Who's your Daddy? That should be the 2002 Civic's advertising tagline. One of the most well-known and popular economy cars ever sold in America, the Civic continues to be one of the best choices in this segment after its redesign last year.
For 2002, there are three main trim levels: DX, LX and EX. The DX trim includes a tilt steering wheel and an AM/FM four-speaker stereo, among other items. Mid-level LX comes with air conditioning (includes a micron air filter), power windows and locks, cruise control and a cassette deck. Top-of-the-line EX receives antilock brakes, a moonroof, 15-inch wheels and a CD player. There's also the natural gas-powered GX sedan, the high fuel-mileage HX coupe and the new Civic Si hatchback.
DX and LX are powered by a 115-horsepower 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine and are mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The engines in the GX, HX and EX are equipped with Honda's VTEC variable valve-timing system. VTEC allows the EX to make 127 horsepower. The miserly HX manages only 117 hp, but the reward is an EPA mileage estimate of 36/44 mpg city/highway. The HX and GX can be equipped with a continuously variable transmission and all of these engines meet ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) standards. Later in 2002, Honda is set to offer a gasoline/electric hybrid Civic showcasing technology developed for the Honda Insight.
If it's power you are looking for, the Civic Si hatchback should suit you. The Si comes with the 160-hp 2.0-liter engine also found in the Acura RSX. The shifter for the close-ratio five-speed manual transmission is mounted rally-style on the center dashboard. Other features include standard rear disc brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats and special gauges.
Regardless of the body style, the Civic earns excellent scores in government crash tests. Dual seatbelt pre-tensioners, dual-stage airbag inflators, three-point seatbelts for all five occupants and optional side airbags with a cutoff system that can detect a child or occupant out of position are all offered. ABS is offered, but only on EX, GX and Si trim.
With the sedan and coupes, the driving experience isn't the most exciting to be found in this class. The suspension is tuned for a soft and comfortable ride, not necessarily performance. We also find the exterior styling to be rather dull. The interior is roomy and quiet, however, and this allows the Civic to be an excellent car for both commuting and long-distance trips.
While there are certainly other economy cars out there you should take a look at, it's pretty hard to go wrong with the Civic. Every time you get in it, you'll know that you're driving a safe, dependable car that causes minimal damage to the environment.