Economy cars may not be popular in the U.S., but in other parts of the world like India and Mexico, these types of cars sell through the roof. The Honda City was specifically developed for emerging markets and is the carmaker’s entry-level sedan in Mexico. Built on the Fit’s platform, the City could be described as a Fit sedan, though a different engine and transmission power the Mexican-spec City. During my last trip to Mexico City, I had the chance to drive a 2018 Honda City, which has proven to be a popular model for those who want a reliable, spacious sedan.
In Latin America, Honda positions itself a bit higher than its competitors. It’s proven to be a successful move to make a different entry-level sedan specifically for the Mexico, where the City is widely seen on the streets. The automaker also sells the BR-V, which is a subcompact crossover that can seat up to seven people and competes directly with the Toyota Avanza. Although these types of cars wouldn’t be popular in the U.S., they work well for the Mexican market.
Powering the City is a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 118 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual is standard, but we drove the top-spec City, which came with a CVT that sends the power to the front wheels. Although the City isn’t notable for its quick ride or sharp handling, it was easy to drive in an urban area as congested as Mexico City. The City reminded me the previous-gen Civic, which did its job well but wasn’t particularly known for its performance. There’s no doubt the engine could use more power and torque, as the City struggles to go uphill at over 7,300 feet elevation, but its CVT continues to be one of the best in the business.
The sixth-generation City has been on sale since 2014, and that means some of its technology is outdated. Although it received a face-lift in 2017, the sedan comes with Honda’s old infotainment system, which lacks Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a volume knob. Still, the City delivers great packaging and interior space; rear legroom and headroom is ample for tall passengers, and there’s still plenty of cargo room. Given the growth spurt the City had in its last redesign, the sedan is classified as a compact rather than a subcompact in some countries. Despite the few technology amenities, this Honda comes with a push-start button, automatic climate controls, and rear-view camera, something not very common in entry-level cars in Mexico.
Design-wise, the City continues to look fresh despite its age. Still, we wish the midcycle refresh brought LED daytime running lights to this sedan; the current lighting looks like it was from the past decade. Just last month, a new City sedan debuted in Thailand with fresher styling and more interior technology. And who knows, maybe it finally comes equipped with an engine that can deliver a drive as fun as its bigger sibling, the Civic.
With the Civic being such a strong player in the U.S., there’s zero chance the City will make it to America, but for those in Mexico and other emerging markets who want the space and reliability of a Honda, this City delivers the basics at an affordable price.
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