Honda’s little workhorse Civic soldiers on into 2005 with relatively minor changes. On the sedan, the DX-G and LX trim of 2004 have been dropped in favour of the new LX-G trim. Both coupe and sedan SE models receive a console armrest and keyless entry, and on the coupe, the Si trim is gone and a new “Reverb” tuner-style package has been added.

Due to unfavourable exchange rates, Honda does not offer the sporty and more powerful Civic SiR in Canada for 2005. The Civic Hybrid gasoline-electric remains.

All Civics (except for the Hybrid) carry a 1.7-litre engine (tuned for higher horsepower in Si and Si-G) and come with a five-speed manual that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic, and disc/drum brakes. The coupe starts with the base DX line, which includes intermittent wipers, rear defroster, tilt wheel, 60/40 folding rear seat, 14-inch wheels and AM/FM stereo. The SE adds the new-for-2005 console armrest and keyless entry, along with air conditioning, CD player, front chin spoiler and power door locks.

The Civic coupe LX continues to pile on goodies, adding 15-inch wheels, power windows and mirrors, driver’s seat height adjustment, cruise control, and front map light. The new-for-2005 “Reverb” trim adds to this trim line and brings a skirt kit, 15-inch alloy wheels, premium six-CD stereo with tweeters, rear spoiler, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, and chrome tailpipe. The top-line Si-G also comes with four-wheel ABS and alloy wheels, along with heated mirrors, power moonroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, and simulated carbon-fibre trim.

On the Civic sedan, the DX and SE trim lines offer the same features as those on the coupe, with the SE receiving a console armrest and keyless entry for 2005.

The new LX-G trim line features four-wheel ABS brakes, 15-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof, power heated mirrors, cruise control, power windows and keyless entry. The top-line Si adds the faux carbon fibre, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter knob, open-style head restraints on the front seats, and ABS.

The Civic Hybrid remains unchanged for 2005, available in only one trim line that contains all of the convenience features of the conventional cars’ top lines. Because of the battery vent, its rear seat does not fold.

The Civic gasoline-electric Hybrid tends to get lost in the shadows against Toyota Prius’ aggressive marketing campaign. It can’t run solely on its battery as the Prius can, but it’s $1,830 less and not as tech-heavy, and feels more like a conventional car. Still, you’re buying it to save the planet, not your wallet; its fuel savings take a long time to catch up to its price tag.

In 2003, the Honda Civic passed the 15 million mark worldwide, finally outselling the Model T Ford. Only the 21 million Volkswagen Beetles seem to have it beat. There’s a reason for the Civic’s popularity: while it isn’t flashy, it’s a pleasure to drive, it’s reliable, and it’s great value for the money. It cuts across all buyer demographics, and is as likely to be in the hands of seniors as in the teenagers who’ve made it a tuner-car favourite.

The Civic faces a crowded field, including the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Chevrolet Cobalt, Hyundai Elantra and the redesigned Kia Spectra. All have their good points – and price differences ranging, in base sedan form, from $95 to $1,205 – and lengthy test-drives are in order.

The Honda Civic is built in Alliston, Ontario.

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