My dad sometimes talks about the Civic he owned in the 80s. He'd say it was a sturdy, reliable, and economical car. Today, the civic lives on as one of the most popular cars on the market, supposedly for those same reasons my dad mentioned. I drove my friend's 2011 to find out for myself.
The civic packs punch (very light punch) in the form of a 1.8 liter inline 4. It's a small engine, but I think it's perfect for everyday driving. It feels very eager and feels more powerful than expected. The VTEC system can be felt just above 3,000 RPM. It's very subtle, but there is a noticeable change in the characteristic of how the power is delivered. The revs build slightly faster and a smidge more power can be felt. The engine is definitely more powerful in the top end but has plenty of oomph down low.
In my idea of a better car world, this engine would be mated to a six speed manual transmission with close ratios. But instead it's hooked up to a five speed automatic. Which isn't terrible, but it's too economy oriented. After every shift it seems as though the revs are way to low. However, this allows for a quiet and relaxed highway cruise which is something I appreciate. I was unable to test how the car does economy-wise but the owner has stated number close to and matching EPA numbers.
I think for all drivers, there comes a point where they don't really have to think about what they're doing to drive their car. That point came in a matter of minutes in the Civic. Driving around town felt so natural and easy. Yes, I was still moving my foot to go and stop, my hands and arms to steer and my eyes to see, but I didn't think about any of it. The feel of the car was like the one in the middle for Goldilocks: Just right.
Pushing the civic into corners was fun as it is with most cars, but it wasn't as fun as I was expecting it to be. Understeer is the name of the game here and it is abundant. For a few turns the front tires broke loose and my only indication of that was the squealing of the tires and my vision of the apex. The steering wheel didn't really budge and not much could be felt. i found this somewhat troubling because of how hard it is to detect the Civic being at its limit. I went a bit slower for the rest of Skyline. I had no desire to enter into the unknown again going around a corner.
Venturing down Piedmont Ave was easy and thoughtless much like the rest of the city driving. On the highway, the Civic accelerated onto the interstate briskly. Well by briskly I mean briskly enough to the point where I wasn't really worried about making it in front of the Cavalier behind me. After a quick button press to set the cruise the Civic settled into a calm and smooth stance. I think I could do a lot of miles in the Civic,. Its seats are great for me and it never seems to be trying that hard going around other motorists and is always giving me an excellent view to pass.
Going up 21st was fine and dandy once the transmission was happy with its choice of gear. The gaps between gears being as large as they are does not help in a variable grade hill climb.
Inside the civic you'll find a surprisingly roomy cabin with a sporty spaceship like style to the cockpit. Me being used to the plastic fantastic-GM-Beigemobile-blah interior of my impala, I was like: Woah, Six years and built by Honda can do a lot for a car. (My Impala is a 2005, so hopefully the previous sentence makes sense now.) I particularly like the central tachometer and the digital speedometer above it. What a great layout.
As for the exterior, I'd say they styling is good. It's not exciting, or boring, or cool, or lame, it's just Civic. The look embodies the idea of the car. Simple, easy, practical, and enduring.
I now understand why the Civic is/has been as popular as it is. I have no doubt it will live on with that title as long as Honda exists.
2011 Honda Civic Sedan ~20,000 miles
Seats 5 (Including Driver)
Engine: RA18A1 SOHC I4 138HP@6300RPM 128lb-ft torque@4300RPM
Transmission: 5 Speed Automatic
EPA Gas Mileage Figures: 26 City/34 Highway
Photos by TheJacobJones
This review was conducted in various areas of beautiful Duluth, MN. I wrote this because I love automobiles and love driving and writing about them. Hopefully you enjoyed the review. If not, well that sucks and hopefully you enjoy the next one. Feel free to give me some feedback in the comments, I'd love to improve my writing.