Day 3–5: In Portland
Navigating Portland’s maze of one-way streets requires good visibility and a bit of nimbleness: good news, then, that the latter has returned to the Civic. Forward visibility remains the same, slightly compromised by the way that extremely sloping front windscreen pushes the thick A-pillars forward.

2013 Honda Civic Touring
2013 Honda Civic Touring. Click image to enlarge

This is a cycling town, and you also need to keep an eye out for the trams that run at street level through the city. We’ve met up with friends at our hotel (the Kimpton Monaco, highly recommend it – free wine and doughnuts in the evenings), and even fully packed with four adults and the child seat, the Civic is quick enough to keep up with traffic; it makes for a good city car.

Bombing around town to visit the historical Pearl District, picking up beers from one of the dozens of excellent local micro-breweries or visiting a shop that only sells fancy socks (don’t ask), I find the Civic to be a perfectly competent little car. The steering’s a bit numb, but there is a little less roll in the corners over the old model. My passengers, none of whom are really interested in cars, declare the interior “nice”.

Day 6: Portland to North Vancouver
Doing the trip back in one straight shot reaffirms all my notes from the trip down. I’ll climb out of the Civic at the end of this seven-hour drive without stiffness, and with minimal tiredness.

2013 Honda Civic Touring
2013 Honda Civic Touring. Click image to enlarge

As the miles pass, I’m thinking back on all the interesting cars I’ve seen on the trip: a chromed GT-R, a seafoam green ’55 Chevy, the electric Nissan Leaf that had place of pride outside the Oregon Museum of Science. At the top of my mind: a mid-’90s Civic hatchback that buzzed past us and zoomed off down the road, slammed to the ground on a race suspension.

I can’t see anyone wanting to do something similar to this car; it’ll never be hot-rodded up, and just plain doesn’t have that zippy, lightweight, chuckable spirit that Soichiro Honda seemed to will into even the most basic Honda products.

But, as we coast into the driveway having covered well over 1200 km on just about two tanks of fuel, it does have long legs. Comfortable too, as the baby asleep in the back seat might tell you – and speaking of which, the Civic carries a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the IIHS.

If you want a little of that old Honda zip, take a good look at the Fit. If you just need a small, practical, efficient family car, then good news: the Civic feels like it’s back.

Pricing: 2013 Honda Civic
Base Price (DX):
Base Price (Touring): $24,840
Freight: $1,495
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $26,335

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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