- - Thursday, September 14, 2017

I had a double whammy Honda experience last week. I not only drove the 2017 Honda Civic SI, but then I flew to Seattle to test the new Type R for 2018. The experience with the Type R was both on the street and the racetrack. Even better, I felt how the Type R really moves because I had the chance to partner up with race car driver Andy Pilgrim as he did the paces on the track while I sat shotgun.

The competition for the Honda Civic — minus the race car version - is the Mazda 3 Sedan, Ford Focus Sedan, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra and the Kia Forte.

The Civic is now in its 10th generation as of 2016 and it is considered a midsize vehicle as opposed to the previous generation where it was a compact. Indeed, this year’s Honda Civic has plenty of room inside for passengers or even in the trunk for hauling. You can get the Civic in a sedan, coupe or a four-door hatchback, which is where the Type R fits perfectly.

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The trim levels on the Honda Civic are the LX, EX, EX-T, EX-L, Touring and Si. The three hatchback trim options are Sport, Sport Touring and Type R.

The base trim LX has 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, power accessories, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, cruise control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and electronics that include a five-inch display, rearview camera, Bluetooth and a USB port.

For the hatchback version of the LX, that would be the Sport and additions here include a more powerful engine as well as 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, dual exhaust, aerodynamic bodywork and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The EX will give you more techie options as well as a sunroof, heated side mirrors, rear center armrest with cup holders and eight speakers with several USB ports. There is also the Honda LaneWatch blind-spot camera, keyless ignition and entry with remote start and a seven-inch touchscreen.

The EX-T ups the engine and adds foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats. The EX-L has leather upholstery, eight-way power driver seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror and an integrated navigation system.

With the hatchback Sport Touring, you get 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, automatic wipers, heated rear seats and 12 speakers. There is also the Honda Sensing safety package, which is an option on the other Civic trim levels too.

For the Touring sedan trim, expect the same features as on the Sport Touring. On the Si, coupe or sedan, the engine is more powerful, but you will find the same equipment as on the EX-T trim with the addition of a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers, a limited-slip front differential, Si seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and an instrument panel unique to this trim.

Finally, the Type R hatchback, which has the same goodies as the Sport Touring trim, but with a stronger engine and 20-inch wheels with high-performance tires. There are also bigger front and rear brakes and the specific to Type R adaptive dampers and unique interior and exterior. Also on the Type R you get three driving modes; comfort, sport or +R , the latter promising the ultimate sport experience. Also for 2018 on this trim take note of the Civic chassis + Type R-specific design and tuning. This tuning includes front suspension dual axis strut, rear suspension multi-link and an adaptive damper system.

Under the hood, the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available except on the base LX trim. The LX trim has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission and 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque.

For the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, you get 174 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Depending on the trim, with this engine, you can also opt for the six-speed manual transmission as standard or an optional CVT that will give you 174 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque.

At the top of the line, the Type R delights with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine boasting 306 horsepower and 285 pound feet of torque. Both the Type R and the Si only come with the six-speed manual transmission.

Safety features on the Honda Civic begin with a variety of airbags from the driver air bag to the passenger, rear, side head, rear head, side and rear body air bags. You also get 4-Wheel ABS, 4-wheel disc brakes and drum brakes, front disc/rear drum brakes, brake assist, electronic stability control, child safety locks, integrated turn signal mirrors, night vision, adjustable pedals, rollover protection system, front and rear tow hooks, traction control, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

For interior comfort on the Honda Civic, the seats are adjustable, as is the steering wheel. The seats on the Type R are sport-themed with a larger size bolster, high rigidity and a high density cushion pad.

The Honda Civic also has a large backseat so adults of any height can sit in front or back and not feel suffocated. Both the leg and the headroom are sufficient and that’s even with the sunroof in use.

There are plenty of cup holders and storage compartments including in the doors all around making storing items easy. The cargo space is 15.1 cubic feet so that’s plenty of room and the rear seats are adjustable offering even more space if needed.

For the driving experience, the Honda Civic is a no-brainer. For those who like to flex their foot muscles the Type R is an obvious choice. You feel the curves and turns with stability that offers confidence behind the wheel. The Type R is especially well-equipped for driving comfort with a race car attitude offering a low ride and constant stable handling.

In fact, no matter the driving mode, the Type R will make you smile since this trim level’s performance leads the category. As for the driving the Honda Civic sedans or other hatchback options you won’t be disappointed, you will be finding excuses to take a ride.

Should You Need to Know: On the Honda Civic Type R for 2018 check out the Rev Match System, which controls the engine speed in accordance with driver gearshift operation also optimizing engine responsiveness depending on the driver mode.

Miles: The miles per gallon on the Si I drove was 28 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway. For the Type R the numbers are still impressive at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: The 2017 Honda Civic Si I drove had a price tag of $24,775. The new 2018 Honda Civic Type R has a price tag of $33,900.

For more auto tips and information, follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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