Driven: 2008 Honda Civic EX-L
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2011.
By Perry Stern of MSN Autos
For a long time, the Civic was Honda’s entry-level car, designed for efficient travel from point A to point B. This small car still meets that need, but the sleek and stylish Civic no longer has the look of an econobox. The Civic may not be the best choice if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, but this is one of the few downsides to buying one of the best-selling cars in America.
The Civic’s interior is comfortable and spacious. My wife had plenty of legroom, and my ten-year-old daughter didn’t complain once about a lack of comfort in the back seat—and being ten, she’s always looking for things to complain about. The large trunk features a wide opening, and it easily swallowed a new microwave oven with room to spare.
Our test car was the top-of-the-line Civic EX-L NAVI. As the letters in the name indicate, it comes with leather trim and a satellite navigation system with voice activation. Other high-end features include a 160-watt stereo system with XM Satellite radio, heated front seats, a power moonroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a bevy of standard safety equipment.
With 140 horsepower under the hood, the Civic can not really be called quick, but it has enough grunt to stay out of harm’s way. The 5-speed automatic in our test car shifted smoothly and was quite sufficient. City driving garnered about 26 mpg. Ranked as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV), the Civic posts an EPA highway rating of 36 mpg.
The Civic’s handling is good, proven by cloverleaf accelerations up to freeway speeds when the car provides solid feedback and a balanced feeling. However, maneuverability is a bit hampered by a larger than expected turning radius. On more than one occasion I had to make a three-point turn into a parking spot when the car didn’t arc as sharply as anticipated.
But with a price of $21,444 making it one of the best values on the street (amazingly low for a car with navigation and leather), it’s easy to overlook the few minor issues. After several days in the Civic it’s easy to see what makes it so popular.