Ok, so we have just begun the drive(s)!
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Sept. 19, 2011
2012 Civic HF Sedan at dusk - $19,455 to start, rated at a respectable 29/41/33 city/highway/combined mpgUS and more to be revealed in short order. I promise
The Civic now in its ninth generation can be described in automobile circles as the Honda stalwart. Sure the Accord has built the company but it is the Civic that worldwide has sold approximately 18-million units with almost half of those (8.9 million and counting) sold here in the US.
When considering the Civics history, previous generations have earned accolade after accolade including a number of "Car of the Year" awards from Japan, Canada and the US plus Import "Car of the Year", "Automobile of the Year", named to C&D’s Ten Best list six times and even named the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Car of the Year as late as 2006. The NG powered Civic GX has been named Greenest Car by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy for a number of years as well.
While the awards are trophies, it is the quality and reliability that kept customers coming back decade after decade. One of the most prestigious and telling is that the ninth gen Civic is currently being built at Honda’s award winning Greensburg, Indiana manufacturing facility. This site is one of only three plants in the world
to earn the 2011 J.D. Power and Associates Platinum Plant Quality Award and received the honor less than three years after the start-up of mass production in October of 2008.
Unfortunately, the all-new design has not been well received with somewhat condescending reviews and initial new car model sales that would have to be best described as middling. Even in my own few minutes behind the windscreen, the interior plastics are as hard as I have ever touched, the control stalks are a far cry from Honda’s usual “Best in Class” tactile feel and operation, and the exterior does not exude the same aesthetically pleasing taste as the current crop of competitive compact offerings.
This is not what we have come to expect from an institution in the automobile industry otherwise known as the Civic. The most damaging report had to be CR’s who have in the past rated the Civic as “Recommended” but due to lengthy stopping distances and poor handling, the all-new Civic was relegated to the back of the highly competitive compact class pack.
With the past and present awards and miscues discussed and out of the way, let us talk about what the Civic does so well.
2012 Honda Civic Safety is Still Highly Regarded
The 2012 Honda Civic sedan received the highest possible safety rating of “TOP SAFETY PICK” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) under its more-stringent testing guidelines implemented this year.
All TOP SAFETY PICK vehicles must also include a standard electronic stability control system. The Civic earned the highest-possible score of GOOD in all four ratings, including the more rigorous roof-strength test.
The 2012 Civic uses a higher percentage of high-strength steel (now totaling 55 percent) contributing to reduced weight, enhanced safety and higher levels of overall body rigidity. In addition, Honda’s acclaimed Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure using a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment.
Standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control (TC); an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS); Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist (BA); side curtain airbags; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; a driver's front side airbag; and a front passenger's side airbag with an occupant position detection system.
2012 Honda Civic HF Powertrain
The powertrain in the 2012 Civic HF is borrowed directly from the regular 2012 Civic with a re-engineered 1.8L I4 providing 140 HP and 128 lb-ft. of torque. Attached to the power plant is a is a 5-speed AT. While some (including myself) would have begged for an even taller ratio’ed 6-speed, the setup currently allows the HF to spin at miserly 1,880 RPM at 60 mph which is very competitive in the compact class. In fact, only the Cruze ECO with the tall 6-speed MT is able to undermine the Civic HF with a calculated 1,805 RPM at 60 mph figure.
In addition to the tall ratio AT, the HF provides better fuel economy with a reduction in aerodynamic drag and reduced rolling resistance courtesy of the 15” Bridgestone Ecopia EP20’s. And just like the regular Civic’s, the HF includes an Eco mode that softens throttle output for a given input, its 5-speed AT shift mapping is reconfigured to provide earlier upshifts and the climate control's upper five fan speeds (of a total of six) are lowered incrementally and other climate control system characteristics are altered based on the conditions.
2012 Honda Civic HF Interior
A two tiered dash houses the instruments and is both expansive and easy to comprehend. The full-color Multi-Information Display (i-MID) provides access to other information screens and customizable features, including personalized wallpaper. While a bit over the top, maneuvering through the various menu’s on first try seemed kludgey but after 10-minutes, selecting a menu or setting is as easy as opening and closing a door.
As discussed previously, the interior plastics are harsh and the control stalks feel less expensive than previous generation Civic’s. Improved component integration however has increased the Civic Sedan’s passenger volume to 94.7 cu. ft. over the 2011 Civic Sedan’s 90.9 cu. ft. of passenger volume allowing a new found “feeling of spaciousness” not felt in the previous generation. This may be the most endearing addition to the 2012 Civic and a pleasant surprise for those thinking this is just another compact sedan.
The trunk receives a similar treatment adding another .5 cu. ft. although I have yet to open it to see how much more or less usable it is.
2012 Honda Civic HF Exterior
The HF has a more Aerodynamic appearance and Cd than the previous generation Civic sedans thanks in part to its sleekly angled windshield. The new front end incorporates an odd bumper bulge while a soft body line begins beneath the lower air intake wrapping around to the lower doors and swooping up to meet the rear below the rear taillights. Hidden aerodynamic features include flat-bottom construction, more aero panels, Honda’s standard aero strakes, rear decklid spoiler and the previous generation Civic Hybrid’s plate like 15” alloys to help the Civic HF achieve its excellent EPA fuel-economy of 29/41 mpgUS city/highway.
While not an aggressive appearance, it does show signs of Civic lineage and one you can drive for a few years not thinking you missed out on the latest design craze.
2012 Honda Civic HF First Drive
As for now, the 8.2 miles shown below occurred at rush hour to a local Assessor’s office in the middle of Gurnee, IL. While the interior/exterior may be lackadaisical, the engine and tranny still has some of that “Good Ole” Honda magic applied and I look forward to placing more miles on it tomorrow.
Now this I like
69.1 mpg (non-calibrated) over a nasty 8.2 mile city/suburban RT drive route
complete with numerous stop lights and stop signs every 1/3 of a mile.
I will have more later but it is a start and hopefully something we can all look forward to with an odometer study, aFCD FE calibration and an all-highway push to be completed over the next few days.