Quick look: Honda Civic EX-L Navi car reviews

Quick look: Honda Civic EX-L Navi

honda civic navi car review

Personality A high school kid in a tuxedo, ready to go to his first prom
Why we’d buy it Good options for the price
Why we wouldn’t We can use a map; pricey for a Civic; loose-feeling suspension
Gas mileage EPA, 25/36 (automatic)
Reviewer Terry Parkhurst
Content 70% US/Canadian; 30% Japanese; assembled in Alliston, Ontario.

Take note of two things in this latest variant on the Honda Civic formula: leather seats and a navigation system. The L stands for luxury.

If you’re the type that believes a friend does best finding your destination by sitting on the passenger side with a map, this car won’t interest you much. However, if you believe that a navigation system belongs in the dash, this car has one.

The brains for the system inherent in the navigation system is a DVD consisting of hundreds of maps, filled with the points of interests – as determined by someone working for Honda. It’s likely you won’t find that great old B-B-Q place you heard about from your uncle on this set-up. But then again, who knows? No, we didn’t scroll through them all.

To find out where you might want to get to, you need to enter a destination, and then voice prompts will guide you, turn by turn, with directions showing up on a customizable 6.5 inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen. Better, perhaps, the voice recognition feature allows you to speak over 600 commands to control both navigation functions, as well as the sound system. The navigation system cannot operate in either Hawaii or Alaska.

Packaged with the Navi system is a XM Satellite radio system that allows over 170 channels with 69 commercial free music channels plus traffic and weather in select markets.

So how’s the leather? Well, it’s subtle with seats that have good lumbar support, yet could do with a bit of side bolstering. These leather seats are heated; thus making up for that inherent drawback of leather seats in winter – coldness.

This Civic has laid-back A-pillars with a huge cabin. To mitigate the fact that the A-pillars would be unrelenting creators of blind spots, Honda’s designers have put glass triangles in them, towards the bottom. They work, in that way, to a limited degree. How often, after all, are you going to be looking towards the bottom of the A-pillar? It might help you avoid running over a child coming off a curb.

From a three quarter view, this car looks very much like some sort of space pod. Since the EX-L is a four-door sedan with a wheelbase of 106.3 inches and an overall length of 176.7 inches, at the very least, it is certainly spacious.

The engine is the VVTI (variable valve timing intake) four-cylinder, measuring 1.8 liters and producing 140 horsepower at 6,300 rpm; peak torque comes on at 4,300 rpm and is 128 pounds/feet. Despite a pretty healthy compression ratio – 10.5:1 – the recommended fuel is regular gas.

Backing that up, you have a choice of a five-speed manual transmission, or a five-speed automatic. The tested Civic EX-L Navi had the automatic. Around town, we put it in different settings, using the console shift; while on the freeway we put it into “D” and floored it. The shift points seemed well calibrated and the transmission shifted smoothly. For the record, the gear ratios, with the five-speed automatics are: first, 2.666; second, 1.534; third, 1.0222; fourth, 0.721; and finally, once in fifth, 0.525. So the benefit to getting out on the freeway, in terms of mileage and lack of wear-and-tear on the drive train, are great.

What catches your eye when you open the hood is the lack of a header, off the cylinder head. The catalytic converter mates directly to the cylinder head – a unique way of cutting costs and getting the exhaust cleaned directly.

You can get the Civic EX-L going 70 to 80 miles-per-hour on the freeway and easily achieve the highway mileage the EPA claims of 36 mpg. We didn’t do many in-city miles with this car but it seemed legit to say the other side of the mileage coin – 25 mpg – is also accurate. (These figures are for the automatic equipped car.)

The suspension is a combination of MacPherson struts up front with a double wishbone setup in the rear. Additionally, there are stabilizer bars, both front and rear, measuring 24.2 by 3 mm.

Perhaps because of the long wheelbase, the handling isn’t quite as good as the Civic coupe. Then too, it seems that the suspension settings are in keeping with the mission statement of luxury versus sport. The Civic EX-L doesn’t exactly wallow coming out of a turn, but at the same time, the feeling is not as tight as the previous generations of Civic. 

There is no break-out for a “luxury options package” with the Civic Navi. In fact, free activation and a month’s free use of XM Satellite radio, is included in the final vehicle price (see box).

Whether or not you’d call the latest iteration of Civic a success depends upon what you’re looking for in a small car. If it is luxury or the ability to leave home without a map, then the EX-L has an advantage, albeit one that’s become quite common. But if you want to race through cones in a parking lot on weekends, you should probably look elsewhere.