I used CarSurvey.org extensively when shopping for a new vehicle, so I wanted to share my experiences with this Honda Civic so far. We have only owned it for two weeks now, but after driving it over 600 miles in the last two days, I thought a review would be in order.
I also apologize for my verbosity, but I know that when I was shopping I wanted all the information I could get, so I hope this is helpful for people.
First, let me state up front that we only have around 1000 miles on the car, so it's too soon to tell how it will hold up in the long run. We're banking on the Honda name and reliability, and we've had several friends who owned Hondas and liked them. I was fairly nervous about buying a new car for this reason -- no history of reliability, so who knows what will really happen -- but we bought new anyways.
The first thing I noticed was that the car handles and drives very well. The tires and shocks were going out on our Ford Taurus, so it wouldn't be hard to be better, but I've also driven a lot of different vehicles over the years, and the Civic is the most fun I've had driving. I don't look for sports cars, but I like a somewhat sporty feel, I prefer automatic transmissions so I don't have to deal with shifting or clutch problems, and I don't expect a 4-cylinder to perform like a V8. For me, the Civic has been a great drive, and my wife and I consistently fight over who gets to drive (in a good way). We have been finding excuses to drive more (which sort of counterbalances the great gas mileage) and I'm a little disappointed when it's her turn to drive because I want to.
That being said, though the Civic is smaller than the Taurus by probably 1-2 feet, it has way more leg room on the passenger side. I'm 6'2" and fit very comfortably in this car. The only other car I have been so comfortable in was a Chevy Malibu (driving, not passenger). It seems like most cars have much shorter passenger legroom areas, but you can really stretch out in the Civic.
The headrests took some getting use to, as I was used to them essentially acting as pillows in the Taurus. When we first bought the Civic, I was having neck pain and headaches because it required sitting a bit differently -- I couldn't just recline and lean my head back. After spending some time reading about headrests and their intended purpose/use, I raised them all the way up, sat up a bit straighter, and relaxed. When I let my body sit a bit more relaxed and natural instead of trying to lean my head back against the headrest, it became much more comfortable and my neck pain went away. After eleven hours of driving in the last two days, I had no real car fatigue and feel just fine.
Trunk space is smaller, but the back seat is rather comfortable, and we have no complaints. We're not the type to go camping or need to haul a bunch of stuff, so it works for us. We checked out the Honda Fit as well because we were enamored with the storage space, but it wasn't nearly as comfortable. The first time we sat in the Civic we just said, "Ahh..." it was that great. Really comfortable seats, and comfort was our #1 priority.
The EX has a sliding center arm rest, sun roof, rear drum brakes, intermittent windshield wipers, and a USB plug for MP3 devices (or jump drives).
First, I really appreciate the arm rests in this car. We test drove a Scion and it was terrible with no good way to rest your arm. As I have a broken collarbone right now, I really need an arm rest, and I had never missed it so much as when it was gone. The sliding arm rest is a nice feature, which extends the rest under your forearm on the right side.
Braking is smooth and firm, but not as jerky as some other cars. I really like the feel of it and feel quite secure.
Being used to the Taurus, which has the windshield wipers that just go right to left (up left, back down to the right), I had never driven a car with wipers that both come up from the center, each to their side. I have found them to be far less distracting and really like this simplistic difference.
On a side note, we drove for many hours in the rain and the car felt and handled a lot better than the Taurus did in those conditions. I felt a lot safer.
In regards to the stereo and USB connectivity, we really like the way the console is laid out, but scrolling through artists/albums/songs can be a pain. With over 20Gb of music, if you want to listen to a specific song it can take a very long time. If you just go by artist or album and don't mind listening straight through, it's fine, but browsing is time consuming. I still prefer it over swapping CDs, but it has its downsides.
There are a lot of minor things about this car that all come together to make it really great. The attention to detail is refreshing. For instance, you can only open the trunk with the key chain clicker or with a lever inside the car. You can lock the lever with your car key, so if someone breaks into the car they can't get into the trunk. To lay the seats down, there are levers in the trunk, which again means someone can't reach the trunk (easily) from inside the car. Valuables can be locked away.
When you have your windshield wipers on and come to a stop, say at a stop light, they slow down or turn off, and start again immediately upon acceleration.
We wanted a vehicle that would be easily recognizable in a crowded parking lot (take note some time of how many white Ford Tauruses are out there -- it's easy to lose one!), and the unique hubcaps really do the trick. We have seen one or two Civics the same colour as ours, but the EX has a different hubcap, and we don't see many of those. It's easy to find our new car.
I'll end on gas mileage. So far, we are averaging around 29 MPG in the city and 38 on the highway.
We are extremely happy with this purchase, and feel confident in both the car and the dealership we worked with, whose service prices seem lower than the mechanics I had been frequenting before. If things keep up like this, we will definitely return to the dealership for service, and will continue to buy Honda.
I will update more as the miles add up.