First thing first: there is no such model as a “Civic OG,” so don’t run to your local Civic dealer and ask to test drive one. We’re referring instead to the standard Civic model. Unlike its cousins, the Si and Type R, it doesn’t have a catchy nickname. It’s always just been “the Honda Civic.” But now that there are several vehicles that fall under that heading, perhaps it’s time to walk through which 2023 Honda Civic is which.
Not so long ago, having a choice in Honda Civics meant selecting between a coupe, a sedan, or a hatchback. Drivers will be happy to know that the sedan and hatchback are still valid options. But today, there are three very unique Civic models to enjoy. Granted, all of them have the polite, low-key, enjoyable nature we’ve come to appreciate in the Civic. But two models––the Type R and the Si––are not for the faint of heart. Let’s take a look at the three Civics in comparison to each other to prevent any possible confusion when looking to purchase your 2023 Honda Civic.
From Mild to Wild
The Honda Civic has always been a respectable little vehicle. For many years, most drivers signed the paperwork, hopped behind the wheel, and drove off perfectly happy in their Civics. However, some drivers saw not a ready-to-drive commuter car but endless possibilities. By the late 1990s, the Civic had been elevated to street racing material. When the now-classic film The Fast and the Furious came out in 2001, the whole world had the opportunity to see what the Civic could do when properly equipped…if they could peel their eyes away from Vin Diesel’s 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, but that’s a different article.
Since its debut in 1972, the Honda Civic has been lauded and revered as an efficient, easy-to-own, and downright enjoyable little vehicle. Drivers of all ages have enjoyed the long-term reliability and resale value of the Civic. There are truly few vehicles that can claim all of those descriptors simultaneously, and yet the brand delivers quality and dependability with each new generation.
The Civic Type R was born around the same time drivers were starting to realize the Civic wasn’t quite as domesticated as originally thought. The very first Type R was released in 1997…in Japan only. In fact, this track-ready hatchback didn’t make its American market debut until 2017. Today’s Type R is a blazing-fast little hatchback with a whole lot of personality.
The Si, on the other hand, has been around for a while. First introduced as the 1985 Civic CRX Si, early versions were offered as a two-seat coupe or four-seat hatchback. Taking the name “Sports Injection” (Si) from its more capable fuel-injected engine, drivers have come to expect a whole lot of performance from this finely tuned version of the Civic.
Comparing the “Whoa” Factor of the Honda Civic Variants
While nearly everyone who has driven a Civic of any kind has a story about the one time they got that bad boy up to 120 mph on the interstate at 2:00 AM, we all know, deep down, that speed and performance are not the standard Civic’s strongest trait.
Still, it’s no slouch, either. The standard engine in the entry Sport trim is a 2.0L four-cylinder that’s good for 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. Standard on the EX and Touring trims is a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder that moves things onward and upward with 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. If you choose the sedan version, both engines are only available with a continuously variable transmission, but the Civic hatchback has an available six-speed manual.
Next in order of peppiness is the Civic Si. This iteration is also equipped with a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder, but it is tuned to a cheerful 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. Important to note: the Si is offered exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission. While that may scare away some drivers, those who know how to work a clutch can enjoy the Si’s track-verified 6.8 second 0-60 mph time.
While the Type R isn’t exactly designed for domestic suburban duties, like running errands and getting groceries, it might actually be helpful for those who are in a rush. Its 2.0L VTEC turbocharged engine chugs out 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, making it the fastest Civic ever. Its Suzuka Circuit lap time of precisely two minutes and 23.120 seconds could be ideal for getting fast food fries home before they get too cold to eat. Bear in mind, though, the Type R is also exclusively offered with a manual transmission.
Other Exclusive Features by Model
The Honda Civic, Type R, and Civic Si each have their own distinct personality in addition to offering various levels of power and performance. The basic Civic offers a familiar and functional blend of comfort and convenience features across its three trims. The impressive Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistance technology is standard, including a Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and more. Moving up the trims adds additional commute-friendly features, like the power moonroof on the EX trim and the heated, leather-trimmed seats on the Touring trim.
The Type R and Civic Si also include the Honda Sensing suite, along with other comforts that you’d expect in any road-legal car. Automatic climate control, smartphone connectivity, and cupholders are all present and accounted for in both models. But these vehicles have many performance-oriented features, as well. The Type R includes a center-mounted triple exhaust, sports seats, an adaptive damper system, and the Honda LogR performance tracking system, which tracks lap times along with engine temperature, oil temperature, and more, sharing stats via a smartphone app.
The Si also offers sports seats, along with a 12-speaker premium Bose sound system, a limited-slip differential, and sports pedals. While this model has really started leaning into its sporty side in recent years, it isn’t quite as track-focused as the Type R. As a result, you could argue that it strikes a very responsible balance between the typical Civic and the go-fast sportiness that makes driving more exhilarating.
Selecting a 2023 Honda Civic
When the time arrives to start shopping for a 2023 Honda Civic, the first question you need to ask yourself is, “how fast do I want to drive?” If your answer is “exactly the speed limit,” the original Civic is for you. If the answer is “like a bat out of Hell,” then consider the Type R. With its increased horsepower and sporty outlook, the Civic Si finds a good middle ground, providing plenty of zip without requiring a “track use only” warning on some of its features.
The lack of an automatic transmission may put some drivers off the Type R and Si, but stick shift aficionados can rejoice that all three Civic types are offered with a manual transmission. In a world where transmission control often shows up as a dashboard dial or touchscreen button, having full hands-on control of shifting is a rare and sublime pleasure. However, if you absolutely can’t live without an automatic, consider the new Acura Integra, which shares its platform and engine with the Civic Si.
At the heart of each model that wears the Civic name is everything we’ve always loved about the Honda Civic: dependability, economy, good manners, and a long life span. It’s just that some go a little (or a lot) faster than others.