Honda Civic is Still a Best-Buy Economy Car

At last count, Honda had offered nearly 40 varieties of the 2005 Honda Civic. It’s a perennial best-buy, and with the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla, the Civic is one of the most visible vehicles on the road today.

And there’s little argument that Civic’s popularity isn’t warranted. Honda has capitalized on the compact car’s success by presenting three body styles and the notable options of a gas/electric hybrid and two-door hatchback. But does Honda really need another option in the Civic line?

Apparently it does, considering my test drive for the week, the Special Edition, 4-door, EX model. It’s an effort in some ways to make the Civic something it’s not – a sports car or an economy vehicle with high-end standard features.

The Special Edition features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a AM/FM 6-Disc in-dash CD, with six-speakers, MP3 playback capability and an equalizer function, 15 or 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear wing spoiler. And while many of the features are perfectly fine, what really is the point of a spoiler on a Civic? Just how much can it possibly help a vehicle that features a 1.7-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, 127-horsepower engine?

Nevertheless, beyond its special edition features, the 2005 Civic offers plenty of what has made the car what it is – a reliable, economical vehicle with plenty of standard features, few weaknesses, good resale value and availability to suite budgets beginning at $13,000 and continuing to nearly $21,000.

In my weekly drive, the Civic performed to satisfaction and featured one of the nicest colors I’ve seen on the road. While red and white still manufacturers’ favorites, the Civic is available in a deep blue offering called Eternal Blue Pearl. The color provides the Civic with a small dose of sophistication despite its economy car status.

The Civic performs as well as any economy vehicle. It’s lack of acceleration and restrictive rear-seat headroom are low points. But those are acceptable shortcomings, particularly since Civic owners are likely looking for different attributes, most notably, fuel economy. The Civic has estimated ratings of 31 (city) and 38 (highway) mpg, and that’s a strong enough characteristic to persuade many potential buyers.

But the Civic also offers a nicely designed interior, including well-arranged controls, well-conceived space allotment (with the exception of the aforementioned rear-seat limitation), a comfortable, if not particularly quiet ride, and solid steering and handling. Seats are cloth in all models and leather is not an available option.

Air conditioning, 60/40 rear-split back seat, power windows and door locks, cruise control, various map and cargo lights, 12-volt power outlet, power moonroof, rear window defroster are all standard.

With an offered special edition discount of $400, my weekly ride priced out at $18,660, the fifth most expensive Civic available. Considering the entire line’s standard feature of no scheduled tune-up maintenance for 110,000 miles, it’s hard not to praise the Civic.

It’s likely the best economical vehicle on the road today. But it would do just fine without a spoiler.

Safety features – Dual-stage driver and front passenger dual-stage front airbags. Antilock brakes.

Fuel Mileage (estimates) – 31 mpg (city), 38 mpg (highway).

Warranty – Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Power train, 3 years/36,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited mileage

Base price – $18,660.

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