2010 Honda Civic Review and Prices
The 2010 Honda Civic is the best car for you if you believe economy cars warrant precision engineering and forward-thinking design -- and you have a few extra bucks to pay for it.
The 2010 Honda Civic returns virtually unchanged from 2009, continuing in sedan and coupe body styles and again offering a gas-electric hybrid model. Choose a sedan over a coupe for the best blend of cabin space and ride quality.And go for the 2010 Honda Civic LX trim level (one step up from the base DX) for the best value in the Civic line. That gets you a spry compact car packed with features at a competitive $18,400 or so with automatic transmission. Top-line Honda Civic EX-L versions start near $22,000, money better spent on the larger Honda Accord. Sporty Honda Civic Si models top $22,000, too -- though they’re worth it.
Should you buy a 2010 Honda Civic or wait for the 2011 Honda Civic? Wait for the 2011 Honda Civic if you’re itchin’ to get in on the first year of the all-new, next-generation Civic. Buy a 2010 Civic if you need a fine small car before the 2011s arrive in late 2010. Think about delaying your purchase until dealers are anxious to bargain on the outgoing Civic to make room for the 2011s.
2010 Honda Civic Changes back to top
Styling: The 2010 Honda Civic styling is unchanged, though if you pop the hood on an Si model you’ll see the color of its plastic engine shroud is now black instead of silver. This eighth-generation Civic was introduced for model-year 2006, bringing to the small-car field an artsy sense of design inside and out. No rival has quite matched it for sophisticated good taste, and Honda kept the look contemporary with some “mid-cycle” updates for model-year 2009. These are evident on the 2010 Honda Civic and include slightly sharper definition to the grille and lower front bumper. Headlights and taillights transitioned to trendy clear turn signal lenses with amber bulbs, and several models got new alloy wheel designs. Although it doesn’t have the longest body in the class, no compact competitor has a longer wheelbase than the Honda Civic four-door sedan. This 106.3-inch span between front and rear axles defines the space available for the passenger compartment. In wheelbase and overall body length, Civic’s two-door coupe is about two inches shorter than the sedan. That’s in keeping with a jauntier demeanor that sacrifices rear-seat room to swoopy styling; the difference is driven home by a roofline a significant three inches lower than the sedan’s. Don’t expect the Civic to change much in size when the all-new model debuts for model-year 2011. What that ninth generation Civic will look like, however, is Honda’s closely guarded secret.
Mechanical: All Civics have front-wheel drive and are well-served by smooth-running four-cylinder engines. The powertrain lineup segues into 2010 intact, though some reports suggest Honda may mark the end of this Civic design cycle by summon a super-high-performance model sometime before the 2011s arrive. That would be the 220-horsepower Type R, an enthusiast favorite previously offered only in Europe and Japan. Meanwhile, a 140-horsepower 1.8-liter does duty in the three main Civic models: base DX, volume LX models, and upscale EX. These cars come with manual or automatic transmission, both of which have five speeds. The sporty Si coupe and sedan have a 197-horsepower 2.0-liter linked exclusively to a six-speed manual. The Honda Civic Hybrid comes as a sedan only and combines a 1.3-liter gas engine with an electric motor for a total of 110 horsepower. The electric motor can propel the Civic Hybrid for very short distances on battery power alone, but mostly acts as an assist to the engine. This helps save fuel and lower emissions by allowing use of a smaller gas engine and by enabling the engine to shut off at stops and then restart automatically as the driver depresses the accelerator. The Hybrid employs a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. CVTs act like an automatic but dispense with set gear ratios in favor of a rheostat-like delivery of power. The Civic GX sedan has a 113-horspower 1.8-liter powered exclusively by natural gas. This near-zero-emissions car is available to retail customers in California, Utah, and New York.
Features: The 2010 Honda Civic lineup again begins with the very basic DX sedan and climbs to EX-L sedans and coupes with leather upholstery, sunroof, and a navigation system. Along the way, it detours into the sporty Si coupe and sedan and swings wide to encorporate hybrid and natural-gas-powered sedans. Honda defines each trim level by an escalating set of features. There’s no ala carte selection of options. Every Civic comes with antilock brakes, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and power windows. Notable features include antiskid control to stabilize the car in changes of direction; it’s standard on the Civic EX-L, Hybrid, and Si. Those Civics, as well as the EX and Hybrid models, are available with a navigation system that includes voice recognition, satellite radio, and Bluetooth cell phone connectivity. The navigation system is accompanied by a USB audio interface for iPods and other MP3 devices. EX, EX-L, and Si models come with a power sunroof. Leather upholstery and heated front seats and side mirrors are standard on EX-L models and available on Civic Hybrids.
2010 Honda Civic Test Drive back to top
From behind the wheel: Civic DX, LX and EX models don’t spring off the line, but efficient design means Honda’s compacts are among the lightest-weight cars in the class, so the 140-horsepower engine satisfies most any daily driving demand. Sporty versions of some competitors have more horsepower than the Civic Si’s 197, but rare is the rival with a more sophisticated or inspiring engine. Si drivers need to be on intimate terms with the six-speed manual transmission, however, because this Honda 2.0-liter needs high rpm to do its best work. Happily, the marriage between engine and transmission is a sweet one on all these Civics. The automatic is alert to throttle inputs and seems to almost always be in the appropriate gear for conditions. Both the five- and six-speed manuals are slick, short-throw shifters.
The 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid essentially coaxes you into working with it to achieve the best balance of performance and economy. It’s slow off the line and needs deliberate use of the gas pedal to accelerate with any urgency. The engine start-stop feature is unobtrusive. Like other cars with continuously variable transmissions, the Civic Hybrid’s sweet spot comes in the 40-mph-65-mph range, where the CVT summons surprising power without the delay of a downshift. Like other CVTs, this one sends the engine revving ahead of actual acceleration, which is a bit odd until you get used to it. The GX isn’t built for speed and feels languid around town and lazy when asked to merge or pass in freeway-type conditions.
Confidence on straight stretches and control in curves are assets shared by every Honda Civic, and the sedan and coupe don’t handle with appreciable difference. Tire size and suspension tuning, however, improve road manners by degree. DX and Hybrid versions have small, narrow tires for mediocre grip in corners; they tend to nose plow through fast turns. LX and EX models change direction more quickly and with better balance; they are paradigms of small-car handling. Nimble and grippy, the Civic Si coupe and sedan tap Honda’s race-winning vein, though they can suffer the bane of powerful front-drive cars: torque steer. That’s when the front end tugs to the side during rapid acceleration. At least the effect is minimized on the Civic Si by virtue of a standard limited-slip differential, which helps deliver power evenly to each front wheel.
Dashboard and controls: Windswept styling gives the 2010 Honda Civic radically laid-back front roof pillars. This creates a long dashboard top and lots of space between the driver and the base of the windshield. It’s just one of the atypical sensations you face from behind the wheel. Another is the instrument panel design, which puts gauges and controls on different levels and on a variety of planes. Atop the dash is a cove displaying the digital speedometer and readouts for coolant temperature and fuel level. Below, and nearer the driver, is a binnacle housing the analog tachometer. All this data is easily within your line of sight. But the need to move your eyes vertically, and to refocus to compensate for the instrument panel’s varied planes, is not every driver’s ideal.
Civic’s gearshift and parking-brake lever mount at the base of the dashboard rather than on the floor between the seats, a location that isn’t necessarily better, just different. Within easy reach of the driver are big knobs and buttons for the climate system. It’s more of a stretch to the main audio controls, so Civics with audio buttons on the steering wheel have an edge in convenience. Navigation systems are becoming more common in compact cars, but those with voice activation are still a novelty. That may not be a bad thing: Civic’s doesn’t always respond accurately to spoken commands. Additionally, the navigation system usurps too many audio functions and has a screen that can be difficult to read as light conditions change.
Switchgear in every Civic has a solid feel and precision movement; it’s on par with anything from Acura, Honda’s premium brand. Likewise, Civic’s richly grained, substantial-feeling cabin materials would be at home in more expensive cars. Si models dress up with metal-finished shift knobs and alloy pedal surfaces.
Room, comfort, and utility: Civic sedans furnish four adults with good room and comfort, though those over 6 feet tall may be forced into a slight slouch to comfortably clear the headliner. Front seats in all models are firm and supportive, with special credit to the front buckets in Si versions for the pronounced side bolsters that snug you in during fast turns. Rear passengers get a flat floor, but toe room is tight under the front seats. Coupes match the sedans for front-seat space, but their long doors can be trouble in confined spaces. Getting comfortable in the coupe’s back seat is the province of pre-teens; so climbing in or out.
Ride comfort is influenced by body style and to some degree, by model type. On bumpy surfaces, where the sedan feels absorbent, the coupe’s 2-inch shorter wheelbase induces some choppiness. Best are LX and EX sedans. Their 16-inch tires soak up imperfections better than the 15s of the DX and Hybird, and their suspension reacts much less abruptly than the firm setup on the Si models. Si versions generate sufficient tire noise to compromise what in other Civic models is a pleasingly quiet cabin for this class. If the Si’s snorting exhaust is too loud, you’re too old.
Bins and boxes for bric-a-brac abound in Civic’s cabin. Trunk volume is quite good for compact cars, and the lid opens wide, though its hinges dig into the cargo area. Honda Civic DX and LX trim levels have a one-piece folding rear seatback. The EX, EX-L and Si models have a split folding seatback. The seatback does not fold down in Hybrid and GX versions.
2010 Honda Civic Prices back to top
Few small cars have as broad a range of models or as wide a span of prices as the Honda Civic. The roster begins with the DX models, basically price-bait strippers that start at $16,365 for the sedan ($17,165 with automatic transmission) and $16,165 for the coupe ($16,965 with automatic). (All prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Honda’s fee is $710 for 2010 models.)
To get such essentials as air conditioning and a stereo, sedan buyers must to move up to the 2010 Honda Civic DX-VP, priced at $17,115 ($17,915 with automatic transmission).
Those features, plus cruise control, power mirrors and locks, 16-inch wheels, and remote keyless entry, kick in with the LX sedan and coupe. The 2010 Honda Civic LX sedan is priced at $18,315 ($19,115 with automatic transmission). The 2010 Civic LX coupe is priced at $18,165 ($18,915 with automatic).
Sixteen-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, unique interior trim, and other details are featured on the 2010 Honda Civic LX-S, which comes only as a sedan priced at $18,915 ($19,715 with automatic transmission).
The 2010 Honda Civic EX sedan and coupe have the 16-inch wheels, add auxiliary audio controls to the steering wheel, and include rear disc brakes, a power sunroof, variable-speed windshield wipers, and an outside-temperature gauge. The 2010 Civic EX sedan is priced at $20,165 ($20,965 with automatic transmission). The 2010 Civic EX coupe is priced at $19,165 ($20,965 with automatic). Equipped with the navigation system, the 2010 Civic EX coupe and sedan are priced at $22,165 ($22,965 with automatic transmission).
The 2010 Honda Civic EX-L dresses the seats and steering-wheel in leather and also heats the front seats. The 2010 Civic EX-L sedan and coupe are priced at $21,715 ($22,515 with automatic transmission). Equipped with the navigation system, the EX-L sedan and coupe are priced at $23,715 ($24,515 with automatic).
Civic gets frisky with the Si sedan and coupe. In addition to the 197-horsepower engine, Si models have a sport suspension, traction control, and low-profile 17-inch tires. Si models also come with sport front bucket seats with extra-firm side bolsters, uprated brakes, and a rear spoiler. The 2010 Honda Civic Si sedan is priced at $22,965, the Si coupe at $22,765. Equipped with the navigation system, the 2010 Honda Civic Si sedan is $24,965 and the 2010 Si coupe $24,765. For an additional $200, you can get these Si models with high-performance “summer” tread tires instead of standard all-season-tread tires.
The 2010 Civic Hybrid comes only as a sedan equipped similarly to the EX models, though it excludes the sunroof and split fold-down rear seat. The 2010 Civic Hybrid starts at $24,510. It’s $25,710 with leather upholstery, $26,510 with a navigation system, and $27,710 with both leather and navigation. The natural-gas-powered GX sedan is priced at $26,050.
2010 Honda Civic Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2010 Honda Civic DX, LX, EX, and EX-L models are 26/34 mpg (city/highway) with manual transmission, 25/36 with automatic. The 2010 Honda Civic Si models rate 21/29 and are the only Civics for which Honda requires you use gas with an octane rating of 91 or higher.
Fuel economy ratings for the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid are 40/45 mpg (city/highway). Note that Honda’s hybrid system favors highway fuel economy because it’s not designed to maximize the amount of electrically powered propulsion. Rather, it uses batter power to supplement the gas engine. By contrast, the hybrid system in rival Toyota models, including the Prius, returns better mileage in the city than on the highway. That’s because they’re designed to propel the car on battery power away from a stop and around town for as long as possible before the gas engine kicks in.
The Honda Civic GX is rated by the EPA at 24/36 mpg (city/highway), though that’s a conversion to the equivalent fuel economy with gasoline. The EPA says it has a range of about 170 miles on a full tank of natural gas.
2010 Honda Civic Safety and Reliability back to top
Government crash-test ratings award a maximum of five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side collisions (safecar.gov). The Honda Civic rates among the top cars in the compact class in these tests. It earns the maximum five stars for driver and passenger protection in a frontal impact. For side impact protection, it ears the maximum five stars in all tests except one -- driver side impact protection – in which it gets four stars
In quality and reliability, the Honda brand earns high marks from J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm (jdpower.com). Honda rates above average for initial overall quality measured after the first 90 days of ownership. J.D. Power also ranks Honda above average for dependability in surveys measuring problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles.
Owners of the Honda Civic rate it “better than most” J.D. Power surveys based on the first 90 days of ownership. Civic owners surveyed gave their car maximum grades for its design and for the performance of its features and accessories. They rated it below average only in powertrain design, suggesting some dissatisfaction with engine or transmission performance.
In J.D. Power surveys of people who have owned their cars for three years, the Honda Civic rated about average for overall dependability, but above average for powertrain reliability and for body and interior dependability.
2010 Honda Civic Release Date back to top
The 2010 Honda Civic went on sale in September 2009. About 90 percent of Civics sold in the U.S. are built at Honda plants in North America.
What's next for the 2010 Honda Civic back to top
The pressure is on for compact-car makers to deliver high style, roomy cabins, and advanced features. Lively performance and great fuel economy are on the agenda, too. The Honda Civic has been a pacesetter in all these areas, so part of Honda’s job with the all-new 2011 Civic is to raise a bar it’s already set pretty high.
For style, it can cast an eye toward the Civic versions it sells overseas, which boast shapes even more futuristic than seen on American-market Civics. How much of this avant-garde design Honda judges appropriate for U.S. tastes is debatable, though it might believe the time is right to supplement the American sedan/coupe lineup with two- or four-door hatchback body styles inspired by its overseas offerings.
One likelihood is a compact crossover wagon based on the next-generation Civic chassis and powertrains. Honda has already done something similar with the 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour midsize wagon. This “Civic “Crosstour” would be smaller than the Honda CR-V compact crossover SUV. But it would have a taller roof than a conventional small station wagon, perhaps a bit more ground clearance, and almost certainly be available with all-wheel drive as a supplement to front-wheel drive.
As for powertrains, the 2011 Honda Civic will continue with front-wheel dive and four-cylinder engines. Expect mainstream and higher-performance versions, both with more horsepower than today’s Civics, but with similar fuel-economy numbers. Don’t look for Honda to bring over the diesel powertrains it sells successfully in other markets. The high cost of diesel fuel and diesel engines, not to mention the marketing challenge of introducing a compact diesel car in the U.S., are among the impediments.
The decision about a next-generation Honda Civic Hybrid model could be influenced by the recent launch of the 2010 Honda Insight. The Civic Hybrid, which looks much like any other Civic sedan, hasn’t been a huge seller. But the Insight is a dedicated hybrid that looks like no other Honda -- even if it does a resemblance to the poster-child for hybrids, the Toyota Prius. Whether Honda will continue to offer a Civic Hybrid or will place its hybrid bets exclusively with the Insight is one of the mysteries to be solved during the next Civic design cycle, which begins with model-year 2011.
2010 Honda Civic Competition back to top
2010 Toyota Corolla: Civic tussles with this Toyota for sales leadership in the compact-car class. Corolla isn’t in Civic’s league for driving enjoyment, but is a sterling execution of a comfortable small car that inspires owner loyalty and holds its value. Corolla comes only as a sedan with four-cylinder gas engines of 132 horsepower (27/35 mpg) or 158 horsepower (22/30). Base prices range from about $16,100-$21,000. The Corolla was all-new for model-year 2009; it won’t change significantly until sometime after model-year 2013.
2010 Mazda 3: All new for 2010, with aggressive – and controversial – new styling. This front-drive compact comes in four-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles. All have a four-cylinder engine in a choice of 148 or 167 horsepower and topped by the turbocharged 263-horsepower MazdaSpeed3. The Mazda 3 plays ball with Civic in terms of new-think design, if not sales volume. It’s a challenger for driving fun and takes a big bite out of the hipper, youthful portion of Civic’s audience. Base price range is around $15,800-$23,000. Fuel economy ratings span 21/29-25/33, with the MazdaSpeed3 at 18/25. The Mazda 3 won’t change significantly for several years.
2010 Hyundai Elantra: If the Volkswagen Jetta and Golf are rivals for the more erudite among Civic’s audience, the Elantra speaks to Civic’s value-conscious shoppers. These compact sedans and wagons from South Korea’s aggressive Hyundai brand go toe-to-toe with any car in the class for solid driving comfort and beat most for quality cabin materials. Those virtues are tempered by slightly unrefined engineering, but not enough to put off most budget-minded buyers. In fact, Elantra beat all compact cars in the latest J.D. Power initial quality survey. Elantra sedan base prices range from around $15,000-$18,500; the surprisingly capable Elantra Touring wagon starts around $18,500. Fuel economy ratings span 23/31-25/33. The Elantra sedan is due for a model-year 2012 redesign, the wagon for sometime later.