Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023 finalist

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Can Honda usher in its next-generation hot hatch and win the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy award for the second time? The latest Honda Civic Type R just might have what it takes.

Just like the millennials who grew up dreaming about the Type R coming to America, Honda’s hot hatch has grown up, too. It’s also grown more powerful and more expensive, but it’s still a riot.

The sixth-generation Type R is based on the 11th-generation Civic. The second Type R to ever come to America sticks to the same formula fans know and love.

2023 Honda Civic Type R

2023 Honda Civic Type R

Under the hood sits a familiar 2.0-liter turbo-4 that is now rated at 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That makes the new Type R the most powerful Honda vehicle ever sold in the U.S. The power increase over the outgoing model’s 306 hp and 295 lb-ft comes thanks to a redesigned turbocharger, an increased air intake flow rate, and a more efficient exhaust system. The turbocharger is optimized for shape, size, and number of turbine blades to generate pressure in a wider range. This all translates to slightly less turbo lag, a wider power band, and the ability to keep the engine on boil for longer.

Yes, the exhaust system still has three tips, and the center pipe features an active valve that opens at higher rpm.

The Type R is still a front-wheel-drive-only affair with a limited-slip differential that keeps torque steer mostly at bay. Drivers must #GiveAShift as a slick-shifting 6-speed manual with a newly optimized shift pattern and a lighter flywheel is the only transmission option.

The car’s ride quality has improved thanks to a retuned front strut and rear multi-link suspension paired with adjustable dampers. Flipping the Type R into +R mode is really only for the track, as the suspension becomes unsettled and jittery over even the slightest pavement undulations. Comfort mode is the sweet spot, and even then the suspension is fairly firm.

The steering also gets heavier in +R mode. One editor preferred it, saying it offers more stability in turns, while another felt it’s too heavy with artificial heft for the sake of heft. All of the dynamic settings can be modified and saved with the Individual mode, whose settings are thankfully retained upon startup.

The two-piece Brembo front brake rotors provide a solid, progressive, and predictable feel, and they never seem to fade regardless of how hard or long they are pushed. There’s probably a limit, but we have yet to find it.

2023 Honda Civic Type R

2023 Honda Civic Type R

2023 Honda Civic Type R

2023 Honda Civic Type R

2023 Honda Civic Type R

2023 Honda Civic Type R

The last Type R won our Best Car To Buy 2018 award despite the fact that it looked like transformer trying to escape from a Civic. That look is gone, and a more refined, more grown-up appearance has emerged. The new car is longer by 1.4 inches and wider by 1.0 inch over the previous model. Every body panel except for the front doors, pillars, roof, and rear hatch is new and specific to the Type R. A big rear wing is still part of the equation, but now it sits upon metal metal pedestal mounts and looks more expensive and more race-ready than before.

2023 Honda Civic Type R

2023 Honda Civic Type R

Inside, every Type R features heavily bolstered red cloth seats, red carpeting, and red door trim accents. High-back front bucket seats are comfortable enough for a road trip and wider builds. The rear bench seat now only seats two as the center position features two fixed cupholders. Honda continues its sports car tradition of a turned aluminum shift knob that can be hot or cold to the touch depending on ambient temperature. A 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes standard, as do wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Civic Type R isn’t perfect. Priced at $43,990, the Type R is costly, especially next to the Toyota GR Corolla (another Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023 finalist) and the less powerful Hyundai Elantra N. At its price, the front seats should be heated, but that’s a minor quibble. The wireless Apple CarPlay can be a bit flaky, an issue we’ve experienced in both the Type R and the Civic Si with Honda’s current infotainment software. The big rear wing draws undue attention, and sadly there’s no Touring model with a wing delete option. However, 2024 Acura Integra Type S may fill that role.

Will the Honda’s slick manual transmission, feisty turbocharged power, terrific handling, and grown-up design be enough for it to take the win over two other hot hatches, an outrageous SUV, a luxury EV, and a sport sedan? Check back on Jan. 4 when we reveal the winner, along with the champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.



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