Honda’s Civic Gets a Complete Revamp

2012 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan.

“Is that the new Honda Civic?” someone asked after seeing the medium brown sedan parked in the lot at work. “Yep, the 2012 version,” I replied. But in the week I had the Civic EX 4-door, that was about the only comment I got.

Sure, the latest edition of the Civic is improved here and there, and restyled a bit. But nobody’s going to be bowled over by the car, which is probably okay with the folks at Honda. The Civic is their “ol’ reliable,” in a way. A car that many, many people will buy, even if they can’t really tell that it’s an improvement on the previous example.

When sales of new vehicles are tabulated each year, the Civic is almost always in the top five. A few generations of car shoppers have now come to choose the Civic as a safe choice; a car that will be well built and dependable, and gets pretty good gas mileage to boot.

There are actually several versions of the Honda Civic, and all were supposed to be launched at the same time. (Unlike prior launch years, when they’d sort of dribble out all the variations over the course of six months or so.) Well, that devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year kind of screwed up those plans.

So even though most of the Civics we get here are built in the United States or Canada, the supply chain was really disrupted by that natural disaster across the Pacific. The basic Civics are now in showrooms, but other variants like the Hybrid, GX CNG, and a special extra-efficient model called HF, will arrive later this year.

I tested a four-door EX trim level Civic, and it was a completely pleasant car. Not exciting, not overly stylish, and not necessarily fun to drive (the sporty Civic Si will handle that), but very “Civic-like” in terms of being a nice sensible choice.

The timing of the car’s arrival was pretty significant, as it officially went on sale just as gas prices were reaching their peak this year. This is the ninth generation of the model, and the original Civic debuted right about the time of the OPEC oil crisis of the 1970s, when buyers were clamoring for fuel efficient cars to replace their gas guzzlers. Sound familiar?

Mileage is up a bit for the DX, LX and EX versions, to 28 mpg city and 39 highway, with an overall number of 32. The HF will get a bit more on the highway at 41 mpg, and the Civic Hybrid has been rated at, get this, 44 in the city and 44 on the highway.

My EX test car had all the basic luxuries, including steering wheel controls for the sound system and the Bluetooth phone connection. There’s even a slick LCD screen in the instrument cluster that can show the trip computer readout, radio station information, and other things. You can also upgrade to Honda’s satellite navigation system on higher trim models.

For starters, a base Civic DX comes in with a sticker price of $15,805 ($800 more if you want automatic transmission). The LX checks in at $17,855 (again, add $800 for automatic), and the EX starts at $20,505, with the automatic standard. The other examples like the Si and Hybrid will cost more, obviously.

I’ll get to those other models when they become available, supply chain permitting. In the meantime, as always, you really can’t go wrong with a basic Civic.

Mea culpa! Last week I wrote that the Camaro convertible does not have heated seats, which is completely incorrect. I can partially blame my wife, who couldn’t find the switches when riding as a passenger (so I assumed there weren’t any, which was a mistake). I can also lay a little blame on General Motors, which hides the heated seat controls in a busy collection of switches that make up the climate system. They weren’t easy to see, but I furthered my incorrect observation by completely missing them being listed on the test car’s equipment sheet. Feel free to toast your buns in the new Camaro convertible!

I’ll see you down the road.

Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7 and can be heard on “The Car Show” Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KPFK, 90.7 FM. E-mail Dave at TVCarz @ pacbell.net Twitter: @dave_kunz.

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