The Civic has been a bread-and-butter model throughout most of Honda’s history. The Civic defined what the brand stood for, which is to offer an everyday normal car that offers more than just the practical stuff and takes you from A to B. In fact, it has become the go-to college car for a lot of people due to its “pogi points” and even how sporty it drove. But times change and so do market preferences, and amid the decline in sedan sales, the Civic has remained resilient. Now on its 11th generation, the 2023 Honda Civic is better than ever, but which variant should you get?
Whichever variant you choose, Honda opted for a more conservative design this time around for the Civic. Some may call it the “odd-numbered curse” just like in the seventh (EP) and ninth (FB) generations, but for this eleventh (FE) generation model, we think it’s an improvement over the tenth generation (FC). For the 2023 Honda Civic, the aesthetic has been cleaned up and toned down, making it less juvenile and more timeless–if a bit more anonymous.
However, as with many cars, the “handsomeness” of the Civic is also dictated by which variant you can afford. The base S, which has been discontinued for 2023, comes with small 16-inch wheels, halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, but no foglights. You also don’t get smart entry and power-folding mirrors. It’s when you move up to the V, which is now the base spec, that the Civic starts to look good. With this model, you now get two-tone 17-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights, power-folding mirrors, and smart entry.
The top-of-the-range RS is probably what most people will aspire to own, as it’s practically the most handsome of the bunch. With this variant, you get black 18-inch wheels, black door handles, black window trim, black side mirrors, black rear spoiler, and twin exhausts that are integrated to the rear bumper design.
Likewise, the interior of the 2023 Honda Civic has been toned down for a simpler look, but this is where we think we can universally agree that it looks better. The simplistic layout and generous amounts of knurled hard buttons mean that every switchgear is user-friendly and pleasant to the touch. Honda even intelligently decided to use patterned grey glossy plastic instead of piano black finishes as the former manages to resist fingerprints.
Just like the exterior, the premium feel and features of the interior will be dependent on which variant you’re going to get. The base S is decently equipped with tech as it comes with a 7-inch partly-digital instrument cluster, a 7-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, single-zone climate control, a four-speaker sound system push-button start, and an electronic parking brake, among other features. Where the S falls short is in terms of premium feel, because only the dash topper is finished in soft-touch plastic and instead of any semblance of leather, all touch points are either covered in fabric or urethane. Oh, and your only way to open the trunk lid is through the key fob or a button inside the Civic.
Next is the V, and while this benefits from an 8-speaker sound system and rear aircon vents, the overall cabin quality is largely the same. It’s only when you step up to the RS that you get soft-touch plastics on the doors, leather on the steering and gear lever, red stitching, and red LED ambient lighting. Apart from the upgraded interior feel, you now get a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a larger 9-inch infotainment with more functionality as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a 12-speaker Bose sound system.
Space and Practicality
The good news here is that whichever variant you choose, they’re practically similar in terms of practicality. Space on all two rows is excellent, and it’s a testament to how Honda is able to carve out so much space in a compact sedan–though in hindsight, the Civic is nearly as big as an Accord from a couple of generations ago. The driving position is typical Honda–perfect and second nature in terms of how the seats and steering fall into place.
Likewise in terms of cargo space, the 2023 Honda Civic offers a whole lot of storage at 497 liters. That’s smaller than the previous Civic, but it’s still one of the biggest in its class right now. That’s however reduced by two liters in the case of the RS, no thanks to its shelf-mounted subwoofer for the Bose sound system.
For this generation, however, the 2023 Honda Civic now comes with the 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo gasoline engine as standard across all variants, unlike before when you had to splurge for the RS if you want turbo power. This means that it’s in the driving experience where all three Civics feel largely similar, and that’s a good thing since you don’t need the RS anymore if outright performance is what you’re after.
The 2023 Honda Civic’s engine produces 178 horsepower and a stout 240 Nm of torque–figures that are pretty much class-leading. 0-100 kph happens in the mid-seven-second range. It isn’t just subjectively fast. It is fast. Honda has worked to give the engine plenty of mid-range torque as opposed to having it all at the lower RPM range and combined with the reworked CVT, the drivetrain offers punchy and immediate response when you want more power. There’s no need to wring its neck because the Civic readily offers power anytime you want it.
At the same time, the Civic is very civilized, with excellent ride and stability baked right into the highly-rigid chassis and well-damped suspension. There’s a bit more road noise than a Corolla Altis or Mazda 3, but it’s not too obtrusive. In addition, it handles road imperfections with delicacy, even if its 134 mm ground clearance means that caution is needed when going over steep parking ramps.
Yet when you take it out on twisty roads, the Civic is still a willing dance partner. The quick ratio steering makes the front end feel pointy and sharp, and there’s also a decent amount of road feel that’s enough to let you know what’s happening to the front wheels. The suspension deals with body roll excellently, and the brakes offer plenty of stopping power. The CVT even comes with a shift logic that mimics the fixed gear ratios of a traditional torque converter automatic, and this is simulated well with the paddle shifters in the RS.
Speaking of the RS, this variant has slight differences from the other variants. It’s the only model with a dedicated Sport mode as opposed to just an “S” mode in the CVT. This adjusts more parameters like throttle response rather than just making the CVT feel like it’s always in low gear. However, since the RS also has wider tires, it not only emits a bit more tire noise, but it also increases the Civic’s turning circle to nearly as big as pickup-based SUVs.
Fuel economy has always been a Civic strong point–especially for the turbocharged model. For this new one, it maintains that reputation as it did 8.6 km/l in the city, 19 km/l on the highway, and on average 11.3 km/l when we measured all three cars. That’s despite the fact that these are some of the fastest compact sedans you can buy right now.
Lastly, Honda is particularly proud to highlight that the Civic comes as standard with the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), which bundles automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. All of these features work well without being too obtrusive. However, there are no rear-facing ADAS such as blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. Instead, what it gets is the LaneWatch camera, which is Honda’s answer to blind spot warning. This feature, however, is limited to the RS variant.
The 2023 Honda Civic is in its best form yet. It isn’t always that we get to review all variants in one shot, but call us lucky that this opportunity was presented to us. Compared to other compact sedans, nothing else manages to blend practicality and fun like the Honda Civic. With cars, there’s often always a compromise, but the Civic has always managed to blend multiple traits and be a master of most, if not all traits.
But what’s the variant that we recommend? Everyone from Jude, Tomi, and I all agreed that the V offers the best value for your money, as it manages to offer a good amount of features inside and out, whilst balancing it with a price that puts it in the upper middle area of the compact sedan space as well. Too bad that the S has been discontinued, but either way, even if it did exist, it wasn’t a variant we’d recommend since it’s almost pretty basic in terms of interior quality and features.
If you have the money to splurge, then we also wouldn’t stop you from getting the RS altogether. After all, the amount of features it brings to the table is quite a significant jump over the V, which means that the significant price jump could be worth it for a lot of Civic fans.
Pricing and Rating (Average Rating)
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Safety and Driver Assistance: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Price: **P1,368,000 (S), *P1,583,000 (V), *P1,775,000 (RS)
Overall: 4.6 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.
**The Civic S has been discontinued.