Jul 20,2006 00:00
The Honda Civic coupe seems all grown up now, ready to please adults with its confidence and style.
It used to be that this little two-door was fit for a first-time buyer, but the eighth generation 2006 model has been fleshed out in size, substance and safety.
It's a good choice as a refined and stylish high-mileage commuter car.
And not only is this engine thrifty, it gets the government's LEV-II rating as an ultralow emissions vehicle.
Weighing in at 2,700 pounds, performance is brisk. The automatic is efficient and tuned to give eager upshifts. Grade Logic electronics hold a gear on downhills for engine braking.
All it needs to make it more fun than a stickshift are the steering wheel paddle shifters offered on the smaller Honda Fit.
Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is light to the touch and yields a tight 35.4-foot turning circle. The disc brakes have an overengineered feel for stopping power and include advanced logic ABS and electronic brake force distribution.
Michelin Pilot Exalto tires on alloy wheels are smooth and quiet rollers.
The base Civic, with its $15,110 five-speed manual gearbox, is still a good starter coupe for a young driver.
Stepping up to the topline EX model at $21,560 puts sophistication in the driving experience with all the expected power conveniences and a navigation system and XM satellite radio.
No faux wood trim here, but a tastefully contemporary choice of plastics, textures and fabrics.
The navigation system's digital screen integrates cabin functions and audio control, with redundant radio controls and cruise on the steering wheel. Accessing the features seemed confusing at first, but I adapted quickly.
There's adult-size front headroom, even with the standard moonroof. The back seat is snug but not uncomfortable.
Honda's two-tier gauge layout has raised eyebrows among critics, but the design puts the speedometer, fuel and temp gauges up high for a head-up, eyes-on-the-road placement. A big tachometer and other warning lights are below.
Everything inside and out is Honda perfect, from panel alignment to quality of materials and the safety suit, which includes side curtain air bags.If a Mustang seems too retro baby boomer, the Civic coupe will take a few years off the image.