2004 Civic New Car Test Drive
Honda's highly practical Civic rolls into 2004 with a subtly but significantly new look. Bumpers, hood, headlights and grille are all new on the coupe and the sedan, emphasizing a baby-brother resemblance to the slick and smooth Accord. The sporty Si hatchback gets new headlamps and taillamps that update its sleek look.
Honda Civic is an icon. Honda sells more than 325,000 Civics a year in the U.S., making it one of America's best-selling compacts. Civics are notable for their excellent fuel economy and sporty handling. Front-seat comfort is superb by any measure.
The Honda Civic line is composed of a family of diverse models. Coupes and sedans are available. Up-level Civics come with powerful VTEC engines that provide brisk acceleration. The Si hatchback is the flagship performance model.
All Civics are fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, but a couple of models take these benefits to the extreme. The Civic HX coupe gets 44 mpg on regular unleaded. More extreme is the Civic Hybrid, which gets up to 51 mpg on regular unleaded. The Hybrid's gas engine is assisted by an electric motor. Unlike an electric car, the Hybrid never needs to be plugged in. Owning and driving a Civic Hybrid is just like life with a regular Civic. Well, almost. There's also a Civic GX sedan that burns natural gas; Honda claims it's the cleanest internal combustion engine in the world.
Honda Civics come in three body styles: four-door sedan, two-door coupe, and the Si three-door hatchback. Sedans and coupes are available in DX, LX, and EX trim. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all models. A four-speed automatic transmission ($800) is optional on the LX and EX models.
Civic DX and LX are powered by a 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine rated 115 horsepower. The DX has wind-up windows and manual locks; it lacks air conditioning and comes only as a four-door sedan. A new Value Package (VP) for the DX adds air conditioning, CD player, power locks, and center console. LX adds air conditioning, 15-inch (rather than 14-inch) steel wheels, anti-roll bars front and rear, power-operated controls, a height-adjustable driver's seat, remote keyless entry, a CD player, and other luxury features.
Civic EX models get more power from a 127-horsepower VTEC version of the 1.7-liter engine. EX also gets 15-inch aluminum wheels, body-colored power mirrors, upgraded audio with six speakers, and a tilt-and-slide glass sunroof.
Civic Si is only available as a hatchback and the hatchback is only available as an Si. Civic Si comes with a high-output 2.0-liter engine with i-VTEC (for variable valve timing with intelligence) rated 160 horsepower. Si comes with a five-speed manual and is not available with an automatic.
Prices range from $13,010 for a DX sedan to $15,160 for an LX coupe to $17,260 for an EX sedan to $19,000 for the Si.
Specialty Civics are available as well. The HX coupe ($13,710) comes with highly fuel-efficient lean-burn engine that gets up to 44 mpg and achieves an impressive 117 horsepower. Civic HX comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but a continuously variable automatic transmission, or CVT, is optional ($1,000).
The Civic Hybrid represents the ultimate in environmental responsibility, using a small gas engine and a big electric motor to achieve up to 51 mpg. The Hybrid ($19,650) is equipped comparably to the EX sedan with a five-speed manual transmission. It's also available with a CVT automatic ($20,650).
The Civic GX sedan comes with natural gas-powered engine, which the government rates as a SULEV, or super ultra low-emissions vehicle. It produces 100 horsepower.
Options are limited. Side-impact air bags ($250) are optional on all models and standard on the Hybrid. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on EX, Si, and Hybrid, optional on GX, and unavailable on other models.
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