2012 Honda Civic EX Sedan

The thing about the 2012 Honda Civic EX Sedan: To paraphrase LeCorbusier, a car is a machine for driving in.

The thing about the 2012 Honda Civic EX Sedan: To paraphrase LeCorbusier, a car is a machine for driving in.

Which is precisely, I think the point of the ninth-generation Honda Civic: It is a compact car that is really quite enjoyable to drive within the context of its class. The engineering—both from the standpoints of the powertrain and the suspension—is exceedingly well done. There is the now de rigueur Honda ergonomics vis-à-vis the visibility to the outside (even a bit of extra glass where the front side windows transition toward the bottom of the A-pillars) and the placement of the gauges, buttons and dials. (Speaking of the gauges: There is an interesting 3D-like effect with two bars that flank the digital speed counter; the bars change color, going from blue to green, as your driving pattern is more fuel efficient.) And the vehicle as driven provided just over 30 mpg in mainly city driving, which is certainly reasonable.

All good.

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2012 Honda Civic Sedan

But the quibble comes because the eighth-gen Civic was so damn good, particularly as regards its styling. Arguably, that car, which was introduced in 2005, looks as fresh and contemporary as anything out there right now. It truly pushed the boundaries regarding what a compact car could look like. It didn’t scream “future” like some sort of bizarre anime rendering in sheet metal, but rather spoke it with confidence. And it was right. It continues to be so.

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2006 Honda Civic Sedan

The current design is essentially one that is a tailoring of the predecessor, a tailoring that is about chamfers where there were once smooth surfaces, edges where there was once metal stretched taut.

So the quibble comes because it didn’t go beyond where its predecessor had been. There is nothing wrong with that, per se. After all, if you are buying a Civic, you’re going to buy this Civic rather than that Civic, so the comparison doesn’t necessary hold. But, again, one must give an appreciative nod to the predecessor.

And there is the same sort of thing on the interior of the vehicle. There is an exceedingly clever use of a hard plastic on the IP—something that one would imagine is unthinkable nowadays. But what the interior designers have done is use a plastic that has what appears to be a metal flake in the dark grey substrate such that it has a fresh appearance.

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But—yes, that word had to be coming—when the previous car came out, it had the two-level instrument setup, with the speedo on top and the tach on the bottom (both with other readouts around them), something that struck some people as bordering on heresy, yet something that makes absolute sense in terms of the use of available space. The 2012 Civic uses the same setup.

Again, it is the right thing to do. But one might wish that they would have come up with something similarly clever but different.

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Which brings us back around to why you buy a car. Yes, it is something that you want to be attractive. It is something that you want to be functional and fit to purpose. It is something that you want to own with minimal fuss. It is something that you can feel confident that you can count on.

The 2012 Civic EX checks those boxes. But it is foremost a machine for driving in.

Selected specs

Engine: 1.8-liter I4, 16-valve, SOHC i-VTEC

Material: Aluminum block and head

Horsepower: 140 @ 6,500 rpm

Torque: 128 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm

Transmission: Five-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 105.1 in.

Length: 177.3 in.

Width: 69.0 in.

Height: 56.5 in.

Base curb weight: 2,765 lb.

EPA Estimates: 28/39 mpg city/hwy

MSRP (without delivery): $20,505