ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: This isn’t really the enthusiast’s Civic. To the extent that we get one today here in the U.S., that’d be the Civic Si coupe. But this 2014 Honda Civic EX-L sedan isn’t going head to head with the BR-Z or anything -- it was born and raised to appeal to the same set of buyers as the Corolla. And I think it does that admirably. Certainly better than the Korean competition manages, especially when it comes to steering and chassis feel.
I don’t want to seem down on the Civic -- quite the opposite, really. The more I drive the so-called sensible cars, the more I’ve come to appreciate why people have, for decades, clung to no-nonsense Japanese contenders like this Civic or the Toyota Corolla. They offer what people want at a price that’s easy to swallow -- at just over $25K, this thing is more or less maxed out.
Plus, Honda seems to have corrected many of the complaints that met the ninth-gen “suppository” Civic at its introduction, specifically on the inside. The spaceship-like dash setup looks goofy until you sit behind the wheel, where you’ll discover that it’s well laid-out for undistracted driving -- you rarely need to shift your eyes more than a few degrees from the road to get all the information you need while moving forward.
So what would I change? Where are my reservations? Really, I can’t say anything bad about how this car drives or rides; for its intended audience, the 33-mpg average (39 highway!) is all the justification you need for a CVT. I can’t even pin down where I’d alter the styling; the dash is busy but, as I said, functional.
No, I think it’s just the idea of the Civic that doesn’t do much for me -- it’s rock-solid, dependable and sensible, and I’m at an age where I don’t really need to be any of those things (nor am I seeking them in a car purchase). But that’s exactly what a lot of people need in day-to-day transportation, and that’s exactly why this Civic is going to be as successful and well-regarded as its predecessors.
The Civic with the CVT managed to average 33 mpg while getting 39 mpg highway.PHOTO BY HONDA
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Honda has finally addressed all the flaws in the seventh-generation Civic and turned it into a solid, well-built compact contender. The cockpit is a comfortable, airy place to be in the tradition of the best Hondas, with a low dash beyond which the hood vanishes for extraordinarily good visibility. I’m even starting to understand the thought process behind the multilevel instrument panel, though the infotainment unit still takes some getting used to.
That airy interior feeling isn’t just perception either -- there’s real room inside the Civic, and we comfortably fit both kids with booster seats in the back with room to spare. A decent-sized trunk rounds out the utility package -- as long as you haven’t convinced yourself you need all-wheel drive and compromised cargo room, the Civic is a far smarter option than most compact SUVs.
I may get some arguments among other staffers here, but to me Honda's small-engine/CVT pairing gets it just about right; compared to the CVT in, say, a Subaru Impreza, the Honda unit feels much tighter -- the drone is still present but throttle response is instantaneous and it doesn't feel like you're having to wind up a toy with the engine before accelerating. The enthusiast’s choice? Of course not -- but for a mainstream compact, I guarantee you buyers won’t notice. It’s the same story with steering and body control -- there’s nothing to get the blood pumping, but in both highway and around-town commuting, the Civic mixes a good ride with sharp reflexes; it isn’t the quietest highway car in its class, but then Hondas never are.
Yeah, the Civic is still about as exciting as yogurt, but now it’s that really good Greek yogurt with some fresh blueberries stirred in.
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