Here are four words that the folks at Honda probably wouldn’t like to hear:
“Is this the Accord?”
Mind you, the question was asked in a way of admiration.
The question was asked by a person who once owned an Accord and who likes the brand.
But the car in question is the Civic, the one just below the Accord in the Honda lineup.
And this person thought that this was the bigger sedan because it seemed to her that it has the size and the substance of something ostensibly more substantial.
This person was taken with the whole package.
Of course, the problem conceivably is that were said person in the market for a new sedan, she might opt for the Civic rather than the Accord. And one can only assume that Honda would probably like for her to opt for the Accord rather than vice versa.
Admittedly, the Accord is a bigger car. It is 189.2 in. long and 72.8 in. wide. The Civic is nearly 10 in. shorter (179.4 in.) and about 4 in. thinner (69.0 in.)
Still, the passenger volume difference is one cubic foot: 93.1 vs. 92.1.
That amount of space is nothing to sniff at, of course, but the roominess of the Civic is sufficient for most of the people that I know.
The Civic is well equipped on the interior, with things that are becoming more common but are still somewhat unexpected in this compact category, such as pushbutton start with a pushbutton that has a certain substance to it, not something that seems as though it might be found on a car by Little Tikes.
The vehicle features what was, once, a “controversial” two level instrument cluster; some people like it, some people don’t. But if it is additional information that you are looking for, you’re hard pressed to find a car that offers it. And when you do find them, chances are you have to keep hitting a button on the steering wheel followed by another push of another button as you scroll and select, select and scroll, to get the information.
The Civic has a clever feature (one, I must confess, I first encountered on the Accord) that is activated when you put the right turn signal on. The 7-in color display shows a camera view of what is on the right side and behind the vehicle.
One of the characteristics of Hondas is that they are ergonomically designed, and this is what is clearly evident in the Civic.
Although the car as-driven is in the top trim level, EX-L, it does seem as though the Civic is a car that is a bit of an overachiever. For one thing, a few years ago Honda was savaged for having a non-competitive interior on the previous generation of the car and since then, people at all levels of the organization seem to have gotten the memo and upped the game significantly. For another thing, the competitive set—and now the traditional domestics are actually in the game with the likes of the Focus and the Cruze—has gotten only stronger, so if you’re going to play to win the customer, you’ve got to play hard. And for still another, while the Civic was once the entry-level Honda, since 2006 the Fit has been available, so the Civic needs to be at a higher premium in terms of what it offers.
The 143-hp engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission. The goal here is to achieve good fuel economy. (For those who are looking for something significantly more spirited, there is the 205-hp, six-speed manual Civic Si sedan.)
A question that begins to occur is how much car does a person need if the purpose of the car is simply to commute in comfort? Apparently, the average vehicle occupancy in the U.S. is less than two people (although it is on the order of 1.67, I’ve yet to see a 0.67 person), so the Civic has room to spare and amenities to boot.
Engine: 1.8-liter, DOHC, i-VTEC I4
Horsepower: 143 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 129 @ 4,300 rpm
Transmission: Continuously variable
Steering: Electric-power assisted rack and pinion
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Length: 179.4 in.
Width: 69.0 in.
Height: 56.5 in.
Curb weight: 2,930 lb.
Seating capacity: 5
Passenger volume: 92.1-cu-ft.
Cargo volume: 12.5 cu-ft.
EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 30/39/33 mpg