|2012 Honda Civic EX-L Navigation|
Base Price: $23,455
At-Tested Price: $24,225
Built in Canada.
Engine: 1.8-Liter I4
Transmission: 5-speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive
Perhaps the most-popular small car of all time, the Honda Civic gets redesigned for 2012 with new styling, a fresh interior and more efficient engines. The Civic returns in two-door coupe and four-door sedan bodystyles in DX, LX, EX, EX-L, HF and Si trim. Also offered are hybrid and natural-gas models.
Civic seats five on twin front buckets and a three-place rear bench seat. All models have front-wheel drive and compete with vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
The HF and other non-Si models use a 140-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Transmission choices with the 1.8-liter engine include either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. Si gets a new 201-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that mates to a mandatory 6-speed manual transmission.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability control, tire-pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights and dual-front, front-side, and curtain-side airbags. Park assist and a rear-view monitor are not offered.
Bluetooth cell-phone connection, iPod integration, heated seats, navigation system and leather upholstery are available. Gas-power Civic prices range from $15,605 for the DX coupe to $22,405 for the Si sedan. Civic Hybrid is prices at $24,050 and the natural-gas-powered model lists for $26,155. All models are built in either Greensburg, Indiana, or Ontario, Canada, and carry a $770 destination charge.
Get Up and Go Models with the 1.8-liter four have adequate acceleration and no more. They seem a little sleepy off the line and don't offer much passing punch. Mash the throttle from a stop and you'll reach 60 mph in a few ticks past nine seconds.
Thankfully both the manual and automatic transmissions are excellent. The do-it-yourself box is a delight to shift and has an easy-to-engage clutch. The automatic upshifts smoothly and quickly responds to modest throttle input with crisp downshifts.
Si models get a much-more-responsive 201-horsepower engine that's quicker off the line and in passing situations. It makes a glorious growl above 5000 rpm and packs a punch too boot! The obligatory six-speed manual has short and direct throws, though it could offer a slightly more relaxed highway cruising gear.
Fuel economy has long been a Civic strong point. EX models with automatic rate 28/39 mpg in the EPA cycle and even the sporty Si commands a respectable 22/31 mpg. SI models require premium-grade gasoline; other models run fine on regular-grade petrol.
In routine driving it's easy to beat the EPAs numbers. Given a light throttle foot and lots of coast time, you can even approach 40 mpg on any model in daily commuting--25-35 mpg is a more realistic average though. All except for the Si include an "ECON" button that changes throttle response, transmission shift points, and air-conditioning settings in an effort to improve fuel economy.
On the Road Though the silhouette has changed somewhat, Civic is still the model of handling consistency. The suspension doesn't ever seem to get upset and provides a ride that's comfortable an reassuring. Sedans ride with the best bump absorption, but all models save the Si have more than adequate comfort on all but the bumpiest roads.
As mentioned, the Si offers 17-inch tires and a sport suspension that won't be to everyone's liking. Still, for the enthusiast, it's a great option that offers a fair balance between ride comfort and sporty firmness.
When you turn up the wick a bit, standard models have enough composure to meet most on ramps or twisty roads. There's just too much understeer to call Civic fun, but it's certainly tossable. The electric steering is nicely weighted and has a linear feel with good straight-line stability. Brakes seem adequate, but the pedal grows mushy after repeated hard stops.
The Si is a different beast altogether. It carves up twisty roads and beckons to be driven quickly. The tires have great dry-road grip and there's almost no body lean in quick changes of direction.
Sadly, Civic isn't a quiet car in any form. There's just too much wind and tire noise at speed to be competitive with class leading Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra. Engine noise is appropriate when cruising and acceptable in hard acceleration--glorious on the Si.
Behind the Wheel Honda carries over the somewhat controversial two-tire instrument display. The tachometer is directly behind the steering wheel while the speedo is placed on its own shelf above it. Somewhat awkward at first, the large digital readout for vehicle speed is easy to read at a glance.
All models except the DX also get a handy display to the right of the speedo that shows things like radio station and current fuel economy. It's a nice touch to help reduce driver distraction. Non-Si models have a surround that glows green when driving economically. Si models get an LED indicator to ease speed shifting. Climate and radio controls are conveniently placed, but the available navigation system takes time to master and is, even then, hard to program.
Materials can't match class leaders and feel sturdy rather than luxurious. Fit and finish are quite good and opting for EX or Si garners a few extra soft-touch surfaces.
The front seats are typical subcompact fare, meaning they are long on comfort and short on long-haul support. Si models have sporty and form-fitting seats that hold you tight and might not be comfortable for everyone. Head room is adequate, though it can be tight if you're more than 6'2" or opt for the sunroof. Leg room is good. The standard tilt-telescope steering wheel and height-adjustable seat make it easy for drivers to get comfortable. Outward visibility is great.
Sedans models have good rear seat room and the minimal floor hump is always welcome for middle passengers. Coupes have kid-suited seats that are lacking both knee and head room.
The trunk is quite large for the lass and features a wide and low opening. All models have folding rear seats but only EX and Si models have split seats. There's plenty of interior storage.
Bottom Line Civic isn't head-and-shoulders the class leader anymore. However, the 2012 redesign improves upon already great qualities of comfort, interior room, efficiency and affordability. Some competitors may appear to be more refined but the Civic is still a solid choice and a must see for subcompact shoppers.
Si model appeals to the enthusiast set. It's firm ride and seats keep drivers tuned in on the road, but will be off-putting for some others. When pushed hard the new 2.4-liter engine is quite fun to drive and should be a great starting point for those wishing to bolt-on a few go-fast extras.
|Specifications, 2012 Honda Civic EX-L Navigation|
|Dimensions||4-door sedan||Engine||DOHC I4|
|Wheelbase, in.||105.1||Size, liters/cu. in.||1.8 / 110|
|Length, in.||177.3||Horsepower @ rpm||140 @ 6500|
|Width, in.||69.0||Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm||128 @ 4300|
|Height, in.||56.5||Transmission||5-Speed Automatic|
|Weight, lbs.||2795||EPA Estimates, mpg||28 city / 39 highway|
|Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.||12.5|| |
|Fuel Capacity, gals.||13.2||Manufacturer's Warranty|
|Seating Capacity||5||Bumper-to-Bumper||3 years / 36,000 miles|
|Front Head Room, in.||37.9||Powertrain||5 years / 60,000 miles|
|Front Leg Room, in.||42.0||Corrosion||5 years / Unlimited miles|
|Second-Row Head Room, in.||36.2||Free Roadside Assistance||None|
|Second-Row Leg Room, in.||36.2||Free Scheduled Maintenance||None|