2009 Honda Civic Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Revised front bumper, grille, and head- and taillight colors
  • Electronic stability control now offered on EX-L and Hybrid models
  • New LX-S and DX-VP sedans added to lineup
  • Available Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link
  • USB audio interface now offered
  • Hybrid model adds available leather upholstery with heated seats, heated mirrors and leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Civic Si Mugen model no longer offered

Introduction

The Honda Civic has been part of the American motoring scene since the early 1970s. The Civic received its last complete redesign in 2006, when it adapted a smooth, aerodynamic shape with a futuristic (and roomy) interior. The Civic gets a facelift for 2009, with a slightly revised grille, a highly modified front bumper cover with larger air intakes, and clear turn signals with amber bulbs for the headlights and taillights. The Civic comes in 4-door sedan and 2-door coupe body styles and offers several distinct powertrain combinations, including gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid, and natural gas-powered versions. Last year's limited-edition Mugen Si sedan is no longer offered.

Model Lineup

Honda offers the 2009 Civic coup_ and sedan in DX, LX, EX, EX-L and Si trim levels; in addition, the sedan is available in DX-VP, LX-S, Hybrid and natural-gas-powered GX trim. DX models are pretty basic, with cloth upholstery, 195/65R15 tires on steel wheels, and power windows, but little else: not even a stereo. The new DX-VP adds air conditioning and an AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack. The Civic LX adds power locks; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; 4-speaker, 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; auxiliary input jack; cruise control; fold-down rear seat; and P205/55R16 tires on steel wheels with wheelcovers. The LX-S sedan gets alloy wheels; sport-trimmed black seat cloth with synthetic suede bolsters; leather-wrapped steering wheel; rear spoiler; and a chrome exhaust tip. All EX models get alloy wheels, a 60/40 split/folding rear seat, moonroof, ambient console lighting, USB audio interface, and steering wheel audio controls. The EX-L model adds leather seats (heated in front) and heated door mirrors. EX and EX-L coup_s get a 7-speaker audio system with a subwoofer. Honda generally does not offer factory options, but EX and EX-L models can be fitted with XM satellite radio, a GPS-linked navigation system with voice activation, and a Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link. Hybrid and GX sedans get a level of equipment similar to the LX; the GX comes with 15-inch steel wheels while the Hybrid gets alloy wheels and an optional navigation system. For 2009, the Hybrid is available with leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Si is the high-performance version of the Civic. Available in both coup_ and sedan form, it gets a more powerful engine, 6-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential and a performance-tuned suspension. The Si also gets 17-inch wheels with high-performance tires, trunk lid spoiler, fog lights, and unique interior trim including synthetic suede seats with red stitching.

Hardware

All 2009 Honda Civics employ 4-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive. Civic DX, LX, EX and EX-L models get a 1.8-liter engine producing 140 hp at 6300 rpm and 128 lb.-ft. of torque at 4300 rpm. EPA fuel economy estimates are 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway with the 5-speed manual transmission, 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway with the optional 5-speed automatic transmission. Si models get a 2.0-liter engine that puts out 197 hp at 7800 rpm and 139 lb.-ft. of torque at 6100 rpm with an 8000 rpm redline. A 6-speed manual is the only transmission offered; EPA fuel economy estimates are 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway.

The Civic Hybrid uses Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system, which combines a 1.4-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor. Total power output is 110 hp at 6000 rpm and 123 lb.-ft. of torque between 1000 and 2500 rpm. (Power output of the gasoline engine itself is 93 hp and 89 lb-ft.) The Hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and fuel economy estimates are 40 mpg city/45 mpg highway. The Civic GX is powered by a compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled version of the 1.8-liter engine producing 113 hp at 6300 rpm and 109 lb.-ft. of torque at 4300 rpm and driving the wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy estimates-measured in GGE, or Gasoline Gallon Equivalent-are 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway.

Safety

All 2009 Honda Civics are equipped with dual front air bags; torso-protecting front side air bags; head-protecting curtain air bags; active front head restraints; tire-pressure monitor; and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution. Traction control and electronic stability control are standard on the EX-L, Hybrid and Si. The Civic also has Honda's ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) body structure, which is designed to enhance frontal collision compatibility with vehicles of different sizes and bumper heights, reduce intrusion into the passenger cabin in front-end collisions, and mitigate pedestrian injury.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, both sedan and coup_ received perfect 5-star ratings for both driver and front passenger in frontal impacts. For the side-impact test, the Civic received 4 stars for front passengers and 5 stars for rear passengers. The rollover rating was 4 stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the Civic "Good" (its top rating) for front, side, and rear crash protection.

Technology

The 2009 Civic Hybrid uses the latest version of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, which sandwiches an electric motor between the gasoline engine and the transmission. When power demand is light, the engine can deactivate all four cylinders and spin freely, allowing the electric motor to power the car. For those who wish to completely escape their dependency on gasoline, Honda offers the natural-gas-powered GX (which, though available to fleets nationwide, is only offered to private buyers in New York and California). As an accessory, Honda offers the Phill home-refueling device, which allows the car to run off the house's natural gas supply.