In the 2006 complete redesign of its popular compact car, Honda creates a sleeker, more powerful, yet more fuel efficient Civic that offers more premium features.
Standard equipment on the midlevel LX sedan includes a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls, a four-speaker, 160-watt AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 and WMA playback, speed-sensitive auto-volume control, and 16-inch wheels. 10.3-inch front disc brakes pair with 7.9-inch rear drum brakes.
A SOHC 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder (I4) engine with Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing system producing 140 hp at 6,300 rpm provides the power, with a five-speed manual standard or an optional five-speed automatic. With the manual, 0-60 happens in around 7.7 seconds, with the skidpad yielding 0.81 g. More important for Civic buyers, the EPA rates the engine at 30/39 mpg with the manual transmission and 30/40 mpg with the automatic. Reviewers find the engine peppy around town and adequate for 80-mph highway cruising, but lacking in passing power.
Honda stiffens the Civic’s body and revises its suspension with the ‘06 redesign, which improves its agility and responsiveness. Most reviewers find its taut suspension compliant over imperfect road surfaces. Steering and braking are responsive and solid. Overall, reviewers praise the easy drivability of the Civic as a sturdy, reliable daily driver.
Inside, Honda has divided up the gauges with a central digital speedometer and digital gas and temperature gauges to either side, directly under the windshield base. Below, in the second tier, a traditional analog tachometer is aligned for a through-the-steering-wheel view. Controls are within easy reach.
Reviewers are impressed with the interior’s mix of high-grade plastics and fabrics. The tilt/telescoping steering wheel and supportive front seats provide the driver and front passenger with a comfortable ride. A number of reviewers complain about the uncomfortable placement of the emergency brake, next to the shifter console and too close to their knee!
Honda claims the Civic seats five, and with the ‘06’s extra width, it’s a little bit more comfortable back there. But knee space is tight if the front seats are more than halfway back. The rear seats are well contoured.
Standard safety equipment includes dual-stage/dual-threshold front airbags, front side airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, ABS brakes with independent electronic rear brake distribution, and active head restraints. In addition, Honda has engineered the Civic for better crash energy absorption.
Divided on the aesthetic merits of Honda’s exterior and interior redesign, critics lined up to present the 2006 Civic with best buy awards in its class.