2010 Honda Civic DX-G
2010 Toyota Corolla LE
2010 Honda Civic DX-G (top); 2010 Toyota Corolla LE . Click image to enlarge

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Made In Canada: Introduction

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By Grant Yoxon and Paul Williams

2010 Honda Civic DX-G

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Made in Canada: Civic and Corolla

When it comes to comparing the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, the question isn’t simply, “Which is better?” The question is, “Which is better for you?”

Both cars are Canadian-built; together they hold the majority of the Canadian compact car market (with the Honda emerging as the top-selling compact car by a few percentage points each year), they’re close in price, and they both have great resale value.

Where they differ is in character. The Corolla is familiar and conservative in its appearance and operation; the Civic is more agile, more modern in its conception.

You simply have to look at the two cars for the difference to become apparent. The Honda’s front design is both dynamic and aerodynamic; the angle of the huge windshield continues almost in a straight line from the bumper to the cowl to the leading edge of the roof. The back of the vehicle is trim and chiselled. It’s a sharp-looking car.

2010 Honda Civic DX-G
2010 Honda Civic DX-G. Click image to enlarge

Inside, the driver and front-seat passenger are greeted by a sweeping, futuristic dashboard whose instruments and controls are nonetheless simple to use and easy to read. Even the steering wheel is surprising, with its compact yet substantial and appealing design.

The 140-horsepower, four-cylinder Civic engine is plenty powerful in all normal driving conditions, and the optional five-speed automatic transmission is smooth in operation (a five-speed manual is standard). The throttle is responsive and the Civic feels very light on its feet as you pilot it through city traffic. Handling is sharp and braking is sure and straight on its standard anti-lock system.

However, the 2010 Honda Civic DX-G does not offer traction control and electronic stability control (as found in the closely priced 2010 Toyota Corolla LE), and these are technologies that we would rather have, no matter how sure-footed the vehicle.

That said, the Civic on a good set of winter tires is easy to manage due to its inherent balance and excellent driver feedback. Even though conditions were severe during this sub-zero test drive, the Civic felt secure and performed as requested. Likewise, on dry pavement, the Civic handling proved precise and nimble.

2010 Honda Civic DX-G
2010 Honda Civic DX-G. Click image to enlarge

The big windshield means big windshield wipers, and these were effective in snow and freezing rain, as was the heating/ventilation system. Visibility is blocked somewhat by the large A-pillars, even though there are small windows inserted up-front to help. It’s the price you pay for that sleek exterior and aerodynamic design.

Major instruments are prominently displayed, with the large digital speedometer positioned front-and-centre, almost like a Head-Up Display. A quick glance is all you need for a precise reading.

A somewhat annoying feature of the Civic is that while both front doors auto-lock when you get underway, only the driver’s door auto-unlocks when you stop and put the car in “Park.” That’s the default, and for adult passengers it’s always frustrating (although if you’ve a child in the passenger seat, it makes sense). The good news is that this default is owner-selectable. Simply find the relevant section in your manual, and you’ll see how to easily reprogram the auto-lock feature to best suit your needs.

2010 Honda Civic DX-G
2010 Honda Civic DX-G. Click image to enlarge

The seats are comfortable and supportive, even on a long drive, and our test car drove without the slightest rattle or squeak, regardless of the road conditions. The trunk is competitive in size for a compact car, but the trunk lid is fitted with large, exposed hinges that rob space (same with the Corolla), rather than the more sophisticated and compact strut-type hinges.

No heated seats, unfortunately, and no USB port, but there is an auxiliary jack for your personal entertainment device. Other small things that are not part of the DX-G specification are an exterior temperature gauge, auto up/down power windows, 60/40 rear folding seats and variable intermittent windshield wipers (two-speed is what you get).

Cruise control, air conditioning and a tilt-telescoping steering column are present and appreciated, however.

After over 20-years of Civic manufacture in Canada, Honda has pretty much nailed the compact car ideal. But if ESC and traction control are high on your list of desired features, you’ll have to wait for the 2012 model, by which time you’ll see an all-new Civic with government-mandated electronic stability systems.

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