Overview sourced from AutoBlog:
It’s hard to find a more competitive new car market than the compact class. And it’s more than just price, as the number of entries has skyrocketed in recent years.
Honda once led the class, in every measure that mattered, from performance to price to quality to pizzazz.And just as important image-wise, Honda led the hot, sport compact niche.In fact, many credit Honda with unknowingly creating the sport compact craze with the Civic CRX.
In recent years, however, the four-door Civic, the sedan that carried the water for the company, has been more bland than beautiful, more efficient than exciting.
No more.With the redesigned, restyled, rejuvenated 2006 Honda Civic models, the company has returned to the fray with renewed energy.
Across the line, there’s more power, improved ride and handling, and better people packaging. There are other cars in the class that undercut these figures, but the Civic includes important safety features, including antilock brakes and side-impact airbags as standard equipment, that many others leave on the option list.
As good a job as Honda has done in designing four distinct models of the new, 2006 Civic, it’s done an even better job of delivering four, distinct driving experiences. Careful tweaking of the electronics managing the 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine’s variable valve timing (and enlarging displacement by a miniscule 0.1 liter, from the 2005’s 1.7 liters) pumped up the horsepower from 127 to 140 and torque from 114 pound-feet to 128. According to EPA estimates, the sedan’s fuel economy with the more popular automatic transmission has lost one mile per gallon in city driving from the 2005 model but has gained two mpg in highway driving.
All this added go-power would be overkill were the car(s) it nourishes not equally upgraded, and Honda met this challenge with the same commitment. The chassis’ added crashworthiness also adds stiffness, giving the car a more solid and more planted feel. Redesigned front and rear suspensions coupled with larger wheels and tires improve directional stability and sharpen steering. The longer wheelbase smoothes the ride.
The LX sedan is the most comfortable and confident Civic we’ve driven, and a refreshing improvement over the 2005, which had lost some steam and enjoyment in Honda’s drive to reduce complexity and costs. Ride was solid but comfortable, with less road noise and wind whistle expected for the class. Shifts were smooth, if not entirely transparent. Brake feel was solid, steering response certain, if not sports car-quick. Thankfully, Honda has not fallen prey to the Sport-Shift fad, so the automatic transmission is just that, a select-it-and-leave-it gearbox. We do wish, though, that Honda would insert a tab below the ‘D’ setting in the gate, as we routinely passed that one right by when shifting out of Park or Reverse and ended up in the ‘D3’ notch. And despite the seeming logic behind the relocation of the digital speedometer, we confess we never quite adjusted to that weird pod on top of the dash.
The Honda Civic is back. Not that it ever left, but it had fallen behind the curve a bit, and not just because the competition had expanded and improved. With the 2006 lineup, however, the car that for years set the quality and performance standard for the affordable, compact car market has returned, and now with the style to match the specifications.
“Why are Honda vehicles so highly regarded by American drivers? Certainly, their excellent reputation for reliability and quality is a major factor. But it also has to do with the overall driving and owning experience. Read any Honda review and you’ll likely notice common themes such as thoughtful design, a friendly nature, better-than-average fuel economy and attention to safety.”
Read more about Honda.
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