|06-29-2011, 02:34 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2010
2012 Honda Civic EX-L: Honda improves on solid compact Civic
2012 Honda Civic EX-L: Honda improves on solid compact Civic with a conservative redesign
The Honda Civic was once a default purchase in the compact segment. There were other cars, but the Civic just felt more complete, more mature than any of the other choices.
It's not anymore.
The compact car world has evolved much too fast for the Civic to hold that particular premium. The Ford Focus and Hyundai Sonata are more stylish, the Chevy Cruze is more practical, and there are a host of other small hot wheels breathing down Honda's tailpipe. But the 2012 Civic, redesigned to provide more room and a better interior, remains one of the most civil of choices.
And the Civic excels in choices, providing a full complement of cars, including regular gas-powered models in both coupe and sedan versions, a higher-mileage HF and two-mode hybrid models, an iconic sporty Si model and even one that runs on natural gas. Old Country Buffet doesn't have this many entree choices, and certainly no other carmaker does.
All of those choices, however, make it more difficult to review.
Fortunately, my test vehicle was the 2012 Civic EX sedan — a middle-of-the-road Civic — with a sales price of $20,505. A base model DX sedan starts at $15,805, and a hybrid sedan, loaded up with everything from leather, navigation and satellite radio, tips the piggy bank at $26,750.
The redesign may be conservative but so is this carmaker, which hasn't blown anyone away with a futuristic design since the last Civic. Sure, I would have loved to have seen more creases on the body panels, a turbocharged engine that achieved 50 mpg and some ingenious piece of technology that drove the Civic and folded my laundry at the same time, but that's the thing about expectations: If we always reached them, we'd only expect more.
Bigger, better inside
First, there are the interior improvements. For the most part, Honda has done a good job here. The new Civic is bigger inside than the previous generation — adding 3.7 cubic feet. The additional space was used wisely, but providing more than an inch of shoulder room, a measurement more important than maximum legroom.
More importantly, Honda changed out the instrument panel, laying it out in two tiers. The higher tier, close to the base of the windshield, includes the digital speedometer and a small display area with key driver information. Below that, behind the steering wheel, is the blue lit tachometer. The layout lets you keep your eyes on the road a little longer. There's also a nicely placed navigation system screen, though the buttons on that are along each side were very small.
There were two areas in particular that I didn't care for. First, the way the dash becomes a flat table-like structure on the passenger's side. For such a big area, there's a lot going on with different grains of plastic. Many dashes are like this because of steep windshields, but the Civic feels like it exaggerates this and makes the interior feel dated.
The second thing I didn't like was the cloth seats. While the seats were comfortable, the material felt second rate compared to what you'll find in competitors such as the Focus and Elantra.
Those two complaints aside, the Civic comes complete and remains a familiar friend. This friend comes with all of the proven technology you'd expect in a 2012 model: Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and more steering wheel controls than you know what to do with.
There's also plenty of storage space, with the sedan offering 12.5 cubic feet of space. That's another half cubic foot of space and can easily carry a week's worth of groceries for most families. If you need to toss in a couple golf bags, the second-row seats fold down with the pull of a lever and provide a lot more space.
There's also an Eco button on the dash that will adjust some features in the car to help you save even a little more fuel. (It does this by modifying your throttle inputs so less fuel is used at take off and the shifting points on the transmission change to focus solely on saving fuel.) For people who like to drive small cars hard, don't touch this button.
Full Article At: detnews.com | Autos | Auto Reviews