2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Photo Gallery: 2007 Honda Civic

When it was introduced in the fall of 2005 as a 2006 model, the redesigned Civic sedan’s bold exterior and interior design was a shock to many people. Even if the Civic was Canada’s best-selling car, critics wondered if buyers could warm up to this bold, futuristic design. Well, the people have spoken with their wallets: a year and a half later, the Civic (sedan and coupe) is still Canada’s best-selling car, despite a concerted challenge from the popular Mazda3 which is offered as both a sedan and a hatchback.

It probably helped the Civic that gas prices have spiked in the last year, and the Federal government’s carrot and stick ‘Green’ plan has given an advantage to fuel-efficient cars. But to be fair to Honda, they’ve been making vehicle fuel efficiency a priority for years, even when big SUVs were the hot sellers. Now, they’re reaping the benefits (again).

Changes to the Civic sedan for 2007 are minor: an auxiliary input jack for i-Pods and music players has been added to the instrument panel, and MP3/WMA capability in the CD player has been included in all sedans except base DX models.

First, let’s take a look at the different Civic sedan models available.

Pricing and standard equipment

Pricing for 2007 stayed the same for base DX models but went up by $200 on all other trim levels with the new additional features mentioned above.
Civic sedans are offered in three trim levels as well as the Hybrid model. Base Civic DX models ($16,980) include a 140-hp 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, 15-inch tires and steel wheels, and front disc/rear drum brakes with ABS and electronic brake differential.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

Inside, standard features include power windows, power mirrors, tilt and telescopic wheel, CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, side and curtain airbags, a manual driver’s seat height adjuster, and a single folding rear seatback. A popular option package in the DX-G model ($2,200), adds air conditioning, power door locks and keyless entry.

The mid-level Civic LX sedan ($20,630), adds 16-inch tires and alloy wheels, auto up/down driver’s window, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, body-coloured heated mirrors, outside temperature display, and map lights.

The top-of-the-line EX adds rear disc brakes, power sunroof, split folding rear seatbacks, rear armrest, rear cupholders and six-speaker stereo with wheel-mounted controls.

This week’s test car is a mid-range Civic LX sedan with the optional automatic transmission ($1,200). With Freight charges and A/C tax, the as-tested price came to $23,205.


Interior impressions

Despite the Civic sedan’s swoopy profile, headroom for front and rear passengers is adequate for adults up to about 6 feet tall in the front seats and 5 ft. 10 in. in the rear. Rear legroom is also okay, depending how far back the front seats are pushed. The rear seat has seatbelts and head restraints for three passengers, but two adults are more comfortable.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

For an “economy car”, the quality of the dash and door materials is first-rate and the standard cloth seats have a unique silver mesh trim on the sides of the seats and head restraints. Still, the soft cloth used in the seats is not as good-looking as the durable tweed upholstery used in some competitors.

The unique instrument panel design is highlighted by the separation of the speedometer and tachometer into upper and lower positions on the dash: the round tachometer and transmission gear indicator are located behind the steering wheel, while the digital speedometer, fuel gauge and coolant gauge are positioned on top of the dash just under the windscreen. From the driver’s seat, the tachometer is viewed through the steering wheel while the speedo is viewed above the steering wheel rim at a greater distance than a typical gauge. The placement of the speedometer higher up and further away on the dash means that the driver doesn’t have to look down as far when taking their eyes off the road, and can refocus from the road to the speedometer and back again more easily. In addition, the speedo’s large illuminated white numerals on a blue background are very easy to read. The disadvantage of this design, at least for me, is that the speedo’s flashing numbers are distracting while driving – not as bad as those head-up displays found on some GM vehicles – but more distracting than traditional round gauges behind the steering wheel.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

Another noteworthy aspect of the Civic’s instrument panel is the multitude of storage spaces. There are five open bins on the instrument panel, plus two front door pockets, a glovebox, two cupholders and a large bin underneath the centre padded armrest which can store up to 25 CDs. A 12-volt powerpoint and auxillary input jack are also standard.

The centre instrument panel protrudes well forwards into the cabin, making it easy to adjust the controls without reaching. The white on blue digital display at the top of the centre dash is easy to see and includes radio and CD functions and a digital clock. Just below that is the radio/CD player with straightforward buttons and dials that are clearly marked. The standard stereo is a 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system now with MP3/WMA compatibility and four speakers. An 8-disc CD changer is available as a Honda accessory, but with a required attachment, it’s priced over $900.

The heater/air conditioner is also a simple affair with dials for fan speed and temperature and pushbuttons for ventilation options. Note that the button for the rear window defroster also activates the defrosters for the side mirrors.

Between the front seats are two cupholders with spring-loaded cup grippers and a sliding cover to cover them when not in use. This space can also be used for hiding coins, pens, keys or other small items.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

The doors feature stylish handles that are flush with the surrounding trim, but opening them requires slipping your fingers inside the latch and pulling outwards – to me, they felt flimsy and awkward. I did like the overhead grab handles for front and rear passengers.

My biggest complaint with the interior is the lack of split folding rear seatbacks. Civic DX, DX-G and LX sedans have a single fold-down rear seatback; only the top-of-the-line EX sedan gets 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks. A split folding seat offers the flexibility of placing cargo on one side and a passenger on the other. With a single folding seatback, longer items can’t be transported if there are any rear seat passengers.

For a small car, the Civic’s trunk is pretty roomy (340 litres/12 cu. ft.) with fully lined floor and walls, a reasonably large trunk opening, and a low liftover height.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

Standard safety features include five three point seatbelts and five adjustable head restraints, side airbags in the front seats, side curtain airbags for both rows of passengers, rear door child locks and rear seat LATCH tethers and anchors for child seats.

The new Civic’s “ACE” (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) body structure offers improved crash protection over previous Civics and is designed to be crash-compatible with vehicles of different sizes. As well, the front of the Civic is designed to reduce injuries to pedestrians in the event of an accident.

In 35 mph frontal crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2007 Civic received five stars for the driver and front passenger, and in side impact tests, the front passenger received four stars while the rear passenger received five stars. In 40 mph frontal offset crash tests conducted by the the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Civic sedan received a ‘Good’ rating, and in side impact tests, it also received a ‘Good’ rating.


Driving impressions

Though the Civic’s engine is under two litres in size and its horsepower isn’t class leading, it offers competitive performance and excellent fuel economy. The 1.8-litre, 16-valve, SOHC, i-VTEC four-cylinder motor puts out 140 hp at 6300 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm. Acceleration tests of a 2006 Civic sedan with a manual transmission conducted by AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) revealed a 0 to 100 km/h time of 8.6 seconds, and an 80 to 120 km/h time of 7.1 seconds – automatic-equipped Civics are perhaps a second slower to 100 km/h. I found the Civic to be very responsive from a standing start, and not too sensitive to throttle input. It’s also surprisingly torquey in higher gears, due to its i-VTEC variable valve timing system.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

The optional five-speed automatic transmission makes the most out of the 1.8-litre engine. With its ‘grade logic control’, it will stay in third or fourth gear when ascending a grade to avoid “gear-hunting”, and will downshift from fifth to fourth or third when descending a grade to provide engine braking.

On the freeway in fifth gear, the engine turns over a modest 2,000 rpm at 100 km/h and 2,400 rpm at 120 km/h, keeping engine noise low and fuel economy high. Energuide fuel consumption figures with the automatic transmission are 8.2 L/100 km (35 mpg) city; and 5.7 L/100 km (50 mpg) highway. With the standard manual transmission, fuel consumption is slightly better in the city: 7.8/5.7 city/hwy. Of course, if you want really good fuel economy, you can buy the Civic Hybrid which has published figures of 4.7/4.3 City/Hwy – but the Hybrid is demonstrably slower in acceleration.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

Like other Hondas, the Civic’s automatic shift lever can be moved back from “D” to “D3” without pressing the release button on the shift handle. This is handy when you want to gear down quickly, but it’s possible to inadvertently put the shift lever in D3 when starting out – which I did on a few occasions.

The prominent position of the handbrake lever next to the transmission shifter looks awkward, but proved to be a good location for engaging the parking brake when parking.

I liked the Civic’s small steering wheel with a soft-grip rim and bulges at the 10 and 2 positions to rest the thumbs. The steering column features telescopic (in and out) and tilt (up and down) adjustment. The LX includes steering wheel mounted cruise control buttons, but you have to move up to the EX to get the steering wheel audio buttons. The variable power assisted rack-and-pinion steering requires minimal effort when parking but firms up at higher speeds and is quite precise.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

Visibility for the driver is clear in most directions – a manual height adjuster on the driver’s seat allows shorter drivers to raise the seat cushion. The short hood is invisible through the large front windscreen, and the large side windows permit easy lane-changing. The small triangular side windows just in front of the front door windows are very useful for ‘looking around corners’ before making a 90 degree turn, such as in an underground parking lot. Like most sedans, the high trunk compromises rear visibility when parallel parking as the nose of the car behind you is completely obscured. The centre rear head restraint is smaller and lower than the outer restraints, and doesn’t impede rear vision significantly.

A fully independent suspension and meaty Goodyear Eagle RS-A 205/55R16-inch all season radials provided excellent grip in the corners. There is very little body lean and the suspension, while firm, isn’t harsh over pavement cracks or speed bumps.

2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan
2007 Honda Civic LX sedan. Click image to enlarge

All Civic trim levels, except the EX, get front disc brakes and rear drum brakes with standard ABS and EBD. Braking performance, as measured by AJAC, is about average in its class: 100 km/h to 0 in just under 43 metres (141 ft.). Civics are not available with traction control or stability control.

The Civic sedan has a very tight body and suspension noises are well isolated from the cabin. At speed, some wind and tire noise can be heard in the cabin, but the engine is very quiet. The noisiest component of the car is the electric engine fan which comes on automatically at intervals while driving slowly or when idling.


Verdict

A well-built compact sedan with a reputation for reliability, the 2007 Honda Civic LX sedan offers nimble driving manners, excellent fuel economy and a unique instrument panel. The unavailability of split folding rear seatbacks and rear disc brakes on all but the top-of-the-line EX model may be a concern to some.


Pricing: 2007 Honda Civic LX sedan


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


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Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Ford Focus
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Mazda3
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Nissan Sentra
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Pontiac Pursuit
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Saturn Ion
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Suzuki Aerio
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Toyota Corolla


Crash test results


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