The 2012 Honda Civic is a cute but somewhat bland compact sedan. It's like that so-so/semi-cute girl/boy at a party. You notice them because they are there but then your eyes quickly shift over to something that is better dressed, more stylish and with better curves. In auto speak, that would be the new Hyundra Elantra, Ford Fiesta or Chevy Cruze. You quickly forget, the Civic who?
I borrowed my friend's Honda Civic for some test drives for this unofficial auto review.
The ninth generation Civic LX four-door provides all the basic comforts you might need in a little sedan. This package comes with a sunroof, Blue Tooth, power windows, locks, A/C. The bolstered, microfiber seats suck you in once you plop your bum inside the car.
The car's futuristic instrument panel sits on a dual-level so you can watch the digital speed monitor flash your speeds of 55 mph and up as you whip and weave on Interstate 95 between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Just to the right of the speedometer is an electronic IMID (intelligent muti-format information display) which reminded me of an iPhone that designers custom-built into the car. The display tells you how much gas you have, how far you can go and provides directions to where you're headed thanks to a nifty navigation system. An auto iPhone.
Wind-noise was minimal when we weren't blasting Madonna's unappreciated new CD, the Scissor Sisters or some groovy techno beats. The car was quiet enough to let my friend pass out and snore (he will deny this) in the passenger seat after a night out. As he caught his ZZZs, I had fun playing around with the various features. Front windshield wipers swiftly whooshed back and forth in an hypnotic motion. The radio was easy to use whether I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel to boost the volume or switch stations or by doing it the old-fashioned way - reaching the radio console.
The body: The sihouette of the car looks as if designers used the 2001 Honda Accord Coupe, sanded down the hood and rear and shrunk it in length for a Civic. (I have a working theory that Honda recycles old Accord styles for newer Civic models but that's another blog spot.)
This Civic's front windshield is slanted in such a way that you feel that you can literally touch the road in front of you. This also provides great visibility. From front to back, the Civic's profile is a clean sleek aerodynamic line. The backseat is also comfortable for a man who happens to have dark brown curly hair and who is 5-foot-10-inches tall and 175 pounds. There was plenty of leg room in back there, which is great for long trips to Disney World or Key West.
Fuel-consumption was a mixed message. My friend says he gets about 28 mpg in mixed city/highway driving or 24 mpg alone in city jaunts. That's a let down from the 32 mpg city/highway combined fuel economy he was hoping to get. "It's not as fuel efficient as advertised,'' he said. "If I had known that, I would have paid a little more and opted for the Toyota Prius." The Civic's fuel tank only fetches him a total of 218 miles and that's with the special ECON mode which helps reduce gas consumption. You expect more for a gas-friendly reliable car that has ruled as el rey of the small sedan market for decades.
Simply put, the car looks nifty but it doesn't stand out from the pack of more polished looking competitors (the Elantra, the Fiesta, the Cruze). "The Civic looks better than previous models in that it's not trying to show off,'' my friend said. Overall, the Civic is a cute sensible little carrito. Great to get around the city and for longer commutes from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. So far, it hasn't given my friend any issues. Still, he has Prius envy.