For many years, the Honda Civic has been one of the two top-selling compact cars in the U.S. It has been the sporty alternative to the stolid, reliable Toyota Corolla, with the Civic retaining a younger audience and a hipper image. The 2011 Civic and Civic Hybrid are now in the sixth and last year of their life, with an all-new model expected for 2012.
The Civic range is impressive, from the bare-bones DX base car up to the luxurious LX. There’s the Si sports model, as a two-door coupe or four-door sedan, and the Honda Civic Hybrid sedan.
There’s also a natural-gas model, the Civic GX, that’s sold in low volume in four states, including California. It looks and runs just like a regular Civic, except that two-thirds of the trunk is occupied by a cylinder for compressed natural gas, and its range is less than 200 miles before a refill is required. It’s the priciest Civic, at a base price of $25,860, though it’s eligible for up to $4,000 in incentives.
All Civics still handle well and offer responsive driving feel, but the range is starting to feel dated in the face of new competition from the Chevrolet Cruze, the upcoming 2012 Ford Focus, and the Hyundai Elantra. The styling has worn well—it was pretty futuristic for 2006—and so have the two-tier dash and the interior lines, but the Civic no longer looks so cutting-edge. Its safety ratings are now below par, and its standard features list is downright meager against the competition.
The front seats are comfortable—and, commendably, adjust for height even in base models—but the rear suffers from low headroom and very small door openings that make entry and egress a challenge.
Most Civics will come with a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Honda’s always had excellent manual gearboxes, both light and quick to shift, so driving a stick-shift Civic remains a pleasure. The EPA rates the Civic sedan at a combined rating of 29 mpg with either transmission, though the city and highway numbers vary slightly between the two.
Step up to the Si performance model and get ready to rev. The 197-hp, 2.0-liter four only delivers the sports-car rush of power when you wind it out past 5000 rpm, meaning you’ll spend a lot of time downshifting the six-speed manual transmission if you want to move along smartly. The Si also includes 17-inch alloy wheels, suspension tweaks, sports seats, a limited-slip differential, and various appearance items. The gas mileage goes down, predictably, to 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined.
The best gas mileage comes from the 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid, which is rated at 40 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, and 41 mpg overall. Its 93-hp, 1.3-liter engine is combined with a 20-hp electric motor in the latest version of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. It’s a mild hybrid, meaning its main function is to add electric torque to that from the engine, and restart the engine when it switches off at stops. The nickel-metal-hydride battery pack is located at the front of the trunk.
The Honda hybrid system works well enough, but it could use more refinement. You’ll be aware every time the engine switches off, the electric power kicks in, or the regenerative brakes switch over to regular friction brakes. Under hard acceleration, the engine howls and drones loudly. The Civic Hybrid’s features are those of the high end of the Civic range, including power windows and locks, automatic climate control, a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, remote keyless entry, and a 160-Watt audio system with auxiliary jack. Bluetooth is still optional, as are satellite radio, leather upholstery, and a rather primitive navigation system.
So while the Civic Hybrid’s gas mileage numbers are good, they’re still far from those of the 50-mpg 2011 Toyota Prius—which is larger inside and not too much pricier.
As for standard features, the 2011 Honda Civic is sadly lacking. The nearly ubiquitous Bluetooth is simply unavailable on base and mid-level trim levels, and the base DL doesn’t include air conditioning. Move up to the LX and you get the missing AC, plus power locks, cruise control, a folding rear seat, and a CD audio system that includes an auxiliary jack. The upscale EX adds alloy wheels, a sunroof, and an optional navigation system. And the top-of-the-line EX-L offers leather seats plus heated seats and mirrors.
For more details, see the full review of the 2011 Honda Civic lineup and 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid on our sister site, TheCarConnection, and our own drive report of the Honda Civic GX natural-gas vehicle.
|4-Door Automatic (7)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|4-Door Automatic w/Navi (2)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|4-Door Manual (8)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|w/Navi Si Specs||$24,405||$22,459||21||29|
|w/Summer Tires Si Specs||$22,605||$20,808||21||29|
|Coupe 2-Door Automatic (4)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|Coupe 2-Door Automatic w/Navi (2)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|Coupe 2-Door Manual (6)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|w/Navi Si Specs||$24,205||$22,275||21||29|
|w/Summer Tires Si Specs||$22,405||$20,624||21||29|
|Hybrid 4-Door Sedan L4 CVT (2)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|Hybrid 4-Door Sedan L4 CVT Specs||$23,950||$22,041||40||43|
|Hybrid 4-Door Sedan L4 CVT w/Navi (2)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|Hybrid 4-Door Sedan L4 CVT w/Navi Specs||$25,950||$23,876||40||43|
|& Leather Specs||$27,150||$24,976||40||43|