2012 Honda Civic offers comfort, leaves sportiness behind
Honda’s Civic was once a sporty little sedan and coupe.
But Honda started morphing its Civic into a family sedan and coupe. Its latest generation, the 2012 Honda Civic, leans more toward comfort and luxury and away from sportiness.
The luxury bent was clear in the tested Crimson Pearl Red EX-L model with navigation. This is Civic’s top-end model, starting at $23,455. The Civic though added no options and finished at $24,225.I enjoyed the Civic’s ride and comfort.
Civic’s four-wheel independent suspension, including a multi-link setup in back, features fairly soft damping for a comfortable ride.
Handling is decent but not sporty. There is some play to the wheel and while the overall steering is light, the car feels relaxed in the driver’s hands. I’d prefer firmer steering.
Under the hood is the same 1.8-liter, iV-TEC 4-cylinder as in the previous Civic. It creates 140 horsepower, which is decent, but far from segment leading. The 5-speed automatic seems a bit hesitant as you accelerate. Most new models have 6-speeds now, so the Civic trails the market a bit here. Tromp the accelerator hard and the car seems a little peppier and gets up to highway speeds fairly well.
The EPA rates the Civic at 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway, which is even slightly better than manual-transmission Civics, which are rated only 36 mpg on the highway. I got 32.2 mpg in a fairly even mix of driving.
Braking is good in the front-drive Civic with four-wheel discs with ABS and a stability control system.Inside, the test car featured a black and gray dash with tan face and matte silver trim on the door handles and steering wheel hub. Seats were tan leather.
Seats are manual, but I liked the pump handle on the driver’s seat side to raise and lower its height, plus the EX-L features two-speed heated front seats. The rear seats split and fold and there’s a good-sized trunk.
Honda carries over its stylish two-layer dash that gives the car a youthful look. I wasn’t sold on this initially, but after a week in the car I found its blue and white readouts extremely easy to see and its controls logical and simple to find. The EX-L includes the usuals, power mirrors and door locks, automatic lights and a tilt/telescope steering wheel with radio and cruise buttons on its hub, and all are simple to use.Climate control knobs are big and easy to use, but the tuning buttons around the radio are tiny, which will make them harder to use in winter when you are wearing gloves. Stations are accessed via a touch screen, which can be touchy, especially in winter, and naturally the navigation system uses that screen. I’d drop down a model and save the extra cost unless you travel extensively.
Other interior pluses include a good-sized glove box, open storage tray under the center stack, two cup holders, a storage bin/armrest between the seats and solid visors that flip to the side. However, they do not slide.
This fancy Civic also includes a sunroof with shade, 12-volt outlets, USB interface, satellite radio, a security system and heated outside mirrors.
While this is the top end of the Civic lineup, Honda still offers several models fit for the first-time buyer. A base DX with 5-speed manual transmission starts at $15,605 and moving up to an automatic puts that at $16,405. There also are LX and EX models with either manual or automatic.