2007 Honda Civic

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Review: 2009 Honda Civic and Civic Si

This 2009 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2011.

Introduction
The Civic has always sold well, but with gas hovering around $4 a gallon across the country, small cars have gone to the top of the sales charts. Indeed, they are selling so well that the Civic actually found more buyers than America's perennial bestseller, the Ford F-150 pickup, in the summer months of 2008.

Honda sells the Civic in several different forms. The range breaks down into the Civic sedan and coupe, the Civic Si sedan and coupe, the Civic GX sedan, and the Civic hybrid sedan. (Click here for information on the Civic hybrid.)

The Civic coupe and sedan are powered by a 140-hp, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission, with the option of a five-speed automatic. The Si coupe and sedan have a rev-happy 197-hp, 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission, as well as a sport-tuned suspension and a limited-slip differential. The GX sedan uses a specially tuned 113-hp, 1.8-liter engine that runs on natural gas, which has the benefit of being a lot cheaper than gasoline.

All Civics return good gas mileage. The 1.8-liter gets 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the manual and 25/36 with the auto; the 2.0-liter is good for 21/29. The Civic GX returns an EPA-rated 24/36 mpg.

Verdict
This latest Civic, introduced in 2005 as a 2006 model, is a nice piece, although we don't think that it's quite as good as previous versions. The last time a Civic took part in one of our comparison tests, it finished third behind a VW Rabbit and Mazda 3. It is well made, economical, and pleasing to drive but lacks the spirit of the 3 or Rabbit. The Si is definitely fun to drive, however, thanks to its high-revving engine, but using the performance to the max can become wearing, simply because one has to keep the engine singing at high revs all the time.

Although the Civic's styling can't be faulted for its boldness, not everyone is a fan of the interior, particularly the massive space between the dashboard and windshield.

What's New for 2009
All Civics get a freshened exterior, with new head- and taillights and a new grille and front bumper design. There are some new colors and alloy wheel designs (for the EX, EX-L, and Si), and a USB interface is added to a few higher trim levels. The DX now has a Value package that adds air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD audio system, and an auxiliary input jack. A new LX-S sedan model features 16-inch aluminum wheels, sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a chrome exhaust tip, and a decklid spoiler.

Highlights and Recommendations
The Civic range essentially has four trim levels: DX, LX, EX, and EX-L, listed in ascending order of luxuriousness. The Si model is essentially outfitted the same as an EX, adding only a six-speed manual, an aluminum shift knob, and aluminum pedals. The GX is equivalent to the LX trim level.

A base Civic costs about 16 grand, for which one gets a stripper. There are power windows, but amenities such as a radio and air conditioning aren't included, and it rides on 15-inch wheels. Our choice is the LX, which adds cruise control, power door locks and mirrors, an AM/FM radio with a CD player and four speakers, 16-inch wheels with covers, a folding rear seat, air conditioning, and remote entry. (The LX coupe has a six-speaker audio system.)

For sybarites who want the luxury features of a more expensive car but can't afford the gasoline bills, the EX has alloy wheels, audio controls on the steering wheel, a one-touch power sunroof, and an available voice-activated navigation system that includes XM satellite radio. The EX-L loads it up further with leather-trimmed heated seats and heated exterior mirrors. Fully loaded, an EX-L coupe can break the $24,000 mark, quite expensive for this class of car. For fun seekers, buy an Si sedan or coupe for a reasonable $22,000.

Safety
The Civic is pretty well equipped with standard safety features, including front, front side, and curtain airbags on all models, along with four-wheel anti-lock brakes. A stability-control system with traction control is fitted only to the Si models, though, which is a disappointment.

Content provided byCar and Driver.
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BB02 - 7/28/2014 8:28:42 PM