Honda gives its popular and perfectly average car, the Civic EX-L, a few minor tech updates; however, it really needs a complete overhaul. Its next model update is scheduled for 2011. In the meantime, the competition is upping its game.
Honda's bread-and-butter car, the Civic, has served the company well, lasting almost 40 years in production. The latest generation launched in 2006, making this 2010 model a little dated, especially when it comes to cabin tech.
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The Civic incorporates smooth styling, with few creases, and overhanging sheet metal. Honda's design language remains subtle, making the car unassuming on the road.
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Powering the Civic is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower. The Civic's fuel economy averages about 30 mpg.
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Bigger than its predecessors, the Civic can carry four people comfortably or five people with a squeeze in the back seat.
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The Civic's suspension is firm, but it is more of economy car feel than sport feel.
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The Civic has a reasonable amount of trunk space, in keeping with the car's practical nature.
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Using many hard plastic surfaces, the Civic's cabin doesn't feel particularly well-appointed. With its competitors focusing on cabin comfort, Honda will need to step up its game for the next iteration of the Civic.
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Honda places buttons on the steering wheel's spokes and wraps leather around the rim on the EX-L trim level.
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This bilevel instrument cluster is practical, putting the analog tachometer in front of the steering wheel and the digital speedometer right of it, below the windshield.
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The Civic's five-speed-automatic transmission has three low range, but no manual mode. A five-speed-manual transmission is available.
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The navigation system in the EX-L is DVD-based and uses low-resolution maps. Also, we found Civic's route guidance to be frustrating in an urban landscape.
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The Civic's touch-screen keyboard is very ugly, and its response times are slow.
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You can access the stereo's CD and PC Card slots with the press of a button, a powered hinge flips the LCD down.
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Honda includes an XM satellite radio with its cabin tech suite in the EX-L.
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The Civic gets iPod integration in a midcycle update. We appreciate the feature, but Honda's implementation is ugly, and its response times are slow.
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The Civic EX-L gets a six-speaker audio system with a 160-watt amp that has acceptable sound quality.
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A Bluetooth hands-free phone system came in as a midcycle update for the Civic, but it is very basic. For example, the only onscreen feedback it gives is this informational graphic.