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2012 Honda Civic
View The 2012 Honda Civic Specifications
Review by: T.J. Cobb
All-new version evolves to meet varied expectations. 

Model Lineup
The 2012 Honda Civic comes in six models. The Civic DX, LX, EX, and EX-L are available in coupe and sedan versions and come with a 140-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.

Civic DX Sedan () and DX Coupe () come with cloth upholstery, manually adjusted driver seat, power windows, tilt/telescope steering column, 12-volt power outlet, rear window defroster, fold-down rear seatback, i-MID driver information display with Turn-By-Turn Directions, clock, dual trip meters, two-speed intermittent wipers, black outside mirrors and door handles. The DX comes with a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic ().

Civic LX Sedan () and LX Coupe () upgrade with air conditioning, 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio with four speakers, 2012 Honda Civic USB audio interface, MP3 auxiliary jack, speed-sensitive volume, auto-up/down driver's window, power locks with auto-lock feature, remote trunk release, illuminated window and lock controls, cruise control, illuminated steering wheel controls, customizable settings, map lights, floor mats, body-colored mirrors and door handles. The 5-speed manual is standard, but the 5-speed 2012 Honda Civic automatic is available for the LX Sedan () and LX Coupe ().

Civic EX Sedan () comes standard with the 5-speed automatic. The Civic EX Coupe offers a choice of 5-speed manual () or automatic (). Civic EX includes six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, 60/40 split rear seat, upgraded rear-seat accommodations, one-touch power moonroof with tilt feature. The EX Sedan and EX Coupe are available with Navi and XM radio ().

Civic EX-L () Coupe and Sedan upgrade to leather-trimmed interior and heated front seats. The Civic EX-L is also available with Navi and XM Radio ().

Civic HF () sedan is designed for maximum fuel efficiency with specially tuned 1.8-liter engine and 5-speed automatic. Civic GX sedan runs natural gas and comes with the 5-speed automatic.

Civic Hybrid () sedan is available with Navi and XM Radio () or Leather () or both ().

Civic Si Sedan () and Coupe () feature a high-performance 2.4-liter engine and 6-speed manual. Navi and XM Radio are available for the Si Sedan () and Si Coupe ()


Walkaround
Given a budget and a mission, no designer is likely to leave well enough alone, and that's true of the new 2012 Civic lineup.

But this is a more of a challenge than one might think. The eighth-generation Civic has been successful throughout its six-plus years, and its sleek lines still look good.

On the other hand, success notwithstanding, no automotive design lasts indefinitely. So the design leader has to find 2012 Honda Civic a way to retain the successful elements and still imbue the product with a sense of newness.

The new cars sport redesigned fascias, updated rear ends, and new character lines, but the 2012 Honda Civic basic shape, which lead designer Toshiyuki Okumoto calls a one motion form, has the same flowing aero look. Although the wheelbase is slightly shorter, body dimensions are essentially identical, and it takes a practiced eye to tell new from old at a glance.

Although the sheetmetal is basically all new, Honda didn't take any chances here. Whether this will be a plus over the long service life of the design remains to be seen.

The distinction between Civic generation eight and nine isn't as dramatic as the change from seven to eight, when the slick aero shape first emerged. Honda has chosen to spread its development budget over refinements and a broader model range.


Interior Features
Quality materials, attractive design, and colorful instrument lighting give the Civic interiors a look that's a notch or two above compact norms. The seats are well shaped, nicely bolstered (by family sedan standards), widely adjustable, with a probability of all-day drive comfort and very good upholstery wear characteristics.

Though the instrument display has been invigorated with new colored backlighting, it will look familiar to those who have had some experience with the generation eight layout. The bi-plane look continues in the new car, with important info repeated 2012 Honda Civic at the top of the dash, allowing the driver to scan with minimum visual redirection.

Forward sightlines, always the driver's first line of defense, were good in the previous generation, but even better here. We appreciated the thinner windshield pillars and mini-window set in the angle where the windshield pillar intersects the car's hood. A lot of new cars have thick A-pillars that can obstruct the driver's view of pedestrians and other vehicles, but not here.

The biggest change inside the car, though is the new I-MID, or Intelligent Multi-Information Display. A toggle on the left-hand steering wheel spoke allows the driver to sift through a wide variety of vehicle info, and the optional satellite navigation system includes a voice recognition function.

Other electronic elements include Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and a very good 160-watt audio system.

All of this, of course, is in addition to the more common comfort/convenience features we've come to expect: power everything, including a moonroof; cruise control; a tilt/telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel; a 12-volt outlet; and a 60/40 split-folding rear seatback that expands cargo capacity.


Driving Impressions
Drawn from Honda's official national press preview, which consisted of a single afternoon with very little seat time on busy roads devoid of any real challenge, plus a few runs on an autocross course laid out on a football stadium parking lot, our dynamic impressions are necessarily limited.

However, while limited, they're also generally positive, within the context of the normal mission parameters of a small family sedan. The latest Civic delivers creamy ride quality, with exceptionally low interior noise levels.

Braking seems reasonably powerful with the four-wheel-disc system that comes with the EX trim level, and the pedal feel makes for easy modulation.

Handling response can be classified as contemporary, neither sporty nor sluggish, although the electric power steering leaves something 2012 Honda Civic to be desired in terms of what it tells the driver about what the front wheels are doing.

On the other hand, while the Civic sedan may lack something in terms of driver involvement, and its fun to drive factor is difficult to detect, it is absolutely and totally predictable, no surprises, no false moves. There's 2012 Honda Civic considerable body roll in hard cornering, the tradeoff for excellent ride quality. But the overall level of all-around dynamic competence is hard to fault.

The Civic DX, LX, EX, and EX-L come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, single overhead cam rated at 140 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy figures were not official but are expected to be about 28 mpg in the city/39 mpg on the highway. Honda recommends regular unleaded gas.

The Civic HF is equipped with a specially tuned version of the same engine with the same power ratings but with slightly higher fuel economy, expected to be 29/41 mpg city/highway.

The Civic GX runs on natural guess using a specially prepared 1.8-liter SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder rated at 110 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque.

The Civic Hybrid pairs a 1.5-liter SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine rated at 110 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque with a 23-hp electric motor assist. Fuel economy is expected to be about 44/44 mpg.

The sporty Civic Si features a 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder rated at 201 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is expected to be 22/31 mpg city/highway.


Final Word
The 2012 Honda Civics are completely redesigned and have solid credentials in all the right categories for cars in 2012 Honda Civic this class: good looks, high quality, a great durability record, a first rate comfort quotient, high marks for safety features, competitive fuel economy, and excellent value. Has the dazzle factor diminished? Maybe. But given all the other virtues, that may not matter.