2011 Honda Civic Sedan EX - REVIEW - VIDEO ENHANCED


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Honda Civic EX sedan

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS - © 2011
WEEK 09

SEE ALSO: Honda Buyers Guide


It's an occupational hazard in my business. Halfway through my week with a 2011 Honda Civic EX Sedan, Honda announced an all-new ninth-generation Civic to go on sale later this Spring.

Does that mean that there's no reason for interest in the 2011 Civic? Not at all. Well, if you absolutely must have the newest of everything, you might stop reading now. If you just want a comfortable, economical, not-so-small compact car with good performance and character, the current Civic is eminently worthy of consideration. And the end of a model run can be the best time to buy…

The eighth-generation Civic has been with us since model year 2006, and "successful" is almost understatement for its popularity. It's a class benchmark. There's something for every small-car need in the Civic lineup, with both coupe and sedan body styles and appointment levels from Spartan but comfortable in the DX to leather-equipped semi-luxury in the EX-L. Performance and fuel economy are not mutually-exclusive -- most models have a 140-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that easily goes over 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Need more go? That would be the Si, with a 197-hp 2.0-liter engine providing plenty. Less fuel? There's the Hybrid for that -- or the natural gas-powered GX, the only dedicated natural gas vehicle available to retail customers.

A 2011 Civic EX Sedan with navigation system has been my test car for the past week. Honda seems to consider major options like nav systems and leather interiors separate models, with dealer-added interior, exterior, and electronic accessories. That's good logic that keeps life simple, from the assembly line to dealer inventory. This particular one had only what it came off the assembly line with, and was not lacking in any way. Small enough outside for easy maneuverability and parking and much roomier inside that that size would indicate at a glance, it's a solid, comfortable, economical car that is far more than "basic transportation". Power is not a problem in everyday driving, even with the automatic. The standard suspension is comfort-oriented, which should please most customers. A sport conversion is available for those who want something a bit firmer. "All things to all people" is too often a recipe for disastrous compromise. That's not true with the Honda Civic.


Click PLAY to watch the Civic EX video

APPEARANCE: If it looked a bit futuristic when it debuted, the current Civic's styling has worn well. "Box" applies to the shape not at all. From the side it's almost a "one-arch" design, with a short hood, well-raked windshield that makes the long passenger cabin seem even longer, and a short, high trunk.At the front, the chrome-crossbar Honda grille is flanked by long, low headlamps, and the lower intake hints at a race car splitter, without being so low as to scrape at every opportunity. Low fenders and a prominent lower character line define the sides, while the rear is dominated by large wraparound taillights.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Honda Civic EX

COMFORT: The interior space suggested by the Civic's exterior styling is delivered. And despite the large expanse of windshield, glare is not a problem thanks to careful design and use of textured gray material on the top of the instrument panel. Driver visibility is good, and if the "two-tier" instrument panel, with a digital speedometer and temperature and fuel gauges mounted near the base of the windshield and a brightly-lit tach in the traditional position closer to the driver looks like Spaceship Central, it works, and well. Front seat comfort is good, and the driver's is height-adjustable. The convenience level is high. All trim levels have manual tilt and telescope adjustment of their steering wheels and power windows. At EX level and above, cruise, auxiliary audio, and Bluetooth® (with the nav system) control switches are found on the steering wheel spokes. Useful small- and medium-sized storage spaces abound. The nav system is simple in operation, and the screen folds open for access to the single-disc CD player. No changer? No problem -- XM satellite radio is also included (you do need a subscription) and there is a USB connection in the large console box. Outboard rear passengers get plenty of room, and center usefulness is better than average thanks to a flat floor. The rear seatback folds in all Civic sedan trim levels, fully in most and 60/40 in EX and Si models.

SAFETY: ``Advanced Compatibility Engineering''™ unibody structure improves frontal collision energy management and protects the Civic sedan's occupants along with standard front, front side, and side curtain airbags, and active front headrests. Lower-level models have rear drum brakes, while the EX and above have four-wheel discs. All models have antilock and electronic brake-force distribution standard.

RIDE AND HANDLING: A rigid unibody structure ensures both good handling and a quiet ride, although as a middle-class compact sedan don't expect luxury car levels of noise reduction (or a luxury car price). The fully-independent MacPherson strut / multilink suspension is tuned moderately, for comfort. It works well, and if a sportier driving experience is desired, a sport suspension (springs, shocks, and stabilizer bars) is offered as a dealer-installed option. And then there's the vast Honda tuner aftermarket…

PERFORMANCE: With around 2800 pounds of Civic sedan to move, Honda's 1.8-liter single overhead cam aluminum alloy four-cylinder engine's 140 horsepower (at 6300 rpm) and 128 lb-ft of torque (at 4300 rpm) is more than merely adequate. Honda's i-VTEC variable cam timing, lift, and phasing system broadens the torque band and helps increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Long ago, Hondas were not notable for useful torque. That's no longer a problem, and the Civic EX works fine with the five-speed automatic that's the only transmission available with the nav system. It does downshift on steep highway grades, but does so quickly and smoothly. I got 29 mpg during my time with the car, with more than the usual amount of highway driving. But that highway went through steep mountains. No complaints!

CONCLUSIONS: The Honda Civic EX Sedan with Navigation packages all the comforts and useful technology expected in a more expensive car into a large-inside/small-outside package.

SPECIFICATIONS 2011 Honda Civic EX Sedan

Base Price			$ 22,405
Price As Tested			$ 23,155
Engine Type			SOHC 16-valve aluminum alloy inline
				 4-cylinder with i-VTEC variable valve
				 lift and cam phasing
Engine Size			1.8 liters / 109 cu. in.
Horsepower			140 @ 6300 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			128 @ 4300 rpm
Transmission			5-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length		106.3 in. / 177.3 in.
Curb Weight			2820 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		20.1
Fuel Capacity			13.2 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				P205/55 R16 89H
				 Bridgestone Turanza EL400
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
				 ABS, EBD standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent multilink
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				  front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		25 / 36 / 29
0 to 60 mph				est 9 sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Destination charge		$ 750

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