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Car of the Year Awards 2023: Family Car of the Year

There are several types of family car, but here we’re looking at traditional hatchbacks: large enough to be practical, yet compact enough to be easy and enjoyable to drive...

WINNER: Family Car of the Year

Honda Civic 2.0 e:HEV Sport

Car of the Year 2023 NOCO logo

A great family car needs to be as versatile as the right pair of kids’ trainers. It should be tough enough to deal with everything they can throw at it, but also comfortable and practical enough for everyday use. And more than 50 years on from the original Honda Civic’s launch, this 11th generation car ticks more boxes than ever.

We’ll start with the most obvious change, which is found under the bonnet. All Civics except the searingly hot Honda Civic Type R performance version now have fuel-saving hybrid technology to minimise running costs and reduce emissions. In our tests, that delivered a very impressive real-world fuel efficiency figure of 49.9mpg – comfortably beating the mild hybrid Seat Leon eTSI and running the 1.8-litre Toyota Corolla (also a hybrid) extremely close.

Family Car of the Year 2023 - Honda Civic front

The Civic’s hybrid set-up enables it to travel for short distances on electricity alone, so you can make near-silent progress around town. And performance is also good; with 181bhp from the 2.0-litre petrol engine, it managed a brisk 0-60mph time of 6.8sec when we put it through its paces.

There’s more. The steering is precise, with a reassuring weight, while body lean is kept to a minimum, and there’s plenty of grip, so you can thread the car down winding roads with confidence. The suspension is at the firmer end of the comfort scale, but the ride is settled and calmer than the Leon’s in FR Sport trim.

The Civic’s interior stands out for being easier to use than most rivals’, with proper knobs and switches for adjusting the air conditioning and some physical shortcut buttons that simplify the process of hopping between the main menus in the infotainment system (which features a sharp 9.0in touchscreen). The tactile and robust-feeling controls are surrounded
by soft-touch materials and attractive trim finishers that lift the interior.

Family Car of the Year 2023 - Honda Civic dashboard

There’s plenty of leg room for four 6ft-tall occupants, and the 400-litre boot trumps those of the Corolla and Volkswagen Golf. Our preferred Civic trim – mid-level Sport – includes all the kit you need, adding wireless phone charging, slightly larger (18in) alloy wheels, rear air vents and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror to entry-level Elegance’s standard equipment.

So, our winner is well equipped, economical and great to drive. When you factor in strong resale values that help to reduce long-term ownership costs, the half-a-century-old Civic name is more appealing than ever.

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See all of our Car of the Year 2023 winners >>