2012 Honda Civic LX: New design and engine equal a refined ride
By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The ninth generation Honda Civic is all-new for 2012, and builds on the popular vehicle’s reputation as a sporty, stylish and economical car. The Civic began as a subcompact in 1972 for the 1973 model year, playing off its marketing as an economical vehicle that debuted at the right time to combat the U.S. oil crisis. The second generation Civic was larger (in 1980) and by the fourth generation in 1988, Civic had grown from subcompact to compact proportions.
Now, Civic is designed to provide refined compact comfort, and its remodel includes improvements to fuel economy, increases in interactive technologies for personalization and convenience, and enhancements to performance, ride and interior packaging. While the exterior sculpturing retains the feel of generation eight with its steep roofline, Civic adds a few inches to the hood and it has created a more conservative and short rear end.
For 2012, the Civic line-up embraces six completely redesigned models: the Civic Si Coupe and Sedan; the technologically advanced Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe; plus the highly fuel-efficient Civic HF, Civic Hybrid and Civic Natural Gas models. New powertrain technologies include a re-engineered 1.8-liter I-4 engine with enhanced fuel economy, a larger and more powerful 2.4-liter I-4 Si powerplant and a new Civic Hybrid powertrain that delivers higher overall performance and improved fuel economy. New available technology features including intelligent Multi-Information Display, USB audio interface, Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®, and a satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition and FM Traffic.
With unibody construction, Honda Civic’s sedan configures with a length of 177.3 inches, height of 56.5 inches and width of 69.0 inches on a 105.1-inch wheelbase, for a curb weight of 2641 lbs. Standard exterior features include security system with remote entry, body-colored power side mirrors, body-colored door handles, integrated rear-window antenna, 2-speed/intermittent windshield wipers, auto-off headlights and 15-inch wheels with full covers.
Under hood, Civic’s 1.8-liter in-line 4-cylinder aluminum alloy engine linked to a 5-speed manual transmission puts out 140hp and 128 lbs-ft of torque and is EPA rated at 28/36/31. My week of tests showed an actual average of 20mpg in the city, a whopping 45mpg on the highway and an average of 30.9mpg total.
Showing better acceleration at speed than off the line, my test Civic managed to beat 10 seconds in the zero-to-60mph sprint (at 9.9) and finished off a quarter-mile in 17.6 seconds. While there was excessive wind noise in the cabin, engine noise was average for the niche. The motion-adaptive electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering was a bit vague in the corners but the car drove larger than its dimensions and felt confident during most maneuvers, conveying a richer feel on the road. Power-assisted ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes provided secure stopping power and the MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear, both with stabilizer bars supplied a smooth ride. In concert with the rigid structure they absorbed most road irregularities.
The Civic interior is roomier than in gen-8 and delivers style and convenience, albeit with a lot of plastic inside. The cabin is accommodating, with an interior head room of 39.0 inches up front and 37.1 inches in row two; leg room is 42.0 inches in the first row and 36.2 inches in the second seats and shoulder room goes 56.5 and 53.3.
Standard cabin amenities include a 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, MP3/Windows Media® audio Playback Capability7, air conditioning with air-filtration system, speed-sensitive volume control, power windows with auto-up/down driver's window, power door locks with auto-lock feature, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering column, illuminated steering wheel-mounted cruise, audio and i-MID controls, rear window defroster with timer and Maintenance Minder™ system.
Rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Civic earned the highest-possible score in all four categories. Its advanced safety systems include the Honda-exclusive Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ body structure for frontal collision energy management and vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility, and such standard safety equipment as two-row side curtain airbags, dual-stage, multiple-threshold driver's and front passenger's airbags, driver's and front passenger's side airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist™, an anti-lock braking system with Brake Assist, and a new Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering system that helps the driver steer in the ideal direction to mitigate oversteer or understeer situations.
The 2012 Honda Civic sedan line starts at $15,805 for the DX trim and moves incrementally to the EX-L trim at $23,455. My Alabaster Silver Metallic test model in LX trim was mated to a Stone (Gray) interior and started at $17,855 with a manual transmission. The automatic would have added $800. A decklid spoiler added $299, and destination and handling charges added $770 for a sticker of $18,924. A few style options could have pushed the vehicle over $20,000 while adding tons to the coolness factor. These items include: a wing spoiler ($100 more than the decklid spoiler); 17-inch alloy wheels ($2118); door visor ($148); full nose mask ($158) and fog lights ($408). Those options would provide you with a mean performance and style machine for $21,856, but even without them, the 2012 Honda Civic is economical and stylish for its niche.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been
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