2023 Best Compact Car: Honda Civic

Surprise, surprise – last year’s winner for AutoTrader’s Best Compact Car and Best Overall Car has come back for a repeat win, taking the honours once again for Best Compact Car in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards. The 2023 Honda Civic has been a perennial winner here, and as the best-selling passenger car in Canada for many years now, it means that consumers agree too. A jury of over 20 automotive journalists from all over the country considered every single new compact car available for Canadians to buy, and voted for the Honda Civic as the winner in its segment. Jurors’ votes go towards cars they can confidently recommend to their own family and friends.

The Civic took down every other car in its segment, but also the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, and Hyundai Elantra finalists on its way to the top. Today’s 11th-generation model has ditched the more controversial styling in favour of a more conservative look but still manages to look smart without being too bland.

With a shift to more standard features but a higher base price, the cheapest LX trim starts at $26,835 and includes a proximity key with push-button start, heated front seats, single-zone automatic climate control, and LED headlights. While standard features are great, competitors do have more simply equipped cars for a few thousand dollars less. Sliding up the scale, the EX, Sport, and flagship Touring ring in at $29,150, $30,250, and $33,350, respectively. They add features such as larger gauge and infotainment screens, larger aluminum alloy wheels, and on the Touring, a rear cross-traffic alert system, leather seating surfaces, power front seats, and heated rear seats.

The interior has strong build quality and good ergonomics, and there are just enough hard buttons and knobs to satisfy most users with a fairly easy learning curve. The overall attention to detail on material selection is starting to approach what might be expected out of an entry-level Acura.

As far as compact cars go, the Civic is as good as it gets for practicality. There is enough room for up to five passengers, and for a bit more money, the hatchback adds some extra rear cargo space. The Civic is now pretty close to what midsize sedans used to be in the past – small families can get away with enough space for most occasions.

Safety takes a front seat in the 2023 Honda Civic, with the Honda Sensing driver assist technology coming as standard across the board. It includes a forward collision warning system with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, a blind spot information system, lane keeping assist, and traffic jam assist. The American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Civic its Top Safety Pick+ distinction for its crash ratings and safety equipment.

Lower trims of the Civic start with a 158-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The Touring sedan and Sport/Sport Touring hatchback get a 1.5-litre turbocharged unit that pumps out 180 horsepower with much more torque in the lower part of the rev range. For ride and handling, Honda’s engineers have applied their winning formula and have continuously improved upon crisp handling response without sacrificing ride quality. Step up to the 200-horsepower, manual transmission Si sedan or the 315-horsepower Type R and the spice level gets turned up.

The 2023 Honda Civic takes Canadians’ desire to have the best bang for the buck in a right-sized package and nails it in every regard. With every new generation that comes out, the competition has to play catch-up, and when they eventually do, Honda pulls another rabbit out of its hat and starts that process all over again. Hundreds of thousands of buyers in the past decade will agree: it’s hard to go wrong with the Civic.