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Sporty and still high on fuel efficiency, the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback is bound to be another best-selling model for Honda. Although the Civic Si is on a short hiatus and the Coupe has been fully dropped from the line-up, the sedan and hatchback both carry on the Civic's strong tradition of excellence.
The hatchback offers a high-powered performance from its turbocharged engine, and the ride quality demonstrates a solid balance between sportiness and comfort. Honda also has their continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT for short) down to a science, as the one on the Civic Hatchback delivers power smoothly to the front wheels. Of course, you can still get the 6-speed manual transmission on the Sport and Sport Touring if you want a truly athletic driving performance. The only problem? You'll have to deal with an invasive forward collision warning system. But that is entirely doable for many buyers.
Let's take a deeper look at what's new, what buyers might like about the Civic Hatch, what might deter them from buying it, and how it stacks up against the competition.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback – The Pros
1. The 1.5-L Turbocharged Engine
The true highlight of the 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback is its 1.5-L turbocharged engine. On the LX and EX trim levels, it is able to generate a power output of 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, which is certainly respectable for a hatchback like this. But if you want some real thrills, opt for the Sport and Sport Touring's tweaked version, as it gets 180 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque on the CVT or 177 lb-ft on the manual transmission. Either way, the engine provides smooth initial thrust for acceleration. The Sport Touring has been clocked going from 0 to 60 mph in a swift 7.3 seconds.
2. The Ability to Choose Between a CVT and a 6-speed Manual Transmission
Drivers who want a sportier performance will no doubt want to nab the Sport or Sport Touring with the 6-speed manual transmission equipped. It provides smooth transitions between gears and sends a lot of initial power to the front wheels for a fun launch. However, the CVT is also a smooth performer despite not operating the same way as a traditional automatic. It is designed for efficiency, and the trade-off for that is a slight delay in shifts, but it is hard to notice.
3. A Sporty but Comfortable Ride Quality
The Civic Hatchback has a pleasant ride quality thanks to its suspension. Whether you get the standard or sport-tuned suspension, it will easily dispatch all types of road imperfections. Broken pavement and loose gravel are no match for this suspension. That doesn't mean that the ride isn't fun though; it has a sporty quality to it that makes it more engaging.
4. Plenty of Room Inside of the Cabin
Despite its small stature, the Civic Hatchback has a remarkably spacious cabin. Up front, occupants get plenty of head space, and rear seat occupants are treated to plenty of legroom for stretching out. A tall passenger can easily fit behind a tall driver or front seat passenger, no problem.
5. An Easy-to-use Navigation System
Should you get the built-in Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation system, then you might find yourself actually wanting to use it. It has clear graphic read-outs and functions much like how your cellphone nav apps typically do. Many rivals' systems are nowhere near as user-friendly as Honda's, which helps make it worth the extra cost.
6. Honda Sensing's Long List of Driver Aids
Honda offers a huge list of standard driver aids in the Honda Sensing suite. This bundles together forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist - just to name a few functions. If you upgrade to the EX or Sport Touring, you can use Honda LaneWatch to monitor the passenger-side blind spot. However, this isn't a full blind-spot monitoring system, and most drivers won't need it due to the car's wide outward views.
7. A Large and Versatile Cargo Area
The Civic Hatchback offers more cargo space than most hatchbacks in this segment, and it is also exponentially more versatile in its design. With the rear seats in place, you can utilize 25.7 cubic feet of space in the cargo area. If you fold the seats down, this maxes out to 46.2 cubes. There is a liftover height that is low enough to make loading and unloading bulky cargo easy enough. Also, you get some nifty storage options to help you organize the cargo area.
8. The LATCH System is Easy to Use
With wide door openings and a generous amount of rear seat space, installing child safety seats is simple. The LATCH system helps with this, given its easy-to-reach anchors and tethers. Parents of infants can slide their rear-facing safety seats in without hassle.
9. Real-world Tests Match - and Even Exceed - EPA Estimates
Looking for a high fuel economy? Good news! The Civic Hatchback's real-world driving tests show that it at least matches - if not exceeds - its EPA estimates. The EPA has this vehicle pegged for 32 mpg combined on the CVT models. Tests reveal that this number could be about 35-36 mpg, even when you tend to have a lead foot.
10. The Sport Touring's Sound System
The Sport Touring's 12-speaker sound system is just downright awesome. Music-lovers will enjoy its concert-like quality. Turn this system up - you won't get any distortion. While we don't often recommend splurging just for a sound system, this one is pretty justifiable.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback – The Cons
1. The Sport Touring's Tires Generate Some Road Noise
Not interested in hearing road noise? Then avoid the Sport Touring and its sized-up tires. They are meant to be sporty and, therefore, generate some road noise - perhaps a bit too much for the casual, everyday driver. It is a minor complaint and something that certain drivers can get used to, but it probably is not for everyone.
2. Voice Control Does Not Recognize Natural Speech Patterns
If only the voice controls were as finely tuned as the rest of the infotainment system. Unfortunately, these controls do not recognize natural speech patterns, so there will be a steep learning curve for drivers who want to use them. Your commands have to be incredibly specific and slowly, clearly spoken, which is not always easy to do while you are driving.
3. Too Many False Alarms From the Driver Aids
While you get a ton of standard driver aids, some of them are overly vigilant. Chiefly, forward collision warning has this problem. You could be within a safe distance of a vehicle in front of you, and the system might still issue an alarm. Needless to say, this can be more distracting than helpful.
4. A Few Major Controls Are Allocated to the Touchscreen
To access certain core controls, you will have to first get into the touchscreen. This is more time-consuming than it should be while you are driving. More physical controls is something buyers tend to want, especially when they are for major functions.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Honda Civic Hatchback vs. 2021 Honda Civic Sedan
We have to compare the Hatchback with the Sedan. They are, in many ways, the same vehicle. But in others, they are totally different. The Sedan offers more cargo space and a superbly cozy interior. Its appearance on the outside might be a bit more divisive since it comes off as being too stylized. It does have the same obnoxious forward collision warning, but the same tech features do come on it.
2021 Honda Civic Hatchback vs. 2021 Subaru Impreza
The 2021 Subaru Impreza is equipped with standard all-wheel drive, as is the tradition for Subaru. It lends to better traction control and vehicle stability - a must-have if you live in regions where inclement weather causes slick, hazardous roadways. A manual transmission is also available on this vehicle, but you will have to put up with the Impreza's sluggish acceleration and less-than-impressive real-world fuel economy.
The 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback is a segment leader for a reason. Actually, for a lot of reasons. If you need something that will net you some savings at the pump while still being fun to drive, the Civic Hatchback might just be the right vehicle for you. You will just have to get used to some of its glaringly obvious tech issues.
• Why buy a 2020 Honda Civic? w/ pros vs cons