An absolute stalwart in the Honda line-up, the Civic maintains its popularity as a practical and quality economy car even after almost 40 years on the market. But, as the latest 2010 Honda Civic shows, popularity comes at a price. Offensive to none, the Civic is a perfectly average little car to which only the most particular person would turn up their nose.
The Civic received its last major update for the 2006 model year, acquiring smooth sides and hovercraft like overhangs. Honda did get a little radical with the instrument cluster, using a bilevel arrangement with the tachometer in the usual place, and a digital speedometer just below the windshield.
Nav needs update
Minor updates for the Civic EX-L model with navigation that we reviewed include the addition of a Bluetooth cell phone system and iPod integration. But the navigation system in particular highlights the aching need for Honda's next generation Civic, due to arrive as a 2012 model. Not only are the maps low resolution, with jaggy graphics, but the route guidance is poor and response time is slow.
This navigation system was introduced with the 2006 model, so don't expect external data sources with traffic and weather information, even though the car comes with satellite radio. The maps show in 2D only, on a touch-screen that also displays audio information.
We had no difficulty entering addresses into this navigation system, although there was a slight delay after each button push. Trying to follow its route guidance through dense urban streets proved frustrating, with insufficient graphics and voice prompts that seem to come only at every fifth turn.
Honda includes its excellent voice command system in the car, but its response time was also slow. Further, with the addition of the voice-operated Bluetooth phone system, the car gets two sets of voice command buttons, something we have previously complained about in models from Acura before the cabin tech was streamlined.
Using the Bluetooth phone system with a paired iPhone, the only feedback on the car's LCD is an informational graphic showing the location of the voice command buttons. You have to use voice command to enter digits, and the system does not import a phone's contact list.
Bluetooth was one add-on to this generation of Civic, as was iPod integration, which relies on a pigtail USB port in the console. Again, the system showed quite a bit of sluggishness as we selected albums or artists from the iPod library menu. The USB port will also work with USB mass storage devices.
As with the 2006 model, the only way to access the CD slot is to open up the LCD screen, which motors down. That single CD player also handles MP3 CDs. A more esoteric option sits near the CD slot in the form of a PC Card slot. With either a flash memory PC Card or an adaptor for an SD card you can play MP3s through the stereo.
Bolstering the Civic's average nature, the EX-L trim version gets a six-speaker audio system. Not particularly loud, this system reproduced music well enough that we didn't mind listening to it, but neither did we look forward to cruising around in the car listening to music.