Auto Review: A Civic-minded solution

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Feb. 27, 2014
- Contributed Photo

If there’s one thing a company like Honda is known for, it’s giving the consumer a lot of value for their hard-earned dollars. This is an attribute found in most of their automotive offerings, but is most clearly expressed in their venerable Civic. Ultimately, the Civic has become one of the most popular compact cars on the market since it first appeared in the early ’70s, and the sedan versions have proved particularly popular with growing families. This frugal, reliable four-door has grown considerably itself, both in terms of physical size and equipment offerings, and also has spawned a very economical Hybrid model. Things that fortunately haven’t changed include excellent fuel economy, along with low maintenance costs and a certain fun-to-drive quotient. An all-new two-door Civic Coupe is also available, and we hope to test one soon.

The 2014 Front-Drive Civic Sedan line rides on a 105.1-inch wheelbase and (apart from the Hybrid model) consists of three primary trim levels:  LX, EX and EX-L.  There is also a more fuel-miserly HF model, but at the moment availability looks limited. To keep things simple (and streamline production costs) all three are powered by a 1.8-liter Inline Four that produces 143 horsepower and is armed with Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing technology and Direct Fuel Injection. The big change on the drivetrain front for 2014 involves the automatic transmission, for while the LX can be had with a five-speed manual gearbox, the rest of the line comes standard with a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Designed to optimize both performance and fuel economy from the Inline Four, our EX-L test mule’s CVT shifted smoothly without some of the foibles (noise and a certain relaxed acceleration rate) that has plagued some transmissions of this type from other manufacturers. The little four delivers decent acceleration and has good manners, including a very smooth idle and quiet operation. The chassis is responsive yet delivers a smooth ride, and the only area that was surprising was the electric power steering that seemed to offer a bit less feedback compared with Civics of the past. One area that has long needed improvement was quelling road and wind noise, and the new Civic is definitely quieter than in the past.

Another area where the Civic is downright impressive is the interior, which is not only very well detailed, it’s quite unique especially in terms of the driver’s instrument cluster. It’s a colorful, multi-level affair, and the EX-L comes with a 7-inch center Electrostatic HD touchscreen (with a standard backup camera), and we also had the optional Navigation package. Interior room and comfort is good for a compact, and workmanship was very good for the class.

The 2014 Honda Civic EX-L with Navigation is EPA rated 30 MPG city/39 highway and has a base price of $24,240. With destination charges, our MSRP came to $25,030.

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