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2016 Honda Civic seats could use some fine tuning

2016 Honda Civic is arguably the most dynamic compact sedan in the brand’s 43 years. It’s almost perfect. For some owner, 2016 Honda Civic seats could benefit from fine tuning.

I can think of nothing more important in a car than the structural integrity, adjustability and seating comfort of the driver’s and front passenger seat. Historically, Honda Civic has not been known for seat comfort. For 2016 we find power-adjusted driver and front passenger seat in Civic EX-L and higher, but no adjustable lumbar support.

Don’t read me wrong here, Civic’s always topped much of the competition in interior comfort and the ergonomically correct placement of instrumentation, controls, pedal, and gear shift person to car connectivity. Yet past generation Civic’s always rolled a bit stiff as to suspension -- and on the firm or mushy side as to seat support and subsequent rider comfort. 2016 Civic features the best seating in the brand’s history; for some.

Lower hip point, preset exaggerated lumbar support

Our congratulations to Honda for automating 2016 Civic’s front row, although I must admit that the manual slide mechanism performs effortlessly in the base model Civic 2.0 LX.

Here’s the problem for taller drivers or those perhaps just a tad overweight and in less than 30 something Ironman competition physical condition: The lower ‘hip point’ while affording the driver an exceptional “one with the road” feeling may be problematic for (some) taller drivers as to ingress, egress, and lower back, torso seat-back positioning in relationship to the steering wheel reach and subsequent leg to pedal interface. In the case of the 10th generation Civic, you drop down into the driver’s seat.

Good enough, one should be able to find a comfortable long-drive position in the infinitely adjustable leather clad, and in some trim models cooled seat. Here’s the problem for this tall drive: There is no lumbar adjustment. Generally, I rarely use one -- this one is preset full-on.

Unfortunately integrated into the seat design of the all new, exceptionally good looking and technically segment benchmark setting 2016 Civic, is a rather aggressive pre-existing lumbar support that hits this tall driver’s back well above it’s intended support point -- right above my lower back -- and for me and several Torque News readers is pre-set too firm, there’s no getting rid of it.

The long and the tall of it

In the kind words of my lovely 5 foot 5 inch wife: “ A wonderful seat for a driver with a close relationship with the neighborhood Chiropractor.” I’ll leave it at that. Read my latest Civic drive review here.

As is said “ the public has spoken” 2016 Civic is presently set on an unprecedented sales trajectory. With that acknowledgement, on a personal note, I believe that the driver’s seat should reflect the quality and drive dynamic of the car that it’s mounted to -- after all one’s first drive impression of a car begins with the first sitting.

For car manufacturers, especially in the compact segment, “fitment” as to the broad range of body type, height, weight, and physical condition is a major challenge, often exasperated by car segment and price point. As a whole Civic presents a reasonable balance of budget and comfort, some buyers want more.

Perhaps 2017 Civic will be equipped with an adjustable lumbar support. Personally I’d be more than happy to pay and additional $100 for the upgrade.


Glenn (not verified)    April 29, 2016 - 2:45PM

Appreciate this post. My first sit in the new Civic sedan left me with the impression that I just don't fit. I'm convinced now the seat height was not adjusted properly and I was probably feeling the misaligned lumbar effect you describe here. With this new insight, looking forward to checking it out more closely.

Jesse (not verified)    April 29, 2016 - 5:04PM

Another apologist article for the "perfect" Honda Civic. It seems we have sobered up from the initial giddiness of a new generation Civic. I at least tasted the Kool-Aid and went down to my local Honda dealer. I truly think Honda got the exterior right. Very handsome car. Flowing lines. A purposefully designed exterior.....nothing there that isn't suppose to be there.

So when I peer inside ANY vehicle, I look at the relationship of the seat to the floor. This seat is entirely too close to the floor. I have read similar criticisms of the new Toyota Tacoma. By contrast my parents' 03 Buick Century with a power driver's seat is a dream to sit on. Sure, being a power seat it is infinitely adjustable. But the seat doesn't start out too close to the floor. And the adjustments allows one to literally find the perfect driving position. And the seat itself is comfortable with a cloth covering. The seat doesn't try to shoe horn you into an unwanted position. A comfortable seat and driving position transcends a person's age is something I hope we all want!

Parks McCants    April 30, 2016 - 2:45PM

In reply to by Jesse (not verified)

Welcome back Jesse. Comparing an 03 Buick to a Civic of any generation is an "apples to oranges" comparison as to size and living room like seating comfort. However, I do get your point. For those Civic fans that desire a higher seating position in a sedan format with an exceptionally comfortable seat, look to the Accord. Cheers!

Cindy VandeSande (not verified)    June 25, 2016 - 10:00PM

My 2016 Honda Civic LX seats are extremely painful! Within 30 minutes of driving my legs and arms are numb and my back from cervical to coccyx spine is in tremendous pain. 5'3" 127 lbs

staceybee (not verified)    July 10, 2017 - 1:02AM

Just bought the 2017 Civic Sedan EX-L and I am in so much pain!! I'm a 5'11 girl and the seats in this car are AWFUL. What can I do?? It feels like someone nailed me in the lower back with a board. I love the car itself but good lord could Honda not do any better on their factory seats?

Jesse (not verified)    July 10, 2017 - 4:41PM

Stacey, I empathize with your situation. A few observations here. The aerodynamic craze that has hit the auto industry over the last 30 years is no friend to the consumer. If one looks at the Civic from each generational change, the trend is towards a more aerodynamic profile. Thus the roofline is lowered for a more sleek appearance, but that diminishes headroom. So, the automakers lower the seat to preserve headroom, which in turn, makes the driving position awkward and uncomfortable. I have an '09 Toyota Corolla. While the seating position is tolerable, the foam padding has very little give to it when seated. It's like you are sitting on the seat as opposed to sitting in the seat. To illustrate my point, the next time you are at your Honda dealer, ask to sit in a Fit or CRV. You will be surprised how easy it is to get in and out of those vehicles since you are in a more upright position to start with. Finally, when I look at new vehicles, the first thing I do is look how close the seat is to the floor. If it's too close, I move on. For me, one of the appeals of an SUV is how easy it is to enter/exit the vehicle.

Omar (not verified)    November 15, 2017 - 7:48PM

I just got a 2017 Honda Civic Si. The seats are really bad. I've been driving this car for 2000 miles and my left leg is in pain after 30mins of driving.
The lips on both sides of the seat press against my thigh causing extreme pain. Are there some other seats I can install in this car?

Parks McCants    November 16, 2017 - 1:22PM

In reply to by Omar (not verified)

Good day Omar. Yes, the aggressively bolstered Civic Si takes time for the body to adjust to the lowered seating position. Manual shifting also puts a strain on the leg, due to the position of the knee, leg in relationship to your seating position, and clutch pressure. Before tossing the seat: Adjust the bench position tilted back at a slight degree angle. As to replacing the seat: Yes, a standard specification 10th generation Civic seat will fit in your Si. Your Si seat can be modified by an auto upholsterer. There are also options from Recaro, and other after market seat makers : Good luck. Please keep us posted as to your progress.

Jesse (not verified)    November 16, 2017 - 1:31PM

Omar, I would Google "aftermarket seats for 2017 Honda Civic" and see what shows up. Honestly, these days, the seat height is what I look at first on any car. I went to my local Honda dealer and looked at an '18 Honda Accord. I was taken back by how low the seat is. Marked off my list of possibilities right then. Just bought my wife a '17 Chevrolet Silverado and that truck is a nice ride!!.........and great seats to boot.

Here is what's happening in the auto industry when it comes to the drivers' seating position. Everytime a new generation of automobile ( Civic in this case ) comes to market, the roofline drops, giving a sleeker appearance. Unfortunately when you lower the roof, you have to lower the seat to preserve headroom. And that can make for an uncomfortable ride which unfortunately you discovered first hand. There are no cheap solutions in your case. Hopefully you can find an aftermarket seat for your Civic or get a different vehicle.

Parks McCants    November 16, 2017 - 5:08PM

In reply to by Jesse (not verified)

True enough Jesse. However, according to Honda engineering, the lowered seat position is to give the driver a sense of being 'one-with-the-car,' and a just above the road visual vantage point. Seriously, Chevy Silverado? A truck is a truck man, not a low to the ground Civic Si. Anyway, I too experienced comfort compromise in the 10th generation Civic lineup, finding the Euro hatch to be the best fitting for my tall frame. My current toy is a well preserved 350 Z. I have found a doable seating position in it with a bit of adjustment. Good luck Omar -- you will find a solution. * I'd take the Si back to the dealer and record the seat as being faulty. It could be.

Renee N (not verified)    August 19, 2018 - 1:32PM

We found a great deal on a 2018 Civic. Enjoyed driving it and thought this was the one (I have a 2002 Civic still going strong). Then my DH and I switched so he could drive it. FUN OVER. The passenger seat was very low to the floor and is not adjustable. My back hurt immediate (we drove 4 miles) and I felt every bump through my feet. Soooooooooo disappointed. The next day we went and bought a 2016 Toyota instead. Wanted a Civic but comfort really matters.