by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer
· Overall value
· Safety, with six standard airbags
· Road noise
· Voice-activated controls not easily used
First introduced in 1972, the Honda Civic has grown in size and sophistication over the years. The newest incarnation, introduced in 2006, comes in both a coupe and sedan with seven different trim levels to choose from, and prices starting at $14,810 for the base DX sedan to nearly $29,500 for the new MUGEN Si sedan. For 2008 Honda added two new trim levels to the Civic lineup, the Civic EX-L with heated leather seats, and the aforementioned MUGEN Si, a high-performance sedan. After a week with the 2008 Honda Civic EX-L, I've compiled a brass-tacks list of highly technical scientific data based upon observations, experimentation, tabulations, inspections and so forth. Here we go:
Remember way back when, when Accords where the size of Civics, and Civics where the size of Fits, and who the hell would think of naming a car Fit?
When I was in college, I had a 1993 Honda Accord which I just loved; it was the perfect size, it got great gas mileage, it looked good, and it had a sunroof. Really, what else could you want? Which is probably why I was so taken by the 2008 Honda Civic; it's about the same size of that 93 Accord I loved so much.
For 2008, Honda has introduced an EX-L version of the Civic that adds navigation with voice recognition, leather interior, heated front seats and side mirrors to the already well-equipped EX model.
The EX-L model comes with the 1.8-liter SOHC 16-valve i-VTECH four-cylinder that produces 140 hp at 6300 rpms and 123 lb-ft. of torque at 4300 rpms, and has a redline of 6800 rpms. It comes with a standard five-speed automatic transmission with grade logic control and gets an estimated EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. Out on the freeway, the Civic is crisp and fun to drive even with an automatic, although road noise is noticeable. In-city driving is fairly smooth and parking is an ease due to its size.
The Civic EX-L has a luxurious interior for an economy car at its price point. The fit and finish is excellent and the navigation system with touchscreen is easy to use for the novice user. Legroom is a premium for those over six feet, though. I really couldn't find a driving position that didn't have my right leg jammed into the emergency brake. The emergency brake is placed to the left of the center console, painfully. After a week of driving, I had a nice bruise on my right leg. For those shorter in stature, I'm sure it's all fine and dandy, though. Headroom up front was ample, in the back it came up a bit short for taller passengers.
All in all the Civic is an excellent value, extremely well-designed (minus the emergency brake) and gets great gas mileage. Of course there is a hybrid model for those who prefer to go a little greener, and costs around $3,000 more, sans leather and heated seats.
OK, for a before tax price of $21,444, what do you get?
The Honda Civic EX-L with Navi actually comes with a long list of stand features normally found as expensive options on other models. A quick look at the favorites includes:
140 hp 1.8-liter SOHC 16-Valve i-VTEC four-cylinder engine
Five-speed automatic transmission with grade logic control
Front and rear disc brakes
Front MacPherson strut suspension
Rear multi-link suspension
Variable-assist rack-and-pinion power steering
Driver and front passenger front airbags, side curtain air bags
ABS braking system with emergency brake assist
Front and rear crumple zones
Daytime running lights
Comfort and Convenience
DVD Navigation with voice recognition
160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers
XM satellite radio
Leather seating surfaces
Heater front seats
Heated power mirrors
One-touch power moonroof