The long-lived and loved Honda Civic has been a staple of the small-car market for nearly 50 years. All-new, 10th-generation versions of its coupe and sedan were introduced for 2016, and a hatchback model was added to the lineup shortly thereafter.
Model year 2020 brings changes for the Civic Hatchback, including some low-key styling revisions, expanded availability of a six-speed manual transmission, and more features added as standard equipment.
All trims have new wheel designs, in either dark gray or black, and additional sound insulation in the floor, trunk, and front and rear fenders.
The 2020 Civic Hatchback comes in LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Sport Touring trim levels. Sport and Sport Touring models offer the choice of a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic (CVT) transmission. LX, EX, and EX-L trims have the CVT.
Pricing with a $930 destination charge included starts at $22,580 for the LX. The Sport trim with manual gearbox is $23,680. EX goes for $25,080; EX-L for $26,280; and manual-equipped Sport Touring for $28,980. Sport and Sport Touring models with the CVT automatic transmission are an extra $800.
A 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is used in all Civic Hatchbacks, but its horsepower rating goes up from 174 to 180 when under the hood of a Sport or Sport Touring trim. The recommended fuel becomes premium rather than regular.
For this report, I drove a Civic Hatchback Sport Touring with CVT, whose fuel economy rating is 29 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined. Had it been outfitted with a manual transmission, the numbers would be 29/37/32 mpg.
The Honda Civic is a handsome car, but the Honda Civic Hatchback is a head-turner, empirically proven during my test week when I personally witnessed the attention it attracted. I’m sure my hatchback’s terrific Sonic Gray Pearl paint deserves credit for some of that attention.
In the competitive field of compact cars, the Civic Hatchback’s build quality is a standout. With just a gentle nudge, doors close quietly and completely. At freeway speeds the ride feels closer to luxury than economy, and handling on twisty roads is playfully solid.
The four-cylinder engine has no trouble getting up to speed on a short on-ramp, keeping up with the pack, or making lickety-split emergency avoidance maneuvers.
A highlight of the Civic Hatchback’s interior is a center console with sliding and stacking compartments providing slightly less than an infinite number of variations for organizing items and holding beverages.
A lowlight would be the absence of a manual tuning dial for the touchscreen audio system, and a too-small volume control dial, almost as if the technicians didn’t really want to include one but felt they must because of all the complaints from car reviewers.
Updates on the Sport Touring trim for 2020 include improved LED headlights with longer and wider beams, and the addition of HomeLink as a standard feature.
Though the Sport Touring trim is now available with a six-speed manual transmission, I’d opt for the excellent CVT. Boy racers think manual gearboxes are cool, but manually shifting gears in our commonly encountered Seattle-area heavy traffic is a drag.
2020 HONDA CIVIC HATCHBACK SPORT TOURING
Base price, including destination charge: $29,780
Price as driven: $29,780
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.