Sunday, January 11, 2015

2007 Honda Civic LX - Despite Its MPG, I Was Disappointed

After my girlfriend's 2006 Honda Accord VP was totaled in an accident, there was a choice to make between the usual suspects: 2007 Camry, 2007 Honda Accord VP, Hyundai Sonata and others. On interesting option that I researched extensively was 2007 Honda Civic LX. For about the same price (currently) as the Accord, the smaller Civic LX provides better fuel economy, better rear impact protection, better stereo and a cool semi-new design.

I test-drove the 2007 Civic LX but in the end we went with 2007 Accord VP. This review is based on test-driving the 2007 Honda Civic LX as well as on the ownership experience of the 2007 and 2006 Accord VP. The ownership experience with the Accord is important from the standpoint of maintenance (e.g. Maintenance Minder) as well as understanding the i-VTEC used in both 2.4L Accord and the 1.8L Civic engines.

There were no significant changes to the Civic from the 2006 to 2007 model year as the current Civic generation is new. And although I prefer the look of the 2-door Civic Coupe, we concentrated on more practical 4-door sedan version. Unfortunately I was disappointed.

The 2007 Honda Civic LX, despite being small, is currently more expensive than either the Accord VP or Sonata (Accord currently sells for less and Sonata as well, making both of the Accord VP and Sonata 4-cylinder cheaper than a Civic LX. I consider A/C essential in CA and Civic DX does not have one).

I was quoted $16,700-16,600 for either the Accord VP or Civic LX from the same dealership. Although in the end we went with Accord VP for $16,400, the choice was not easy.

On paper, the Civic LX has a lot going for it. The size is smaller than Accord, but the Civic is not very small and certainly has enough interior space. The rear impact ratings are good (active head restraints) and the other crash test ratings are impressive. The car gets good mileage at 30/40 MPG city/highway, which is important in the long run with the current (and future) gas prices exceeding $3 per gallon.

The car should not be very expensive to insure and it has the Honda Maintenance Minder system, which tells you when to change oil and perform other maintenance tasks based on the way you drive, not on preset mileage or time. This should decrease the maintenance costs. Accord has this system as well and I am impressed with it.

The stereo on the Civic LX has MP3 playback, 4 speakers and more power than Accord VP. It was time for a test drive, because on paper the Civic LX seemed to be a perfect choice for the price: relatively powerful, yet fuel-sipping, nice-looking and feature-rich.


The Honda Civic in its current form was introduced for 2006 model year. The 2007 Honda Accord LX features air conditioning, power locks, mirrors and windows, remote keyless entry with security system, panic alarm, 4-cylinder 140-hp i-VTEC engine and (in AT-equipped trim) a 5-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission-equipped cars have a 5-speed manual gearbox.

The Civic LX rides on 16 inch steel wheels with 205-mm tires (195-mm tires on 15-inch wheels for Accord VP). All Civics have ABS, front, side and head curtain airbags, active head restraints. The Maintenance Minder system that monitors the oil life and shows it to you in percents at a push of a button. It also tells you when you need to change oil and go for other service based on driving conditions.

The 4-cylinder Civics are rated to deliver 30 mpg city / 40 mpg highway with auto transmission, 30/38 with manual. The back seats fold to increase usable trunk space, the steering wheel tilts, telescopes and has standard cruise control buttons. The dashboard has a tachometer in the usual spot, but the digital speedometer, temperature and fuel gauges are close to the windshield. Funky, but I do not mind.

The car has a remote control that lets you lock and unlock doors, but, unlike Accord, not open the trunk (you have to use the key). The fuel door locks and is unlocked by a mechanical lever from the inside. The car has a locking glove box, sliding single-compartment front armrest (Accord has dual-compartment), a couple of storage consoles in front.

Unlike the Accord, the taillights are not long lasting and quick-illuminating LED. And they look OK in the 4-door, but much better in a 2-door car. The mirrors and door handles are body color, as opposed to black ones on Accord VP.

About the Car 

The car is roomy for its size with cool materials and good finish. The fabric seems durable and the controls are within easy reach. The driver seat has easy to use adjustments for height, recline and front-back adjustment. The seats are comfortable: more so than the seats of the 2000 Mitsubishi Galant (one of the cars I used to have) and even than my Infiniti G35. The driver seat has very good lateral support and is Euro-firm.

The controls and overall look of the cabin are better than accord with more titanium-look accents. But there is too many different textures and styles in side. Also, the car I drove had a very large irregular gap between two panel of the dash, which makes me wonder how it passed quality control. Not something I expect from Honda.

The Civic has an A/C that works very well and features air filtration. The trunk has a large opening and the rear seats fold. But you have to use the key or internal handle to open it since the key/remote has no button that lets you open the trunk.

The engine compartment is not as neatly organized as Accord’s, but the access to all fluids is easy enough. The gauges, ,however funky, work well and are very legible and controls are easy to use with good tactile feel. And for some strange reason I love the fact that at any time you can press the button that switches between the trip odometers a couple of times and see the remaining oil life in percents.

It says "100%" for the first 10% of oil life, 90% for 90-80% and so on. Once it reaches "15%", it is time to replace oil. The speed with which it declines depends on how the car is driven, which should reduce the trips to the dealership and the oil consumption. After all, motor oil is made of mineral oil, just as the gasoline.

The stereo has good sound quality, better than the 2006 Accord VP, but I discovered that the speakers of 2007 Accord VP sound virtually as good. For the record, the Accord VP has only 2 speakers, other models have more speakers. The Civic LX has 4.


The car is relatively quiet and the road irregularities are felt rather than heard. The tire noise from the car does not reach the cabin and on the freeway you hear other car's tire noise rather than your car's.

The steering is well-weighted, requiring more effort than that of the Camry of Galant, which is a good thing. It is more sensitive off-center than either of the two. The brakes are easy to modulate and ABS is a welcome feature.

Civics are known, among other things, for good fuel economy. The 4-cylinder auto is rated 30/40 MPG. The little 1.8L engine uses i-VTEC, version that emphasises economy over power. It switches to an “economy” mode at low to moderate loads in the lower RPM range, where it adjusts the timing and lift of one of the two intake valves relative to the other to produce an effect of having a smaller-displacement engine. It is also combined with an electronic throttle control that opens the throttle more at the same time, reducing pumping losses.

The acceleration is very good for a 4-cylinder compact car, about the same as a 4-cylinder Accord.

Subjective Feelings 

I personally drive a 2004 Infiniti G35 and still enjoy my turn at the wheel of the Accord. Might sound strange, but I like the efficiency of Accord, its clear and bright gauges, its planted feel and comfortable seat. The Accord feels solid.

I expected similar feelings from the Civic and was disappointed. It is solid, has planted feel and communicative steering. But my main gripe is it is not as refined over bumps as the Accord (granted Accord is heavier) and, more importantly, the extremely sloped windshield of the Civic, combined with a deep dashboard makes me feel strange.

First of all, the thick A-pillars, even though they are supplemented by little triangular windows in front of the front doors, block the driver’s view more than they should have. More importantly, I am 5'11" and I still cannot see or figure out where the car’s nose ends. The sloped windshield and the deep dash distort my perception of the car’s size.

The visibility backward is pretty bad as well. The rear glass is small and is blocked further by rear seat headrests. All this made me quite uncomfortable. This, combined with the slightly messy-looking engine compartment and the price higher than Accord VP made me change my mind and get an Accord.

The Civic LX does have a good stereo with MP3 playback and an aux input. It is practical overall and its compact size might be a boon in an urban environment. But test drive it first to see if you like the dash and its sloped windshield.

Pros: Fuel efficient, comfortable, pretty fast, safe, good resale values, good enginnering
Cons: Poor backward visibility, price too high, strange dashboard layout, windshield slope

Bottom Line 

I like the Honda Civic overall, but only recommend it if you can adjust to its super-sloped windshield and the dash size and layout. 

This review was originally written by me in 2007

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