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2010 Honda Civic ReviewThe Good
The 2010 Honda Civic delivers a capable ride and good handling, and continues to excel in a number of areas, including fuel economy and reliability.The Bad
The Civic receives mixed marks for its overall performance, and some owners find the 2010 Civic's cabin tight and sparsely equipped, especially in the lower-end trims.
The CarGurus View
The Honda Civic meets owners' needs in a number of ways, providing a reliable, economical, and comfortable daily commuter with good looks and good fuel economy. While some owners would like to see better performance, and others would prefer more gadgets, the Civic does a good job of combining numerous positive traits into a single package, and offering a wide range of trims and options designed to fulfill the requirements of a wide range of drivers.
At a Glance
The Honda Civic compact sedan rolls into 2010 virtually unchanged, following a mid-cycle refresh in 2009, which added such features as new headlights, taillights, and wheel designs, as well as upgraded interior seating cloth. The Civic retains its streamlined shape, with its long windshield and fairly short rear end, as well as its fuel-efficient engines and well-tuned suspension, resulting in minimal body lean and responsive handling.
Honda offers the Civic in eight trims for 2010, including DX/DX-VP, LX/LX-S, and EX/EX-L trims, as well as fuel-sipping Hybrid and sporty Si versions, giving prospective buyers a wide range of choices. The Civic LX-S, for instance, comes equipped with a black sport-trimmed interior, a rear spoiler, and 16-inch alloy wheels, while the EX-L trim pampers passengers with a leather-trimmed interior and an available navigation system. Owners seeking fuel economy can opt for the Civic Hybrid, which manages up to 45 mpg on the highway, thanks to its hybrid engine, while the Civic Si features a close-ratio shifter, power moonroof, and 350-watt audio system, as well as the most powerful engine in any Civic trim.
The Civic continues to excel in reliability and resale value, and remains near the top of its automotive segment, according to most owners and reviewers. However, some owners find the Civic lacking in such areas as cargo space and interior comfort.
A trio of fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines powers the various Civic trims. The standard powerplant remains a 1.8-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, which drives the DX, LX, and EX trims and their trim-level mates. This powerplant generates 140 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, and features multi-point fuel injection, a Direct Ignition system, and a Drive-by-Wire throttle system, which enhance performance, fuel economy, and responsiveness.
A five-speed manual transmission comes standard in all trims with the base four-cylinder engine, while drivers can opt for an available five-speed automatic. Owners report good performance for daily driving with either the manual or automatic, although the powerplant seems particularly responsive when mated to the automatic, owners note. The EPA estimates fuel economy numbers of 26/34 mpg with the manual transmission and 25/36 with the automatic. The engine runs on regular unleaded fuel.
The Civic Hybrid's powerplant combines a 1.3-liter, SOHC four-cylinder gas engine with a 15kW electric motor, which together produce 110 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque. The Hybrid sends power to the wheels through a CVT continuously variable transmission, which provides smooth shifting. The powerplant posts fuel economy numbers of 40/45 mpg, achieved in part by an idle-stop feature, which shuts down the engine when the vehicle stops in traffic to conserve fuel. A similar fuel cut-off feature saves gas when the Hybrid decelerates. A regenerative braking system recharges the Hybrid's 158-volt nickel metal hydride battery.
The hybrid system switches smoothly and precisely between gas and electric operations, owners report. However, some owners would like to see better performance from the powerplant when accelerating or passing.
The Civic Si retains its 2.0-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine, which produces 197 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque. Variable valve timing, a cold-air intake, and a high-flow, low-heat exhaust manifold result in a quieter exhaust note at cruising speeds but a full, throaty sound under aggressive acceleration. The engine mates to a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy numbers for the Si check in at 21/29 mpg.
Ride & Handling
The front-wheel-drive Civic delivers a smooth, comfortable ride, with minimal body lean and a good balance in corners, thanks to MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link rear suspension. However, prospective owners will find quite a bit of ride variation between the trims, due in part to tire size. The DX trim level gets 15-inch wheels, which upgrade to 16-inch wheels for the LX and EX trim levels (the LX-S and EX-L receive alloy wheels).
The Si gets 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season Michelin tires. In addition, it comes equipped with a sportier suspension tuning than the base trims, with a firm spring rate, minimizing road irregularities with little or no ride harshness. The Civic Hybrid receives 15-inch low-resistance light alloy wheels, which some feel lack grip in tight curves. Overall, however, all Civic trims get acceptable marks for handling, with good pedal feel.
Some owners find the Civic's engine noise intrusive, especially when passing. In addition, some report occasional vibrations coming through the steering wheel, although not enough to cause concern.
Cabin & Comfort
Inside, owners will find a comfortable cabin, with plenty of legroom and headroom in the front seat, and enough room in the back for all but the tallest passengers. Most find the interior's fit and finish good for its class, though some find it overly plasticky.
The Civic's eight trims offer something for just about every buyer, from the basic to the relatively luxurious. Such features as power windows, a tilt/telescoping steering column, blue backlit gauges, rear-seat heater ducts, and a fold-down rear seatback come standard on the Civic DX, while the DX-VP adds air conditioning and a 160-watt, four-speaker AM/FM audio system with a CD player, speed-sensitive volume, and MP3 input jack.
Stepping up a notch, the mid-level Civic LX comes equipped with such standard features as power door locks, cruise control, a center console with a sliding armrest, and map lights, while the LX-S adds a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as such exterior features as a rear spoiler and chrome exhaust pipes.
At the top of the line, the Civic EX includes a one-touch power moonroof, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, a six-speaker audio system, and a USB interface jack, while the EX-L comes well-equipped with such upscale features as leather-trimmed upholstery and heated front seats. In addition, such options as Bluetooth and a navigation system with voice recognition and XM satellite radio are available only on the EX and EX-L trims.
The Civic Hybrid includes such standard features as automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, cruise control, and a six-speaker, 160-watt audio system with a CD player. Options include leather upholstery and heated front seats, as well as a navigation system, Bluetooth, and XM satellite radio.
For the Civic Si, the audio system upgrades to a 350-watt, seven-speaker system with a subwoofer and a CD player. The Si also comes standard with a power moonroof and offers a navigation system with Bluetooth as an option.
Cargo space remains about typical for a compact car, at 12 cubic feet. A wide opening makes the cargo area accessible, although the hinges can become an obstacle when loading some types of cargo. In all trims, a fold-down, 60/40-split rear seat comes standard.
All 2010 Civic trims include such standard safety features as antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, while the EX, EX-L, Si, and Hybrid also include a Vehicle Stability Assist system with traction control. The IIHS named those Civic trims equipped with the Vehicle Stability Assist system a 2010 Top Safety Pick. The Civic also earned a top score of five stars out of five from the NHTSA for protecting the driver and front passenger in a front-end collision, and for protecting rear passengers in a side impact. It earned four starts for protecting the driver in a side impact, and also for protecting passengers in the event of a rollover. All Civics come equipped with dual-stage front, front side, and side curtain airbags.
What Owners Think
Owners find the Honda Civic fun to drive, with good fuel economy, interior comfort, and reliability. However, the Civic's performance receives mixed comments from owners. Some are satisfied with the Civic's acceleration and torque during daily around-town driving, while others would like better performance overall, and especially better acceleration off the mark. The steering wheel also feels light to some drivers.
The interior seems sparse to some, with a lack of gadgets, especially in the lower-end trims. Similarly, some owners are impressed with the Civic interior's overall fit and finish, while others find it a bit too plasticky. Seat comfort gets good marks from most owners, although some find the Si's seats too tight, due to their side bolsters. Owners single out the Si for its good performance, although some find the ride too harsh. Many owners comment on the noisy cabin and find the Civic too expensive for what it delivers. However, most give thumb's up to the Civic's exterior design.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.
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