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Civic Pride

The 2012 Honda Civic

The 2012 Honda Civic sedan

It’s interesting to see the different small-car philosophies in place these days with the major automobile manufacturers. Some go for glamour and glitz (Hyundai and Ford come to mind with their new Elantra and Focus), and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Others take a more low-key approach. And that’s where we find ourselves today with the new Honda Civic sedan. Not that Honda doesn’t do glitz; just take a look at the Civic coupes. But the sedan is the one every father would rather see drive up to the door to pick up his teenage daughter for a date.

Honda Civics have been known and loved over the decades by the automotive press for their practicality and dependability. Sensibly priced, sensibly sized, and with styling that’s never objectionable, the Civic has always been a safe bet to pluck your hard-earned money down on. It’s just that over the past few years it seems to have fallen off the radar. Not because the Honda has lost anything; but the competition has gotten much fiercer. The 2012 Civic sedan is all-new and, although it’s still not very glitzy, it’s certainly worth a look.

And look I did, on a rainy Saturday morning last weekend with a short trip over to Don Davis Honda on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst. Senior Sales Consultant Wayne Weiss showed me the new Civic LX sedan as we drove around Amherst on this particularly dreary morning. As I mentioned, the car is all new, but not a drastic restyle of the 2011 model. It’s unmistakably a Civic from every angle, and in my mind is much more attractive than main rival Toyota Corolla, whose newest offering still looks 10 years old. The Civic LX’s interior is pleasant enough to look at, although some may carp about the use of so many hard plastics. This was a deliberate decision by Honda, which Wayne pointed out, as these hard plastics are all made from recycled material in Honda’s quest to become cleaner and greener. I personally have no problem with the harder surfaces, as long as they’re attractive and fit together properly, as they do on the Civic, and if they hold up to the test of time. Front seats (and the back seat) are roomy and comfortable, with plenty of head and leg room for just about any driver. All controls are easily within the driver’s reach, with the center stack containing the audio and HVAC controls tilted towards the driver for better vision. The LX also has illuminated steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, as well as for the information display unit (audio read-out, odometer and trip info, gas mileage indicator, etc.). It all seemed very intuitive and simple to use.

All DX, LX, and EX models come equipped with Honda’s 1.8-liter, 140-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual is standard on DX and LX models, while a five-speed automatic is optional for those and standard on all EX models. Honda also offers a Civic Hybrid model, as well as another powered by natural gas. One more option would be the HF sedan, basically the same car lowered down a bit, with a spoiler, low-drag wheels, and wind-cheating underbody panels—all in the name of increasing gas mileage to 29/41 city/highway. The automatic-equipped LX I drove is rated a still respectable 28/39.

No, the Civic won’t win many drag races, but its powertrain is more than enough to get it around town. We drove in traffic, on back roads, and on the interstate, and not only did the Civic have a pleasant ride, it was a relatively quiet one at that. The test car had a list price (including destination) of $19,425 which included power windows/locks, remote key entry, MP3 capability w/input jack, and a/c with an air filtration system. Stick-shift DX models start at just $15,805.

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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