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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

2008 Honda Civic EX Coupe - Initial Impressions

Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, the wife's leased 2006 Acura TSX was returned at the end of the lease in May. As a replacement we decided to go with a new 2008 Honda Civic EX Coupe. This time we purchased the car instead of leasing. We had been looking at used cars for a while but the ones we were looking at, especially the Civics were almost as expensive or more expensive than a new one and most had dings, scratches or worse on them. So the decision was made to buy new.

The Civic was one of many cars on our list when we first started looking. We managed to narrow it down to the EX Coupe and we were able to get a good deal for only a couple hundred more than the "invoice price" you see on some of the internet sites. All in all, not a bad deal since the Civic has now become the best selling car in the US over the last few months. Honda dealers really don't need to give any discounts below MSRP so we were surprised at the deal we got.

Since it's my wife's car it was purchased with the automatic transmission. That's the only option on the car as the EX comes with pretty much everything you could want aside from nav and leather. Standard on the EX are a sunroof, nice MP3 compatible stereo with changer, 4 wheel disc brakes (lesser models make due with rear drums), and 16" alloy wheels.

Also, since it's my wife's car, I don't get the chance to drive it as much as I would like. I did however get the chance about a week ago to put some miles on it. Obviously, there is a bit of getting used to in a new car and the Civic's funky dash takes some time to warm up to. It was hard for me to find a comfortable driving position not because I'm a large guy, I'm average height and weight, but mostly because the car has no power memory seats and my wife didn't want me "messing" with the seat or tilt wheel too much. I did manage to get close though.

On the road the car felt fine with adequate power. It's no speed demon though with only 140hp pushing around almost 3000lbs of car. The ride was smooth but the suspension was a little bit soft for my tastes. The car definitely leaned too much around turns. The brakes were good and the car was fairly quiet. Probably my biggest complaint is with the electric power steering. It is way over-boosted. It felt like an old American car that you could steer with one pinkie finger. There was limited feedback and feel of the road transmitted through the steering. Some people may like that, but I do not. It's funny since the Acura TSX we had also had an electric power steering setup and that was very nicely weighted and provided nice feedback. That was however a more expensive sport sedan and the Civic is more of a relatively cheap, economy car.

Mileage, the big plus of the car, is rated at 36mpg highway and that seemed accurate. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I can manage to get close to 40mpg when we take it on a road trip to Florida later this summer. My son may not enjoy that though since, at the age of 14, he is getting very close to 6' tall with no signs of slowing and the rear seats are a bit cramped. He'll have to work out the seating arrangement with my wife, since I do all the driving on the road trips.

After a couple of months of ownership, my impression of the Civic is that it is a well equipped, reasonably priced, economical, "appliance" type of car. It's not sporty and it's not meant to be. Of course, if it were my choice and it had to be a Civic, it would be the Si for me. Other than that, it's got all of the bases covered. Nicely appointed, reasonably priced, economical and with Honda reliability.

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