Previewed in concept form earlier this year in Detroit, the fully redesigned 2012 Honda Civic Coupe and Sedan lineups made their formal debut in New York. As expected, the latest iteration of this perennially popular compact matches more assertive exterior styling with greater overall refinement, an enhanced feature set, more potent and/or more efficient powertrains along with several new tech touches aimed at further bolstering its already formidable market appeal.
Styling on all 2012 Civic variants embraces an edgier take on the existing car's "one-motion" monoform design theme. Stronger and more dramatic contours, thinner A-pillar treatments and a steeper windshield and back glass rake add new sense of dynamism to the look which is set off by more dramatically styled front/rear lamps. Underpinning the package is a new stiffer, stronger unit body that serves as a solid foundation for a MacPherson strut/multilink front/rear suspension that now boasts improved control and compliance.
Although the Sedan's 1.9-inch longer wheelbase and more upright roofline endow it with a more absolute interior room -- particularly in its now even more spacious aft quarters -- both share common basic design themes highlighted by the latest variation on the Civic's two-tier dash configuration and function-oriented control/switchgear layouts. As in the past, the DX, LX, EX and leather-lined EX-L offer an increasing hierarchy standard features, while the high-performance Si models, and the Sedan-only Civic Hybrid, Civic Natural Gas (formerly Civic GX) and new econo-oriented Civic HF models also feature vehicle-specific packaging. However, all come with the full complement of safety equipment, including stability control that links with the new Motion Adaptive electric power steering, antilock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, dual-stage/multiple-threshold front airbags/front-side airbags with occupant position detection and side-curtain airbags plus pedestrian-friendly hood and front fender areas designed to deform in a collision.
In its volume-leading LX guise, the Civic nets a complete range of power assists, cruise control, air conditioning, and a 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB/AUX connections as well as a new i-MID feature that allows for the integration of vehicle information and various personal electronics via a 5.0-inch color LCD display and steering wheel controls. Moving to EX/EX-L brings things like Bluetooth, two more speakers, a 60/40 split-folding rear seatback and the ability to get leather (EX-L) and opt for the Honda's new Satellite-Linked Navigation System that's now based on a 16GB flash memory instead of a DVD and features voice activation, a 6.5-inch TFT color touch display and real-time FM Traffic as well as XM Satellite Radio. The Si set cranks up the performance and the volume complementing its dedicated powertrain components, bolder bodywork bits and upgraded sport suspension/brakes/wheels/tires with a 360-watt Premium Audio System plus a new Sequential Rev-limit indicator and i-VTEC engagement indicator in addition to the navigation package option.
The 2012 Honda Civic line will continue to offer the widest range of powertrains in its segment. All DX/LX/EX/EX-L models will carry over the existing 1.8-liter i-VTEC four that makes 140 horsepower and 128 lb-ft or torque. It can be paired with either a five-speed manual (standard in DX/LX) or five-speed automatic (standard in EX/EX-L and optional DX/LX). The new auto-only HF Sedan bolsters that with a rear spoiler, special alloy wheels and underbody aero fairings to help raise its EPA highway stat to 41 mpg, two better than the other autoshifted 1.8-liter cars.
In the alternative green realm, the 2012 Civic Hybrid gets a major motivation upgrade by replacing the 1.3-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder gas engine with a new 1.5-liter upgrade and swapping the nickel-metal hydride battery pack in the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) setup for a new lithium-ion counterpart. Still matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the total system output remains at 110 horsepower, but peak torque rises from 123 to 127 lb-ft and city/highway mpg ratings jump from 40/43 to 44/44. The renamed Civic Natural Gas Sedan also has upped its game. Regularly cited for being the cleanest internal-combustion engine vehicle in America, the 110-horsepower 1.8-liter in this Civic now boasts better low and mid-range torque. Paired with a five-speed automatic, it nets 27/38 mph EPA stats and Honda promises that the name change also will be accompanied by even wider distribution in the year ahead.
There's equally good news for fans of the hottest Civic, as well. The 2012 Si Coupe and Sedan have traded the existing 2.0-liter i-VTEC four for a new 2.4-liter counterpart that boosts pony count from 197 to 201 at 7,000 instead of 7,800 rpm and churns out 170 lb-ft of peak torque -- a 22-percent boost in the twist department -- at 4,400 revs instead of 6,100. The engine is backed by a six-speed, close-ratio manual transmission and despite the extra muscle and even quicker acceleration; the 2012 Si duo earns 22/31 mpg EPA numbers, reflecting a plus-one/plus-two gain over the 2011 models. The new 2012 Honda Civic line goes on sale this week.