2012 Honda Civic
The last time Honda decided to make a "really big change" with its highly popular Civic line was in 2006. Indeed, the look caught so many people by surprise that the automaker is taking a "go-slow" approach with any changes they are making now.
The Honda Civic looks much the same as it has been for the last six years, but if you look at it from any angle you will see some subtle differences for 2012. Take the hood line, for example. It has been lengthened slightly, although the front cross-section of the Civic has remained rather narrow. Indeed, the hood seems more integrated with the front end, which flows up from a fully functional air intake that assists the quite small grille in supplying the engine. From the sides, the fenders and front bumper are nicely integrated as the lighting modules have been fared nicely into the fender, hood line.
The fenders carry the lines of the body into the A-pillar and easily match the slope of the hood. The front fenders are nicely integrated into the lines which carry through the passenger compartment doors, front and rear.
Overall, the Civic seems to have been only slightly touched during its 2012 freshening and aside from the front end which seems a bit longer, the lines of the roof carry the line of the vehicle through the rounded rear window and on through the short rear deck. The rear deck is also nicely integrated into the design as are the taillight modules that tie the design into a functional whole. Incidentally, rear bumper, which completes the line of the vehicle, is nicely integrated into overall 2012.
The Civic lineup, which could actually be considered a full car line itself, falls into four other main categories, the LX, EX, EX-L and Si. With the exception of the tricked out Si, each Civic is powered by the same 1.8-liter four that returns an average of 38 mpg on the highway and about 26 around town. The Hybrid uses the same power plant, although, it works in tandem with Honda's Intelligent Management System to determine if the charging system should be turned on, if the batteries in the hybrid are a bit down or if the electric motors and the engine are needed to get the vehicle up to speed, which actually drops the hybrid's fuel economy below that of the Civic LX.
With the exception of the special wheel/tire package and standard transmission which distinguishes the Si from the rest of the line (an aggressively tuned automatic is available in six speeds), the tire and wheel packages for the Honda Civic are the same.
On the inside, Honda has managed to maintain its comfortable and supportive seating. There is a tad more legroom and shoulder room up front and, when equipped with an electric seat, it's very easy to find a comfortable position seating position behind the wheel. The two-level design of the control panel where the speed is shown directly in front of the driver on one level while the engine RPM and other information are shown on another level still does take a bit of getting used to.
The design team has always designed a nice, short-throw standard transmission for the Honda and the 2012 is no different. It can be somewhat notchy as you hunt around for the Rear setting, but you just have to remember it's press down and down to the right and you're all set, unless you're driving a six-speed and then it's press down and down to the right. The throws are still commendably short and the gearing in the shift easily matches the rather long power curve of the engine. That responsive engine will still return a solid 8-second 0 to 60 run, depending on how fast you can stir the transmission or better.
The transmission is geared toward fuel economy which is why a six-speed overdrive automatic is employed.
Rear seat head and legroom seem to be okay, although the center passenger in the five-passenger sedan may feel shortchanged as the seat padding is a tad thin.
And, as if to point to an aging customer base, the Civic handles more like a larger car than a smaller one.
Overall, though, the 2012 Civic is a nice refinement of a vehicle that caused many heads to shake when it arrived in 2006. The refinements for 2012 are quite nice and work well with the outline Honda has defined.
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Roberto Sedycias works as an IT consultant for http://www.polomercantil.com.br