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2019 Honda Civic review: A complete package

Styling and tech updates keep the 2019 Honda Civic at the head of the compact sedan class.

Jon Wong Former editor for CNET Cars
Jon Wong was a reviews editor for CNET Cars. He test drove and wrote about new cars and oversaw coverage of automotive accessories and garage gear. In his spare time, he enjoys track days, caring for his fleet of old Japanese cars and searching for the next one to add to his garage.
Jon Wong
5 min read

To call the 10th-generation Honda Civic a hit would be an understatement. It's been America's retail car sales leader ever since the first Honda Civic in 2016, largely thanks to its great packaging, nicely crafted interior and chic style. Now, for 2019, small styling and tech updates arrive to improve upon this already solid package.


2019 Honda Civic

The Good

The 2019 Honda Civic is attractive, comfortable, fuel-efficient and an entertaining drive.

The Bad

The infotainment system lags when switching between menus and the car lacks device charging ports.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Honda Civic is an even stronger compact sedan than before.

The turbo four in the 2019 Honda Civic offers adequate power and strong fuel economy.

Rob Weber/Roadshow

Minor nips and tucks

The 2019 Civic's shapely sheet metal is largely unchanged. The only real tweaks include a restyled lower front fascia and grille, the latter of which adopts a gloss-black finish where chrome had lived before, and I think this minor update really works on the Honda's front end. Chrome is instead added to the bottom of the rear fascia.

There are a couple of new wheel designs for 2019, with my top-of-the-line Touring model test car getting slick, 18-inch rollers with gray-painted spoke insets. The Molten Lava Pearl paint job pictured here is also a new addition to the color palette, and overall, the Civic looks fresh as ever, ready to battle the newly redesigned ,  and .

2019 Honda Civic Sedan: Small visual updates and friendlier tech

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As to the outside, changes to the Civic's cabin are minimal. You'll notice some fresh dashboard trim, as well as a redesigned front cup holder that better accommodates big, American-size beverages. (I'm happy to report that huge Slurpees now fit with ease.) That said, the position of the center armrest is still sort of awkward, relative to the location of the cup holders.

The big update you can't see is the additional sound insulation Honda added to the Civic, which is really noticeable. The Civic is impressively quiet inside, even at highway speeds. Combined with generous accommodations for passengers and cargo -- the trunk has 14.7 cubic feet of space -- the 2019 Civic is a comfortable and practical daily driver.

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Outside of the new trim and redesigned cup holders, the Civic's interior is mostly unchanged.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Friendlier tech

The biggest 2019 model year update happens on the tech front, with more intuitive steering wheel controls and major usability updates for the Display Audio infotainment system. New physical shortcut buttons now reside to the left of the 7-inch touchscreen, rather than the touch-sensitive controls from the old model, allowing you to quickly access audio, phone and embedded navigation screens. A legit volume knob has also been added, replacing the old Civic's frustrating touch/slide adjustment function. For folks who aren't fans of Display Audio, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

Sadly, there are a couple of things that Honda didn't address in this update. First, the system takes a noticeable second or two to switch between various screens. And second, the Civic's charging port game is still weak. There's a 1.5-amp USB port and 12-volt outlet on the lower tier of the center stack, and you can neatly run cords through a pass-through. There's another 1.0-amp USB outlet under the cup holder, but that's it. Back seat passengers don't have any easy access to standard power ports. If you want to add some, Honda charges $145 for the privilege, which admittedly isn't much, but really, these should just be standard -- especially on my top-level Touring.

No matter the trim level, all 2019 Civics come standard with the Honda Sensing group of technologies, which adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and automatic high beams. A very well-tuned lane-departure warning system with lane-keeping assist is also part of the package, and it makes gentle steering corrections automatically when the car veers from the center of a lane.

A multi-angle rearview camera with passable image resolution is equipped on all Civics, while the Touring gets a nifty LaneWatch system that displays an image of the right blind spot when the right turn signal is activated. Mirrors or a good, old-fashioned shoulder check for the left blind spot will have to suffice because Honda vehicles equipped with LaneWatch aren't available with a full blind-spot monitoring system.

Solid driver

As for the Civic's drivetrains, they carry over unchanged for 2019. LX and Sport models are powered by a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated I4 with 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, and you can still get the Sport with a manual transmission. The rest of the lineup packs a punchier 1.5-liter turbocharged I4 with 174 horses and 162 pound-feet, which working with a continuously variable transmission. Together, the pair returns an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. I observed 35.8 mpg, which is great for my lead-foot driving style.

The turbo engine's power won't blow you away, but the four-cylinder is responsive around town, and offers plenty of oomph for merging onto the highway. I don't have any complaints about the CVT, either. Honda knows how to finely tune a CVT, with nicely simulated gear changes -- this is one continuously variable unit that performs more like a conventional automatic. In Sport mode, revised transmission mapping keeps the engine turning at higher revs when you want to have a little fun. Paddle shifters are part of the Touring package, too, but shift response is lazy and really no fun. It's better to let the computer do all the work and just be done with it.

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Suspension tuning provides tighter cornering and respectable ride comfort.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Finally, the Civic impresses with solid chassis tuning. The steering is weighty and responsive to inputs, the suspension perfectly balanced to deliver composed cornering on the 235/40R18 Continental ContiProContact tires. Brake performance is also strong with a grabby initial bite and firm pedal feel. Overall, the Civic is a well-sorted package that's comfortable on the daily, and won't fall apart if you push it a little harder on winding roads.

How I'd spec it

The 2019 Civic Sedan starts at $19,450 for a base LX model, and tops out at just under $30,000 for a Touring. When building a Civic sedan, I'll begin with an EX model painted Molten Lava, which starts at $23,400, not including $920 for destination. That gets me the turbo engine, LaneWatch and the all-important heated front seats and remote engine start, because Midwest winters can be brutal. To make up for the lack of charge points inside, I'll add the $305 wireless charge pad and $145 rear USB chargers. All in, my Civic wears a $24,770 price tag, to undercut my $28,220 tester by fair amount.

A top compact

Prior to its 2019 update, the Honda Civic already stood out as a great compact sedan with interesting styling, a comfy cabin, powerful and efficient drivetrains and balanced handling dynamics. Along with the Mazda3, it continues to be one of the better-driving entries in the segment, as well. While the 2019 model year's small visual changes give it a meaner look, the tech upgrades go the furthest in helping the Civic maintain its spot at the head of the class. It's not without faults, but is the strongest and most complete compact sedan package on the market today.


2019 Honda Civic

Score Breakdown

Performance 8.5Features 8Design 8.5Media 7.5