By Mary Ellen Ash
Honda’s flagship Civic has been hugely popular since its debut in the early 1970s. For years, it’s been the benchmark for compact car manufacturers and its name is synonymous with long-term reliability, low running costs and high economy.
For 2012, Honda introduces the redesigned ninth generation Civic which continues to refine the winning combination of reliability, economy and value.
Our test vehicle was 2012 Civic EX-L with a Taffeta White exterior. It's stunning and sharp at first glance. The newest Civic bodywork has sweeping, angular lines with increased aerodynamics giving the care an air elegance and luxury. This theme is also visible with flowing interior paneling and dashboard layouts.
The dash materials are textured, with excellent fit and finish even though it’s still hard plastic. The cockpit is well placed for optimal driver functionality and is easy to operate. The dual split displays are big and illuminated, and once drivers are familiar with the layout, it’s simple to toggle between displays.
With seven different Civic models, there is no shortage of choices. Our top-of-the-line EX-L model comes with Bluetooth, navigation, AM/FM/CD/USB/MP3 player and XM radio. Most of the audio functions are prompted through voice command or by the touch of a button on the steering wheel.
According to Consumer Reports, the new Honda Civic is rated as one of the “Best New Cars for Fuel Economy,” After our test journey, the Civic easily hit its 39 MPG highway and 28 MPG city with our combined average coming in at 33.7 MPG. Honda is able to achieve this thanks to the small, efficient 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder iVTEC engine with 5-speed automatic transmission and assistance from the green Econ button. The Econ button works by adjusting throttle input and engine output helping the Civic operate as efficiently as possible.
We found the Civic works best in a steady state cruising along the road. It doesn’t like to accelerate with force and audibly tells you it’s not happy sprinting out of a stand-still. With inner-city driving, the Civic maneuvers well in-an-out of tight spaces. And it’s still small enough to easily park in tight spaces on city streets. But the Civic is most at home on the open highways set on cruise. While the latest generation may not impress Civic enthusiasts who remember their peppier brethren, this is a perfect choice for a commuter car with its steady drive quality and excellent gas mileage.
Honda has also done a great job of keeping passenger safety in mind. The engineers have packed it full of safety features including front, side and curtain airbags, ABS braking, Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Assist. The 2012 Civic earned top marks in overall score and in front/side crash tests: five out of five stars. It scored slightly less in the roll-over risk, but still performed well to earn four of five stars.
Additionally, the 2012 Honda Civic has been named Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. It's another reaso the Civic is a suitable choice for families.
The new generation Civic is more than just a family car with excellent fuel economy, it’s a perfect choice for commuters. Civics are easy to maintain and do well when on a regular maintenance schedule. Kudos to Honda for continuing the Civic tradition as the epitome for reliability and safety packaged for excellent consumer value.
Overall, we found the all-new 2012 Honda Civic extremely comfortable, with cavernous interior space and predictable drive quality. With model pricing starting at $15,995 MSRP, and our fully loaded model costing $24,255 MSRP, there are plenty of trims available. Based on the history of the Civic, new owners can be confident for years.
- Improved fuel economy
- Comfortable for long road trips
- New i-MID display puts navigation, trip computer, and media playback information in a safely viewable location
- Navigation maps displaying low resolution graphics making it difficult to read
- Econ efficiency mode dulls driving experience
The 2012 Honda Civic EX-L is an improvement on the previous-generation Civic, but it now faces competition from less expensive, better equipped, or more efficient models.