2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Test Drive Review

By Jeffrey N. Ross | February 20, 2020

The Honda Civic Si is hands down one of the most entertaining cars priced under $30,000 with its peppy engine, tight-shifting manual transmission and tuner-like appearance right from the factory, but sometimes life requires a more mature mode of transportation that offers added convenience, comfort and luxury. That's where the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring comes into play. Not only is this trim level about as close as you can get to a Civic Si hatchback (the Si is offered in coupe or sedan only), it delivers features not available on the sport compact.

A year after receiving minor packaging updates including added safety features and physical buttons and volume controls for the infotainment system, the 2020 Civic Hatchback got subtle styling changes inside and out, and we spent a week in the range-topping Sport Touring trim to see how these changes panned out.

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2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Exterior

Rear view of white 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback

It takes an observant eye to spot the changes made to the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback, but body-colored winglet-shaped additions in the front fascia gets rid of the previous car's cheap-looking honeycomb inserts and the grille has been updated as well with a larger center opening. Similar winglet accents are added to the rear fascia, and while the Sport Touring still gets a pair of center-mounted exhaust outlets, the restyled fascia adds diffuser-like vertical channels.

All 2020 Civic models get new wheel designs, and the Sport Touring gets stylish Y-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels with a dark finish. These dark wheels along with the blacked-out grille and rear spoiler are perfect contrasts to this tester's Platinum White hue. Interestingly, while the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is available in seven colors when equipped with the CVT, manual-transmission cars only get a choice of three colors.

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2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Interior

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Interior

After last year's restyling of the center stack (including physical buttons and volume control for the infotainment system), there really wasn't much more Honda could do to make this spacious and stylish cabin any better, so the only change made was trim-specific cabin accents – for the Sport Touring, that includes brushed black trim running across the instrument panel. The interior definitely has a sporty vibe to match the exterior of this Civic Hatchback, but the Sport Touring key benefits are the standard, and exclusive, features this trim level offers.

The seven-inch touch-screen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on most trim levels, and the Sport Touring upgrades to a navigation system and 540-watt, 12-speaker audio system as well as a four-way power passenger seat and heated front and rear outboard seats. In addition to the hatchback body style, there's another thing the Sport Touring offers that the Si doesn't – leather seats.

Considering the Civic is a compact car, all of the available body styles deliver impressive passenger space, but it's the hatchback, of course, that offers the best passenger and cargo space. The 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback provides more rear-passenger headroom and hip room than the Civic sedan and cargo capacity is 25.7 cubic feet with the rear seats in place versus just 15.1 cubic feet to the sedan. Fold down the Hatchback's rear seats and you're looking at 46.2 cubic feet of unimpeded cargo space. Better yet, the hatchback design provides for a low load-in height, although the retracting side-to-side soft cargo cover looks and feels extremely cheap.

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2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Powertrain

Engine bay of the 2020 Nissan Titan

The biggest news for 2020 is that you can now get the Civic Hatchback Sport Touring with a six-speed manual transmission, but the bad news is I didn't get to test that transmission for this test drive review; this car had the optional ($800) continuously variable transmission.

With the exception of the Type R, all 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback models are powered by the same 1.5-liter "Earth Dreams" turbocharged inline-four producing various tunes depending on the model. Base models are rated 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, while the Si cranks up the tune with 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque; the Sport and Sport Touring models deliver 180 hp and up to 177 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the manual transmission option; CVT-equipped models like this tester drop torque to 162 lb-ft. Although official EPA-rated fuel economy estimates are 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway*, this car's trip computer showed an average of 36.4 after a week mostly highway driving. Speaking of fuel, Honda recommends that the Sport and Sport Touring use premium fuel.

It's not likely that the average driver will notice the marginal increase in power, but Honda still tuned this car to be fun with a nimble suspension setup, responsive steering and strong brakes. The ride quality of the Sport Touring is where this trim level really shines if you want a sporty looking compact without the rough sport compact ride. Even though you can have fun driving this version of the 2020 Civic, the Sport Touring is still tuned just like the standard versions of this car. Bottom line, if you're looking for an entertaining compact car that is roomy and versatile, then the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is the way to go.

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2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Safety

Backup camera in the 2020 Nissan Titan

Except for the Type R (which hasn't been fully crash tested), all trims and body styles of the 2020 Honda Civic have a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

All 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback trim levels come standard with Honda Sensing suite of driver assist technologies, which includes Lane Keep Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Collision Mitigation Braking System and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow. The EX, EX-L and Sport Touring trim levels also add the Honda LaneWatch technology.

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2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Overall

Taligate of the 2020 Nissan Titan

With better styling and power, the 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is a great option if you need the practicality of a hatchback and want more performance than the Civic's base model offerings. The updates for 2020 add a more well-rounded style to this car delivering sport compact looks with higher-end amenities and cabin tech. All of these add-ons do come with a higher price, though.

You can get behind the wheel of a Civic Sedan for just $19,850** while the Civic hatchback starts at $21,650**, but with the exception of the track-ready Civic Type R, the Sport Touring is actually the highest-priced Civic trim level starting at $28,150**. Since this trim comes fully loaded with no available option packages, this Civic Hatchback Sport Touring CVT had an as-tested price of $29,780.

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2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, FWD hatchback

Engine/Transmission

1.5L I-4

180 hp / 177 lb-ft

6-speed manual or CVT automatic

Mileage

29/35 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.