2019 Honda Civic Touring EX new car reviews

No, it’s not a Civic Si, but for the 2019 model year Tonic Yellow can be found across the Civic Coupe model line. This top-of-the-line Touring EX came so blessed.

The EX trades some sport for comfort and luxuries: no limited-slip diff or manual gearbox but instead LED headlights, leather seating and satellite navigation. Like the Si, though, it wears 18-inch alloys.

No manual box? Read the counterpoint for the complete discussion.

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David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Here, I’ll say it: The Civic is the gold standard for the class.

The EX model, though, hasn’t been on my radar since the days of the single-cam VTEC, but this one looks the business–right stance, right wheels, right color. The lack of a wing accentuates the Civic Coupe’s wedgy, edgy profile. Perhaps a Civic doesn’t need an Si or Type R badge to woo me.

Let’s start with the transmission because I know that’s going to be the Big Thing to discuss. Yes, this trim only comes with a CVT–and for most people, it’s totally fine. In fact, it’s better than fine. It’s totally civil and not very CVT-like in D. Slip it into S, and things sporten up: more revs, more life. It’s not a manual substitute, but it offers some performance and fun to the more pedestrian option.

The paddle shifters allow actual manual control. Put the level in S and use the manual shifters, and you might well find yourself banging around.

I realize that the concept of a manually shifted CVT sounds weird, but it works. We sampled this one while in California–from the Bay Area down past the Hearst Castle. The trip ranged from mind-numbing traffic to mountain passes that make Tail of the Dragon seem a bit tame. I used the paddles more for calling the shots on downshifts.

Power seems par until you put the spurs to it. Then it wakes up. We’re not talking Si power, but it feels quicker than expected for the standard engine hooked to a CVT. Again, we have some "business up front, party in the back" action going on.

Great seats. Comfortable. Supportive. No aches after hours behind the wheel. The Touring niceties are appreciated. The LED headlights perfectly bathe the road. Rain-sensing wipers are nice but, I admit, we didn’t need them. I thought that the chrome door handles would bug me, but they didn’t. The controls feel solid. Honda nails the touch points. The steering wheel, interior switches, shifter paddles and even the radio knob have a perfect heft to the them–more Lexus and less VW or even Nissan. The cupholder, even, feels like it’s going to provide decades of service. The trunk release button feels solid. The door tops aren’t covered in hard plastic.

The bi-level gauge cluster used in some previous Civics works but, yeah, is a little unconventional. These are spot-on. The interior doesn’t have HUD, but I didn’t miss it. Solid steering. Not over-boosted, not vague.

I’ve been daily driving a Civic Si for the last few months, and the coupe body is very livable. The trunk holds two roller bags. Door openings are huge. Back seat, yeah, is small.

Did someone mention canyon roads? Yes, yes we did. That’s where the car’s great bones show through. Even without the Si chassis tuning, this Civic felt cool and composed through near-constant switchbacks. Stock rolling stock: 18-inch wheels wrapped with 235/40R18 tires. Thanks, again, Honda.

Downsides of this one? Hard to find faults. Sometimes the CarPlay buttons require just the right touch. Visibility over the right shoulder could be better, but Honda provide a camera view down that side of the car. I know that the looks aren’t for everyone, but I dig them. My biggest fear: Tonic Yellow has been dropped from the Si for 2020; I'm afraid to see that happen across the line. (Insert sad face emoji.)

Final thoughts: I admit, in my mind the current Civic lineup was limited to the Si, Type R and the Sport. This one got my attention. If you’re cool with a two-pedal setup and want a Civic that features all the bells and whistles, then it’s worth a look. I expected a soft, wallowing chassis but instead was greeted by something sportier than anticipated.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Reader Services
9/27/19 9:55 a.m.

Any chance you know the paint code for Tonic Yellow? I want to repaint my Fit in that color so I can finally stop losing it in parking lots.

Dootz
Dootz Reader
9/27/19 10:20 a.m.

All I want is a 2.0L Civic w/ the 6-speed in EX trim, but noooo you gotta buy the lame LX base

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/27/19 10:20 a.m.
Colin Wood said:

Any chance you know the paint code for Tonic Yellow? I want to repaint my Fit in that color so I can finally stop losing it in parking lots.

Yes. Well, kinda. Just grab the code off our Si. smiley

By the way, these are all iPhone photos. The color totally popped in that California sunset. That was snapped somewhere up in Marin Headlands. About a second after I took it, we heard some kind of long howl. I said to my wife, That's our cue to get moving. 

Also, Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is pretty awesome. It dumped us out in an Army base, hence the tank photo. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/27/19 10:23 a.m.

Our first stop in California, by the way, was Z Car Garage, where we saw Mr. K's personal Z. 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
9/28/19 8:36 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:
Colin Wood said:

Any chance you know the paint code for Tonic Yellow? I want to repaint my Fit in that color so I can finally stop losing it in parking lots.

Yes. Well, kinda. Just grab the code off our Si. smiley

By the way, these are all iPhone photos. The color totally popped in that California sunset. That was snapped somewhere up in Marin Headlands. About a second after I took it, we heard some kind of long howl. I said to my wife, That's our cue to get moving. 

Also, Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is pretty awesome. It dumped us out in an Army base, hence the tank photo. 

It IS a cool road, but they can be weird about civilians driving through at the base side. We drove it on a lark when we were staying at Big Sur, and on the way out 4 separate MPs were running radar/mean mugging us. Apparently it occasionally shuts down completely for drills, etc.

Keep your eyes peeled, bald eagles nest along there as well.

 

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
9/28/19 10:37 a.m.

The long howl was just a Coyote, no need to fret. :) I hear them all the time around here, and I usually see about 2 when I walk in the parks along the East Bay ridge. They don't, as far as I know, mess with humans. Although I did have one follow me once.

Lots of good roads in Marin to enjoy too, hope you have fun.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/28/19 1:56 p.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

Let's just say that we might have seen a sign that might have made us wonder if we were allowed to continue. Yet turning around heading back would have made a long drive even longer....

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
9/28/19 3:17 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

You went through that super creepy gate (or was it beside)? We had no idea if we were allowed the whole time, it was the same for us - we didn't have time to run it back the other way as we were headed back to SF. It was a fun experience in hindsight! 

And a washed out picture of an eagle - he was really far away and this was before super good cell phone cameras.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/28/19 4:28 p.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

I have no idea what super-creepy gate you're talking about but, yeah, we kinda expected black SUVs. Eventually we saw a road with cars on it. Then we stopped to check out that tank.

For us, we headed south from Monterey and wanted to cut back and over. The next day we were headed to Hearst Castle but were going to be a tighter schedule, so this was our day to explore. Pretty drive. 

Sadly we didn't see any eagles. We found a lot of little flying bugs, though. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/28/19 4:32 p.m.
CyberEric said:

The long howl was just a Coyote, no need to fret. :) I hear them all the time around here, and I usually see about 2 when I walk in the parks along the East Bay ridge. They don't, as far as I know, mess with humans. Although I did have one follow me once.

Lots of good roads in Marin to enjoy too, hope you have fun.

Well, the howl still got our attention. I kinda pictured this:

 

Also, it was late and we still had to drive to Monterey. And I had already been up for about 20 hours on 3 hours of sleep. It was time to get moving. smiley

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