Civic Gets A Touch of luxury
With gas prices skyrocketing a lot of people are downsizing their vehicles. This is a bitter pill for many to swallow, because it often means, not only giving up size, but luxury features as well. Honda has recognized this problem, and has made it a little easier for luxury car owners to buy a Civic. The Japanese automaker is now offering a Civic with leather seats and a navigation system.
This new 2008 model is called the Civic EX-L. Buyers can have it with just leather, starting at $20,545, or with leather and the navigation system for $22,295. With the leather package, owners also receive heated seats, heated outside mirrors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. With the navigation option, they get a system that can be activated by voice commands or by touching the screen, and an upgraded audio system, with a digital audio card reader and satellite radio.
In other respects, the Civic carries over much as it was before. The exterior styling still sets a standard in its class for sleekness. The interior is nicely designed as well, and features a two-tier instrument panel. A large tachometer sits right in front of the driver, and at the top of the dash, a crescent-shaped binnacle houses a digital speedometer, flanked by fuel and temperature gauges. I like this arrangement because it makes it easy to keep track of important readings without taking you eyes off the road.
The cabin is nicely finished. The extensive use of soft-touch plastic makes the surfaces pleasant to touch. However, I wished that the leather-wrapped steering wheel had a little more grip. The driver’s seat offers plenty of legroom for a tall person, and there’s a manual seat-height adjuster for those of short stature. The rear seats are comfortable for two average-size adults. The trunk is a good size for this class of car, at 12 cu.-ft.
The Civic EX-L, as well as the DX, LX and EX, comes with a 1.8-liter, 140-hp, 4-cylinder engine that is hooked up with five-speed manual or automatic transmission. My test car, with the automatic, performed well, and averaged 30 mpg. It was responsive off the line, and although there isn’t a lot of torque below 3000 rpm, the transmission downshifted when necessary, so that there wasn’t a power lag climbing steep hills.
In addition to the 1.8-liter engine, mentioned above, Honda also offers a high-performance 2.0-liter, 197 hp, Civic SI, a fuel-efficient Hybrid with a gas and electric system and a natural gas powered model called the GX.
On the road, the Civic felt nimble in cut-and-thrust driving. It also performed well as a highway cruiser. I took the Civic on a trip and found it to be comfortable over the long haul. Although I have to say that a fair amount of road rumble does make it’s way into the cabin at highway speeds. But compensating for that was an excellent navigation system, which was easy to program, and provided very clear directions.
The Civic Ex-L is a good choice for a buyer who is downsizing, or a small car driver who is looking to upgrade. Honda has hit the mark with its top-of-the-line Civic.
New Leather and Navigation System
Good Road Manners
Good Gas Mileage