The evolution of a great thing
1. The new 2012 Civic retains the same 140-hp 1.8L 4-cyl and 5-speed automatic transmission.
2. Fuel economy is up to 28/39-mpg, making the Civic second only to the Elantra in fuel economy, although an ECON button should help further improve that number.
3. The Civic is first to get Honda’s new i-MID in-dash LCD screen with steering wheel controls to operate everything from vehicle and trip info, to multimedia devices and Bluetooth.
4. Along with the Coupe and Sedan, Honda offers a 44-mpg average Civic Hybrid, a high-performance Si with a larger and more powerful engine, plus a 41-mpg why HF model and a Natural Gas-powered version.
5. The 2012 Civic Coupe starts from $15,605 with Sedan models from $15,805.
FROM ITS NAME TO ITS DESIGN, ‘CIVIC’ IS A BRAND
From a design perspective, it’s about trend-setting as a suburban town house, simply evolving into a mildly different shape. It is, however, unmistakably a Civic and that’s part of the reason why we aren’t seeing any bold new design direction from Honda.
Like how there is brand recognition to the name, there’s also branding relating to what a Civic looks like and while it might not be terribly exciting, the 2012 model is easily recognizable as the latest in a long line of solid Civic products. And in case you’re wondering just how important a brand that is; Honda sells more Civics each year in the U.S. than Volkswagen, Chrysler or Mazda sell cars. Put bluntly, as a segment leader, Honda has more to loose through a dramatic design change than it does to win.
The Coupe model benefits from the restyle more significantly with a longer and sleeker profile, giving the car a more premium look. When it comes to the Si Coupe, however, it’s far too timid, especially considering the young male target audience.
Driving feel is another evolutionary trait of the Civic. It’s certainly no leap forward, but rather a gradual improvement. A new electric power steering system is spot-on as we’d expect from Honda, without any of the on-center numbness many of the competitors suffer from.
SHORTER WHEELBASE: BETTER HANDLING… WITH MORE INTERIOR ROOM?
Being one of the few compact cars with a fully independent suspension front and rear, the Civic retains its ability to corner in the real world when the road surface isn’t a glass-smooth parking lot. Another improvement in this area, as well as in both performance and fuel economy, is a reduction in weight, with models dropping anywhere from 20 to 58 lbs.
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A shorter wheelbase would normally indicate less interior room. That, however, is not the case, with Honda engineers somehow managing to increase rear seat legroom by 1.6-inches. Reasonably good before, it’s actually suitable for the legs of 6-foot adults now, although we could use a little extra headroom.
Cargo room hasn’t been compromised due to the added space either and has actually grown, slightly, from 12.0 cu-ft to 12.5 cu-ft – although that’s still well short of many in the segment.
The other usual down side to a decrease wheelbase is downgraded ride quality. That hasn’t happened here, as it’s comparably smooth to its predecessor, while added sound deadening, improved aerodynamics and hushed machanicals make for a quieter ride.
TECHNOLOGY MEETS FUNCTIONALITY WITH i-MID USER INTERFACE
Apart from some design tweaks and the use of organic-looking materials for the dash, the new Civic seems mostly unchanged inside, but there are some surprises. Turn on the car and you’ll immediately be struck by a new 5-inch Intelligent Multi-Information Display, or i-MID for short. It doesn’t have the high-gloss look of the MyFord Touch system, but it is standard on all but the base DX models while MyFord Touch comes on the $22,270 Titanium trim Focus.
Using two 5-way controllers on the steering wheel the driver can scroll through display screens for things like vehicle and trip information, as well as operate the numerous media types (be it Satellite Radio or an MP3 player) and operate Bluetooth. The i-MID system comes standard on mid-level LX models and up.
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