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2016 Honda Civic: 10 New Tech Niblets

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2015-10-19 Benson Kong, Robin Trajano

2016 Honda Civic: 10 New Tech Niblets

Depending on who you ask, the Honda Civic is perceived as a great commuter car, beginner's car, (street) racer's car, or just some Honda. But within the compact segment, is it an aspirational car? Some might say it's been several years since the Civic topped its class by grace of overall performance, reliability, and driving excitement for the category. With a few down years (by critical acclaim standards) still fresh in its mind, Honda looks to shoot up the C-sedan standings, starting with the 2016-model sedan.

There's been lots of enthusiasm. The exterior is more dramatic. The lighting is more exciting. The powertrains are more potent. The cabin is classed up. The user technology is more diverse and more advanced. The following are 10 tech talking points that we found especially interesting on the 10th-generation Civic.

2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-climate-controls © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-climate-controls

Automatic climate control is standard on all sedans

Maybe an odd fact to open with, but a neat one nonetheless for a car that starts at $19,475. That's for the manually shifted, "any takers?" LX; the actual starting price is $20,275 for the mass-made Civic with the continuously variable transmission. Standard auto climate control (dual zone on the turbocharged EX-T, EX-L, and Touring trims) is a first for the Civic and the system is said to get into its operating zone 10-percent quicker than the last version. It also finally switches to a variable-displacement air-conditioning compressor, which worked fluidly and discreetly in the perpetual Southern California heat.

2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-gas-cap © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-gas-cap

The gas tank is smaller

The Civic loses 0.8 gallon in the changeover to 2016's 12.4-gallon piece from 2015's 13.2-gallon tank. While a 12.4-gallon tank has a notable influence on the driving range of a car such as the more powerful and thirstier Ford Focus ST, a range drop shouldn't be as apparent considering the 2016's higher EPA combined fuel economy estimates (31-35 mpg combined to last year's 31-33 on volume models). The 0.8-gallon represents about 5 pounds saved, not including any weight loss from the plastic tank itself.

2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-engine-02 © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-engine-02

Real MPG is not bad at all with the turbo engine

Honda expects 30 percent of 2016 Civic sedan customers to take the new-to-the-U.S., 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four. The optional engine makes 174 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque -- greater than all Si variants up to 2005 -- but achieves Real MPG of 27.1/45.3/33.1 mpg city/highway/combined with our Touring-grade test car. The step-up engine gives the Civic the sway to attract customers who want some extra shove and may have been eyeing competitors including the Mazda3 and Dodge Dart.

2016-Honda-Civic-rear-chassis © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-rear-chassis

Drum brakes are no more

Leaving the drum brake domain to the Fit, the new sedan has converted to disc rotors all around on each and every Civic. The 2015 model offered rear discs at the EX and EX-L trims. But since nearly 60 percent of all current Civics sold are of the base LX persuasion, the majority of new Civics that have been hitting the road feature drums in the rear. Admit it: It's much more exciting shopping for new pads rather than shoes.

2016-Honda-Civic-body-frame © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-body-frame

Computer-guided crash simulation use is increasing

Developing and building cars takes huge resources and some of the most capital-intensive work involves crash safety. While the act of physically crashing a car is unlikely to go completely away, software-guided simulations continue to improve and should eventually lessen automaker costs related to preparing rigs for destruction. On an apples-to-apples basis, the new Civic didn't require as many real-life crash tests as the outgoing model. But because the 2016 car had to crash-test two engines instead of one, it ended up receiving more whacks against the barrier anyway.

2016-Honda-Civic-15L-Turbo-Engine © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-15L-Turbo-Engine

The engine will now protect you even more in the event of a crash

One very cool feature built into the Civic is the crash stroke structure up front, which effectively yanks the engine down and backwards in a frontal crash so the impact load is guided to destroy more of the vehicle floor (hence the engine falling down and back) instead of the cabin. Technically, the engine's movement contributes another 3.2 inches of potentially lifesaving crush space. The use of such a structure is a first for Honda.

2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-steering-wheel © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-steering-wheel

Despite quicker steering and fewer turns lock-to-lock, the turning circle isn't much larger

The 2016 Civic's steering is faster, more responsive, and doesn't need many turns of the wheel (just 2.2 from one end to the other). And it has a lengthier wheelbase and wider front track. Traditionally, the aforementioned traits would entail a (much) bigger turning circle.

Indeed, the new sedan's 35.7-foot curb-to-curb measurement is 0.3 inch broader than the previous year's car but it's not bad considering all the changes. Having a variable steering ratio (by way of strategically spaced teeth on the rack) helps a lot. Plus, 35.7 feet is a more than tolerable number, unless you absolutely need the 2016 Smart Fortwo's 22.8 feet.

2016-Honda-Civic-LX-engine © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-LX-engine

A double-overhead-cam engine, incredibly, is the entry-level engine

Many moons ago, when Honda's D-series were abundant, it was normal to ooh-and-aah whichever B-series was available at the time. Single-cam guys would argue with double-cam guys. That's just the way Honda engines were: There was a SOHC to play with, and a DOHC with accompanying fender stickers.

Now, there's not a single-overhead-cam engine in sight. The base engine is a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated inline-four with two camshafts, producing 158 hp at 6,500 rpm and 138 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. A relative of the Euro-market Civic Type-R's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the square (86mm bore by 85.9mm stroke), port-injected 2.0-liter has that VTEC, of course. And the six-speed manual transmission it's hooked up to is new too.

The redline, however, is only 6,700 rpm

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For aerodynamic assistance, go for aluminum

Every new vehicle on the road must consider aerodynamics. While smoothing out the underbody with paneling is standard operating procedure nowadays, using an aluminum (and not plastic) tray beneath the engine and transmission seems unusual for the $19,475-$27,335 sedan. Not that the tray uses terribly thick aluminum. Touching it with our hand reveals malleability that matches the bendiness of two, possibly three, Thanksgiving turkey disposable roasting pans from the thrift store stacked together.

2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-steering-wheel-controls © Provided by MotorTrend 2016-Honda-Civic-Touring-steering-wheel-controls

Cheap lane-keep assistance and adaptive cruise control with full stop capability for the people

Have we made enough mention of the 2016 Civic's costs? Get this: an LX model with the CVT and the Honda Sensing safety technology collection commands $22,875. With it comes driver aids such as collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning, and road departure mitigation.

Lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control with low speed follow are bundled together too. If our experience with the Honda Sensing equipment on the $27,335 Civic Touring test vehicle (where the kit is standard) is any indication, this could be one of the best and most cost-effective ways of opting into the tech. The radar unit, camera, and software responsible for processing the road conditions do so in the best way possible: without drawing excessive attention to itself.

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