2023 Honda Civic Type R

PHOENIX — Honda's highly desirable high performance oriented Civic Type R (for Race) makes a return for 2023 after a one-year hiatus. Dating back to 2017, the Type R has had one of the most unique purpose built design and styling packages on the market for a relatively affordable price. That is if you are able to find a Honda dealer that hasn't added a sizable "market adjustment" upping the price of the window sticker by as much as an additional $20,000 or more.

Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that turns out 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque directed through its silky-smooth short throw six-speed manual transmission (an automatic transmission is not offered) and front-wheel drive. It's offered as a four-door hatchback only from the 11th-generation Civic, and is a massively entertaining car to drive. Honda is quick to point out the new Type r is the most powerful car it has ever sold in the U.S. Not a strong bragging right but a bragging right just the same.

While the Type R, which Honda has been building for 25 years has persisted with a mechanical reputation that has largely remained unchanged while stubbornly sticking to its roots by not adopting 4WD or twin-clutched automatic transmission. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

What did change is that Honda has dialed back most of its previous over the top "tuner car" exterior styling with its massively and hideous rear spoiler wing, so big it took five pieces for Honda to put it together. Above that at the extension of the vehicle’s roof were four fins that we had no idea their purpose. Below the wing spoiler was, well, another spoiler wing. Thankfully those are gone but a still large but not hideous rear spoiler wing remains part of the design package.

Also gone is the lower rear valance and the black honeycomb-like black plastic air intake features, that were ascetic only and completely non-functional unlike the air scoop slot on the hood and air curtain and brake cooling vents up front. There are three exhaust pipes at the center of the rear. Honda says the center pipe is functional, a resonator that operates for additional snarl when the accelerator is punched but never gets overly annoying with exhaust notes or noisy highway behavior and is nowhere near as loud as the exterior styling. In fact, even with the aggressive-looking triple-port exhaust setup the turbo four is probably too quiet for my liking.

The Type R is shod with sticky high performance summer tires now smaller, are mounted on 19” black alloy wheels that deliver terrific track ability yet agreeable road manners. The car has immense grip and sticks to the road like it’s on rails. That’s impressive for especially for a front-wheel drive only vehicle.

Inside the type R’s interior is a riot of red accents including the heavily bolstered red suede effect high-back sport seats, red seat belts and trim about the instrument panel, door trim and steering wheel. But that's front seat only since the rear seats are black. But know that if your caboose carries an XL or XXL tag on your jeans you'll hate the narrow bolstered seats. Overall, the interior is a good look however. Oh, one other thing, there's no middle seat belt in the back seat so just seating for four but on the plus side, legroom is pretty good and there's a pair of  cupholders where the fifth passenger would sit.

There’s a 7-inch user interface touch screen located center dash that features a volume knob for the audio system along with other physical buttons. And while not the menus are outdated and operate slowly we liked the integrated navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and HD radio including SiriusXM Satellite radio. We loved the honeycomb grate spanning the entire width of the dashboard that cleverly conceals the HVAC vents. We liked the iconic red Honda logo on the center of the steering wheel and a small production number emblem on the far right of the dash.

Key standard safety features include forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, driver and passenger knee air bags.

There was some noticeable cost cutting we found disappointing and in our opinion unnecessary including manually adjustable seats, a manually operated day/night interior mirror, but Honda has now included blind spot warning that it did not previously, but heated seats are still missing. Come on Honda. This is nearly a $45,000 car and no heated bun warmers?  We also didn’t like the milled metal gear shift knob ± much too hot to handle in our Arizona desert heat. We kept a washcloth over the knob for shifting.

There's rev-matching on down shifts that worked to perfection. It can be turned off for those looking to impress their occupants for heel-toe aficionados. Clutch take up feels just right, steering weight is nice and hefty, on-center feel is lockdown, superb Brembo up front with four red calipers, everything you’d want and expect in a car like this. You’d expect I’d comment on a ride that’s punishing because of the low-profile tires and a stiffer performance suspension except that the ride is quite comfortable. That’s even in the most aggressive of three driver selectable drive modes, Plus R. Pushed hard into curves and corners and the car delivers ample amounts of confidence and poise.

The Type R is an insanely delightful car to drive with its precision clutch and gear shift action that’s perfectly synchronized. We were also amazed with the throttle response reaching 60 mph in just 5-seconds (but actually feels quicker) and imperceptible turbo lag usually associated with front-wheel drive cars..

Overall, the Honda Type r is a brilliantly packaged performance hatch that’s insanely entertaining to drive. Sure, there’s formidable competitors from other automakers but for the money, this is the one to beat.

Vital stats

Base Price: $42,895
Price as Tested: $44,385
Engine/Transmission: 2.0-Liter 315-hp turbocharged four-cylinder paired with a rev-matching 6-speed manual transmission.
EPA Fuel Economy: 22 – 28 – 24 mpg – City – Highway – Combined
Seating: 4

Where Built: Japan

Crash Test Results: 2023 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and highest possible overall 5-Star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Competes With:
Hyundai Elantra N
Toyota GR Corolla
Volkswagen Golf R

Honda has toned down the exterior styling
Track ready performance
Superb driving dynamics


Not as quick as we hoped for
No heated or power seats
Anemic exhaust notes

— Jim Prueter