It’s been 40 years since they arrived on these shores. And over eight million of them have been sold. That gives Honda’s Civic the title of being the best selling compact in the U.S.A. But that comes with some illegal distinction. It’s also the second most stolen car after it’s big brother, the Accord.
There must be a reason(s) that Civic’s are so popular by both paying and non-paying drivers. Perhaps it’s because over the years they’ve offered great fuel economy, lively handling and the best value for the money.
Offered in base DX, LX, EX, EX-L, Si, Hybrid and Natural Gas versions, we tested the EX Navi model that came with a built in GPS navigation system whose cost is embedded as part of the model’s standard features.
Powered by a 1.8L, 140-hp (128 lb/ft of torque) four cylinder and 5-speed automatic transmission, the little “four that could” is not a speedster as it’s been 0-60 tested in 9.2 seconds, but it’s economical at 28 city, 39 highway mpg. Highway mpg is almost as good as the hybrid version that’s rated at 44 city, 44-highway mpg, but which costs over $2K more.
If you desire more power, check out the Si speedster that comes with a 2.4L, 201-hp four cylinder and 170 ft/lb of torque.
The 2012 Civic has a more stylish look over predecessors, partially due to a swept back windshield, new grille and headlights. But not by much. There’s still a lot of familiarity as opposed to the competition from Kia, Hyundai and others who have taken exterior design to a sexy, sculpted form.
Interior accommodations have been taken a hit from the car enthusiast’s magazines for poor interior quality. To the contrary, I found the Civic EX with Navi comfy and stylish despite the busy two-tier dash and 14 control buttons on the steering wheel. While speedometers have traditionally been center located, a tach takes its place while the speedo is digitally placed in the top cowl of the dash. Out of habit I would look down at the tach thinking it was the speedometer. Few drivers ever refer to or even look at the tach, unless the car has a manual transmission, and then its’ doubtful.
While leather is available on the EX-L, my EX came with cloth seats that were soft and comfy fore and aft. There’s also a good amount of leg and headroom in the back seat, which isn’t always the norm for a compact.
Trunk space can hold two medium-sized roll-a-longs, one large one and two golf bags provided the long clubs are pulled and stacked atop the bags. Pull two handles and back seats fold for more space.
Civic rides more like an Accord even though its overall size has been reduced somewhat. Only severe bumps and high expansion joints reverberate through the suspension and into the cabin. Exterior noise still remains a problem but as an old car salesman back in the 60’s used to say, “Turn the radio up and you won’t hear it.”
With a long list of required and desired features including Electronic Brake Distribution, tire pressure monitoring, MP3, Bluetooth, tilt/telescoping wheel, moonroof, floor mats and the GPS nav system, my test car only lacked a rearview camera that could have been included in the GPS display screen. With all this and more, the Civic EX priced out at $22,005 or $22,775 with a $770 delivery charge.
After nine generations of production, the 2012 Civic remains a contender in the hotly contested compact market.
To test drive a Civic stop by Lehigh Valley Honda on Lehigh Street in Allentown or Phillipsburg Honda in New Jersey.