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article details
Author Dan Acosta
Categories Civic
Create Date April 11, 2006 07:40
Last Update April 11, 2006 07:43
Economy Car or Sports Sedan?

NOTE From the editors of the TOV: You are reading a user-submitted article. This article is very thorough and is being presented in its entirety in unedited form. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the TOV nor its editorial staff. We would like to extend our thanks to Dan Acosta for taking the time to write this informative article and sharing it with the TOV community.

There's nothing like time and miles in a car to form a more clear opinion of its strengths and weaknesses. After spending 6 months and nearly 17,000 miles with my 06 Civic sedan, I think I've learned most of its quirks and thought others might benefit from my experience.

This was originally going to be a 10,000-mile article, but it took a little longer than expected resolving a first-year production problem. (See Did Somebody Order Lemon-Aid? towards the end of this article for details.) Now that this problem is finally fixed, here's my report.

Short version: If you want to skip the review and just know the bottom line: buy the car, because it's one of the best Honda (or dare I say any manufacturer) has ever made.

Perspective: I was late to the Honda party in that my first was an 02 Odyssey, which was a replacement for a 97 Grand Caravan 3.3 that started using oil after only 60,000 miles. Before that, I owned 12 other cars and trucks from various manufacturers, with a strong preference for domestics. The 06 Civic is my family's third new Honda in 17 months, so it's fair to say I am now a Honda advocate. Traded my 02 Odyssey for an 05 Odyssey, not because there was anything wrong with the 02, but because the driving dynamics of the 05 are that much better. Purchased an 04 Accord Sedan EX 4-cyl-auto after my son's 95 Sable was totaled (the other driver's insurance helped pay for the Accord, not me). Had planned on a Ridgeline, but bought an 05 Frontier instead. Despite the great driving dynamics of the Ridgeline, the drivetrain and off-road capability of the Frontier were better for my needs. When gas hit $3/gallon, I figured I could buy a Civic for virtually free by doing most of my 30K miles/year in the Civic at 30-40 mpg and saving the Frontier's 15-20 mpg for weekend and off-road trips.

Hybrid vs. Sedan: Debated between the 06 Hybrid and LX/EX Sedan; did not consider the coupe or SI because I wanted an adult-size back seat, plus the SI's mpg that is comparable to my Odyssey's with VCM wouldn't save much gas. Speaking of back seat, we quickly eliminated the 04 Civic when we bought our 04 Accord because the 7th-generation Civic's back seat was too small. On paper the 06 Civic sedan has less rear-seat legroom than the 05 Civic, but when you actually sit in the 06 it feels bigger than the 05, almost as big as the Accord. While the Accord has a wider interior, some might prefer the 60/40 split seatback and flat floor of the 06 Civic over the Accord's one-piece folding seatback with pass-through and centerline floor hump. The front seats are positioned all the way back in these photos:

2004 Accord Sedan Back Seat2006 Honda Civic Back Seat

The tax changes on January 01, 2006 make the hybrid very attractive, as the federal tax break (see either sdn=hybridcarszu=http://www.aceee.org/transportation/hybtaxcred.htm#table">ACEEE link or here) is estimated to pay $2,100 of the $2,800 price premium of the hybrid over an EX sedan with automatic transmission, the next most expensive Civic. But with the gain in mpg you still lose the sunroof, rear disc brakes, folding rear seat, and larger tires of the EX. The first published review of the hybrid gave 47 mpg, but the second published review only gave 36 mpg. The autosite link includes in-depth favorable reviews of the coupe, SI, and sedans. James Healey of USA Today posted his review of the sedan, coupe, and SI a couple weeks later. Since then the 06 Civic has received many other Num=3">awards from the press, so in hindsight it would seem my decision to buy the 06 Civic as soon as it became available was a good one.

I ultimately decided on the LX/EX in September 2005 instead of waiting for a hybrid in January. I usually get close to EPA estimates (getting the advertised 24/34 with my 04 Accord sedan 4-cyl-auto, and 20/25.5 actual vs. 20/28 EPA with my 05 Odyssey-VCM), and decided I'd rather have 30/40 with bigger tires and a folding rear seat than the 49/51 with the hybrid. LX/EX have more power, which should do better uphill in mountains than the hybrid, which could languish with the smaller gas engine once the batteries are depleted.

LX vs. EX Sedan: Hard choice was between LX/EX sedan, since they both have the same, larger tires and identical outward appearance. The test drives were nearly identical. Civic front door armrests extend farther back and are more usable than on Accord, whose B-pillar intrudes when the front seats are positioned all the way back. Nice interior design touches include the sliding tray table cover over the center cupholders and numerous storage spaces, including a cell phone holder the Accord lacks. (In hindsight, it would have been better to eliminate the sliding tray table cover and position the parking brake farther back where it wouldn't hit the right leg, as I suspect most drivers will leave the tray cover open to use the cupholders 100% of the time.) Passenger's window does NOT have auto-up-down like many sites reported before the production version hit the streets. Only the driver's window switch is illuminated, but the lock switch on both front doors lights up at night. The Civic sedan is missing the ambient console lighting that the higher trim level Civic coupes and Accords have. Built-in MP3 is nice, but I miss the in-dash 6-CD changer from other Hondas. Civic DX, which comes with no radio, has an in-dash 6-CD option. Civic LX/EX have an in-trunk 8-CD option that requires "major surgery" (and possible interior rattles afterwards) to install. Overall ride and drive is great.

Three noticeable differences between the LX and EX:

  1. LX drums on the unit I test drove gave a non-linear feel as they engaged, but were then smooth and modulated nicely once they caught. The discs on the EX felt nearly perfect, just like other Hondas with 4-wheel discs. While on the subject of disc brakes: my 02 Odyssey never had brake issues in the 60,000 miles I owned it. My 04 Accord needed new rear pads after only 40,000 miles, which Honda says is normal for the Accord but seems premature to me. My 05 Odyssey has front disc noise issues that are just now being resolved with a service bulletin. Hopefully the 06 Civic will prove as reliable as my 02 Odyssey was with brakes.
  2. The 06 Civic is the only Honda I know of with a one-touch control for the sunroof (it's about time!); that switch is backlit at night, too. While some manufacturers use a simple 3-position switch for their one-touch sunroof, Honda went all out and used a 6-position switch. It works similar to the driver's door window switch: partial depression for partial movement, second click to automatically open or close all the way. While more complex, the advantage of the Honda switch is the ability to go from full open to tilt or vice-versa with one press of the switch. There was a lot of wind-noise on the EX I test-drove when the sunroof was closed with the sunshade open; closing the sunshade cut the noise. It was noisier than my Accord with the shade open. My 05 Odyssey is just as quiet with the shade open or closed. The 06 EX Civic Sedan I took delivery on is just as quiet as my Odyssey with the sunshade open or closed, so there is some variation between individual Civics. On the downside, the Civic I ordered and ultimately took home had a wind noise above 35 mph from the driver's side-window area that neither the LX nor EX I test drove had. (See page_number=6">Did Somebody Order Lemon-Aid? towards the end of this article for details.) Others have reported wind noise from the 06 Civics they drove, but many seem to report how exceptionally quiet it is. Other than this driver's side-window area noise on my delivered unit, I would argue that the 06 Civic is as quiet as or quieter than my 04 Accord or 05 Odyssey. All of these are quieter than my 02 Odyssey was. The moral to this part of the story is if you're considering an EX over the LX for the sunroof, be sure the wind noise in the particular car you're looking at is acceptable to you. One thing has been constant between the LX and EX I test-drove as well as the EX I now own: there is less road noise from the Bridgestones on the Civic than from the Michelins on the Accord and Odyssey. I'm not sure if this is simply from the difference in tires or improved chassis insulation, but the 06 Civic definitely has the least road noise of any Honda I've owned.
  3. The deciding factor on my buying the EX instead of the LX was the two extra speakers on top of the dash: it gives the stereo a noticeably better sound, even though LX/EX are both rated at 160W. If I remember correctly this is more power than the Accord and Odyssey stereos have, though less than in the Civic coupe. Yes, I like the sunroof, steering wheel audio controls, remote trunk release, etc., but the one thing I would miss more than anything else is the sound from those two extra speakers. Listen to the same CD or radio station in an LX and EX before deciding. The Civic is the first Honda with speed-sensitive-volume-compensation (SVC). It works great and has a very smooth volume transition as speed increases, not jumpy like with GM's SVC.
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Subject Thread Originator Replies Last Post
  The "official" Honda fix for the wind noise
DanielAcosta 0
  hedonic adaptation
homerj_ak 0
  Thank you!!!
homerj_ak 0
  City mpg
aznxthuggie 0
  nice review, but
iNteGRaz92 12
  Gas Tank Capacity
whobodym 1
  WOW, outstanding write-up!
JJ_Dude 1
  How many sedan owners have the wind noise issue?
RSX Idiot 3
  06 Civic / 05 Accord
psyshack 0
  thank you thank you thank you
cgtantra 0
  36 MPG for the hybrid? Pathetic
Sledge 13
  Excellent review!
KenJohnson 3
  Coupe Noises
danswick 2
  si sedan
cat in the baby 1
smarijono 3
  How do you get to take a 160 mile test drive???
RobL 3
  Great Review Daniel
Heckler 0
pezones 5
  Excellent review
hondacurafan 0
  Man, and I thought I was analytical!
8000RPM 0
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