HONDA CIVIC GETS IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2014
By Tom Crosby
Honda is a major automotive force and the Japanese-based company has periodically produced the best-selling compact car in the United States, the Honda Civic.
This year, the 2014 Coupe is sleeker, more efficient and more powerful with a new continuous variable transmission combined with new standard and optional safety features that should keep it in first place.
Price is always a consideration for buyers and our Civic Coupe EX-L Navi test-drive came with no options but its standard features – costly options on many competitor vehicles – did not exceed $25,000.
Other Civic coupes either have fewer features or use differently powered engines, like the fuel-sipping hybrid or high-performance Civic Si. Standard with the EX-L Navi are heated leather seats, tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear camera, push button start, blind spot alert, Eco assist to help with fuel efficiency and a smoothly shifting continuous variable transmission that can be tweaked with paddle shifters.
Top safety features include the new Lane Watch to keep from straying over white lines, Forward Collision Alert to warn when a crash seems imminent and a blind spot alert.
The voice activated Navigation system on a 7-inch screen is intuitive, monitors real-time traffic and the screen’s commands can be articulately manipulated like an iPad, although there are still struggles for it to understand some voice commands. Screen interfaces include Pandora, easily installed Bluetooth and voice activated music and social media.
The ride with retuned suspension and the handling with its rack and pinon steering were both driver friendly, inspiring confidence in turns and compliance over pockmarked streets.
Improvements in the exhaust system added three horsepower and one lb.-ft. of torque, and also added an extra mile per gallon.
Inside, bucket seats are comfortable, although the sunroof impinges on headroom for six-foot or taller drivers. A new driving aid is a real-life view on the right-side mirror when making a right turn – distracting since you tend to look at it instead of the road ahead. It functions best parking with the turn signal on; distracting at high speeds.
Outside, the new front grille, sculpted hood, lights and fenders mesh with a sharply raked windshield and 17-inch sliver-on-black 10-spoke alloy wheels to make a striking, good-looking profile.
Last year the 2013 Honda Civic won several awards, including “Best Buy Compact Car” by Consumer Guide and “Top Family Car of 2013” by Edmunds.com. This year’s improvements make it a top candidate for repeat accolades.
LIKES: Mileage, handling, ride, comfort, looks, quiet
DISLIKES: Limiting headroom, navi voice commands
BOTTOM LINE: Improvements this year should keep Civic the most popular compact sold
- Base price w/destination fee $24,830
- Curb weight 2,916 lbs.
- Wheelbase 103.2 inches
- Length 177.9 inches
- Width 69 inches
- Engine specs 1.8-liter, SOHC, 4-cyclinder, 16-valve
- Horsepower 143 hp at 6,500 rpm
- Torque 129 ft.-lbs. at 4,300 rpm
- Transmission Continuous variable automatic w/paddle shifters
- EPA Rating 29 city, 38 highway
- Range 13.2 gallons, regular
- Performance 0-60 in less than 9 seconds