Of course it’s a Civic. Does it really look like anything else? OK, so this all-new generation, the ninth as it happens, is not a radical stylistic departure from what has gone before. No doubt Honda is aware of the dangers of messing with a successful formula (the outgoing model is still a best seller) and wants its customers to know what to look for when they walk into a showroom.
The unveiling of the 2012 Honda Civic did not take the 2011 New York auto show by surprise, then, but it filled the room with a comforting familiarity instead. The old names are still present, including the hybrid, the natural gas-powered model, and the sporty Si coupe and sedans.
With highway fuel consumption of 41 mpg, the Civic HF is the range’s most economical version with a conventional gasoline engine and auto transmission, although each model will achieve higher EPA ratings compared with their 2011 counterparts. The Si models now have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque (up from two liters, 197 hp and 139 lb-ft).
The entire Civic line has been designed to score a maximum of five stars in the newer, more stringent crash tests of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and earn a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Sitting in the back of a sedan version is perfectly workable for an adult of average size, at least for a while. In the front seat, the materials don’t give the impression of anything other than a well-priced compact, but there is the option of Honda’s iMID (multi-information display) infotainment system to make the cabin seem a little more swish.
On the subject of price, Honda’s executive VP of sales in North America, John Mendel, announced that the average rise is $33. The basic DX coupe starts at $16,355 and the range-topping hybrid model starts at $24,800 (these figures include $750 destination charges).
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.