Reviews

2011 Honda Civic Walk Around

Honda Civic comes in two distinct body styles, sedan and coupe, and they do not share any body panels.

The Honda Civic sedan has a lower grille with a tall, trapezoidal center opening and secondary scoop-like openings on either side. A grid-like insert in the center opening contrasts with a kind of cyclone-fence theme in the side scoops. Slender headlamp assemblies angle upwards as they curve around the fenders; visually connecting them is a bright bar with the Honda H at the center and another slim air opening underneath. Around back, another bright chrome bar connects the taillights just above the indentation for the license plate.

The coupe's upper grille has the Honda logo centered in an oval-themed black mesh, with a more shallow lower trapezoidal opening, and scoops at either side that are drawn out wide and horizontal and divided midway by a horizontal strut.

Save for a lower body character line, the sides of the Civic are more slab than sensuous. Understated fender blisters break up the otherwise featureless expanse. Honda calls it a monoform design, and a central expression of this is the windshield, the leading edge of which reaches into the hood all the way to the middle of the front wheel wells, pushing the cab-forward design concept to a new extreme. On the coupe, the windshield is raked at a radical 21.9 degrees; the sedan's at a barely more upright 23.9 degrees.

The coupe's spoilered, rounded rear profile suggests sleek swiftness. The sedan's somewhat abbreviated trunk lid and high, chunky tail add perceived mass to a tightly proportioned, smallish sedan.

Details and markings distinguish each trim level.

On the Si sedan, the grille bar is black instead of chrome. On both the coupe and sedan, an Si badge tucks into the grille's lower left side, and oval fog lights are set into the bumper's outboard openings. An i-VTEC label appears just forward of the rear wheel well; on the Si sedan it's placed low on the rear door. A rear spoiler wraps over the outboard edges of the sedan's trunk lid; on the coupe, the spoiler is free-standing. Both sedan and coupe roll on their own unique alloy wheels.

The Hybrid is understated, with just a small Hybrid badge under the right rear taillight. Our least favorite feature is its pseudo-aero wheels, which look as if they were cut from pizza pans.

A blue CNG diamond on the right side of the rear deck lid, and NGV lettering on the rear doors, identify the natural gas-powered GX.

Interior

We find the Civic LX sedan the most comfortable model. The DX edges more toward spartan inside, while the EX heads toward lush. Fit and finish meet Honda standards. Plastic trim elements look high-grade, although the multi-piece dash invites concern about high-mileage squeaks and buzzes.

Seats are comfortable, not plush. Seat bottoms provide better than average thigh support. The manual height adjustment on the driver's seat pivots on front hinges, forcing drivers to choose between seat height and legroom. The Si models get sport front seats with synthetic suede upholstery and more aggressive bolsters both bottom and side for improved support.

The view out the front, with the expansive windshield, low cowl and sloping hood, is unparalleled in the class. A commensurately low beltline would enhance side vision, but otherwise there's little about which to complain. Tiny front quarter windows on the sedan, necessary to allow the front door windows to roll all the way down, push the side rear-view mirrors a bit too far rearward for quick and easy glances at neighboring lanes.

Controls are for the most part where they should be, but not necessarily as they should be. There's little symmetry in organization or shape of features and interfaces. It's not an unpleasant look, but one that requires some acclimation. Despite the seeming logic of the two-tier instrument display, we still haven't adjusted to the resulting weird pod draped over the top of the dash.

The dash itself seems endlessly deep; draped across its top, in front of the driver, is a hooded opening with a digital speedometer between LCD coolant temperature and fuel level gauges. Down below, in the more common place for instruments, a large, round, analog tachometer dominates the view through the top half of the steering wheel, with warning lights to either side. Outboard of this display are large, irregular vent registers. Instrument lighting is blue on most models but red on the Si models.

Sedans share the coupe's three-spoke steering wheel (with spokes at the 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions), which matches the spacey interior theme just as well.

The Civic navigation system includes Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, a wireless telephone interface that works with Bluetooth-enabled mobile telephones for hands-free operation via steering wheel-mounted controls.

Centered in the dash above the climate control panel is a stereo control head with the pertinent accoutrements; unless you order navigation, in which case this space is shared by an LCD window combining the navigation display with audio settings.

To the right of this squished pod-like arrangement, the dash curves away from the front passenger and houses two more horizontally oriented vent registers; again, neither of which matches the other. A wide, but not especially deep glove box resides below a cabin-wide, clam shell-like notch dividing the upper and lower halves of the dash.

There is no center stack to speak of, which otherwise might tie together the dash and the floor-mounted controls. Instead, below the climate control panel is a shallow storage bin with a power point and an audio input jack on the left side. Forward of the metallic-trimmed block of plastic serving as a base for the hand brake and shift levers is a good-sized, rectangular storage bin. Another shallow cubby is tucked in between the shift lever housing and a pair of seat bottom-level cup holders under a sliding cover. Aft of this on all but the DX is an abbreviated, padded armrest covering another storage bin, inside of which on the EX, EX-L, Si and Hybrid is a second power point. Each door has a hard plastic map pocket. A magazine pouch is on the rear of the front passenger's seatback; on the Hybrid, there's one on the driver's seatback, too. Architecturally busy interior door panels could be friendlier to fingers in terms of grips and pulls, but armrests provide good support at the right level.

When it comes to interior room, the Civic coupe and sedan are competitive with other cars in their classes. Almost oversize rear doors provide easy rear-seat access. But the bench seats in the rear are flat and do little to keep passengers in place in twists and turns.

Cargo space, at 12.0 cubic feet in the sedan, trails the class leaders by a couple of cubic feet. The coupe surrenders 0.5 cubic feet, the Hybrid gives up 1.6 cubic feet to battery and such, while the GX loses fully half its trunk to fuel storage.

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