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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 HONDA CIVIC SEDAN REVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
A 2015 Honda Civic Sedan Parked In Brooklyn

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Katrina Tweets: The 2015 Honda Civic is a tough compact car to beat.

INTRO TO THE CIVIC VEHICLE

That mainstay of the compact car market, the Honda Civic, gets more power, retuned suspension, interior refinements and new driver assistive features for the 2015 model year. A new Special Edition trim grade adds over $1,100 worth of telematics, audio, comfort, convenience and style upgrades, too.

I drove a 2015 Honda Civic sedan with the 143-horsepower 1.8-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine with the Continuously Variable Transmission. The Civic sedan is offered in four trims – the LX, SE, EX, and EX-L, with my top-of-the-line EX-L trim featuring the following standards: heated front seats; power driver’s seat; leather-trimmed upholstery; six-speaker audio system; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; HondaLink: Bluetooth; Honda satellite-Linked Navigation with Voice Recognition; seven-inch touchscreen display; SMS text reading function; Pandora Internet radio; USB and auxiliary input jacks; rearview camera with LaneWatch; power moonroof; push-button start; fog lights; and seventeen-inch alloy wheels. Price as described came to $24,340.

Honda is doing a bang-up job at perfecting the Civic; just last model year the vehicle also received interior upgrades and stronger powertrain components that resulted in improved fuel economy and a gain of 3 horsepower. Main compact sedan competitors also offering such overall value include the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Kia Optima.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: One of the biggest interior changes for the Civic spanning the last couple models is the upgrade to more premium materials, which integrates well with an already working center stack and instrument panel layout. Yet note because the controls have been streamlined, many simple commands – like audio volume – have no longer use dials; expect to constantly turn the climate knobs as you rewire your brain for constant touchscreen technology. HondaLink provides voice-control plus a variety of search, audio and social media functions with a seven-inch touchscreen. In comparison, the Focus interior also has upped its high-tech draw with the enhanced SYNC App Link where you can download more than sixty apps with functions ranging from a cloud-based voice-recognition system to programming traffic alerts while listening to the radio.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2015 Honda Civic sedan ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas, making it a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards the sedan with an overall score of 5-Stars. Standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist, anti-lock brakes; Electronic Brake Distribution, and a rearview camera.

Cost Issues: Honda systematically finds way to bring value to the Civic with every model year – for a base LX at $18,490, you get such highlights as Pandora Internet radio, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, input jacks needs for media devices, and an SMS text reading function. The SE starts at $19,990; the EX at $21,190; and the EX-L at $22,840.

Activity & Performance Ability: A hallmark of the Civic is strong fuel economy numbers, and the 1.8-liter four-cylinder doesn’t disappoint as I typically retain about 32 miles-per-gallon on average during my test drives. Steering and suspension refinements create a more composed and predictable compact car ride. Note that for 2015, Ford gave the Focus an optional and all-new 123-horsepower 1-liter EcoBoost engine paired to a six-speed manual transmission – this is basically the same engine used on the Fiesta that gets 31-city and 43-highway for a combined 36 miles-per-gallon; yet out-staging that is the Mitsubishi Mirage’s 74-horsepower 1.2-liter engine. You can expect a significant difference in attitude with such three-cylinder engines that equate to a louder, more skittish ride.

The Green Concern: The Honda Civic sedan has a fuel economy of 30-city and 39-highway for a combined 33 under the new CVT; the five-speed gets 28-city and 36-city for a combined 31. There is also a natural gas and hybrid version.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
One word describes the redesigned 2015 Honda Civic, and that’s sharpened, from the design to the bevy of advanced technology. Unless you want to opt for an electric motor or three-cylinder engine (with a lot less style), it’s a tough compact car to beat.

©2015 Katrina Ramser