Pros: This is the best car you can get in this price range.
Cons: You can hear road noise from the wind and tires at highway speeds.
2005 HONDA CIVIC EX SEDAN
Fall means something different to everyone. To me it has always been a time of anticipation, for it is then that I anxiously await the unveiling of next year's new car models. This fall was no exception. Even before I was old enough to drive, I always waited with anticipation for the fall to come, because it was then that I could see the new model cars debut for the upcoming year.
This year my cousin Jessica will be graduating from college with a hard earned degree in Nursing, and her parents have asked me to give them some suggestions regarding their decision to purchase a new car for her as a graduation present. They are a "Ford" family, and always seem to buy one Ford after another over the years. However, they overheard my cousin Jessi saying that she would love to own a Honda Civic someday, if she ever could afford it after paying off her student loans. They are contemplating buying her a Civic as a graduation present this June, and they asked me for my opinion. I expressed to them that my opinion was not as important as Jessi's, and I suggested that I take her along with me to look at the new Honda's, as I am in the market for a new car myself. My plan was to let Jessi think that I was seeking her opinion in helping me to choose a new car for myself. This would give me an opportunity to grill Jessi regarding her own likes and dislikes regarding cars in general, and specifically the Honda Civic. In short, this scheme gave me a great excuse to test drive the 2005 HONDA CIVIC EX SEDAN today.
Upon entering the showroom my eyes were delighted to see a new Honda Civic EX Special Edition Sedan painted in a Shoreline Mist Metallic color, and wouldn't you know it, Jessi-Bear exclaimed, "Wow, I like that one. Let's get a closer look." As you would expect, the styling was very attractive, and the Honda Civic has gorgeous, crisp, sleek aerodynamic lines just like its big brother the Accord. The Special Edition has 15 inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and an audio system with a 6-disc in-dash CD AM/FM Radio (the DX model has 14 inch wheels and the LX 15 inch wheels, no spoiler, and no leather wrapped steering wheel). I was beginning to get nervous that Jessi seemed to be attracted to the most expensive Civic, and that her parents (my cousins) are very value conscious consumers (a.k.a., cheapskates). On the other hand, Jessi-Bear is a class act, and I felt it was time that they show some appreciation for her hard work at college, and spring for some of the extras. After all, Jessi has earned a reputation for being a trustworthy, low maintenance, and reliable girl. Wait a minute, that sounds like I am describing the Honda Civic.
After walking around the vehicle and admiring its clean sharp sleek appearance, it was time to focus a bit on the interior. There were the usual two beverage holders, as well as a variety of storage pockets that were conveniently located, including one in the center console. I have always been partial to the side pockets on the bottom of the door, as that is where I like to keep my maps for ease of retrieval. I must confess, that although I have never actually been lost myself, I was once bewildered for several hours while driving through Texas. Like its bigger brother the Accord, the Civic's interior is graced with an eye-pleasing symmetry of design. The steering column is height adjustable. My cousin Jessi-Bear was quick to note that both the driver and front passenger have their own vanity mirrors. This vehicle also comes equipped with power windows, mirrors, and door locks, in addition to a power moon roof with tilt feature. The seats were pleasantly comfortable, both in the front and the back, and there was plenty of leg room in front and back for 5 adults (and I am not referring to adult Hobbits when I say this). The rear seats also have a 60/40 fold down feature for those occasions when extra cargo room is needed. The driver's seat on the Civic EX also has a manual height adjustment for added comfort.
Another impressive interior feature of the Honda Civic EX Special Edition was the 6-disc in-dash AM/FM CD audio system with six speakers and a built in clock. The sound system was also exceptional for a car in this price class, especially the bass response. The instrument panel was both attractive to the eye, and very ergonomically designed as well, with excellent ease of use, both visually and manually. All of the indicators on instrument panel were backlit and were very easy to read, and there was a convenient 12 volt power outlet, which is sure to come in handy for powering gadgets such as a portable DVD player for the kids on those long trips to grandma's, or recharging cell phones and the like. The climate control system also was very conveniently laid out, and the controls were within easy reach of the driver. The fan on the climate control system was also both powerful and quiet, which is very important when you are trying to engage in a conversation with passengers, especially those in the rear of the car.
Whenever someone is considering purchasing a smaller car, especially when the driver may be younger and less experienced behind the wheel, safety is something that should always be forefront in a person's mind. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Civic with a 5 Star crash test rating, which is the highest that they give. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cited the 2005 Honda Civic as a "Best Pick" in frontal crash tests as well. Part of the reason for these high ratings is the airbag system that Honda uses. This Honda comes equipped with dual-stage dual-threshold front airbags which inflate at one of two rates based on the severity of the crash and seatbelt use. This variable rate deployment of the air bags is an important safety advance over older airbag deployment systems, and acts to cut down on airbag related injuries (see my review of the 2005 Honda Accord for a more detailed description of what I am referring to). Although not a standard feature on this model, one can also get front side airbags, which can also help to limit injuries (these airbags are standard on the Civic Hybrid model). The Civic also has specially designed energy absorbing front and rear crash zones, as well as strong steel side impact beams aligning the passenger compartment, also serve to provide an added margin of protection for the occupants. Visibility for the driver out of the front, rear, and sides was also quite good, and as anyone knows, being able to see where you are going makes it easier for you to get there in one piece.
Now for the test drive. This model Honda sports a 127-hp, 16-valve, VTEC 4 cylinder engine. VTEC stands for Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control, which somehow gives the Civic a lot more pep and zip than I would have expected for an engine of this size. I had no difficulties in rapidly accelerating to highway speeds when I took the Civic for a spin on the nearby Interstate. The 4-speed automatic transmission was surprisingly smooth when accelerating on the highway, and it also handled steep hills on the back roads by the dealership without any glitches (a 5-speed manual transmission is also available). The power assisted rack-and-pinion steering, reactive-link double wish-bone suspension, and front and rear stabilizer bars give the driver the opportunity to have a feeling of control on the road, without taking anything away from the fun of driving. I next took the Civic to a quiet out of the way straight dead end street. After making certain that no one else was on the street, I accelerated to 30mph and brought the car to an abrupt stop. The Civic's Antilock Breaking System, which is designed to help control skidding, and the four wheel disc brakes worked together in beautiful harmony to ensure that I was able to make a clean straight stop, with no discernable loss of control. I must confess that unlike the Honda Civic, Jessi-Bear did lose control when I did this, and both yelled at me and punched me in the arm for not giving her any warning that I was going to apply the brakes abruptly. I guess that I must chalk that one up to being a driving related injury due to an "unexpected road hazard condition" that Honda has not protected the driver from. With gas prices as high as they are in my region of the country, I was pleased to learn that this model of the Civic gets 31 miles per gallon in the city and 38 on the highway, according to the EPA mileage estimates, and the fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons.
Alas, there is no perfection, and now it's time for a complaint or two. The Civic is a noisy car. One can hear unwanted road noises, both from the tires on the road and from the wind on the body, especially in the rear of the car while it is moving at highway speeds. This is an annoying problem because on the highway this extra bit of white noise may muffle the sound of your passengers speaking to you from the back seat, and it also interferes with the enjoyment of music. A simple test to determine how noisy a car is when driving on the road is to set a CD to a song that you like at a volume that you feel comfortable with when you are stopped and have the car turned off. Then turn the CD off. Get on the highway, drive at 60 mph, and then turn the CD on. If you feel that in order to appreciate and enjoy the music, you must turn up the volume and/or make adjustments to the treble and bass, then the car is too noisy.
In sum, aside from the noisy ride, the 2005 Honda CIVIC EX is a vehicle that I feel I can honestly recommend to any of my friends and family who want a safe, economic vehicle, with great resale value, and a well earned reputation for reliability.
With this thought in mind and knowing how hard she has worked to earn her Nursing Degree, I turned to my sweet cousin Jessi-Bear, and with a satisfied feeling inside of me, I smilingly asked her, "Do you think that you would like to own a car like this?" Jessi smiled, and said, " Well Cuz, I guess this car would be O.K. for you the way it is, but if it were mine I'd have to make some changes. The first thing I would do is replace that lawn mower motor with a real car engine, and then I would cut a hole in the hood and put in a scoop, and that is just for starters. Then I would get some real tires and a lift package, and then I would add ....." O.K. Jessi, to each his own, but I liked the 2005 Honda Civic EX just the way it was.