Redesigned from the ground up, the 2016 Honda Civic hopes to recast the automaker’s mainstay small car as premium and aspirational, rather than just a big-selling commodity. While this represents a significant shift, the Civic just may have the goods to pull it off.

There's some history here: Once upon a time, the Civic was the class act among compact sedans, a well-honed jewel in a segment known for cheap wheels. But the current Civic, introduced in 2012, turned out to be a detour, scoring so low in Consumer Reports' Ratings that we didn't recommend it. Updates improved the car some, but many competitors outscore and "out nice" the Civic.

Longer, wider, and sleeker, the 2016 Honda Civic works hard to escape its recent mundane past. The cabin is more stylish, with nicer materials and a pass-through center console. Practicalities aren't missed, with decent visibility despite the slicked-back styling, and more rear-seat leg room. A prominent touch screen in higher-trim models brings both blessings—Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—and the curse of Honda's own unintuitive interface. 

The 2016 Honda Civic hopes to recast the automaker’s mainstay small car as premium and aspirational, rather than just a big-selling commodity.

The new base engine is a 2.0-liter four cylinder; higher-trim models feature the first turbocharged Honda car engine in America, a small-displacement 1.5-liter. While a manual transmission is available on the base LX trim, most Civics will have a continuously variable automatic.

Competition in this segment is fierce, and this new Civic isn't the only compact sedan that's trying to hit above its weight class; for example, 2016 brings a promising new Chevrolet Cruze.

We’ll have more details soon on the 2016 Honda Civic in a First Drive. Further down the road, we will see how both the Civic and Cruze fare when we buy them to test at the Consumer Reports test track.