sporty without losing that strong sense of efficiency that Honda infuses into its vehicles. Cornering is quick and smooth; taken at lower speeds, turns feel light and easy, but at higher speeds, you get an appropriate amount of heft. You won't end up feeling any body roll, and the wheels stay firmly planted at all times. The standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT for short) feels slightly different than your standard automatic since it takes a tick longer to downshift, but you reap the benefits of better efficiency. Honda has been using CVTs for decades now and has them down to almost an exact science.
Since all of the Hatchbacks are powered by the same 1.5-L turbo 4-cylinder engine, it is hard to go wrong with any of its trim levels. This engine puts forth 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque if equipped on the LX or EX, but on the Sport and Sport Touring, it gets boosted to 180 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque (or, if you get the manual transmission, 177 lb-ft of torque). The Sport and Sport Touring have a standard 6-speed manual transmission, but they can optionally be equipped with the CVT that comes standard on the LX and EX. Also, bear in mind that all of the Hatchbacks are front-wheel drive.
So, which Civic Hatchback trim level should you choose? Is there one that offers a better deal than the others? We will go over the LX, Sport, EX, and Sport Touring and what each one has to offer in terms of features. Hang on until the conclusion since that is where we will let you know which 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback trim level we think will appeal the most to buyers.
Compare the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback LX vs Sport - What is the Difference?
Starting off the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback line-up is the base LX trim level. The LX and every trim level above it comes with the Honda Sensing bundle of advanced driver aids. This bundle wraps in features like a collision mitigation braking system, lane keep assist, lane departure mitigation, low-speed follow on the adaptive cruise control system, a forward collision warning, and a lane departure warning. On the LX, automatic high beams also come standard, as do a multi-angle rear-view camera with guidelines, vehicle stability and traction control, an anti-lock braking system, brake assist, LED daytime running lights, and a tire pressure monitoring system. The Sport gets treated to the same features but only has low-speed follow on the CVT, not on the manual-equipped version.
The LX's tech features are a bit more basic than the Sport's. The LX has a 5-inch LCD infotainment display and 4-speaker, 160-watt sound system. Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming are both standard, as are speed sensitive volume control and a radio data system. You also get a single 1.0-amp USB audio port up front.
The Sport changes it up a bit by swapping in a 7-inch touchscreen display with hard keys for the primary controls. Smartphone app integration comes via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you also get HondaLink and an 8-speaker sound system.
Many of the LX's and Sport's convenience and comfort features are shared. They both have an automatic climate control system, power windows with auto-up/down on the front windows, power door locks with illuminated controls on the front doors, one-touch turn indicators, a tilting and telescoping steering column, and a center console with a big storage bin located beneath a sliding armrest. Add to that more features like door pocket storage bins, rear heater ducts, floor mats, a 12-volt power outlet up front, a timer on the rear window's de-froster, a light for the cargo area, illuminated controls mounted onto the steering wheel for cruise control and audio, and LED gear position indicators.
To this, the Sport adds rear seat cup holders and a rear center armrest. It also has push button start and a gear shift knob and steering wheel that are wrapped in leather.
These hatchbacks are five-seaters that come with a manually height-adjustable driver's seat and 60/40-split folding rear seat. They have adjustable head restraints and seat belt anchors.
On the outside, these two trims are somewhat similar, but the Sport has some distinguishing characteristics. Both trims come with two-speed intermittent wipers for the windshield, auto-on/off projector-beam halogen headlights, remote entry and trunk release with the security system, door handles done in the body color, LED brake lights, power-operated body-colored side mirrors, a body-colored rear roofline spoiler, and a fin-type antenna mounted onto the roof. To this, the Sport adds an underbody spoiler kit, fog lights, dual exhaust tips mounted in the center, and Walk Away Auto Lock with the Smart Entry system.
Compare the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport vs EX - What is the Difference?
If you decide to upgrade to the EX, you are essentially taking the LX and building off of its foundations. The safety features essentially remain the same with the only difference - a rather minor one - being the addition of dynamic guidelines to the multi-angle rear-view camera system.
Tech-wise, a few changes do get made to the EX. Its 1.0-amp USB port is located on the center console, not on the front. It also gains HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a 1.5-amp USB port on the front console, and a SMS text messaging function.
More creature comforts get added, of course. The EX loses the Sport's gear (like the sport pedal) but gains dual illuminated vanity mirrors on the front sun visors, a passenger-side seatback pocket, and a dual-zone automatic climate control. The driver's seat becomes 8-way power adjustable, and heating comes standard on both front seats.
On the exterior, the EX gets a few upgrades too. The side mirrors gain a heating function, and there are variable intermittent windshield wipers. On top of that, you get a tilt feature on the one-touch power moonroof.
Compare the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback EX vs Sport Touring - What is the Difference?
The Sport Touring is the line-topping trim and essentially takes the features given to the Sport and adds on. That means you get the underbody spoiler kit and sport pedal, plus more creature comforts. The list of safety features and driver aids remains the same though.
In terms of technology, the Sport Touring gets two big upgrades, the first of which is the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System. This system bundles in Honda HD Digital Traffic and voice recognition that can be used with multiple functions. The other key addition is a magnificently clear-sounding 12-speaker, 540-watt premium sound system that comes with its own subwoofer.
Only a few important updates get made to the rest of the Sport Touring's well-equipped cabin. This trim level does see the addition of an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. It also gets treated to the HomeLink Remote System, which can do things like control your garage door, locks, and electrical items while you are away from home. Handy, right? Not to mention that the rear outboard seats gain a heating function, the front seats gain ventilation, and the front passenger's seat becomes power-adjustable four different ways.
Quite naturally, the Sport Touring gets some enhancements to its exterior as well. The side mirrors are heated, power-adjustable, done in your choice of body color, and have built-in turn indicators. The center-mounted dual exhaust tips return, as does the underbody spoiler kit. The Sport Touring also comes with state-of-the-art rain-sensing windshield wipers and LED headlights with an auto-on/off feature. It is worth bearing in mind that remote engine start only comes on the Hatchback variants that are equipped with the CVT.
2021 Honda Civic Hatchback: Which Trim to Choose?
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With four solid trim levels to choose from, it is hard to go wrong with whatever you choose. As far as hatchbacks go, the Civic is one of our preferred models. Honda has really refined this vehicle, making it both sporty and practical, and therefore able to appeal to a wider pool of potential buyers. But there is one particular trim level that we would first select from the line-up as the one with the most overall value.
Which trim level is that, you ask? Why, it is none other than the Sport. It is not quite as affordable as the base LX trim, but the cost to upgrade is not that much and, quite frankly, can easily be justified. For just a little bit more money, you get treated to an array of enhanced features and a sportier driving performance and ride quality. If you prefer driving a stick, you can get the 6-speed manual transmission. Or, if you aren't a stick driver, the CVT is capable and fuel-efficient. You also get more horsepower from this variant, and if you get the manual transmission, you get that nice boost in torque.
What really appeals to many about the Sport trim level is the list of standard tech features. Smartphone app integration is almost a must-have for new car buyers at this point, so having it come standard on the Sport will come in handy. With this equipped, you can access your phone's apps from your Civic's 7-inch infotainment screen. Simple and efficient, just how Honda likes it and how we like our Hondas.
Of course, if you have the money and can afford the upgrade, the Sport Touring offers even more fun features with the same athletic performance. Its 12-speaker sound system is nothing short of wonderful to listen to while cruising along the highway. Its sound pumps out clearly with no distortion at higher volumes. Plus the standard speed sensitive volume control can help you adjust the volume as needed.
Out of all the hatchbacks available this year, the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback is likely to be a top seller. As per usual for the Civic. We do think that it is a smart investment given Honda's emphasis on safety and known reliability. Sticking with the Sport trim level will get you the most bang for your buck, but any trim level that you choose will provide for a fun driving experience to last for years to come.
• Compare the 2020 Honda Civic Trim Levels