A long-overdue family visit recently saw me drive eight hours south from Sudbury to visit three cousins, their 8 kids, two sets of aunts and uncles, and two elderly grandparents. I was born and grew up in southern Ontario, but all extended family members had moved since my last visit.
The sporty Civic Touring Coupe rides like it looks like it rides: athletic, taut, and alert.
This whirlwind trip took me to numerous unfamiliar locations in a familiar locale, all while at the wheel of a 2017 Honda Civic Touring Coupe.
And, here’s the thing: I’ve (famously) been lost en route to places that I’ve already been, several times. Usually, I’d rather eat a light-bulb than navigate my way around an unfamiliar city. I’m next-level directionally challenged. Don’t judge me.
Thankfully, Civic Coupe’s Touring designation signals its support of drivers who frequently travel long distances away from home. And, in the process of frantically injecting myself into the schedules of numerous busy relatives over 36 hours, a variety of features and attributes proved indispensable to keep me on course, in touch, on time, and stress-free.
The big one was Android Auto (Apple CarPlay is on board, too, if you use an iPhone). It mostly works like a charm: pair your phone once, plug it in, and watch as numerous important functions are upscaled into the central screen. You manipulate almost everything with a simple voice command or single screen-tap.
I’m en route to my aunt and uncle’s cottage for the first time. Android Auto reads me a text from another aunt, who lives some unknown distance away.
“HI JUSTIN. I’LL BE HOME FROM 1:00 UNTIL 2:30. LOVE TO SEE YOU IF YOU CAN MAKE IT!”
So I ask Google, “How long to get to 123 Smith Street?”
“TRAFFIC IS AS NORMAL, AND IT WILL TAKE YOU ABOUT 37 MINUTES,” Google replied.
“Text Aunt Maria.”
“WHAT’S THE MESSAGE?”
“Sure – I’ll see you around 1:15.”
Moments later, the system reads another message, from my cousin, via Facebook.
“CAN YOU GRAB A BIRTHDAY CAKE FROM DAIRY QUEEN FOR LEXI FOR TONIGHT?”
I asked Android Auto where the nearest DQ was, what time they were open until, and how long it would take to get there. I’d be able to get the cake, after my visit to my grandparents in the retirement home.
“Text Cousin Jennifer.”
“WHAT’S THE MESSAGE.”
“I’ll get the cake, and see you around 6:30!”
And a reminder, in case I forgot.
“Remind me to pick up a birthday cake at 6:00.”
“YOUR REMINDER IS SET.”
All of this, by voice, without taking a hand off of the wheel, or looking away from the road. No stress as messages piled up while I drove. No pulling over for directions or maps or to determine travel times to unfamiliar destinations. When you’re busy, running around, trying to stay on track and in touch and on schedule – and have absolutely no idea where you’re going – Android Auto is a godsend.
Even the mapping data is impeccable. The often-updated Google maps brought me right to one cousin’s house, which had only been built for a month. The built-in map loaded into the Civic’s factory navigation system said I was in the middle of the woods.
So, Android Auto is a key feature that helps support the Civic Coupe’s “Touring” designation.
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Some others are obvious, and others still, are not.
The LED headlights proved valuable for evening travels through the long, straight farm roads around Leamington, Lakeshore, and St. Joachim. Clean, white, and far-reaching light provided plenty of early notice of potential hazards, and kept my peepers fresh and alert, even after a very long day at the wheel.
The factory stereo is punchy and clean, making it an ideal long-haul listening companion at any volume you like. Don’t be afraid to crank it: Android Auto mutes the music if you get a message, reminder, or traffic or weather alert.
Fuel-efficiency is another asset. Honda’s 1.5-litre turbo engine and a relatively new CVT transmission keep engine load, revs, and (indirectly) the turbocharger working optimally for all conditions, and mileage was fantastic. Power is dispensed in smooth, shift-free waves, and unless opened right up, the unique operating characteristics of the CVT transmission are all but imperceptible.
Even driven gently, the tester kept plenty of torque available at a mere throttle squeeze, kept its revs low and steady, and saw mileage land just under 6.0 L/100km, with plenty of highway cruising and city errands. Since Android Auto helped keep me from stressing about schedules, messages, and directions, I figure was able to drive more gently, less stressfully, and in less of a rush, more of the time – saving fuel.
Speaking of low-stress driving, Civic Touring’s adaptive cruise-control system is noteworthy. By and large, it works as well as the same systems in far-pricier rides – automatically adapting your speed to maintain a safe following distance in changing traffic conditions, and even stopping and restarting the car, without you touching the pedals. Set it and forget it: the system demonstrates trustworthiness, never seems startled, and is consistently smooth in its adjustments to throttle and brakes.
A few other notables.
First, the ride. The Touring badge suggested that, maybe, the tester would ride like big, squishy, and forgiving glob of warmed Velveeta, but that’s not the case. Instead, the sporty Civic Touring Coupe rides like it looks like it rides: athletic, taut, and alert. Suspension is dialled in more sports coupe than touring car, set finely between firm and forgiving, more towards the stiff side of the equation. The ride is busy at times: firm enough to connect with sports-coupe enthusiasts, but without spine-punching you when roads get rough, thanks to a softness around the edges of the suspension travel, and an above-average feel of durability.
If you’re after a long-haul cruiser with sharp reflexes and a ride that leans towards sports car, you’ll like what’s going on. If you’re after one that floats on a cloud, this may not be your bag of Tostitos.
Next, the cabin. Civic has moved light-years ahead of its predecessor where interfaces, trim materials, and overall style are concerned. A sharp and upscale cockpit is on offer with a healthy splash of tech, via the tablet-like central screen and partially-digital instrument cluster.
Further, here’s a coupe without typical coupe compromises, and if you prefer the look of the Civic Coupe to the Civic sedan, there’s little reason not to go for it – especially if you’ll typically travel alone, or with just one passenger.
Why? You sit lower than average in the cabin, the dash and panels come up high around you, and you feel like you’re surrounded by everything, not sitting up above it. Coupe-like, for sure. But it’s a relatively big and comfy coupe – rear seats are easily boarded and exited by smaller occupants, thanks in part to large door openings, and though headroom is at a premium for anyone over about 5'8", shorter rear-seat passengers will have room to spare. Up front, there’s space galore for two adults, even large ones. Sitting up here, you’d almost forget you were in a two-door.
Decent-for-a-coupe outward visibility and numerous at-hand storage bins and cubbies and reconfigurable implements were appreciated. Deep door pockets and grab-handles that double as additional storage add to the effect. Numerous power outlets, including a high-output USB recharging port and wireless smartphone recharging pad, were included, too. Hell, there are even pass-throughs to help route charging cables more tidily. Here’s a cabin that hits hard for styling, and even harder for a smattering of thoughtful and handy little touches.
Rear seats fold easily as needed; and though the trunk has a curious shape to the opening that can be a little restrictive upon loading and unloading, its overall size is appropriate to handle a four-person compliment of luggage, or a hefty grocery run, with no issue.
Gripes? Low-resolution displays let the back-up camera and LaneWatch camera systems down a little, some interior trimmings seemed easily scratched or marked, and the central command system, when not in Android Auto mode, is far from the market’s best-looking.
End of the day, if you’re okay with its sportier ride quality, Civic Touring Coupe is a compelling blend of great fuel mileage, the latest tech, space to spare, and numerous thoughtful touches that help keep you organized, tidy, connected, and relaxed on the move.
|2017 Honda Civic Touring Coupe|
|Engine Displacement: 1.5L4|
|Engine Cylinders: 4|
|Peak Horsepower: 174 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque: 162 lb-ft @ 1,700–5,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy: 7.4/5.6/6.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space: 337 L|
|2017 Honda Civic Touring Coupe|
|Base Price $27,890|
|A/C Tax $100|
|Destination Fee $1,595|
|Price as Tested $29,585|
|Optional Equipment None|