Honda Civic S Turbo CVT Honda Sensing: Road rave with an atypical ‘entry level’ trim

As the world resets, we’re getting to enjoy the open road again.

WHO DOESN’T love the Civic? There’s always enough of this Honda icon to love and, really, not too much you won’t. Outside of a couple of funky, polarizing styles throughout its 11 generations, the Honda Civic has remained a solid, bankable choice for people with the wherewithal — or that company car loan — to get one.

It’s the quintessential sedan that’s a bullet-proof, reliable, no-overthinking-necessary option that never disappoints.

Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) recently gathered media practitioners to a health-protocols-compliant drive to and from Tagaytay and Batangas aboard the range of 11th-gen Civics. We had our nostrils swabbed bright and early (talk about the “nose normal”) as part of the safety measures, and only vaccinated people were invited. Drivers weren’t allowed to switch cars, and (with some exceptions) only one person was allowed in a specific vehicle. It was, in a way, keeping to one’s bubble, and the Civic is certainly a bubble you’d love to stay in.

Commencing from a parking lot in BGC, our drive took us through the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAx), where we experienced the poise and panache of the Civic. It merely shrugged through the twisties — keeping itself planted on terra firma with nary a sweat on its protruding brow.

The whole lineup gets a common mill — a turbocharged 1.5-liter, four-cylinder DOHC VTEC that blurts out 178ps and 240Nm (37 and 66 more, respectively, versus the previous gen’s 1.8-liter, natural-breathing engine; 5ps and 20Nm more than the 10th-gen 1.5-liter). Alas, for the manual fans, no new Civic here can scratch that itch for control. Rather, Honda goes for convenience instead via a CVT system.

I was assigned to an eye-catching S variant, swathed in Morning Mist Blue Metallic paint (available on the S and V trims). Despite being the most affordable variant (P1.29 million), this Civic doesn’t feel or even look the part. There’s plenty of premium to go around — from the Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible infotainment system, to an execution that really doesn’t leave you wanting. In fact, you could say that no roster of Civic releases in recent memory has ever been, well, this similar in values. I could say that the differences are not deal-breaking features but merely some refinements here and there. I mean, come on; the S gets a turbo, too.

In no time flat, I was cheering my S variant on. I was the last in the queue, yet my car was never wanting in chutzpah and power on tap to close gaps when I (and the myriad of highway obstacles) allowed it. The S and V trims receive only an Econ and Normal drive mode settings (lacking the RS-exclusive Sport mode), but the “S” in the gearshift is plenty adequate. If I wanted more motivation, I simply shifted to S.

While we were allowed to enjoy and feel the total package of the Civic, this activity was not your garden-variety ride and drive. Instead the main order of the day was to more intimately know the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistive features. To be clear though, Honda Sensing is not meant to supplant the driver’s good sense and habits. Rather, it merely makes it easier for him or her to keep safe. The Civic is not the first Honda to get the suite. It follows the Legend, Pilot, Accord, and CR-V. However, we can now see it trickling down to more affordable vehicles of Honda and, as mentioned, across the entire nameplate variants. Honda Sensing is made possible through “a single monocular camera with a wider field of view… combined with improved software offering better vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, and road marking recognition.”

“As we’ve already announced, our long-term global goal is to realize a collision-free society. To realize this, we are extending Honda Sensing technology to all models. Eventually, all variants will have this feature,” underscored HCPI President Masahiko Nakamura exclusively to this writer.

The drive was primarily about HCPI wanting to continue communicating its “Safety for Everyone” vision. In an earlier release, HCPI elucidated its goal “to protect the safety not only of the drivers or riders, but of all vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and everybody on the road. This is why (Honda’s) approach on safety is both from product and educational perspectives.” The idea is to have zero fatalities involving Honda motorcycles and automobiles globally by 2050.

Back to our drive, where appropriate, we tested the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF), “which aims to make highway drives a more pleasant experience by maintaining the speed based on the car in front.” This is probably the closest you can get to full autonomous driving for now. The Civic brakes and accelerates as needed to keep reasonable (yet adjustable distance) from the vehicle in front. Meanwhile, LSF is the perfect foil for stop-and-go traffic on EDSA — saving you from fatiguing or even cramping your right leg form all the pedal switching and depressing.

I know a lot of us are guilty of switching lanes without using the turn signal. Honda Sensing’s Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) helps the driver keep the Civic in a lane by vibrating the steering wheel when it senses a drift to the adjacent lane — and through an icon that appears on the digital instrument display. Guess when the system doesn’t alert you. Yup, when you use the turn signal before you change lanes. Additionally, we also experienced the Road Departure Mitigation System with Lane Departure Warning (RDM with LDW) feature.

The newest tech trick in the Honda Sensing suite is the Lead Car Departure Notification System (LCDN). It alerts the driver of the vehicle when the car in front has moved forward from a standstill — another drowsy-driver foil, if you ask me.

And as a final shell of safety, the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) “warns and helps the driver avoid a frontal collision or reduce the impact when unavoidable by providing the driver with visual and audible warnings.” Let me tell you, it’s going to shake your senses if you find your mind wandering or when you aren’t paying attention for whatever reason. It can even apply the brakes automatically when necessary. An audible alarm will only stop once the system detects the lack of a collision risk.

But again, Honda Sensing is not meant to replace the driver’s own sensibilities but merely supplement them. If you take your hands of the wheel for more than a spell, the system will warn you about it.

With regard to other features of the Civic, it gets either full LEDs or projector halogens (my S was fitted with halogens, but I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker, either). DRLs are standard across the nameplate trims. Depending on the variant, the Civic is fitted with either seven- or nine-inch touchscreen audio display. Thankfully, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on both, although the larger screen is reserved for the RS variant, and gets Wireless Apple CarPlay. Your music will find expression on four speakers for the S, eight speakers for the V, and 12 speakers for the RS — which is a Bose sound system, by the way.

The RS also receives more premium touches like dual-zone, automatic climate control, in addition to rear air vents (the latter is available on the V, too). A seven-inch digital display with analog tachometer displays audio and Bluetooth functions, while the larger 10.2-inch full-digital cluster is exclusive on the RS — all supplemented with steering wheel-mounted controls.

In case you’re wondering, the V Turbo CVT Honda Sensing variant is priced at P1.498 million, while the top-of-the-line RS Turbo CVT Honda Sensing costs P1.69 million — P400,000 clear of the S. The available colors are: Morning Mist Blue Metallic (new color, V and S), Meteoroid Grey Metallic (new color, RS, V, and S), Ignite Red Metallic (RS), Platinum White Pearl (RS and V), and Lunar Silver Metallic (RS). If you want the special color (Platinum White Pearl), you must fork over an additional P20,000.

For more information, head on over to and check out the “virtual showroom.” If a physical experience is more your thing, go to the nearest Honda Cars dealership. Don’t overlook checking out the S. It’s not your typical “entry level,” believe me.