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9th Gen Civic Forum : 2012 Honda Civic Forums - 9th Generation


Honda's redesigned 2012 Civic compact car will make a long-awaited debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday, a coming-out party in advance of its arrival at dealers in April or May. The as-yet-unseen Civic show car, apparently very close to the real thing, must do more than draw the standard concept-car ooohs and aaaahs.

It must presage a new Civic good enough to prove that Honda (HMC) still has the touch, that it can still roll out cars that make buyers willing to wait in line and pay more than sticker price.

The once-golden car company hardly is a disaster, but it has been drifting in the U.S., unable to capitalize on rival Toyota's recall-fueled slide, losing ground to Ford (F) and Hyundai in the hearts and minds of buyers, and unable to fire anybody's imagination with recent launches of low-volume specialty cars that don't quite make sense to buyers.

"They need a hit," says Ed Kim, director of industry analysis for consultant AutoPacific. "Honda no longer has the edge. In efficiency, technology and design, they are no longer the leader."

Details remain secret, but Honda is promising that this 9th-generation Civic will be "completely revolutionized" and will raise compact-car standards for innovative technology.

Civic is "hugely important to us" and "the emotional pivot point" of the brand, says John Mendel, Honda's executive vice president in the U.S.

Civic is Honda's 2nd-best seller, behind the larger Accord sedan, and in some months has passed Accord. Civic was the 6th-best-selling vehicle of any kind in the U.S. last year and is the car that introduces many buyers to Honda. U.S.-market Civics are made in Ohio, where thousands of jobs depend on the car's success. And the small-car segment overall, in which Civic is a main player, makes up about 1/3 of all U.S. car sales. The small-car category is expected to grow as buyers seek lower prices and better fuel economy.

What's more, if the new Civic misses the bull's-eye, even after being delayed a year to help Honda save cash during the recession, then a struggling Civic becomes both harbinger and symbol of Japanese-brand automakers struggling to rediscover their magic. For decades, Japanese-brand car companies "had the corner on the small-car market. The domestic offerings were not at the same level, did not provide the same quality, value, reliability," says Rebecca Lindland, auto-industry specialist at consultant IHS Global Insight.

"That's changed a lot. We're seeing products coming out" of General Motors (GM), Ford Motor and Chrysler Group "that are incredibly competitive. For example, Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus."

Honda's share of the market was 10.6% last year, down from 11% in 2009. But Mendel points to data showing that competitors gained ground by cranking up heavily discounted bulk sales to corporate and government fleets and rental car agencies, low-profit sales that Honda eschews.

What's going on at Honda

Consequently, he doesn't think Honda has lost its Midas touch. "I don't think there's a mojo deficit at all," Mendel said in an interview at the automaker's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

Whatever malaise might be stalking American Honda — the U.S. operation that includes the Honda mainstream brand and the Acura luxury brand — is tricky to define.

"I don't sense that there's a dynamic excitement any more," Lindland says. "It's nothing definitive." But the Honda brand's U.S. sales of 1.1 million last year fell short of the 1.2 million that IHS Global Insight had forecast a year ago.

Honda's main Japanese-brand rivals, Toyota (TM) and Nissan, will be relatively weaker competitors until they redesign their Corolla and Sentra, respectively. A mildly refreshed Corolla is just hitting showrooms; Toyota hasn't said when a full redesign is coming. Even though aging, Corolla still outsold Civic by 5,864 units last year. A new Sentra is about 2 years off, though Nissan plans to unveil another small car at the New York auto show in April.

There could be room for all. A combination of higher gasoline prices and the new small-car entries are expected to boost compact cars to 15.7% of all new car sales, up a percentage point from last year, predicts J.D. Power and Associates.

J.D. Power analyst Jeff Schuster is encouraged about the new Civic. "It looks like it will be a more sporty vehicle that should do well in the segment," he said.

While most Civic buyers match the demographics of the rest of the compact segment — 51, probably no kids at home, mainly interested in reliability and fuel economy — the car's sportier engines and suspensions have lured more driving enthusiasts than rivals have. Young and loyal, they are an important core for Civic and Honda.

Jeff Palmer, who founded the Temple of VTEC website for Honda enthusiasts, is praying the new Civic stays sporty and continues to be "a great car."

Civic, of course, could be a wild hit. Honda "might have a tiger by the tail there. Sometimes you introduce at just the right time," says Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, mainly known as a source of real-world auto pricing and consumer research.

Toyota taint

But Honda has faced troubles because of Toyota's recalls in the past year. Toyota, the top Japanese car company, recalled more than 7 million vehicles for just 2 problems — improper floor mats and sticky acceleration pedals — that could cause runaway acceleration. Other high-profile recalls involved such frightening issues as potentially faulty brakes. The government imposed two $16.4 million fines against Toyota — the maximum possible — for not reporting the floor-mat and sticky pedal issues promptly. And it separately fined Toyota another $16.1 million for tardy notice of nearly 1 million vehicles with potentially faulty steering relay rods that had been recalled earlier.

"Toyota's trouble didn't benefit Honda,"
AutoPacific's Kim says. "A lot of those people ended up (shopping for) a Ford for the first time, or a Hyundai the first time." Honda's Mendel says,"We never targeted to take advantage of" Toyota's troubles. "It's not how to win a race."

Instead, Honda focused on its own new models, which Mendel says are hitting sales expectations. Some, though, have seemed out-of-sync with the market:

•CR-Z. The 2-seat, gas-electric hybrid was dinged last month by influential Consumer Reports magazine. CR said, "Even if the CR-Z turns out to be reliable, it scores too low for us to recommend."

The publication cited "a long list of drawbacks" that included stiff ride, poor steering feel, poorly tuned stability control, and "lousy" visibility.

•Insight. Also a hybrid and the car on which CR-Z is based, the Insight is aimed directly at Toyota's Prius and was criticized by CR and others for a cheap interior, mediocre mileage (by hybrid standards) and a noisy powertrain. Honda sold just 21,000 Insights last year; Toyota, 141,000 Priuses.

•Accord Crosstour. Fitted with all-wheel drive, sloping rear roofline and a premium price, this Accord is somewhat modeled on the BMW X6 crossover, but without BMW's "sport-activity vehicle" panache.

•Acura ZDX. Another attempt to blend crossover-utility-vehicle underpinnings with a fastback-sedan body.​

Acura spokeswoman Alison Sobkowski points out that ZDX is meant to be a niche player to enhance Acura's image. She says the brand overall had a good sales year. Its 134,000 sales exceed IHS Global Insight's year-ago forecast of 124,000. Acura should benefit because its models are lower-price than better-selling import rivals at a time premium-car buyers are seeking value.

Acura also scores high in quality and reliability rankings by 3rd-party evaluators, such as CR and J.D. Power and Associates.

Unfriendly dealers

Honda dealers as a group typically score in the bottom third in J.D. Power's annual Sales Satisfaction Index, a survey of how well new car buyers were treated at the dealership. Last year, for example, Honda dealers as a group were 23rd among 32 brands for which Power had sufficient data. The year before, 25th of 37. The pattern holds all the way back to 2001. As buyers begin to see there are more and more choices, tangential issues such as pleasant dealerships matter more.

Eroding forte

Honda began as an engine-building company and made vehicles simply as a way to package and profit from its engine expertise.

"They are still a very, very good engine company," Lindland says.

But Hyundai is equipping its latest vehicles with ever-more-efficient and sophisticated 4-cylinder power plants. And Ford has a unique selling proposition in its EcoBoost engine line: Those increase power from small engines without sacrificing significant mileage, by using a combination of direct injection and turbocharging.

"The big question for the next Civic: Is it going to be another innovative car, or is it going to be one of the 'safe' Civics?"
says AutoPacific's Kim. "Honda has an opportunity to get it" right.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Si

The Honda Civic Si Concept coupe and Civic Concept sedan are making world debuts at the North American International Auto Show today, providing the first official glimpse at the styling direction of the all-new, 9th-generation 2012 model set to go on sale this spring, the company announced.

"The Civic is known for providing a balance of 'just-right' packaging, fun-to-drive character and outstanding fuel economy, at a price that even first-time buyers can afford," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda. "The redesigned Civic builds on this legacy and promises to be the best Civic yet."

The 2012 Civic embraces the company's vision as a "Civic for all people," a phrase originally expressed in defining the goal of the first-generation Civic. With the widest array of engine choices available in its class, the 2012 Civic lineup intends to meet the needs of an increasing group of compact-vehicle buyers with a renewed vision of a "Civic for all people." The diverse vehicle range includes a sedan and a coupe with conventional gasoline models, 2 sporty "Si" performance versions, along with one hybrid and a natural gas alternative-fuel variant. Collectively the depth of the Civic line offers a compelling balance between fuel economy, low emissions and fun-to-drive performance unlike any other vehicle in the industry.

As a new interpretation of the current Civic's iconic "1-motion" mono-form shape, the upcoming, 9th-generation Civic conveys a more substantial, high-energy appearance. The exterior styling of both Civic concept models showcases the sedan's and coupe's clean-yet-powerful lines with steeply raked windshields, wide stances and pronounced character lines along the profile. The lower character line on both models broadens toward the rear fenders to enhance the dynamic feeling of forward energy. The front fender surface treatments form a complex, three-dimensional look to further enhance the image of sophistication and structural depth against the deeply set headlights.

The Civic Concept sedan takes on a sophisticated presence with a front grille defined by crisp lines and a solid bar that integrates a chrome Honda emblem. The look of the Civic Si Concept coupe conveys an aggressive demeanor with a more angular front fascia, mesh grille and a tapered rear roofline that flows smoothly into the trunk. The Civic Si Concept coupe is exclusively equipped with a rear air diffuser, a center-mounted exhaust outlet and a rear deck lid spoiler with dual vents. Each concept model has 19-inch machined alloy wheels.

Powertrain Technology
The Civic's family of engines with "intelligent" Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC®) technology become even more fuel efficient for 2012. The upcoming Civic Hybrid offers the latest generation of the compact and lightweight Integrated Motor Assist™ (IMA™) gasoline-electric hybrid system and features the first application of a lithium-ion battery in a Honda hybrid.

Building on its emphasis on fuel-economy, most upcoming Civic models receive Honda Eco Assist™ technology, already available in the CR-Z and Insight hybrids. The 2012 Civic is the first U.S. Honda model to employ Eco Assist technology in a gasoline-only powered vehicle. Eco Assist is just one example of how the new Civic can be customized and configured by the drivers to suit individual preferences.

Additionally, Honda is expanding retail sales of the natural gas-powered Civic GX model, which is the only OEM-built, dedicated CNG passenger car assembled in America. The increased availability of the Civic GX helps bring inherently clean-burning natural gas technology to an even broader audience while also supporting diversity in transportation energy resources.

Safety
The 2012 Civic continues to emphasize safety and is anticipated to score well in both the federal government's New Car Assessment Program1 (NCAP) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety2 (IIHS) vehicle evaluations. The 2001 Honda Civic Coupe was 1 of the 1st 2 passenger cars ever to earn the federal government's top 5-star crash safety rating3 for the driver and front- and rear-seat passengers in both frontal and side-impact crash tests.

All 2012 Civics are equipped with Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) as standard equipment. Additionally, the 9th-generation Civic continues to provide Honda's exclusive and innovative Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure for frontal collision energy management.


 

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Ehh, i dunno why but I'm not really feeling it. The ass looks better on the 2dr version though.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Launch


Honda will take a hurry-up approach when launching its delayed Civic family in April.

Unlike past Civic rollouts--which spread the debuts of model types and variations over months and even years--Honda will launch every variety of the 2012 Civic within weeks of each other, said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda.

The family includes a sedan and coupe, multiple engines, lithium ion hybrid and natural gas versions and a Civic Si edition.

In late 2008, the Civic launch was delayed 6 months after the Lehman Brothers collapse. The car was promptly redesigned to be smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient and cheaper to build.

"The story that will never be told is how much we changed the car," Mendel said at the unveiling of concept versions of the Civic last week at the Detroit auto show.

The major change with the Civic involved interior packaging, said Vicki Poponi, Honda assistant vice president of product planning.

"When you get in [the current] car, it isn't roomy enough to be a Civic," she said. "That was what our focus was, getting back to where we once were: compact yet surprisingly roomy."

Although not the official tag line, the marketing credo for the 2012 Civic is a play on founder Soichiro Honda's belief that there is "a Civic for everyone," said Steve Center, Honda's chief marketing officer in the United States. In its marketing campaign, Honda will play on the idea of the variety of Civic offerings.

The Civic concept retains the angular look of the current model, but with more pronounced shoulders. The windshield still has a shallow rake with a cab-forward orientation. In a nod to the BMW styling cue, the rear window has the so-called Hofmeister kink in the C-pillar, an element normally reserved for performance vehicles.
 

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2012

02/17/2011 - TORRANCE, Calif.

Featuring the widest array of engine choices available in its class, the 2012 Civic is designed to even better meet the diverse needs of the compact-vehicle buyer when it launches this spring. The entire redesigned ninth-generation Civic lineup will become more fuel efficient with 2 models – the all-new Civic HF and the Civic Hybrid – each delivering fuel economy estimates of more than 40 mpg on the highway.

Built on the tradition of Honda fuel efficiency, the economical Civic HF model will be the most fuel-efficient gasoline-only powered Civic in the lineup when it launches this spring. Equipped with a 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine, the Civic HF is targeted to earn EPA-estimated fuel economy1 of 41 mpg on the highway. The 2012 Civic Hybrid, which will be outfitted for the 1st time with a lithium-ion battery and a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine, is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated city/highway combined fuel economy1 of 45 mpg, an improvement of 4 mpg compared to the current Civic Hybrid. Both the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models will be equipped with aerodynamic components for improved efficiency and Honda ECO Assist™ technology, an innovation that can enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback to promote more efficient individual driving styles.


"The Civic is the only model in the industry that can deliver on all fronts – fuel economy, sporty performance, smart packaging, alternative fuel and long-term value,"
said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co.,Inc. "For the 9th-generation Civic, we are emphasizing improved fuel economy across the board, from the hybrid sedan to the sporty Si model."

In addition to the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models, the Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic GX Natural Gas models are also estimated to achieve improved fuel economy compared to the current models. The Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy2 of 39 mpg on the highway, an improvement of 3 mpg when compared to the current model. The Civic Natural Gas vehicle is anticipated to earn a 7% improvement in fuel economy compared to the current model. The Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic Natural Gas models will all be equipped with the Honda ECO Assist technology.


Along with improved fuel economy, the new Civic lineup also delivers more performance, particularly with the Civic Si. The Civic Si sedan and coupe models will be equipped with a larger, more powerful 2.4-liter engine as well as a new 6-speed manual transmission. The new engine is anticipated to deliver 200 horsepower with 170 ft-lb of torque. Even with the larger engine and a 22% increase in torque, Civic Si is targeted to achieve an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy1 of 31 mpg; an increase of 2 mpg when compared to the current model.

The 2012 Civic lineup includes a sedan and a coupe with conventional gasoline models, a new "HF" high fuel economy version, 2 sporty "Si" performance versions, along with 1 hybrid and a natural gas alternative-fuel variant.


Additional information on the new 2012 Civic will be announced closer to the on-sale date. For more information on the current Civic and other Honda models, please visit Honda Media Newsroom.


Civic HF, Sedan, Coupe and Natural Gas Specifications


* 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 5-speed automatic transmission
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic HF highway fuel economy: 41 mpg
* EPA-estimated Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe highway fuel economy: 39 mpg


Civic Hybrid Specifications

* 110 horsepower, 1.5-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine (combined gasoline + electric)
* Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
* Lithium-ion battery
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic Hybrid city/highway combined fuel economy: 45 mpg




Civic Si Specifications


* 200 horsepower and 170 lb-ft, 2.4-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 6-speed manual transmission
* EPA-estimated Civic Si highway fuel economy: 31 mpg

 

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Civic

Don't really understand the front driver and passenger side glass design, with the small square piece of glass at the front ? Nice looking car, I guess, but it reminds me of a Corolla. Plus, they need to dump the digital bar gauges, on the dashboard, and go with analog..... hello.... Mc Fly :-/
 

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On Sale


Honda slams into the small-car market today as it puts its multiple-model Civic compact on sale, starting at $16,535 including shipping. That's $840 more than the Hyundai Elantra, which was redesigned for 2011 and quickly has emerged as one of the champs of the compact car class.

Honda says it will sell the natural-gas-fueled version of Civic nationwide, not just in some regions, but won't put the first n.g. cars in showrooms until fall, then spend another year getting them into all markets.

Too, the high-performance version of the sedan and coupe, called Si, hits dealerships May 24, Honda says. Meantime, you have your choice among a robust array:
Gasoline mainstream sedans and coupes.
Hybrid sedan that has an easy to remember fuel-economy rating: 44/44/44.
HF fuel-efficient model that gets several more mpg than the otherwise similar gas engine sedan.​
We'll give you the lowdown on Civic in this Friday's Test Drive column, but for now you need to know that the hybrid still shimmies when the gas engine restarts and that the Si version has a little more horsepower, a lot more torque., making it easy and satisfying to drive.

HF is a painless way to save gas; no drivability or power compromises, but is it worth the extra dough?


We've included the price sheet straight from Honda's announcement. Even if you aren't that interested in the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price), it's worth a quick look just to see the staggering number of different Civic models. The details:

Sedan, Transmission, MSRP (excluding $750 shipping), MPG City/Hwy/Combined

Civic DX Sedan 5-Speed Manual $15,805 28/36/31
5-Speed Automatic $16,605 28/39/32

Civic LX Sedan 5-Speed Manual $17,855 28/36/31
5-Speed Automatic $18,655 28/39/32

Civic HF 5-Speed Automatic $19,455 29/41/33

Civic EX Sedan 5-Speed Automatic $20,505 28/39/32

Civic EX Sedan with Navi 5-Speed Automatic $22,005 28/39/32
and XM Radio

Civic EX-L Sedan 5-Speed Automatic $21,955 28/39/32

Civic EX-L Sedan with Navi and XM Radio 5-Speed Automatic $23,455 28/39/32

Civic Si Sedan 6-Speed Manual $22,405 22/31/25

Civic Si Sedan with summer tires 6-Speed Manual $22,605 22/31/25

Civic Si Sedan with Navi
and XM Radio 6-Speed Manual $23,905 22/31/25

Civic Hybrid

Civic Hybrid Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) $24,050 44/44/44

Civic Hybrid with Navi and XM Radio Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) $25,550 44/44/44

Civic Hybrid Sedan with Leather Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) $25,250 44/44/44

Civic Hybrid Sedan with Leather, Navi and XM Radio Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) $26,750 44/44/44

Coupe

Civic DX Coupe 5-Speed Manual $15,605 28/36/31
5-Speed Automatic $16,405 28/39/32

Civic LX Coupe 5-Speed Manual $17,655 28/36/31
5-Speed Automatic $18,455 28/39/32

Civic EX Coupe 5-Speed Manual $19,705 28/36/31
5-Speed Automatic $20,505 28/39/32

Civic EX Coupe with Navi and XM Radio 5-Speed Automatic $22,005 28/39/32

Civic EX-L Coupe 5-Speed Automatic $21,955 28/39/32

Civic EX-L Coupe with Navi and XM Radio 5-Speed Automatic $23,455 28/39/32

Civic Si Coupe 6-Speed Manual $22,205 22/31/25

Civic Si Coupe with summer tires 6-Speed Manual $22,405 22/31/25

Civic Si Coupe with Navi and XM Radio 6-Speed Manual $23,705 22/31/25

Civic Si Coupe with Navi, XM Radio and summer tires 6-Speed Manual $23,905 22/31/25
 

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C&D


"People have been saying that Honda’s lost its mojo, but that’s not true. We just put it in a closet for a while.” That pronouncement comes from a Honda insider, delivered in a whisper, and on condition of anonymity. After all, with the demise of the S2000 sports car, the Si is the only four-wheeled Honda with any performance cred. But if you’ve been waiting for a significant uptick in Si mojo—enough to put it a little closer to the pace of the Mazdaspeed 3 or VW GTI—we just hope you aren’t holding your breath.

Specifically Speaking

Let’s look at some numbers. The outgoing Si was motivated by a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated aluminum four with Honda’s clever iVTEC dual-overhead-cam system creating impressive top end power: 197 horses at 7800 rpm. It was typical of a generation of Honda engines that extracted serious output from small displacement: same 86-mm bore and stroke, lots of revs (8000-rpm redline), a little thirsty when pressed hard, and distinctly short on torque, but rewarding to the driver who valued a taste of racing technology in an affordable street car.

The new Si marches to a different beat, the 2.0 replaced by a 2.4-liter iVTEC four with a distinctly long-stroke design—87-mm bore and 99-mm stroke—that doesn’t quite provide the high-rpm rush of its predecessor. Redline (and the power peak) are both listed at 7000 rpm, which is odd, but there’s a smidge more top end—201 hp—and a notably fatter mid range. Displacement is the wellspring of torque, particularly in a naturally aspirated engine, and there’s considerably more of it here than in the old engine: 170 lb-ft at 4300 rpm versus 139 at 6100. You can expect more of this long-stroke approach in the future, as carmakers work to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

A slick 6-speed manual continues to be the only transmission option—we’ve no complaints on that point—and EPA fuel-economy forecasts are unchanged: 22 mpg city/31 highway, with a strict diet of premium fuel still required.


The Package

The sheetmetal surrounding the Si’s new engine will look very familiar to the Civic faithful. There are fresh creases and new tweaks, but Honda chose to carry on with essentially the same slippery shape it introduced in 2005. Same doesn’t mean carbon copy, however. While most body dimensions are pretty much identical, the wheelbase has been shortened by1.1 inches on the coupe.

Given Honda’s emphasis on smooth ride quality—even in the Si—the shorter wheelbase may seem a little surprising. But the redesign also includes increased chassis rigidity—a 10 percent uptick in static rigidity, 12% in dynamic, according to the engineering team—meaning more latitude for suspension tuning. As before, the Si models get higher spring rates, harder suspension bushings, and firmer damping than lesser Civics. Honda also preserved the previous generation’s limited-slip diff and electric power steering.

The Sum of the Parts

Does all of this add up to a better Civic Si? As our drive was confined to very limited seat time on urban streets devoid of challenge—plus 1 run on a stadium parking lot autocross course—the jury is out. Grip seems adequate—the 17-inch wheel-and-tire package (215/45s) is unchanged—and an increase in front rotor size should produce improved braking, something the previous Si needed. And the intervention threshold of the stability-control system is high; weekend autocross warriors could well run competitive times without turning it off. Honda’s work with ride quality seems to have produced the desired result—if creamy ride quality is a key objective in a car such as this. However, the “motion-adaptive electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering” is light, vague, and, at 3.1 turns lock-to-lock, a little slow for a car in this class.

On the power side of the equation, the new Si’s around-town response seems a little more vigorous, delivering more thrust at lower rpm. And, although we miss the high-rpm scream of the 2.0, the 2.4-liter’s exhaust note has an authoritative tenor snarl. The question remains, however, whether the Si’s tiny horsepower increase will put it any closer to its hot-hatch rivals from Mazda and VW in a straight line. And we have yet to experience the hot ST version of the new Ford Focus.


Pricing Strategy

Pricing for the Civic Si coupe starts at $22,955, with the sedan opening at $23,155. The only standalone option is high-performance summer tires (add $200), while nav and satellite radio are baked into a $1500 package. That puts a loaded Civic Si right where pricing for either the Mazdaspeed 3 or the Volkswagen GTI begins.

So the new Si appears to be strategically positioned against the top dogs in this class. The quality of the interior materials has improved, the front buckets provide a little more lateral support—with no sacrifice in comfort—and the red accents and stitchery provide a sporty note without looking juvenile. Based on our very limited exposure, the new Si looks like it should at least be satisfying to just about anyone. On the other hand, if you—like us—had hoped for the sort of mojo that distinguished the last generation, you may be just a bit underwhelmed.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
AutoBlog


Regardless of her stance on baked goods, Marie Antoinette didn't quite grasp the severity of country's condition until the French Revolution was in full swing and her husband was conspicuously absent of his head. Just as General Armstrong Custer dismissed the might of the Northern Cheyenne and Captain Edward John Smith failed to accurately read the waters of the North Atlantic, human history is filled to the brim with figures who didn't discover the danger they were in until it was much too late.

When Honda unveiled the 2012 Civic at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, many critics were quick to put Honda in the same illustrious company. With an army of all-new compacts from automakers like Ford, Chevrolet and Hyundai all set to kick down the Honda gates, fans were thirsty to see a vehicle that was as innovative in design as it was in engineering. Instead, the Japanese manufacturer unveiled a compact car that looked startlingly similar to its eighth-generation predecessor.



We shouldn't have been surprised. Since the Civic 1st hit the market 38 years ago, Honda has stuck to a tried-and-true update regimen for its star model. Every other generation has delivered a mild revision of the preceding design, and the ninth take on the vehicle is no different. With a tweaked body, slightly adjusted interior and nudges to the suspension and drivetrain, the 2012 Civic is effectively generation 8.1, but that just might be enough to keep the hordes at bay and Honda out of history's dog house.

According to Honda, the designers of the 2012 Civic came to the U.S. for inspiration and found that the "1 motion" concept of the '06 model was so well-liked that they simply decided to expand on the theme. If that's true, they've done an excellent job. It's difficult to pick the two models apart with a casual eye, though more faithful followers of Honda will notice a few more lines in the vehicle's front fascia and reworked headlights. Combined with a mesh grille, the details go a long way toward giving the compact an updated appearance.



The rear of the vehicle is adorned with new bodywork dominated by large, re-styled tail lamps and a slightly more expressive valance. The look does away with the slabish metal of the outgoing generation and makes the sedan appear considerably lighter on its feet than before. In coupe form, the styling seems lifted from the very-attractive Accord Coupe, and the lines wear well on the slighter form of the Civic.

If you were holding your breath in hopes that Honda would grace the American market with a resurrected Civic hatch, we're sorry to tell you that the company has no interest in bringing a three- or five-door compact to the market. That's despite the fact that both Ford and Hyundai clearly think the notion has legs. The reasoning is that Honda believes the large majority of American buyers don't want the extra functionality.



Overall, the new exterior is a logical progression from the eighth generation, and the 2012 Civic remains very attractive in coupe, sedan or hybrid guise. Likewise, the vehicle's cabin has been taken to the next level as well, though with mixed results. The dash has an even more driver-oriented pitch than before, and stacked layers of hard-plastic modules give the surface a disjointed, Picasso-like feel. The new design makes the eighth-generation dash seem calm by comparison.

If you found issue with the split-gauges of the last-gen car, you'll find no sanctuary behind the wheel of the 2012 model. The upper screen has been elongated to incorporate what Honda calls its i-MID system, or intelligent Multi-Information Display. The high-resolution five-inch LCD screen puts the navigation display to shame and educates the driver on audio selections, turn-by-turn directions and vehicle information. You can even upload your own personal backgrounds or leave the screen blank should you find it too distracting. Check out the Short Cut below for a demonstration. Oh, and don't listen to the narrator when he says its a 2011 model. He clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.


In Si trim, the upper gauge cluster serves up a few special tricks. For starters, the i-MID can be calibrated to display a special Power Monitor for real-time stats on engine power output. But the coolest part comes in the form of a sequential shift light nestled to the far left. Yellow and red LEDs illuminate beneath an i-VTEC logo, allowing stoplight racers everywhere to know exactly when the system engages. It's perhaps the single greatest piece of meme bait we've seen from any manufacturer in recent memory.

The good news is that Honda has implemented a handful of different colors and textures that serve to keep the dash from being completely unbearable. Unlike many low-buck offerings, the Civic hasn't resorted to graining its plastic to appear soft-touch. Instead, the materials give off an almost recycled aesthetic. Strangely enough, the dash uses harder materials that are more difficult to scratch than the door panels, which can be marred by an errant thumbnail.

Unfortunately, the kit just doesn't manage to stack up to the cabins of three of the newest competitors on the block: the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, 2012 Ford Focus and the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Each of those vehicles offers a more up-scale, sorted dash while the Civic's cabin seems to have been lifted straight from the 1995 Prelude.


Honda actually clipped the wheelbase of the 2012 Civic by 1.2 inches in the sedan and 1.1 inches in the Coupe for added maneuverability, but still managed to increase interior room. In 4-door configuration, total passenger volume has grown by 3.7 cubic feet thanks to additional hip room in all seating positions and shoulder area up front. As a result, the cabin feels more open and offers more rear legroom than the Focus, Elantra or Cruze. The latter 2 of those fighters best the Civic in front legroom, however.

With so many manufacturers introducing direct injection, turbocharging and highly efficient transmissions to the compact segment, it was only natural to expect Honda to freshen up the drivetrain options in the Civic in kind. But by and large, the automaker left the hood closed for the ninth generation. Models from the DX, LX, EX and Natural Gas to the newly-minted HF will all get their power from the same 1.8-liter, single-overhead cam i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine found in the last Civic.

With 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, the engine is as rev-happy as ever and begs to caned in all the right ways. Buyers can pick between either the optional five-speed automatic gearbox or a 5-speed manual cog-swapper on lower trims, while the Civic Hybrid benefits from a CVT and the more menacing Si uses a 6-speed manual. Thanks to the addition of full electronic power-steering, a little friction reduction inside the engine itself and a few aerodynamic adjustments, the EPA says that the 1.8-liter powered 2012 Civic is able to return 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the standard automatic transmission. The mileage would represents a 3 mpg city and 3 mpg highway bump over the 2011 model.


With 32 mpg combined, the base Civic beats out both the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus at 31 mpg combined but falls behind the Hyundai Elantra at 33 mpg combined.

For buyers who want a truly-efficient gasoline-powered compact, Honda has resurrected its HF model designation to combat vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and the Ford Focus SFE. The Civic HF uses additional under-body cladding to improve aerodynamics, special wheels, lighter tires and a unique rear deck lid spoiler to net 29 mpg city and 41 mpg highway with the 5-speed automatic transmission. Though those figures tie the HF with the Bow Tie on the combined scale, Honda is quick to point out that the domestic offerings require buyers to opt for a manual transmission.

We spent a fair portion of our time behind the wheel of an EX automatic sedan with brief stints in an Si, LX sedan and LX coupe with their respective manual offerings. After some time in a loaded EX-L that carried an MSRP of $24,205 with destination, we feel comfortable saying that if you have your heart set on a Civic, do yourself a favor and skip the topped-out trim. The leather seats, door inserts and wrapped steering wheel feel matched to a price point. The LX trim, on the other hand, offers quality cloth seats and a tiller that feels absolutely superb in your hands. It also weighs in at a very competitive $18,605 with destination when equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission.



On the road, the Civic Sedan feels comfortable, though the high-winding 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine serves up its fair share of noise in the higher registers. Unlike some of its competition, the Civic still benefits from a 4-link independent rear suspension that translates into a very stable, planted platform over the inconsistent pavement of the Beltway outside of Washington, D.C. and into Maryland. Still, we can't help but feel that the springs and dampers are a little on the soft side in sedan guise. In more aggressive driving, the 4 door serves up characteristic understeer with a good amount of body roll for the class. Fortunately, hopping into the coupe alleviates most of that feeling. Whether it's the benefit of not having to lug around 2 extra doors or simply the way the rear suspension is calibrated on both vehicles, we prefer the coupe's dynamics by far.

When equipped with the optional five-speed automatic transmission, shifts are handled quickly and without any drama. The 2012 Civic never feels harried or flustered, and while we can only speculate that the vehicle could net even more impressive fuel economy from a 6-speed automatic or dual-clutch gearbox, the old unit has aged well. For those familiar with the Civics of old, sliding into the saddle of the 9th-generation feels just like pulling on your favorite pair of jeans. It's a level of familiarity that hasn't been lost through the modest exterior updates and bizarre interior.

With the standard manual five-speed transmission bolted behind the 4-cylinder, the vehicle almost begs to be thrashed thanks to a fairly short throw. Unfortunately, a miserably light clutch means your left foot is afforded little to no feedback whatsoever. Still, despite having fewer ponies and less torque than the Elantra, the Civic is more engaging to drive. If we were looking for compact kicks, however, we'd be tempted to stick with the 2012 Focus.


Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Civic is that despite shunning all of the fuel-saving advancements employed by its competition, the vehicle still manages to come out as a solid player on this field. While we'd all love to see Honda knock out some truly incredibly fuel economy figures with its vehicles, the truth is that the company hasn't seen the need to add either cost or complexity to its systems given the results the vehicle is delivering right now.

Honda is well aware of the rising tide of capable compacts, and while strong entries like the Elantra, Cruze and Focus may take a bite out of Civic sales in the long run, brand loyalists will still beat down dealer doors to get their hands on this newest piece of hardware. Besides, if you were hoping for a full-on Civic revolution, history would point to you not having to wait too long. We give it another 3 to 5 years before a completely-new generation surfaces.

In the meantime, the 2012 Civic offers plenty of space, competitive fuel economy and a drive that's entertaining enough to keep you from going flat-line on your way to the office. It's a recipe that's kept Honda on the right side of history for years and it doesn't look to be failing any time soon.
 

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LLN


Excitement, thy name is not Honda Civic. But Honda, to its credit, realizes this, having gone so far as to capitalize on the model’s plain Jane name by aiming its redesigned two and four-door compact cars at “Civic-Minded” individuals, of which there are, apparently, quite a few.

A perennial top ten sales lister, the Civic warms its way into Americans’ hearts year after year, finding home in more driveways than any other compact (if you ignore low margin fleet sales that vault the Toyota Corolla to the top of charts). Honda doesn’t specifically market to rental or corporate fleets, so most Civic-minded consumers are true Civic fans.


Frankly, excitement has rarely been a part of the Civic’s lineage, unless you’re still stuck in the Freakin’ Fast, Flippin’ Furious era. Sure, the Civic Si has offered some high-rpm jollies, while the mid-’90s jellybeans were modestly more entertaining than most rivals, but that might mainly be a virtue of their vastly superior refinement rather than an inherent spunkiness.

So it was with this rather jilted attitude that we set off to sample the 2012 Civic lineup. They might not get our hearts racing, but Civics are hugely popular for plenty of other reasons.


A Civic for every civilian
For one, the Civic’s incredibly broad lineup helps explain much of its success. Buyers on a budget can drop around $16,500 on a 2012 Civic DX coupe or sedan if they’re not interested in a radio or air conditioning. From there, the lineup moves up to the volume-leader Civic LX, which adds tunes and cooled air, plus steering wheel audio controls, power mirrors and a few other do-dads. Buyers who want more can find the Civic EX with a moonroof and optional leather and navigation.

Most rivals stop there, but Honda goes several steps further. A 44-mpg Civic Hybrid mates gasoline and electric motors to a CVT, but buyers who want near hybrid fuel savings at a lower price can opt for the new Civic HF, which adds some aerodynamic aids to bump highway economy to 41 mpg.


At the opposite end, the Civic Si returns in both coupe and sedan models with a version of the Acura TSX’s 2.4-liter 4-cylinder mated exclusively to a 6-speed stick. Tuned for more low-end torque, the Si is designed to be both more useful and, you guessed it, more fuel efficient (31 mpg versus last year’s 29 mpg).

Later in the year, Honda will let buyers across the country opt for the Civic Natural Gas, which runs on hopes, dreams and methane.


Charting the changes
Although it might look rather like last year’s model, the Civic is actually considered an all-new offering in Honda’s lineup. Its proportions outside are identical, although it has received a light nip and tuck at every corner. Sedans get a revised side profile that is less cab-forward-looking than before with new Honda Insight-gleaned details, while coupes channel their inner Accord Coupe for a more shapely style. Meanwhile, Si models gain the requisite spoilers and body kits one might expect.

Nothing about the Civic’s look is offensive, but little is especially compelling either. Various paint shades of beige and gray are still available, although at least the blue and red schemes have been reworked for the new model year.


Inside, the look isn’t quite as derivative. Toned down a bit from the outgoing model, the dashboard nonetheless revists a wonky central-mounted tachometer and a high-mounted digital speedometer. The audio system is lightly canted toward the driver, which makes the available navigation screen virtually impossible for passengers to read in bright sunlight. New seats are more supportive than before, while Honda says that some repackaging has ever so slightly increased shoulder room. Regardless, the Civic is plenty roomy inside by compact sedan standards, especially in the wide rear seat with its flat floorboards.

A three-spoke steering wheel features intuitive controls, although the leather wrapping on range-topping models is from carefully bred Bolivian Rubber Cows. So to the optional leather seats. At least the standard cloth feels durable and looks sufficiently spiffy in a stereotypically Japanese car striped and stylized sort of way.


Assembly felt top notch on our early production testers, although nary a soft touch plastic is in sight. Perhaps most egregious is the felt-like headliner, a far cry from the woven units found on nearly every rival.

Less-than-fully equipped models don’t get a trunk lid liner, but otherwise we saw little reason to complain about the spacious rear cargo area.


On the go
We sampled every model on offer on a variety of roads surrounding Washington, D.C., an area that has rarely been notable for its especially civic-minded elected population.

All standard Civics (DX, LX, EX) come with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder with Honda’s much-ballyhooed VTEC valve control system. Rated at 140 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 128 lb-ft. of torque at 4,300 rpm, the Civic nets 39 mpg on the highway with the 5-speed automatic transmission. A 5-speed stick is also available, although it, like tike the automatic, is down a gear compared to most new rivals.


Performance is adequate but refined, with the Civic hardly struggling to keep up with traffic but never emerging as a leader. An Eco button comes from Honda’s hybrids. It dulls throttle response to prevent drivers from sucking down too much dino juice. We pushed it to see if it worked and then turned Eco mode off a block later when we realized how slowly it made us drive.

Retuned electric power steering offers greater feedback than before, although we still found it to be distinctly lacking in feel on center and a little unpredictable when put through its paces. Tire choice is no doubt at least partially to blame, since Civics ride on soft tires that are generally smaller than rivals. Steel-wheeled DX and LX models feature 15-inch diameter tires, while EXs get the “big upgrade” to 16s. Only the Si gains 17-inchers. At least those little tires with reasonably large sidewalls improved ride quality, helping the Civic take every bump in stride. For the record, Civics feature a MacPherson strut front setup and a multi-link unit in the rear. Over the worst pavement the District could throw at our Civic EX sedan tester, we noticed no body quivers and little of the wallowing so often found in compact sedans.

On the highway, the Civic tracked smoothly and confidently, albeit not nearly as quietly as some rivals. Road and wind roar was ever present.


The sporting choice
Aimed at enthusiasts, the Civic Si has been more thoroughly rethought for 2012 than its pleibian brethren. Not only does it get more power (201 ponies) than the outgoing 2.0-liter, it gains vast gobs of more usable torque than the previous Si’s laughable 139 lb-ft. The new 2.4 nets 179 lb-ft., which peaks at 4,400 rpm compared to the outgoing car’s 6,100 rpm.

As a result, the Si is hardly the high-rpm wildcat it was before, but we’ll take the trade-off. Far more drivable, the new Si feels sufficiently fleet-footed to fit its sporty billing.

Honda also retuned its suspension and steering for more control and a firmer ride with less lean in corners. Although not quite as balanced as the Mazda3, the Civic Si really came into its own on curvy roads.

Inside, the Si gets its own sports seats, a silly power meter and an even sillier VTEC gauge with gimmicky LED lamps. Ok, fine, we loved the VTEC gauge – just don’t tell anyone about it kicking in, yo.


The eco choice
If high fuel prices make your blood boil, Honda has your new car: The Civic Hybrid. A 1.5-liter 4-cylinder mates to a 23-horsepower brushless electric motor to deliver 110 horsepower and 127 lb-ft. of torque. That doesn’t sound like much, but a smooth CVT makes the most of the available grunt to offer performance just slightly behind non-hybrid models.

The big news is the Civic Hybrid’s 44/44 mpg rating, which means that, no matter where you drive it, Honda and the EPA think you should average 44 miles per every gallon of regular unleaded used. It won’t top a Prius, but among sedan-based hybrids, the Civic is at the top of its game.

For those even more intent on using less refined gasoline and more natural gas, the Civic Natural Gas will be on offer soon. We’ll do our best to sample one as soon as they are available.


Leftlane’s bottom line
With its 2012 lineup, Honda has carefully and conservatively reinvented its Civic offerings. Certainly class competitive, each model offers enough compelling reasons to merit recommendation.

But class competitive won’t cut it much longer. Rivals from Ford, Chevrolet, Mazda and Hyundai offer more personality, more value, more sport and more refinement, all virtues that once set the Civic apart. We hope that Honda views the 2012 Civic as a stepping stone to something a little more different and a little more bold in the near future.

2012 Honda Civic base price range, $15,605 to $26,750.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
CarConnection


By this point, the Honda Civic compact is an American institution.

The newest generation, all new for 2012, builds on the car's traditional strengths--sporty roadholding, good gas mileage--but faces increasingly stringent competition from new entries like the 2011 Hyundai Elantra.

The 2012 Honda Civic line comprises a four-door sedan with a 1.8-liter gasoline engine, the Civic Si two-door coupe (the hot rod of the line), and three high-gas-mileage models: the Civic Hybrid, the Civic HF model, and the Civic Natural Gas.

In styling, the 2012 Civic is evolutionary rather than radically redesigned. Its front and side profile are instantly recognizable as Honda Civic, though the rear end is new enough that it doesn't instantly read "Civic" unless you see the rest of the car.

The 2012 Civic's footprint is similar to the previous model, though the new model was adjusted halfway through its design cycle to take a few more inches off its length.

As always, the Civic's strength is its handling. It's still probably the most enjoyable of all compact entries to drive, though other entries are starting to catch up.

The gasoline model's acceleration--we drove a 2012 Civic EX four-door sedan--is lively, but the flat, confident roadholding always positions the car where the driver wants it.

Handling is even tighter and flatter in the Civic Si performance model, but at the cost of significant interior noise under virtually all circumstances.


The Si's new 2.4-liter engine produces its maximum torque roughly at engine speeds roughly 1,000 rpm lower than its predecessor, but as always, you still have to spin the engine toward its 7000-rpm redline to get the power. Novice Si drivers may find themselves one gear too high for useful acceleration under many different circumstances.

The sedan, which is offered with a 5-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic, is projected to return 39 mpg on the EPA highway cycle. That's close to the 40-mpg Holy Grail for highway mileage, and a 3-mpg improvement on the old Civic.

For maximum gas mileage, though, there's the Civic Hybrid model, now in its third generation. Its EPA ratings are projected to be 44 mpg on both city and highway cycles, and for 2012, it provides more boost from a larger 15-kilowatt (20-hp) electric motor.

It's worth noting that the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid uses Honda's first-ever lithium-ion battery pack, which takes up relatively little room in the trunk and weighs far less than the older nickel-metal-hydride battery in its predecessor.


The pre-production hybrid model we drove could still have used a little work to iron out a few rough spots in the integration of regenerative and friction braking. We experienced some stumbles and irregular brake feel switching from acceleration to braking and back.

It does, however, offer the ability to run in electric-only mode under limited circumstances. We saw electric running at speeds as high as 36 mph, but only for very short periods. That's still an improvement on the old Civic Hybrid model, however.


Accommodation is adequate in the four-door, but definitely tight in the 2012 Civic Si coupe. With a more steeply angled windshield, the dash extends considerably into the cabin, and there's simply not enough legroom for anyone over 6 feet. Our 6'5" codriver found his head actually touching the headliner.

Civic buyers by now will be used to the 2-level dashboard design, into which Honda has integrated vastly improved infotainment displays. A multi-directional button on the steering wheel, similar to the "Touch Tracer" controls on the Toyota Prius, lets the Civic driver navigate through a logical sequence of menus while keeping hands firmly on the wheel.

The downside of the 2012 Civic, however, is the rest of the dashboard. At a media preview, virtually every reviewer commented on the hard plastic surfaces on the top of the dash.


A visible join line between the two large moldings that make up the dash top is the kind of cost-cutting you almost never see in new cars these days. And the central area of the dash on 2012 Civics without navigation fitted is a large swatch of flat gray plastic, with no texture or accent lines.

Everything in the 2012 Civic works fine, and it remains a joy to drive, but compared to the two-tone coloring and highly designed dash designs of cars like the 2011 Elantra and the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, the new Civic comes off 2nd-best.

All models of the 2012 Honda Civic except the Natural Gas version are available in Honda dealers starting today. The lowest-priced model, the Civic DX, starts at $15,605.

 

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Discussion Starter #13
Jalopnik


Soichiro Honda's fuel of choice in his youth was high-test sake. He marked his wedding by dancing naked, raced through a life-threatening crash and drove a car filled with geishas off a bridge. (Everyone lived.) Then he founded Honda and found his greatest success breaking convention.

Yet here sits the 2012 Honda Civic Si, a car that defines more conventions than the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary, a design turned in a year late with nary an apology, a vehicle relying on an untold Newtonian law of motion to bring buyers past a Honda dealer every few years like asteroids in need of bigger cupholders. With so many new forces pushing for its buyers, Honda shouldn't have counted so much on inertia.


Let's dispense with the non-Si flavors thusly: If you are 1 of the 247,000 buyers who buy more Honda Civics than all Volkswagens sold in the U.S. combined, you may need a jewler's loup to notice the changes. I could give you 10 paragraphs about the 9% thinner A-pillar for better visibility or the slightly revised engine timing, but the result is the same: The current generation Civic given a lick and a promise.

Here's the fuel economy tale of the tape: Using a tweaked version of the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, in most cases, the Civic will get 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway; a HF high-efficiency gas version adds 1 mpg city and 2 mpg on the interstates, while the hybrid — now with lithium-ion batteries — will go 44 mpg city and highway. While the HF barely edges the Hyundai Elantra, it's the lowest-volume model in the lineup; the anodyne versions (from the loaded $23,905 EX-L sedan to the dollar-store quality $15,805 DX that comes without air conditioning or a radio) fall just short.


As with the rest of the new Civics, the Si's 2-tiered dash now sports 5-inch LCD screen that offers several displays, from album art for the song playing on the iPod to a Power Meter, which ticks off just how much of the engine's power is at hand. But for those who don't want such details, there's also now a VTEC meter: 6 lights that act as a mini-tachometer, and another to show when the engine's higher-rev timing has engaged. Yes, Honda saw the faux-Successories posters of "VTEC just kicked in, yo!" and built an Internet meme into its dashboard.

The most important change comes from the enlistment of the 2.4-liter engine from the Acura TSX, retiring the 2-liter in the old model. Top horsepower only rises 4 ponies to 201 hp, reached at the 7,000 RPM summit as Mr. Honda himself often intended. The major modification comes from 170 lb-ft. of torque, a 31 lb-ft boost from the previous version, on call from 1,700 RPM upward.

Combined with the sweetness of the Honda 6-speed manual transmission - and let the record reflect that the Civic Si is the only mass-market sedan upon these shores available solely to those who know what a 3rd pedal is for - the Si can spin some sugar. In a tight corners where its all-seasons give out before its multi-link rear suspension, the Civic Si echoes the call-and-response hellraising of Sochiro Honda's youth.


The trouble is outside of those brief moments, the Si has not just turned in late homework, but been kicked out of the honors class. While the steering wheel controls have been tweaked and the seats remain well done, the Civic's dash plastics look bleaker than a conclave of emo kids in a Hallmark store. Stepping into a new Elantra immediately after exiting a new Civic only heightened how nice the Hyundai's interior is.

And power remains a concern. The chief engineer of the 2012 Civic drives a Civic Type R; I asked via a translator what it would take to bring such a model back to the United States. The reply: Doing so would hurt fuel economy, which is our main focus.

Soichiro Honda famously said "the value of life can be measured by how many times your soul has been deeply stirred." The new Civic is slightly better in every dimension, but if you soul is at rest, it lacks sufficient force to put it in motion.

 

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InsideLine


After you see the commercials for the 2012 Honda Civic Si, you might think the car was built by over-caffeinated Japanese animators for equally restless gum-chewing teenage girls who dabble in ninja work when they tire of hanging out in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Anything but subtle, the marketing message appears to target a buyer raised on video games, Red Bull and manga. Ironically, inspiration for the new Si came from a farther-flung blend of kookiness: yoga and Pilates.

Seeking ideas for the 9th generation of a cornerstone product, Honda designers from Japan's Wako studio came to the U.S. to walk among Civic buyers, both past and potential. Toshiyuki Okumoto, chief exterior designer for the new car, says he wanted to learn their lifestyles and values. His team found that Civic buyers are an earthy, body-conscious lot into ecology, good fuel economy and Eastern stretching. Okumoto wanted to integrate yogic principles of purity and efficiency into the new Civic skin, and create something that brought vitality to the surface.


"The silhouette was key," he says. "We wanted it to have this feeling of energy, of strength bursting from within."

As design concepts go, we've heard weirder. Truth is, the 2012 Honda Civic Si doesn't look a whole pin different from its predecessor. Sure, its rear flanks show more cut and definition, bringing home Okumoto's point; the sheet metal indeed looks as though it's toned up in the ashram. The grille is pinched in and the headlights dip deeper to the road for more scowl. Character lines run across the beltline and rise up from the door sills, giving the Si a windswept look.

They're subtle changes that fire up the Civic's static profile enough to rekindle interest, without making noisy statements or reinventing the segment. More welcome are what separates the new Si from the one it replaces: more grunt, quicker twist and more of the ragged character that forged the sport compact coupe explosion a decade ago.


The Unbearable Lightness
Smooth clutch. That's the 1st thing we notice when merging into Washington, D.C.'s morning maze of 1-ways and roundabouts. The clutch pedal offers the slightest resistance, and it's accompanied by the 6-speed manual's equally greasy short-shift throws that are essentially just 2-fingered flicks. It's too light, really. We'd prefer a little more meat, a little more fight in our row. Still, drivers in congested urban areas will likely appreciate the Si's well-oiled gearbox over the course of 50,000 miles and innumerable traffic jams.

A 1.1-inch shorter wheelbase and 18-pound lighter frame make the chassis eager to rotate.

Lightness may be virtuous when swapping cogs, but not when applied to interior materials. The small-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel, thick seat bolsters and stylish red stitching throughout highlight a cabin otherwise trimmed with dull, hollow plastics. An even steeper windshield rake on this year's model yields an expansive dash of hardened petroleum that continues through the door panels and down the center stack.


It's a stark contrast to the slim-fit dash of a beautifully preserved '76 Civic wagon we see at an event later that evening, its dash just a thin strip of red vinyl-covered foam not much wider than a deli sandwich (we do, of course, appreciate our chances of walking away from the wrong end of a Suburban in a new Civic compared to its nostalgic brother). While the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra have raised the standards for interior refinement, the Civic has inexplicably fallen behind.

Set deep in that massive cowl is Honda's 2-tier dash and driver interface, which now includes the intelligent Multi Information Display, or iMID. Opt for an Si with navigation and you'll have 4 stations competing for your attention: tach, speedometer, iMID and nav. The digital speedo, fuel gauge and schticky (but kinda cool) VTEC shift lights sit in the upper portion, in the sight line above the steering wheel rim.


The iMID shares the upper tier adjacent to the speedometer and displays audio and hands-free phone functions, trip information and maintenance minders. Keypads and menu buttons on the steering wheel navigate through the iMID, cruise control and hands-free phone functions, and it's intuitive enough for anyone who's spent time with a smartphone. But it's overload; there are 14 buttons and directional commands on the steering wheel alone.

Struts Are Here To Stay

After arriving at FedEx Field, we put the 2012 Honda Civic Si through its paces on an autocross course and nearby city loop. The parking lot outside the home of the hapless Washington Redskins seems an appropriate place to open up the Si through the cones; it effortlessly bobs and weaves like flamboyant former 'Skins running back Clinton Portis.


The Civic's electric power steering and a 16.1:1 ratio feel right, while its composure through corners is confidently flat. A 1.1-inch shorter wheelbase and 18-pound lighter frame make the chassis eager to rotate, while the drivetrain's helical limited-slip helps keep the Z-rated Michelin summer rubber stuck to the pavement (all-season tires are standard).

Purists lamented Honda's switch from front wishbones to MacPherson struts in the 2002 Civic Si, and fretted again when they carried over to the next generation in 2006. Struts return for 2012, but are now so dialed in as to be indistinguishable from the beloved wishbones to all but the most sensitive autocrosser or track-day regular.


The 2012 Si's 11.8-inch brake rotors up front and 10.2-inch discs in back offer decisive and immediate bite. The brake pedal, like the clutch, still feels too light but maintained its quick grab even after multiple laps of fade-free flogging.

More Midrange, More Miles
The 2012 Honda Civic Si offers just a small 4-horsepower boost over its predecessor, raising it to 201 hp. More impressive is its 22 percent torque increase from additional bore (1mm) and stroke (13mm). The larger displacement makes for a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that delivers its extra twist 800 rpm earlier, and a chassis that jumps from corners and straight-line cruising like a yogi working plyometrics into his routine.


Kept boiling at 4,300 rpm where it now packs 170 pound-feet of torque, the Si springs out of apexes with a pleasant exhaust growl, before righting itself and compressing for the next 1.

2nd through 6th gear ratios in the 6-speed manual have been tightened up, so keeping the four-pot in the sweet spot of its power band is easier. Acceleration benefits, too, with no cost in fuel economy, even with the larger displacement. At 22 city/31 highway mpg, the new Si beats the former on both counts.


Nearing 40, Close to 30
The 2012 Honda Civic Si coupe and sedan goes on sale this May, about a month after its standard Civic counterparts. The coupe will start at $22,955 and the sedan at $23,155. An Si coupe with all the trimmings — navigation, satellite radio, and summer tires — will sticker at $24,655.

Closing in on its 40th anniversary, a loaded Civic is still an impressive deal priced well below $30,000. Viewed against a Mazdaspeed 3 or Ford Focus Titanium in similar trim, however, you believe there must still be room at the top of the well-appointed, high-performance sport compact hill. The Civic Si's low-end power boost, fast reflexes and subtle design evolution cement its place in that company. Its busy, discount interior, however, keeps it from total ownership.

 

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Cars.com


To set the stage, the 2011 Honda Civic remains an excellent car, even as it's being replaced by the 2012. We don't feel the same about another longtime best-seller, the Toyota Corolla. However, high-quality, efficient compacts like the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, 2012 Ford Focus and 2011 Hyundai Elantra mean the Civic has taller hurdles than it ever has in the U.S. market, and buyers have more great choices than ever.

The completely redesigned 2012 Honda Civic improves incrementally upon its predecessor in many ways, ensuring it will remain a top-selling compact, but the car doesn't leapfrog its formidable competitors.

As before, the Civic comes in coupe and sedan styles, in DX, LX and EX trim levels, as well as a performance-oriented Si version, in both body styles. There are also hybrid and high-efficiency HF variants, both sedans. A natural-gas-powered Civic GX sedan will return later in the model year under the name Civic Natural Gas, with plans to expand its availability nationwide for the 1st time.


Exterior & Styling

A glance at the 2012 Civic tells the whole story: It looks a little bit different, foreshadowing aspects like the mileage, the interior and the technology, all of which have improved. Whether the styling itself is an improvement is for you to decide. To my eye, the earlier generation's design remained fresh and didn't need to be messed with, and that describes the 2012's sedan's front and overall profile. The taillights, however, seem to have gone more generic. The coupe's still have a Civic look to them.

Both body styles are exactly the same length and height, and the coupe's width has grown by a mere tenth of an inch. The wheelbase has decreased roughly an inch on both; overall, the dimensions follow the trend — more tweaked than overhauled.


On the Road

Out on the road, the new Civic rides like a Honda, damping out the worst of the road's imperfections but ensuring you always know the pavement's condition. It's more refined — again, incrementally — than the still-satisfying 2011 model, buoyed by a quieter cabin. I'd have to drive it back-to-back against its main competitors to quantify any differences; the 2012 is neither exceptionally quiet nor noisy. Though you do hear the engine, at least it's a smooth one. The car does a good job of blocking the whooshing noise of tires on wet pavement, which typically comes from the rear wheels.

In terms of handling, the electric power steering is well-weighted and nicely executed overall. Unfortunately, the roads were wet 100% of the time I drove the various Civics, so the roadholding limits will remain a mystery until Honda gets us a test car at Cars.com HQ. I got a feel for the dynamics, though, and they're good: The front-wheel-drive weight bias and associated understeer are there, but the balance is decent nevertheless. The slick surfaces revealed an exceptionally adept electronic stability system that manages to intervene subtly enough that it keeps anything dramatic from occurring — without seeming overly intrusive in the process. Nicely done. Honda says the electric steering works in conjunction with the stability system; nothing felt conspicuous to me. It just worked.

The Civic has more body roll than I'd expect, though, and nowhere is it more surprising than in the sporty Si, a coupe version of which I tossed around an autocross course. The shifting weight doesn't help the car's grip when making quick directional changes. I watched the cars going around the course, and the body roll was equally clear from the outside. It's out of character for a performance version, and what's most disappointing is it's unnecessary. Many cars, including some competing models, have proved that a comfortable ride, body control and athletic handling can come in one affordable package.

The Si's suspension is tuned differently from the standard setup, but perhaps not enough. Though the suspensions differ a bit between the regular sedan and coupe due to the different wheelbases, those 2 feel similar to drive.


Power Holds the Line

The standard drivetrain changes for 2012 are minimal, at least on paper. The engine is a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, and both five-speed manual and automatic transmissions are offered. The Si gets the biggest bump, with a switch from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder to a 2.4-liter (technically 2.35-liter) that mates to a 6-speed manual.

The specs show but one change for the regular engine — a 200-rpm climb in the horsepower's peak to 6,500 rpm — but Honda engineers say they played with the torque distribution to raise the oomph at lower revs. All the same, the peak torque spec is unchanged at 128 pounds-feet at 4,300 rpm. If there's a difference in acceleration, it's not palpable. The gear ratios remain the same for both transmissions as well. At least the model hasn't gotten substantially heavier, as most do when redesigned. The sedan is even a bit lighter than the 2011.


Though I'd prefer a 6-speed manual, I can't blame Honda for staying with the 5. Demand for manuals continues to decrease, especially as automatics become as efficient or more so. The 2012 Civic is an example. It now gets an EPA-estimated 28/39 mpg city/highway versus the manual's 28/36 mpg. The HF trim level — akin to the Cruze Eco and Focus with SFE — rates 29/41 mpg. Though pricing isn't available as this review is being produced, Honda's frequent use of the word "value" suggests it will be more affordable than the competitors mentioned above.


It's harder to understand why the automatic hasn't gained a gear. Honda notes that it achieves its performance targets with 5 speeds. While I'm not one to assume more is better — especially because some 6-speeds are balky and hesitant — it's hard to imagine that Honda couldn't exceed its targets and show up its competitors with another forward gear. How would that not be better? This onetime leader in fuel economy is now playing catch-up across its product line.

Civic Si: A Welcome Improvement

Likewise, the Civic Si, one of the first "hot hatches," has been fighting for its life as other automakers have improved their sport compacts' low-rev acceleration through the use of direct injection and/or turbocharging. Since it 1st incorporated variable valve timing — another major innovation from Honda — the Si has required high engine speeds to tap into its power band. The new engine's greater displacement is a welcome improvement, as it boosts the torque output to 170 pounds-feet at 4,300 rpm from the 2.0-liter's 139 pounds-feet at 6,100 rpm. The power peak adds 4 hp to 201 hp, but it's come down to 7,000 rpm from 7,800 rpm.

The 2012 Si launches with more authority, even spinning its wheels if you let it. The short-throw shifter is far more satisfying than the standard 5-speed stick, operating 6 forward gears with close ratios optimized for the new engine. Even though the Si's output is greater, some competing sport compacts — the Volkswagen GTI, Mini Cooper S, Mazdaspeed3 and Subaru Impreza WRX — produce torque that's greater and/or at substantially lower rpm. Because most of these competitors are heavier, by as much as 400 pounds, it's not a perfect comparison, and the payoff for the Si is better mileage: Its 22/31 mpg beats the GTI by 1 mpg city and the Mazdaspeed3 and WRX by as much as 6 mpg on the highway.

High-Mileage HF and Hybrid


I didn't get the opportunity to drive the Civic HF, but Honda says it's practically the same as the regular sedan. The greater efficiency comes mainly from different tires and aerodynamic changes, including the wheels, underbody treatments, a small trunklid spoiler and the smoothing out of the front bumper to match that of the Civic Hybrid.

The 2012 Civic Hybrid benefits from a larger gas engine, a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder replacing a 1.3-liter. It combines with a more powerful electric motor for quicker acceleration yet improves mileage from 40/43 mpg in the 2011 to 44/44 mpg. You can feel the difference off the line, and though there's still some delay as the continuously variable automatic transmission whirs away, it's more responsive than before and more linear than the Toyota Prius.

Because the electric motor is essentially fixed to the crankshaft, the gas engine stops only when the car comes to a stop. Regardless, Honda says, the Civic Hybrid can maintain moderate cruising speed on electric power alone. Acceleration and high-speed cruising requires gas to be burned.


This is the first Honda, and 1 of the 1st hybrids, to employ a lithium-ion battery in lieu of the nickel-metal-hydride type that has driven the hybrid revolution. It helps keep weight and size down and increases the trunk volume to 10.7 cubic feet versus the 2011's 10.4 cubic feet, though the backseat doesn't fold in the Civic Hybrid — typical of hybrid sedans. The regular sedan's trunk measures 12.5 cubic feet; the coupe's is 11.7.


Interior Space

In a car of the same size, Honda couldn't work magic, but the passenger volume has increased by about 1 to 3.5 cubic feet in the sedan, topping out at 94.6, keeping it competitive in the class. The coupe loses 0.8 cubic foot to 83.2 cubic feet. A tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard, as is a manually operated height-adjustable driver's seat. The blissfully reachable adjustment levers are the same as in the previous generation, but the seat padding and contours have changed and are comfortable.

By the numbers, the sedan's seating dimensions have shifted slightly, with a few hairs less headroom, front and rear, but some growth in shoulder room. Front-seat legroom has decreased a touch, but I was comfortable with what felt like additional rearward seat travel. Backseat legroom has gained more than an inch to 36.2 inches, putting it near the top of the class. In practice, it doesn't feel exceptionally roomy, but it's more than workable for an adult.

The coupe is a different story: Rear legroom has increased only slightly, and headroom is down almost an inch. At 6 feet tall, I couldn't make it work. This is to be expected in a coupe, though, of which there are now few in this class. If you want a coupe with a roomier backseat, check out the Scion tC. A model based on the Hyundai Elantra called the Veloster, coming soon, may also rival or beat the Civic.


Cabin Quality

If interior quality is the new battleground in the compact car class, the 2012 Civic brings to the fight some fresh new forces and a stable of reliable troops, but also some battle-weary veterans that probably ought to retire.


The cloth seats' contemporary fabric improves on the previous generation's; the optional leather is of high quality, but the bunchy "gathered" look is a polarizing design. Compared with a few competitors, some interior surfaces look rather plain. The Civic continues Honda's approach of combining a variety of textures and styles. In my opinion, they don't always go together well. If nothing else, when there are many different textures and materials, there's a good chance you'll object to at least one of them. My least favorites are the sparkly gray plastic on the dashboard and the aluminum-colored door handles. I also noticed conventional feltlike ceiling fabric, a step backward considering that the earlier generation featured a higher-quality woven headliner, which is becoming more popular across the market.


The highlights include the steering wheel and the colorful displays that subtly change color based on how efficiently you're driving, a feature from the Insight and CR-Z hybrids. If you don't like high-mounted instrument panels, you'll be no happier with this Civic than with the previous generation. It relegates the arguably superfluous tachometer to the conventional position and puts the other stuff high, above the steering wheel. I'm a fan.


All trim levels except the DX introduce Honda's entry to the multifunction controller phenomenon with a feature called i-MID: intelligent Multi Information Display. I like some aspects of this approach, not the least of which is it doesn't have the words "touch," "you" or "my" in the name. It comprises a 5-inch color LCD screen next to the speedometer and a few buttons on the steering wheel's left spoke that let you select from menus, etc.

It's not the most versatile of controllers, but at first blush it appears that it needn't be. The menus and functions are relatively simple. The screen displays album art from an attached iPod, a relatively recent enhancement in onboard electronics. The upper display duplicates navigation prompts, but the option relies mainly on a trusty touch-screen, within easy reach on the center of the dashboard. I'll take this division of duties over any multifunction controller on the market. The nav relies on FM-frequency traffic information, which requires no subscription.


Safety

As a brand-new model, the 2012 Civic has yet to be tested by the federal government or private agencies.

As required of all 2012 models, the Civic comes with antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control. Though the Si and EX trim levels have 4-wheel disc brakes, the lower trims and high-efficiency versions have rear drums.

The Civic has 6 airbags including the front pair, front-seat-mounted side-impact bags and side curtain airbags. By re-engineering the front seat design to provide active whiplash protection, Honda was able to eliminate the previous generation's active head restraints, providing the same effect while positioning the restraints a few tenths of an inch farther back to improve comfort.


Civic in the Market

What the 2012 Civic hasn't done is vault its competitors to exceed them in any respect, and full redesigns are an automaker's best opportunity to do so. Unlike the new Volkswagen Jetta, which we believe has slipped in terms of both interior quality and its driving experience, the Civic remains a very good car. The question is whether it will stay competitive in the coming years as other models evolve. Impressive recent redesigns and intros — including 2 from domestic brands, no less — are sure to steal more business than ever from the Civic. With its reputation and historically epic reliability, though, it's likely to hold its perch at or near the top of the sales charts. If a woefully outdated Corolla can do it, the Civic should be fine at least for a few more years.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Examiner


If there is 1 thing you definitely cannot say about the 2012 Civic lineup that would be that Honda isn’t offering enough vehicular choices for the ecologically minded. Not only are they continuing to sell a version powered only by natural gas (simply now called Civic Natural Gas) but they are also introducing the first Civic Hybrid with lithium-ion batteries as well as a model tuned to improve fuel economy to 41 miles per gallon highway called the HF.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas goes on sale later in the year so there wasn’t one available to drive at the press launch. For the 2012 model year, however, this vehicle will for the 1st time be available with luxuries like in-dash navigation (with directions to your nearest filling station), Bluetooth and USB/iPod integration. In other words, it won’t be just for fleet buyers anymore.


Now, if you are going to scream about the fact that the regular Civic “only” returns EPA highway estimates of 39 miles per gallon when the Elantra returns 40, please know that there is a Civic model just for you. The HF, while it will probably only account for maybe 2-3% of sales, offers buyers EPA estimates of 41 miles per gallon highway thanks to different tires and various aerodynamic upgrades.

But to be quite honest it has been my repeated personal experience that EPA fuel economy estimates are very rarely accurate and can vary widely based on where you live and how you drive your own vehicle. That is why as I am testing the 2011 Elantra and Corolla (I tested the Cruze and Jetta earlier this year) for weeklong periods to get an idea of how they perform efficiency wise in the real world.


Now I realize this is crazy but gas prices are becoming so important that many people may be forced to buy one of these vehicles not by choice but out of necessity. So this year I hope to cram in as many new Civic weeklong road tests so I can get a fuel economy data base that is perhaps more realistic. Or at the very least repeatable in the real world.

Yes, from the Si to the EX to HF to Hybrid and even with a natural gas powered model thrown in, I may go into Civic overload but I think this is an ever more important test figure. We’ll just have to see how receptive Honda is to my request for half of their press fleet.

Now, if saving money on gas or saving the environment is important to you, here is all of the most pertinent information on the 2012 Honda Civic HF, Civic Hybrid and Civic Natural Gas.



2012 Honda Civic HF

The HF model of the 2012 Honda Civic comes standard with a 5-speed automatic in a trim level that mirrors that of the LX but with special aerodynamically enhanced alloy wheels, low rolling resistance tires and aerodynamic enhancements as mentioned before. The 1.8 liter 4-cylinder engine puts out the same 140 horsepower/128 lb. feet of torque as in regular Civics and sort of proves by its very existence that EPA fuel economy figures can be manipulated.

During a short drive loop at the press launch the HF handled a slalom course in a manner much like any of the other EX or LX variants except with a little bit more tire howl during high speed cornering maneuvers. But if you are buying a Civic HF I assume high speed cornering behavior is not high on your list of priorities. Given this model’s high value to feature ratio and the possibility of greater fuel economy in a time of escalating gas prices, Honda may find there is more demand for the HF than they are expecting.

(Prices)—Civic HF

5-Speed Automatic

$19,455


2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas

As the Civic is not a bespoke platform for this natural gas powered sedan, its gas tank will still be somewhat smaller thanks to the intrusion of the enlarged fuel tank. But as far as low cost commuting goes, the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas makes perfect sense. It is powered by a 1.8 liter 100 horsepower/106 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder mated to a 5-speed automatic and returns EPA estimates equivalent to 27 city/38 highway.

So what are the benefits of this particular Civic model in comparison to its petrol powered brethren? Well, natural gas is often times cheaper than gasoline (especially now but it depends where you live) and many states allow vehicles like this to travel in HOV Carpool lanes with only one passenger. That one fact in and of itself might make this car the perfect long distance commuting accessory. (Note: Pricing not available at time of test publication.)


2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

Yes, for the 1st time ever Honda is using lithium-ion batteries in one of its hybrid models instead of the usual nickel-hydride batteries used in the last generation Civic and current Toyota Prius. This new battery pack is more powerful, lighter and more compact than the unit it replaces. With the gasoline and electric motor working together power output is 110 horsepower/127 lb. feet of torque with a greater emphasis put on mid-range torque to improve performance at city speeds.

In the place of last year’s 1.3 liter gasoline engine is a new 1.5 cylinder unit with an aluminum cylinder head block and dual stage i-VTEC valve control for improved performance at highway speeds. There is also a stop/start system that shuts off the engine at stop lights and EPA fuel economy estimates are 44 city/44 highway.


While I am guessing the Civic Hybrid averages somewhere closer to 44 miles per gallon, during a “hypermiling” contest at the press launch 1 journalist averaged a healthy 59 miles per gallon. I, however, was too busy being distracted by driving the Si around the autocross to remember to participate in the driving slow challenge. I would actually prefer to drive the Hybrid in real world conditions where the fuel efficiency is more representative of what average folks will see.

I believe that when people are in a car they should have an intended destination and drive accordingly. This is how I drive every car I test so once I get a chance to test the new 2012 Civic Hybrid for a week it will be interesting to see how it performs in the fuel economy stakes with me in control of the accelerator pedal.

As an example, my road test in a 2010 Prius returned 43.2 miles per gallon which is quite a bit south of their estimates. Also, a lot of that was freeway driving over a short freeway period because the Prius broke down 4 days into the test. Let’s hope that the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid doesn’t suffer from any such ill-timed maladies.

But even in my time with the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid, that was one of the few times that my EPA estimates were somewhere close to accurate barring my experience with VW’s TDI diesel which has always exceeded EPA fuelled expectations. So while diesel and Honda’s own hydrogen style of personal transport may be fading out in the coming decades, it appears that the hybrid is here to stay.


(Prices)—Civic Hybrid

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

$24,050

Civic Hybrid with Navigation

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

$25,550

Civic Hybrid Sedan with Leather

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

$25,250

Civic Hybrid Sedan with Leather, Navigation

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
$26,750
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Auto123

Summary Rating: Complete Rating

Styling (75%) 3.5*
Accessories (80%) 4*
Space and Access (78%) 3.5*
Comfort (90%) 4.5*

Performance (80%) 4*
Driving Dynamics (86%) 4*
Safety (80%) 4*
General Appreciation (80%) 4*​
The Civic Si: the pinnacle of all Civics. This Civic, 1 does not buy because it is a Civic, but because it is an Si. Holding the keys in 1 hand and rubbing one's chin with the other while facing the car, the new owner does not think that they've made an economical, sensible choice. No. The Si is for adrenaline junkies that thrive and live by a driving code that is slowly dying: to drive and not be driven.


This Civic, one does not buy because it is a Civic, but because it is an Si. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre/Auto123.com)​

This mindset came to life when I first walked towards the car on test-day at FedEX Field. Here, the Si was patiently waiting for me to take it through a coned slalom course, timed, and with a reward for the person with the fastest time of the day.

As the first to take part in this portion of the event, I was to clear the wet-in-spots track and blaze a trail, which I did. I don't mean to brag but I turned out to be the quickest around the cones that day. I'm not going to take all the credit though, the 2012 Civic Si helped out a little.

If you've read my review on the 2012 Civic (do it!), you'll note that I found the new car to generate an impressive amount of front-end grip. I know that this is what made it all possible. As stated, the track was wet in certain areas, and coming in slow into corners was crucial in order to come out fast. Quickly leaving an apex behind was managed brilliantly by the torque-sensitive helical limited-slip differential and the stability and traction control. I know, I know, we were instructed to leave the nannies on for the laps...

Irregardless, the brakes performed flawlessly, allowing me to carry as much speed for as long as possible up to a corner. The large and grippy P215/45R17 Michelin Pilot tires responded very well to steering inputs; never did I loose track of where the lead wheels were going even when I charged at a turn with far too much vim.

As the entire course was a 2nd-gear only time attack, I was only able to experience swells of power in the 5,000- to 7,000-rpm range. To find out more about the “new” 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, I took an Si out for a short romp in the Washington Redskins playground's shadow.

Here, I met with a K24Z3 that is not as eager to climb to the stratosphere as is the 197-hp K20Z3 it replaces. Revs build at a slower pace, but the extra 31 lb-ft (22% gain) of torque are immediately noticeable. Max torque arrives at 4,400 rpm, whereas the K20 needed a full 1,700 extra rpm to reach its maximum potential of 139 lb-ft. Jury's out on what the Si lover prefers but time will tell...


Here, I met with a K24Z3 that is not as eager to climb to the stratosphere as is the 197-hp K20Z3 it replaces. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre/Auto123.com)​

More seems to be going on as the tach needle moves clockwise to the engine's 7,100-rpm redline, but it's all very uneventful. Thankfully, the shifter and trio of pedals are as easy to manipulate as ever. The old heel-and-toe is effortless to perform and the shifter travels from 1 cog to another without as much as a catch or niggle. Rowing through the gears is so rewarding that I found myself swapping through 3, 4 and 5 'cause it was just plain fun.

The only Si around for this occasion was the coupe. From the available pictures on the web, the sedan looks to be better sorted and more together aesthetically than the coupe, much like the 8th generation. The Si coupe differs from lesser 2-door Civics by the presence of a trick flow-through trunklid-mounted spoiler, a rear sport bumper, unique alloy wheels and deeper fog light-adorned front fascia.

The cabin is accentuated by a leather-wrapped, Si-badged steering wheel, Si-specific seats and an interesting yet pointless i-VTEC rev indicator. Essentially, it poses as shift lights, located left of the digital speedometer, programmed to go from an amber shade to red when the time comes to slot into the next gear.

On the topic of gear changes, the 6-speed 'box has revised 5th and 6th ratios. In order to offset the 2.4L's increased fuel consumption, the final 2 gears now make the engine spin at lower speeds.


The cabin is accentuated by a leather-wrapped, Si-badged steering wheel, Si-specific seats and an interesting yet pointless i-VTEC rev indicator. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre/Auto123.com)​

The aforementioned seats offer plenty of contouring support, designed exactly for time attack and solo events. Comfort levels are good as well.

Honda made efforts to counter noise and vibrations in the new Civic as well as in the Si. My telling you that the Si is now a smoother operator overall seems wrong, but this was Honda's goal and they've reached it. This will undoubtedly make the Si more attractive to an older crowd, looking for a high visual impact Civic with more oomph without the previously associated NVH.

And that pretty much sums up the new Civic Si. It has retained its highly entertaining driveability, but has done away with parts of the Si's real character. Yes, the new Si is posher. It now comes with standard navigation, XM satellite radio and auto on/off headlights.

If what other manufacturers have done to their cars (I'm thinking WRX amongst others) is any indication of what is to come, the new Si's share of Civic sales will most likely increase. My only wish, should this be the case and with the extra money, is that Honda bring us a hardcore SiR or Si Type R by the 2014 MY.

2012 Civic Si pricing starts at $25,990.


 

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Discussion Starter #18
BloomBerg


The Good: Better fuel economy and handling, nice interior, top safety rating

The Bad: Pricier than rivals; supplies may be crimped by Japan earthquake

The Bottom Line: No longer stands out as the class of the economy compacts​

Up Front

How good is the newly redesigned 2012 Honda (HMC) Civic that hit the market on Apr. 20? My answer is, very good, but maybe not good enough.

The Civic used to be the classiest compact economy car on the market. Now it matches the competition but doesn't stand out in most respects—and maybe not at all once you factor in its relatively high price. The Hyundai (HYMPY) Elantra is very close and costs less, and the redesigned 2012 Ford (F) Focus and the all-new Chevy Cruze offer tough new competition. The Toyota (TM) Corolla, the market leader, is outclassed at this point, but continues to have millions of loyalists.

Rather than make dramatic changes to fend off rising competition, Honda improved the Civic in numerous small ways. The 2012 model is the same length as the old one, but looks sleeker and more modern, both outside and inside. Surprisingly the interior is slightly more spacious than before. The new Civic also handles better than the outgoing model, is expected to have top safety ratings, and goes farther on a gallon of gas.

The trouble is, all the improvements keep the Civic in the game but don't pull it ahead. For example, a 1.8-liter, 140-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine remains standard and the two available transmissions are a five-speed automatic and (on some versions) a 5-speed stick shift. That's disappointing because the automatic in the 2012 Focus is a more modern and efficient six-speed, as are the ones in the Elantra and Chevy Cruze. The Focus's engine also has 20 more horsepower and more torque than the new Civic's.

Honda held the line on prices, keeping the starting sticker of most 2012 Civics exactly the same as the outgoing model. A basic 2012 DX sedan starts at $16,555 with a stick shift and $17,355 with an automatic, same as before, rising to $22,705 for the top-of-the-line EXL sedan with an automatic, also same as before. The sporty Si Coupe still starts at $22,955. The price of the Civic hybrid rose a mere $100, to $24,800. However, starting prices for the 2011 Civic were at the high end for the segment, so the 2012 will probably cost more than rivals, notably the Elantra and Corolla.

Fuel economy is another example. Crucially, with gasoline prices topping $4 per gallon in some areas of the country, the Civic's is up 3 miles per gallon. With an automatic transmission, both the Civic sedan and two-door coupe are rated to get 28 mpg in the city, 39 on the highway, for an average of 32 (up from 29 before). However, that still leaves the Honda a tiny bit behind the 2011 Elantra sedan, which is rated at 29/40/33 whether with an automatic or a stick shift, and versions of the 2012 Ford Focus that are rated at 28/40/33 with an automatic. (The 2011 Toyota Corolla trails behind at 26/34/29.)

To avoid being bested, Honda added a new, more aerodynamic Civic HF to the lineup that's rated at 29 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway, for an average of 33. Honda claims the HF gets the best highway mileage of any car on the market with an automatic transmission and conventional gasoline engine. However, my guess is that with a 6-speed transmission, the regular Civics might have achieved that rating and the HF might have done even better. The HF also starts at a relatively high $20,205.

The new Civic hybrid now uses lithium ion batteries, which makes the battery pack smaller and helps raise mileage by 3 miles per gallon, to 44. That beats Honda's Insight hybrid and most of the competition, but still trails the 50-mpg rating of the Toyota Prius.

Safety, on the other hand, is a strong point. Although the 2012 Civic doesn't yet have crash-test ratings, the company predicts the new model will earn the highest-possible 5-Star government crash-test designation, as well as be a Top Safety Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The car comes standard with braking assist and brake-force distribution, as well as front, front-side, and cabin-length head-protecting air bags. Honda also dramatically reduced the cost of repairing the Civic after a minor collision.

Although the new Civic is coming out on schedule, aftereffects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan may keep supplies tight in coming months. In the meantime the 2011 Civic has continued to sell well even as the new model was about to come out. Including the hybrid (which accounts for less than 3% of sales), Honda sold 64,968 Civics in the 1st 3 months of this year, 19.5% more than a year earlier. The Toyota Corolla was up 18.7%, to 76,675, in the 1st 3 months of the year.

The Civic is Honda's 2nd-best seller, behind the Accord, as well as America's 4th-best-selling car overall (behind the No. 1 Toyota Camry, No. 2 Accord, and No. 3 Corolla). The Corolla outsold the Civic last year, but the Honda gained ground. Corolla sales fell 9.8%, to 266,082, while Civic sales rose slightly (0.8%) to 260,218. Rivals such as the Ford Focus (172,421 units sold in 2010) and the Hyundai Elantra (132,246) trailed well behind the 2 leaders.

Behind the Wheel

At a press event in Washington, D.C., I test-drove the new Civic sedan back-to-back with the 2011 Civic, a 2011 Elantra, and a 2011 Corolla (but unfortunately not the new Focus and Cruze). What that experience made abundantly clear is that the new Civic handles better than the old 1, and the Hyundai offers very tough competition when it comes to quickness and handling. The Corolla doesn't come close.

I didn't get a 0-to-60 time on the new Civic, but it's probably about the same as the old one, which struggled to 60 in about 9.5 seconds. That's about the same as for the Elantra and typical for an economy car. However, the Civic's small size and nimble suspension make it feel relatively sporty. The car's appeal has always been its quickness once it's rolling, from about 25 mph to 65 mph. In that speed range the Civic really jumps when you give it gas. The new Civic also feels tighter than the previous 1, partly because its frame is 10% more rigid.

If you value handling and genuine pep, the only Civic to buy is the sporty and more expensive Si, which clocks in at 6.7 seconds in zero-to-60 runs. Engine size rises to 2.4 liters and 201 horsepower (4 more than before) in the Si.

The Civic's interior hasn't changed all that much. The distinctive 2-tier instrument panel remains, and some of the dials and gauges look very similar to the ones in the previous Civic. However, the dash has a new rice-paper-like texture that's quite attractive, and the center stack has been gussied up with a 5-in. color display. The backlighting of the instrument panel changes from Honda blue to green when the driver is driving economically and conserving fuel.

Still, the cabin feels more open inside than the outgoing model because of improvements such as widening the body slightly, raking the windshield even more sharply forward than before, and thinning the front roof pillars while enlarging the little windows at their base. Actual interior space is slightly greater, allowing for more front-seat shoulder space and 1.6 in. of additional rear legroom.

Trunk size in the sedan rose 0.5 cu. ft. to 12.5 cu. ft., but that's still way behind the Elantra's 14.8 cu. ft. and the Chevy Cruze's 15 cu. ft.

Buy It or Bag It?

The new Civic's base price of $17,355 with an automatic transmission makes it a bit pricey, and—like other Hondas—the Civic tends to have a relatively high transaction price because the company doesn't offer cash rebates to boost sales. In the past the Civic was always worth the extra money, in my opinion, but that's no longer certain.

The 2011 Elantra sedan starts at just $15,695 with an automatic transmission, matches the Civic's fuel economy, and looks very stylish. Ditto for the 2012 Ford Focus sedan, which is quicker, about as fuel-efficient, and starts at $16,995 with a stick shift and $18,090 with an automatic. And ditto again for the new Chevy Cruze, which is slightly bigger (and less fuel-efficient) than the Civic, just as stylish and peppy, and starts at $17,275, whether with an automatic or a stick shift.

The budget alternative, the Corolla sedan starts at $17,160 with an automatic, only a bit less than the Civic, but tops out at a mere $19,060.

The bottom line: Buying a Honda Civic used to be a no-brainer. These days it pays to comparison shop and do some test-drives before signing on the dotted line.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
USA2day


The Civic compact is so important to Honda that it’s peculiar the car didn’t get some expected features and functions in its redesign for the 2012 model year.

Examples: No backup camera. No 6-speed automatic transmission or manual-shift mode. No heated rear seats. All are available on the recently redesigned Hyundai Elantra, a standard-setter among mainstream compacts.

Even though Civic’s probably better, more satisfying overall than Elantra, Civic will look inferior on paper or in pixels to people who comparison-shop using brochures and online sites.

The Civic line has so many versions that it’s almost a brand unto itself.

The 2012 Civic sedan, coupe, HF fuel-efficiency special and the gas-electric hybrid went on sale Wednesday. The high-performance Si sedan and coupe go on sale May 24. A natural-gas-fueled model is coming this fall.

The mileage-enhanced models had a pleasant and an unpleasant surprise.

•The HF high-mileage gas car uses the same engine and automatic transmission as the conventional cars, so it performs the same. You have no sense you’re missing some performance for the sake of mileage.

•The gas-electric hybrid is chockablock with improvements, from smaller, lighter battery pack to more power from the engine/motor combo. But a consistent annoyance of hybrids remains, and even seems worse: the shudder that travels in rough waves through the car when the gasoline engine restarts after shutting off temporarily to save fuel.

We drove versions of all models, save the natural gas model.

Highlights:

•Instrument panel. Supposed to be 3-D-like. But big, flat, round gauges are better. You might like the gee-whiz factor, though.

•Noise. All models seemed to kick an unusual amount of noise into the passenger compartment; tire noise on coarse roads and suspension bump-thunks on even small bumps.

•Looks. Interesting, jazzy enough to seem new, restrained enough to wear well over time.

•Sportiness. Long a Civic selling point. Not a sports sedan, but crisper, more fun, than many rivals. Still seems so.

•Seats. Fronts, too much lumbar lump. Rears, not bad; just keep in mind it’s still a compact car, not a big sedan.

•Performance. The 201-hp Si engine has a lot more torque than previously, and a light-touch clutch mechanism, so stop-and-slog driving’s easy. Base engine, 140-hp, usually is strong enough. But high-speed highway driving can make it feel and sound taxed. 5-speed automatic shifts great under hard throttle, but sometimes hunts, jerks in lower-speed, go-slow-go-again driving.

Favorite among drivetrain features is 1 you don’t notice: skid control. It blends so smoothly with your own steering efforts that — unlike the obvious and unpleasant intrusion on most cars — it’s unnoticed until the next step in your car-control repertoire is, “Hail, Mary ….”

Civic is a solid, laudable update of a classy compact, undercut by missing features, road noises, hybrid shudders and strained-feeling gas engine.

2012 HONDA CIVIC


•What? Redesign of the popular, front-drive, 5-passenger compact.

Available as (ready?): Mainstream 4-door sedan, mainstream coupe, gasoline-electric hybrid sedan, HF high-gas-mileage sedan, high-performance Si sedan and Si coupe, and, this fall, a natural-gas-fueled version. What, no station wagon or pickup?

Most models available with 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. HF and hybrid, automatic only. Si, 6-speed manual only.

•When? Sedan, coupe, HF and hybrid went on sale Wednesday. Si versions, May 24. Natural gas version coming this fall.

•How powerful? Mainstream and HF models have 1.8-liter 4-cylinder rated 140 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, 128 pounds-feet of torque at 4,300.

Hybrid has 1.5-liter 4 gas engine and electric motor, which rate a combined 110 hp, 127 lbs.-ft.

Si has 2.4-liter 4, 201 hp at 7,000, 170 lbs.-ft. at 4,400.

•How big? Sedan is 177.3 inches long, 69 in. wide, 56.5 in. tall on a 105.1-in. wheelbase. Coupe: 175.5 in. long, 69 in. wide, 55 in. tall, on 103.2-in. wheelbase.

Weights vary from 2,608 to 2,895 lbs. depending on model and equipment.

•How thirsty? Mainstream sedans, coupes rated 28 miles per gallon in town, 39 mpg highway, 32 mpg in combined use (automatic transmission) or 28/36/31 (manual). HF: 29/41/33. Hybrid: 44/44/44. Si: 22/31/25.

Test-car trip computers showed:

Sedan, automatic: 34.2 mpg (2.92 gallons per 100 miles) in fast highway driving, and 27.1 mpg (3.69 gal/100 mi) in suburban use.

HF sedan: 29.5 mpg in mix of suburban/highway use.

Hybrid: 37.5 mpg (2.67 gal/100 mi) suburban/highway. Si: 29.1 mpg (3.43 gal/100 mi) in suburban use.

Burns regular; holds 13.2 gallons.

•Overall:
Nice car, could have been nicer.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Canada


The new 9th-generation 2012 Honda Civic has come out swinging in defence of its title as the best-selling car in Canada. The wily 13-year (consecutive) compact car champ has adjusted its marketing style to land some unexpected body blows that its new challengers may not have expected.

A price of just $14,990 for the new base Civic DX is $2,000 below the list price of the same 2010 edition, and it comes with $600 worth of additional equipment. The great value story continues throughout the entire 2012 Civic lineup with savings as high as $3,590 on the new Si Sedan.

Civic owners are typically young, or “young at heart,” according to Honda. They range from high school graduates to professionals to performance enthusiasts, but it’s the younger “Gen Y” (under-35) buyer who Honda is most concerned about losing. Affordability, fuel economy, style and performance are key ingredients to getting and keeping this buyer in the Honda fold.

In addition to the value story, improvements to the new Civic include refinements throughout the car that increase fuel economy and enhancements to performance, ride and interior packaging. New electronic interactive technologies also provide added convenience and a new level of personalization.

The 2012 Civic comes in four completely redesigned models. In addition to the ever-popular Civic Sedan, there’s an even more fuel-efficient Civic Hybrid edition (out later this year), a Civic Coupe, plus the performance-orientated Civic Si Coupe and Civic Si Sedan.

Honda calls the new look of Civic a “mono-form” design, with clean, flowing lines. The changes are not as dramatic as previous remakes of the Civic, but do include a more angular front fascia, and a mesh grille. Slimmer “A” pillars support its tapered roofline. It also has some concealed aerodynamic features, which include a flatter under-carriage.

Although the same overall length as the current generation Civic, the design changes also help create a slightly roomier interior, especially for rearseat passengers. Inner changes also include a restyled version of Civic’s unique 2-tier instrument panel layout. It now includes a new “smart interface” in upper instrument display with a 5-inch colour screen that displays vehicle and audio information.

Honda calls it an intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) and it comes in all models except Civic DX. Other new available technology features include a USB/audio interface, a Bluetooth hands-free link and a satellite navigation system. For the 1st time on any non-hybrid Honda, an Eco Assist feature comes with all Civic models except Si.

The 1.8-litre, 140 horsepower engine in the standard Civic has been re-engineered to provide better fuel economy. A refined version of the previous engine with changes that reduce friction, improve emissions performance and increase fuel economy. As before, it comes with a 5-speed manual (except EX-L) or an optional 5-speed automatic transmission (except DX).

An interesting new feature that’s in all Civics is a Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering system that helps a driver to correct an over-steer or under-steer skid situation. Linked to the standard electronic stability control system, it boosts assist in the direction it wants the driver to turn the wheel and simultaneously reduces assist in the opposite direction.

The Si models come with a new, bigger and more powerful 2.4-litre engine and it also touts improved fuel economy. It’s the most powerful engine Honda has ever put in a Civic and it uses a high-performance version of the i-VTEC system plus a specially tuned high-volume intake manifold.

A big change in Civic Hybrid is a switch to a new Lithium-Ion battery that’s more powerful, lighter and more compact than the current nickel-metal hydride battery.

As before, the new-generation of the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system uses a gasoline engine as the primary power source and an electric motor provides additional power and electricity regeneration capability.

The Civic-value story has always gone beyond its initial purchase, as buyers also get a vehicle with a stellar reliability record and excellent resale price retention. A key factor has been Honda Canada’s focus on retail sales, at the expense of high-volume discounted fleet sales.

Honda has sold more that 1.6 million Civics in Canada since its arrival here 38 years ago. Equally impressive is that it’s estimated that close to a million are still on the road.

Bob McHugh ([email protected]) is a freelance automotive journalist, writing on behalf of BCAA.
 
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