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Car Tech Video: 2012 Honda Civic EX-L
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Car Tech Video: 2012 Honda Civic EX-L

6:39 /

Honda's new Civic doesn't make any fast moves.

All new sounds a bit dramatic as you look at the new 2012 Civic yet that's exactly what it is. One of the best-selling cars in the world has become perhaps rather unnoticeable. Let's drive the 2012 Civic EX-L with Nav and check the tech. An all new Civic isn't like an all new Mustang. These are conservative cars. Updates include a less doughy face upfront, a ramp that appears to have been taken from a Dodge Neon, an economy mode with a big green button, a new 5-inch information screen, and standard stability control to keep all of these right side up. First thing you notice when you get the newly redesigned Civic is they've taken that Honda eyebrow dash to a new level and I love it. Right in the center is a big digital speedometer. On the side of that two segmented bars that will change color from either deep blue if you're driving like a pig, blue-green if you're not too heavy on the throttle, and green when you're driving like a Prius driver. On the left side is a segment gauge for fuel. On the right is your spontaneous MPG. Then, you've got this new thing on the right which is a completely new idea for Honda. This big LCD Info Gauge that ties into the left side controller here. Notice the theme, big and readable-- the display, also the controller. This ECON button takes me through I think a combination of three screen positions. This one here which is date and time, the next one which is media, and the third one which is kind of everything-- fuel economy, media, date and time all rolled into one. That's the one I like. The same rocker lets you control your media. I can go track-to-track or station-to-station. If I hold the button down, it seeks the station. If I bump it once, it goes to my next presets. All very logical. Up and down gives you volume and again notice how all of the graphics are very clear and easy to see at a glance. This is some nice interface work and up here you've also got some of your basic vehicle setup menus. On the right hand side of wheel is a similar controller for cruise control and then down here I've got my hands-free calling and my voice command button which still remains kind of separate in a Honda which never made any sense to me. This also doesn't make any sense. Why the hell they have a huge tachometer in this car with an automatic? Get rid of it. There's got to be something else we can put there or may be not because everything I care about is up on the eyebrow. Over here is the economy button. This car has either a regular mode where I push the green button and you now have got a wimpy car. It tailors back all of its driving responses to encourage you to use less fuel. Here is something else I don't care about. This head unit, I'm tired of it. It's ancient. This is completely now at odds with the rest of the interface where Honda has done. This is the old school-- the kind of crunchy graphics, the little tiny fiddly knobs, the small typography on the legends. This is like 2005 and this is 2011. This doesn't belong here anymore. The navigation system is entirely serviceable. It's just not any fun to deal with. You do have live traffic here into the little tiny information button that will show up as a list or on the map. The same dopey controller Honda had for years but I think it's actually gotten smaller. It's a little mushroom cap thing. What's the point in a car? Your optical discs is up here and among your audio choices are that CD, AM/FM, XM Radio, no HD Radio and I've also got my USB pigtail down here. Auxiliary analog is up here and once I get a phone paired up, I have Bluetooth streaming as well hands-free calling. Audio output is straightforward, a 160-watt amp and that's it. No subs, no surround, and no factory choices for an upgrade. Not even on this high trim car. One transmission only on this EX-L high trim car is the five-speed automatic relatively few gears with this day an age. No rear view camera, standard or optional on a Civic still. No shifty thing. No gate. No paddles. No nonsense. This is not a race car. It's meant for getting around. Okay, in the engine bay, it's garden variety classic Honda stuff which is a good thing. This car is about getting around efficiently for like 300,000 miles. This is the kind of motor that does it. A not overstressed 1.8L L4 sitting side-saddle driving the front wheels, 140-horsepower, 128 foot-pounds of torque. Gets this guy up to [unk] about 9.2 second which is not the point on a basic Civic and MPG is. They deliver there at 28 city, 39 highway. 39 highway, one shot at the magic 40. That's gotta be killing. Now, compare those MPG numbers to the outgoing 2011 Civic and you'll see there are two to three miles per gallon better on a car with an automatic. Nice but nothing dramatic. Okay, let's drive our innately civilized Civic EX-L. Again, high trim car here but most importantly a Civic is a transportation device. The athleticism of this car isn't the point. You get a Civic Si for that. And so as I mention, the five-speed transmission would appear to be a liability on paper and the economy button here is one of interest. So, let's see how those two worked together. The nearest thing you got to a sport position is D3. If you do that, you kind of drop out of economy mode. The car automatically says you're not driving greenly. So, leave it in D and I'll test it with or without this economy thing on. Here's an on-ramp. It's got less with economy off. Let's put it on. It feels the same. I have to say this car feels more gutless than past Civics I've driven. I wonder if it's part of a master change in their tuning to ring the most MPG out of a car. It just got no snap at all. Okay, now at freeway speed with the economy button on. I definitely feel a difference in tipping on the front like I was trying to pick up some speed or jump ahead into a lane. It definitely dials a response back from a car that's already kind of responseless. I would definitely test drive the five-speed manual if you're amenable to that. The Civic is still a great everyday car with a refined ride and solid credentials but the Ford Focus, the Hyundai Elantra, and even the stogie Corolla make the Civic less and less of a standout. A 2012 Civic EX-L is gonna run you about 227 out the door with destination. This is the high trim model, of course. Options on top of that are basically nav or non-nav. It adds 14.50 which is kind of cheap but not cheap enough for that unit. I'm gonna delete that and go after market. Now, your other tech options are dealer install remotes start for 500 bucks and by the way the lower trim cars are available with the five-speed manual. This guy is automatic only.

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