2001 Civic New Car Test Drive
Since the 1996 Civic debuted, Honda's small car has set the pace in the subcompact class due largely to its quality, efficiency, pleasant road manners and comfortable cabin. More than 300,000 Civics roll out of Honda's North American production plants each year, placing the Civic among the top five best-sellers.
Despite this success, stylists and engineers at Honda in Japan and Ohio have spent the past three years developing new versions of the Civic that arrive as 2001 models. Their goal is to improve quality by a factor of 10.
The idea driving these new designs is to maximize space for people and minimize the room required for mechanical systems, produce larger but more efficient engines, increase safety systems and comfort features, and enhance the manufacturing process by constructing fine cars with refined components and body panels that fit together precisely. As a result, the new Civics, conforming strictly to four-door sedan and two-door coupe styles, increases in engine displacement, fuel efficiency, safety, cabin space and passenger comforts. Although exterior dimensions decrease slightly, the passenger compartment expands in volume to forge a more spacious cabin stocked with comfortable seats plus new safety systems like dual-stage frontal airbags and optional side-impact airbags ($250).
Civics come in coupe and sedan versions, which differ in appearance but share the same level of features.
Civic four-door sedans come in three different trim designations and two different powertrains. Models include the base Civic DX sedan ($12,960); LX ($15,010), which adds power-operated controls and luxury features; top-of-the-line EX ($16,910), which gets a more powerful engine, body-colored power mirrors and a remote entry system. A four-speed automatic transmission ($800) is optional with every trim level.
Civic two-door coupes add a thrifty fuel-economy HX edition ($13,560) along with the DX, LX and EX trim levels listed above. The HX is equipped with an efficient lean-burn engine capable of 44 miles per gallon when teamed to the standard five-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable automatic ($1,000) also works with the HX.
Three engines are available for 2001; all are four-cylinder aluminum engines and each earns the government's ultra low emission vehicle, or ULEV, certification. The mileage-leading Civic HX coupe edition uses a lean-burn engine that achieves 117 horsepower; DX and LX coupe and sedan come equipped with a 115-horsepower 1.7-liter engine; the deluxe EX coupe and sedan get a 127-horsepower engine.
Sedan and coupe differ in appearance; in fact, fewer than one-fourth of the body panels are common to both body styles. The coupe comes with a more aggressive windshield rake than the sedan for a sportier look. Sedans and coupes measure identically in wheelbase and share a common structure, although the coupe has steel reinforcements for bulkheads, the floor pan and the front and rear roof pillars to compensate for the absence of the sedan's center side pillars.