2014 Honda Civic

Available as a coupe or sedan, the 2014 Honda Civic gets a new camera system that virtually eliminates blind spots on the right side and behind the car. It’s Honda’s Lane Watch system, and it’s one of the reasons the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Civic its Top Safety Pick Plus award. The combination of safety, reliability, performance and fuel efficiency makes the 2014 Civic an attractive choice.

The Civic’s 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine develops 143 horsepower and sends 129 lb.-ft. of torque to a new-for-2014 CVT transmission. The combination results in 39 miles per gallon on the highway and 30 mpg in the city. CVT transmissions are increasingly popular because of their fuel efficiency, although some, including this writer, miss the noticeable gear shifts with a regular automatic transmission. If you’re the type who likes more driving involvement, a 5-speed manual transmission is offered in the Civic.

We tested the sedan version of the Civic, a 2014 EX-L trim with navigation. The Civic gets exterior style updates for 2014. We’re not a big fan of the vehicle’s exterior styling – particularly the short, sloping hood – but we were impressed with just about everything else the Civic has to offer.

Once in a while, an innovative feature comes along – keyless pushbutton start comes to mind – that proves to be so popular and effective that most other carmakers wind up copying the design. Honda’s Lane Watch system is one of those features that will eventually be copied by other carmakers. Remember, you heard it here first. When the driver turns on the right turn signal or pushes a button on the end of the turn signal stalk, the system activates a camera on the right outside mirror that displays a wide view of the vehicle’s blind spot and the lanes to the side and behind the car. It makes lane changing easier and safer, and it also serves as a reminder to use your turn signal when changing lanes. The system, which is now on most Honda and Acura vehicles, was recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as an “Advanced Technology Feature.”

On the road, the Civic isn’t going to win stop light races, but it has all it needs for daily driving chores. Steering is precise and on center, and the car remains flat in hard corners. Visibility is good, made even better by the Lane Watch system.

The cabin of our top-of-the-line Civic EX-L sedan test car was surprisingly roomy, with comfortable seats and a great layout for dash controls. Headroom – 37.9 inches in front and 36.2 inches in the rear – was plenty for this 6-footer, even with the moon roof. Standard equipment included leather, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, pushbutton start and the Lane Watch system.

Civic gauges are stacked in two separate horizontal clusters. The group above – close to driver’s line of sight – contains a digital speedometer and most other gauges. The group below has a large tachometer and the vehicle’s warning lights. The 7-inch touch screen display in the center stack is home to most vehicle functions like climate and the sound system, although we’re still fans of dials for audio volume and tuning. Touch screen controls are sometimes at a difficult angle and can just be awkward to use. We wound up using only the steering wheel controls for the audio system. Access to connectivity – USB, HDMI and 12v power – is very convenient in the Civic at the bottom of the center stack.

The Civic gets 5 stars in the government’s safety test program, as well as a Top Safety Pick Plus from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Prices start at $18,190 for the base Civic Coupe LX with the 5-speed manual and go up to $24,240 for out tested Civic Sedan EX-L with navigation.

2014 Honda Civic EX-L

with Navigation

Engine:

1.8-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque:

143 / 129 lb.-ft

Transmission:

CVT or 5-speed manual

Test model base price:

$24,240 plus freight

Mileage:

30 mpg city / 39 mpg highway