2017 Honda Civic Hatch vs. Mulch and Marigolds

The first birthday gift my husband gave me was a Honda HR21 lawn mower, a perfect present since some of my happiest hours are spent working in the yard. As a result, I’ve come to think of Hondas, including the current CR-V parked in my garage, as some of the most practical and worthwhile offerings on the planet.

Practicality was not the first thing that came to mind when I had the chance to spend a week in the 2017 Honda Civic Hatch, a new British-built hatchback that joins the Civic sedan and coupe in the U.S. lineup.

The Civic Hatch skips the boxy rear look of most hatchbacks in favor of an unexpected sloping rear end and dual exhaust. The car looked sexy, showy and impractical. I was determined to prove just how much by making my rounds of the local garden centers. It turns out my initial impression was wrong. The Civic Hatch is a mighty little performer.

At the Dexter Mill, the feed store in my town, I loaded the Civic Hatch with 150 pounds of topsoil and mulch, along with flats of flowers. I liked the tonneau cover that rolls up from the side of the cargo hold. You don’t have to wrestle with it and remove it to stow stuff.

A guy carrying a sack of goat feed stopped to ask me about the car, always a good sign.

Next stop: Lowe’s, where I jammed even more garden supplies in the rear. I ran out of money before the Civic Hatch ran out of space.

The as-tested price of my top-of-the-line Civic Hatch Sport TRG is $29,175, including an $875 destination charge.

That includes a 180-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission and such goodies as aluminum pedals, leather-trimmed seats and a tailgate spoiler.

A base Civic LX Hatch starts at $20,575, including shipping, thus coming in at the psychologically important $20K mark.

This new version of the Civic is aimed at boy racers and driving enthusiasts. But I found that it’s a nice companion for people like me who love the rural life. My final question: How many chicken cages can I cram in the rear?

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