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Honda Civic: No Longer Undisputed King of the Hill

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Honda continues to tinker with the Civic. For the second year in a row, the folks at Honda have been closely listening and decided to tweak one of its standard bears: the Civic.

Despite a total redesign in 2012, there was considerable criticism regarding the product. Honda heard the critiques and responded with some tweaking a year ago, and did it again for the 2014 Civic.

Major Honda Civic changes

  • Coupes feature restyled front and rear ends
  • All Civics see slightly upgraded interiors
  • All models, except natural gas and hybrid version, receive more powerful engines
  • Five-speed automatic transmission replaced by a continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • LX coupes and the Si trims have firmer suspension tuning
  • Slightly better gas mileage for hybrid model
  • Available upgrade additions include keyless ignition, larger touchscreen display, enhanced smartphone integration, blind spot camera

Much like its bigger brother - the Accord - the Honda Civic is no longer undisputed king of the hill.

The compact car segment has transformed in recent years and that has the Civic fighting amongst a number of rivals for acknowledgement and prestige. And the underwhelming 2012 redesign didn't help.

The competition includes Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and Chevrolet Cruze.

Regardless of how it matches up individually, there is no competitor that provides the diversity of the Civic - the choices are numerous.

This year's Civic is offered in both coupe and sedan body styles. Mainstream models come in four trim levels, ranging from the base model LX, EX and top-tier EX-L and Si. The Civic lineup also features a hybrid, a gas-saving HF model (29-41 mpg), and a car that runs strictly on natural gas.

The exterior changes have transformed the Civic into a sportier sub-compact. It has a taller trunk, new grille and features a black bar and Honda's distinctive logo. One more exterior addition is new wheels.

The front-wheel drive Civic engine is a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder with 143 horsepower (an increase from 140) and 129 pound-feet of torque. Overall, it's fairly lively when climbing sizable hills and in freeway passing situations.

Go for the upgraded Si model and you get a much zipper engine, a 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder that produces 205 horsepower (previously 201 HP) and 174 pound-feet of torque.

The Civic Hybrid comes equipped with a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that combines with the electric motor to producer 110 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid model has a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which is standard. It gets an average 45 mpg.

For a compact, the Civic provides a roomy and comfortable cabin, and that isn't always the case in this segment where cramped back seats are common. The trunk space is 11.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity in the coupe and 12.5 cubic feet in the sedan.

2014 Honda Civic

  • Performance: 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, 143 horsepower; 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, 205 horsepower; 1.5-liter four-cylinder 110 horsepower (hybrid model)
  • Mileage estimate range: 28-39 mpg
  • Price: $18,190 to $24,635
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited mileage

Civics historically possesses a reputation for a steady ride, and that hasn't changed. This compact grips the road with assurance, corners well. However, it does get a little noisy at higher speeds.

The 2014 Honda Civic definitely offers more value than last year, thanks to some attention to detail.


Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.