Our Year with the Honda Civic Type R Was Bliss Defined
Goodbye, CTR. We'll miss you.
From the first few minutes behind the wheel of the Civic Type R at Honda's Tochigi R&D center, we knew it was something special. After a week testing the car during our 2018 All-Stars evaluation, we knew the Type R was something generationally special. Now, after spending more than a year and more than 17,000 miles with the car, we miss the Type R something fierce.
Exactly how much do we miss the Civic? "I love this car and will miss it more than all the other Four Seasons cars combined," wrote online editor Ed Tahaney. For my own part, my notes include several exhortations to someone on staff to buy this exact car; I would myself, but I already have five cars and a trailer parked at my house. Executive editor Mac Morrison summed up the thoughts of the apex-chasers on staff, noting, "Overall, this has to be easily the absolute best front-wheel-drive performance car I've ever driven. If there's something better, I welcome someone to remind me what it is. And it has loads of utility, too, with a lot of cargo and passenger space."
But it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, at least for those of us with a bit more, err, temporal advancement, whether in body or mind. And even for those of us who loved the Type R's combination of athleticism and practicality at the outset, the problem with familiarity is that it often breeds contempt, even if undeserved.
The Type R was a surprisingly good road-tripper for some of us, but others found the noise and the ride—and especially the seats—to get on their nerves after a while. Editor-in-chief Mike Floyd captured the essence of the pro-Type R crowd, writing, "I've never experienced a car that looks this wild but can drive so mild. Pull it out of its sport modes, and the Type R is an absolute pussycat around town. Its transmission is so easy to use I swear you could have non-stick-drivers learn on it. I also love the Type R's seats; they're snug and sport-tight, but don't punish you in any real way in the day to day."
Former senior online editor Kirill Ougarov saw it differently, arguing, "The seats have good ergonomics but the snug accommodations of the stiff bolsters get old after a while unless you're hauling ass through a canyon." Even Tahaney, a huge fan of the car overall, said, "I'd like to rip out the front seats and replace them with ones from a used Accord." Or, as senior editor Aaron Gold put it, "Mostly, it's the seats—deeply-bolstered firm affairs that are a bit confining for those of us who like our sandwiches with extra mayonnaise." Gold also found the Type R a bit trying in other everyday ways. "I'd like a bit less noise, and while I know Ireson will berate me for this, I'd like a little lighter feel on the clutch," he said. "In other words, I'd like something a little more like the Civic Si—a car that is a little easier to live with every day." For the record, I wouldn't berate Aaron for his preference, I'd simply note that he's wrong and should not be listened to on this topic. Or, as an eye-rolling Morrison deadpanned when confronted with the analysis, "Then buy a Civic Si and leave the Type R alone."
For others, the gripes weren't the seats or the noise or the ride. "There's one thing that no one ever seems to talk about: the Civic Type R's tiny fuel tank," noted Tahaney. "Its 12.2 gallons is great when you have one of Honda's super-efficient engines under the hood, but the 2.0-liter is a lot thirstier, and at our average of 22 mpg, that means we usually get 250 miles or less before it's time to fill up. If you look over the fuel logs, we're always doing these tiny fill-ups, 8 or 10 gallons at a throw. That's not a huge problem if you're commuting, but for long trips it can be a real pain in the ass—and if you're traveling in the middle of nowhere, say in the California and Arizona deserts or up and down the Pacific coast (frequent destinations for us), where it can be 50 to 80 miles or more between stations, you pretty much have to fill up wherever you see gas, and you're at the mercy of whatever they want to charge. I'm sure it wouldn't be cost-effective to do, and might not even fit, but another two to three gallons of fuel capacity would make the Type R much, much better."
The Type R also took hits for its infotainment system interface, which offloads perhaps too many functions to the touchscreen and its attendant, sometimes wonky peripheral controls. Perhaps the clearest summation of this common refrain comes from Tahaney: "Took the Civic for one last drive, thinking how much I'd miss it. That perfect shifter, that eager engine . . . but then I had to change the stereo to something other than the reprehensible country music the last driver left on, and I realized I would miss it that little bit less."
During our year and 16,286 miles traveled in the Type R, we spent surprisingly little on maintenance or repairs. In fact, if it weren't for terrible Los Angeles roads and forgetful editors, we'd have spent just $51.32 for a single oil change during our time with the car. But Los Angeles does have terrible roads—"try Michigan's," pipes in senior digital editor Erik Johnson—and our editors can be forgetful, so we also spent $876.95 replacing a pair of tires destroyed by San Andreas-sized potholes, and another $300.12 for a replacement key fob when ours was lost by the aforementioned forgetful editor. Oh, plus another $99 to have the replacement key and the remaining original reprogrammed. In total, our year with the Type R cost us just $1,327.42, even with our minor mishaps.
Of course, the maintenance costs exclude fuel costs. With 738.995 gallons consumed, the Type R averaged 22.04 mpg through the course of many floggings, commutes, and weekend fun runs, in addition to numerous long highway slogs. That might not seem great in a world filled with Teslas and Prius plug-ins, but for what the Type R is, and what it can do, it's right on the money. Speaking of the money, the year's supply of gas cost us $2,868.37.
So, in total, our time with the Type R cost us $4,195.79. Unlike a normal buyer, we didn't have to shoulder the monthly payments, which, if you put $5,000 down (or had a trade-in of similar value), and financed it for 60 months, would cost you $575 per month, or another $6,900, for a total of just more than $11,000. Worth it? In our estimation, absolutely, positively, yes—unless you're ready to admit you're simply too old to have fun, in which case there's a nice selection of Buicks waiting at the dealership down by the retirement home.
Our 2017 Honda Civic Type R
|PRICE||$34,775 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
306 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
|LAYOUT||4-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback|
|STEERING||Electric power assisted|
|TURNING CIRCLE||39.5 ft|
|SUSPENSION, F/R||McPherson Strut/Multi-link|
|BRAKES, F/R||Four-piston disc brakes (vented)/ Two-piston disc brakes (solid)|
|WHEELS, F/R||20-inch, aluminum alloy wheels|
|TIRES||Conti SportContact6, Front/Rear 245/30ZR20|
|L X W X H||179.4 x 73.9 x 56.5 in|
|TRACK, F/R||63.0 / 62.7|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.3/37.4 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.3/35.9 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||56.9/55.0 in|
|CARGO CAPACITY||46.25 cu ft (rear seat up/down)|
|WEIGHT DIST F/R||61.8 / 38.2|
|EPA MILEAGE||22/28 mpg (city/hwy)|
|FUEL CAPACITY||12.4 Gallons|
|FUEL RANGE||347 miles (estimated)|
|0-60 MPH||5.4 sec|
|TOP SPEED||168 mph|
|Premium audio w/12 speakers||Sport pedals|
|7-inch display audio w/ Honda Satellite-linked Navigation, Voice Recognition and Multi-view rear camera||20-inch alloy wheels|
|Bluetooth HandsFreeLink||LED fog lights|
|CarPlay/Android Auto Integration||LED headlights and tailights|
|SiriusXM Satellite Radio||Rear wing spoiler|
|Pandora Internet Radio Interface||Triple outlet sport exhaust|
|Sport seats||Aero kit|
|Leather-wrapped steering wheel||Smart entry|
|Aluminum shift knob||Power door mirrors|
|Front auto up/down windows||Rear wiper|
|Electric parking brake||Capless fuel filler|