The first season of NBC's Fashion Star has ended...
Ah, the venerable Honda Civic. Back in the Bronze Age`, when I was in college, a quasi-beau owned a yellow one. I really liked the little ride, although I could be conflating my Civic affection with that for said beau.
But that's a digression.
In any case, we're a long way from those days - this is a different Civic (and beau wasn't a keeper, alas). Not a lesser one, per se, but certainly different. That Civic was peppy, fun and distinctively styled. This one? Meh, not so much. But it is still a car, and brand, of imminent value. Plus, my loaner was the sedan.
Specifically, I drove the Civic EX -- the top-level trim grade followed by the LX and base DX. Each level's accompanied by ever-bigger packages of bells and whistles and stuff; the EX is packed with standards, including Bluetooth, decent sounds, USB, MP3, tilt and telescoping steering, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback, rear-seat center armrest, cruise control, eco assist, 16-inch alloys, moonroof/tilt, auto headlamps, and a bevy of safety features. Not bad for a ride that came to $21,275.
And then there's fuel economy -- an easy-on-the-wallet 28/39. Huge selling point, obviously. How does it drive? Well, there is scant little road noise, but some wind is audible. The car is propelled by a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter SOHC 16-valve i-VTEC four-cylinder that is adequate, but well short of scintillating. So if you're expecting zip, this isn't the one. I also wish I had tested the manual coupe instead of the rather balky five-speed automatic that feels claustrophobic, in that its gears could use more room. I put the car on some twisties and handling was fine, if a mite uninspired. Compared with its predecessor I found the suspension to be less taut. Braking's nicely calibrated to this iteration's relatively lighter heft.
Exterior-wise, the Civic is supposed to be all-new, but I don't really notice a significant difference, a smaller wheelbase notwithstanding. In fact, I was approached by a passerby, a woman of a certain age, who wanted to know which whip this was. Query answered, she scrunched her brow and said, "Really? huh! I didn't know they made a four door." So there's that, Honda. More marketing to do. But overall, this is not an unattractive vehicle. On the vanilla side, but nowhere near displeasing.
The interior is where this Civic really shines. It's pretty darned spacious and comfortable, and generally, materials are of improved quality, though there is some plastic. Head and legroom are surprisingly plenteous, and there are plenty of places to store stuff, including Big Gulps. As is Honda's want, the dashboard is packed with all manner of gizmos, but not disconcertingly so. Upon opening and closing, the glove compartment and console doors have a nice feel and sound, about which I am a stickler.
Soooo, the Civic's led its class for years. We'll see about this one. Mileage alone should help a lot, but there's a lot of competition out there. What we have here, really, is a middling, affordable gas sipper that's also sturdily built. Not quite what it used to be ... but then neither am I.