The 2011 Honda Civic is the Swiss Army Knife of compact cars The Honda Civic has long been one of the most popular choices for buyers seeking an affordable compact automobile. With a wide range of available power trains, as well as two body styles on tap, the Civic has gained a reputation as being an inexpensive, reliable automobile that can be found in a version to suit almost any budget or driving need. The Civic is also a frugal option at the fuel pump in almost any edition, which is increasingly important to new car shoppers as gas prices continue their slow upward climb.
Let's take a look at 10 things you should know about the 2011 Honda Civic.
Photos courtesy of Honda
#1. The Base Civic Offers an Economical 1.8-liter Engine
The entry-level engine in the 2011 Honda Civic is a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder unit that delivers 140 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. Matched with either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, the vehicle is capable of returning city fuel mileage numbers of 26-mpg and a highway rating of 36-mpg. This balance of power and efficiency is made possible by the dual cam, i-VTEC variable-valve timing system featured on the 1.8-liter motor. The standard Honda Civic drivetrain also includes a drive-by-wire system for more accurate throttle inputs, and the Civic's ULEV-2 rating proves that not only is the vehicle a fuel sipper, but it also does its part to reduce tailpipe emissions.
#2. Civic Trims Include Stripped Down and Loaded
The best bargain in the 2011 Honda Civic lineup is the stripper DX trim, which features power windows and not much else - unless you consider steel wheels and tilt steering to be noteworthy inclusions on its equipment list. The DX doesn't even come with a stereo although Honda's Value Package trim will add one in for you, along with air conditioning.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Honda EX-L, which crams the Civic with comfort items such as heated leather seats, a sunroof, split folding rear seat and audio controls mounted on the steering wheel. 16-inch alloy wheels are also part of the EX-L experience.
In between the DX and the EX-L are the LX and the EX, which offer a mix and match approach to balancing features and price. The only upscale "option" to be found on the Honda Civic is a navigation system that also includes Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and even this is grouped into the EX-L and EX with Satellite-Linked Navigation trims.
#3. The Civic comes in a Sporty Si Edition
Positioned above the Honda Civic EX-L is the Civic Si, which matches most of the luxury model's features but also adds in a number of unique touches of its own. The most notable change is under the hood, where the 1.8-liter engine is swapped out in favor of a 2.0-liter motor that generates 197 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. Despite the additional power, fuel mileage remains an acceptable 21-mpg in city driving and 29-mpg on the highway.
Other goodies that come with the Honda Civic Si include a limited-slip front differential, a standard six-speed close-ratio manual transmission, a stiffer suspension system and a number of styling improvements inside and out.
#4. The 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid Offers Fuel Mileage Boost
If green cred is more important to you than drag strip performance, the Honda Civic Hybrid is right up your alley. The Honda Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system combines the output of an electric motor with a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine in order to provide 110 horsepower of motivation. The battery-powered electric motor can either function as the sole Civic power source up to speeds of 35-mph, or it can work in conjunction with the gasoline engine in order to improve efficiency.
The IMA system works together with a continuously-variable automatic transmission and returns fuel mileage that is rated at 40-mpg in stop and go driving and 43-mpg on the highway, making the Civic Hybrid the least thirsty model in the lineup.
#5. Civic GX Offers a Natural Gas Alternative
In addition to the eco-friendly Hybrid model, the Honda Civic can also be ordered in the GX edition, which is powered by natural gas. The same 1.8-liter motor found in the standard Civic produces 113 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque when converted to run on natural gas, and the sedan-only GX is found exclusively with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Special aerodynamic enhancements made to the exterior of the four-door Civic GX help it to achieve fuel mileage equivalent to 24-mpg city and 36-mpg highway. The real savings that come with choosing the Civic GX are linked to the lower price of natural gas fuel and the reduced production of greenhouse gases associated with this type of internal combustion engine.
#6. The 2011 Honda Civic is Also Offered in a Coupe
Unlike most of its compact competitors, the 2011 Honda Civic features a coupe as well as a sedan body style. The Honda Civic coupe is available in all of the same trim levels as its sedan counterpart with a few exceptions - there is no GX or Hybrid edition of the two-door model.
In terms of styling, the Civic coupe cuts a more rakish profile than the sedan, and its interior gives up only four inches of rear legroom and two inches of rear headroom when matched up against the four-door version of the automobile. The Honda Civic coupe's front fascia bears a more aggressive appearance, and its plunging rear roofline helps to further separate the coupe from the more staid sedan.
#7. The Civic Offers an Affordable and Versatile Compact Option
The Honda Civic DX starts out with an MSRP of $15,805, which is in the same ballpark as competitors from Mazda (the 2011 Mazda MAZD3 sedan) and Toyota (the Toyota Corolla). Few other compact car lineups can match the versatility of the Civic, however, with its coupe, hybrid, natural gas and Si sport models representing a range of choices that most other automakers address with an array of different name plates.
Another interesting aspect of Honda's Civic pricing strategy has to do with its attitude towards options - as in, there really aren't any. This means that buyers head into a Honda dealership to be faced with well-defined trim levels that don't hide any surprises in terms of missing equipment or additional charges at signing time.
#8. Civic Safety is Strong Across All Models, But Higher Trims Offer More Features
The 2011 Honda Civic provides the level of safety equipment that one would expect in a modern compact car. Full-length side curtain airbags protect the heads of passengers front and rear in the event of a severe collision or a rollover, and airbags are also mounted on the side of the front seats and in the vehicle's dash. The Honda Civic enjoys a five-star federal crash rating in front impact testing, as well as four and five star ratings for front and rear side impact protection.
When it comes to active safety equipment, the situation is a bit different. The Civic EX, EX-L and Si feature four-wheel disc brakes, but all other trims have to make do with rear drums, despite the presence of ABS on all models. Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) electronic stability control is also limited to the above-mentioned trims and the Civic Hybrid.
#9. Honda Offers Personalization Options Through an Accessory Catalog
As mentioned earlier, the Honda Civic really doesn't come with any options, which puts it at somewhat of a disadvantage when compared to other youth-oriented compacts from Scion and Mazda. However, Honda does provide a fairly extensive catalog of accessories that can be added to most models of the vehicle, which permits owners to add a dose of their own personal taste to their Civic. Accessories range from appearance items such as spoilers, trim pieces and wheels to more functional equipment such as factory sport suspension kits, cargo management systems, stereo upgrades and a remote start system.
#10. 2011 Marks the Last Year of Production for Current Generation Civic
Honda intends to debut an all-new Honda Civic for the 2012 model year. That means that as time goes on, it will be easier and easier to find deals on 2011 Honda Civics as dealership scramble to make room for the incoming, updated platform.
That being said, the Honda Civic is in somewhat of a unique position compared to other vehicles facing "about to be replaced" status. Its engineering and styling have kept it at the front of the pack regardless of how long it has been on the market, which means that delaying your purchase in favor of a new 2012 model likely won't offer the same jump in features, power and efficiency as it normally would with other models. Only those concerned more with having the latest and greatest need to be worried about what the 2012 Honda Civic might bring to the table. For everyone else, quality, comfort and economy are on the side of taking home a 2011 edition.