What's New for 2010
After a handful of tweaks last year, the 2010 Honda Civic is unchanged.
The 2010 Honda Civic compact sedan/coupe is one iconic car whose reputation is well-deserved. Icons often get complacent after establishing their excellence, but the Civic continues to be a leader more than three decades after its first appearance on American soil. The fact that the current-generation Civic is still one of our top compact-car picks in its fifth year on the market speaks volumes about Honda's commitment to excellence with this bread-and-butter vehicle. Offered in a variety of flavors to suit a wide range of tastes, the Civic belongs on every compact-car shopping list.
Long known as Honda's smallest car, the Civic no longer holds this title, as the company's own Fit and Insight are more diminutive. Indeed, the compact segment has become more of a junior midsize segment in recent years -- the current Civic is virtually the same size as the Accord was 15 years ago. But this pumped-up Civic nonetheless retains the virtues for which it is justly famed: agility, efficiency, comfort and a reputation for reliability. Its only glaring flaw is the unavailability of desirable features like Bluetooth, stability control and rear disc brakes on lower trim levels such as the volume-selling LX.
Some of the Civic's aesthetic touches are a bit bizarre, particularly its dual-tiered instrument panel, which combines digital and analog gauges into a "Jetsons"-style presentation. But most shoppers will probably view this as a forgivable quirk in an all-around impressive car. They'll likely be more focused on the Civic's extensive array of models, from the efficiency-minded (though rather pricey) Hybrid and clean-burning natural-gas GX to the high-performance Si. If you like the way the Civic looks and feels, chances are there's a specific model to fit your lifestyle.
The compact segment has become quite competitive in recent years, and the Civic is by no means alone at the top. The redesigned Mazda 3 is its strongest rival, offering performance that only the Civic Si can best, plus superior sophistication and the convenience of a hatchback model. The Volkswagen Golf and Jetta also perform well and offer more refinement and hatchback/wagon versions, though their fuel economy in non-diesel form is lackluster. The Subaru Impreza is also worth considering, as is the Hyundai Elantra, a better-equipped and more affordable take on the Toyota Corolla's formula. And if you want a hybrid, we'd recommend the Toyota Prius over the expensive and slow Civic Hybrid. But otherwise, you can't go wrong with the justly iconic 2010 Honda Civic.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Honda Civic is a compact car available as a sedan or coupe. For both, there are five main trim levels: DX, LX, EX, EX-L and Si. On the Civic sedan, Honda also offers the DX Value package, the LX-S, the Hybrid and the GX.
The DX comes with just the basics, including 15-inch steel wheels, power windows, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a height-adjustable driver seat. It doesn't even have a stereo, though the DX sedan's optional Value package includes a four-speaker CD/MP3 audio system, an auxiliary audio jack and air-conditioning. The LX adds 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories, a center console with a sliding armrest, a folding rear seatback and cruise control. The LX-S sedan tacks on alloy wheels, a chrome exhaust outlet, a rear spoiler, front sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Going with a Civic EX gets you 16-inch alloys, a sunroof, a six-speaker sound system (coupes also feature an exclusive subwoofer) with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a USB input, ambient console lighting and a 60/40-split rear seatback with a fold-down armrest. The EX-L comes with heated exterior mirrors, leather upholstery and heated front seats. The sporty Civic Si has most of the EX's features plus a more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels with high-performance tires, foglights, sport seats and special interior trim.
As for the efficiency-minded Civics, the GX has a feature list similar to the LX's, while the Hybrid is equipped similarly to the EX but adds automatic climate control.
Options are limited to a navigation system with Bluetooth phone connectivity (the only way to get Bluetooth on a Civic) and satellite radio. It's available only on Si, EX, EX-L and Hybrid models. Heated leather seats can be added to the Hybrid.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2010 Honda Civic has a whole bunch of available engines and transmissions. DX, LX and EX models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional. With an automatic transmission, the Civic sedan goes from zero to 60 mph in a class-typical 9.6 seconds. Manual transmission models are notably quicker.
The GX also has a 1.8-liter engine, but it's fueled by compressed natural gas and makes 113 hp. It has a cruising range of only 200 miles, but a refueling machine can be installed in your garage. The GX is also America's cleanest mass-production internal-combustion engine car in terms of tailpipe emissions.
The Civic Hybrid uses a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain to maximize fuel economy. Its 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine makes 110 hp and is paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). For the Civic Si, Honda installs a 197-hp 2.0-liter engine and a limited-slip front differential; a six-speed manual is the only available transmission. The Civic Si zips from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.
Nearly all Civic models boast above-average fuel efficiency. Civics fitted with the standard 1.8-liter engine earn EPA estimates of 25 mpg city/36 highway and 29 mpg combined (26/34/29 with the manual shifter). The GX posts similar 24/36/28 mpg ratings. The Hybrid tops the Civic lineup with fuel mileage of 40 city/45 highway and 42 combined. Civic Si models have 21/29/24 mpg estimates.
All Civics come with front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Antilock brakes are also standard; however, only EX and Si models have four-wheel disc brakes, while the rest have rear drums. Stability control comes on EX-L, Hybrid and Si trims but is unavailable on the others.
In government crash testing, the 2010 Honda Civic earned a perfect five stars for its protection of occupants in frontal impacts. Side-impact tests resulted in a four-star rating for front passenger protection and five stars for protection of rear passengers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Civic sedan its top rating of "Good" for the car's performance in frontal-offset and side-impact tests, but the Civic coupe drops to "Acceptable" (second best) in side impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Civic's dash features an unusual gauge layout. An analog tachometer is in the traditional location behind the steering wheel, but a digital speedometer and gas gauge reside at the base of the windshield. Some of our editors find the two-tier display distracting, though others say it makes quick visual checks of speed easier. Otherwise, the Civic's controls are well laid out and easy to operate, and materials are of acceptable though not outstanding quality. Seats are comfortable front and rear, and the rear floor is flat all the way across, making the middle passenger's life easier. Rear passenger space is quite good for this class. Regular Civic sedans have 12 cubic feet of trunk space, but it drops to about 10 for the Hybrid and 6 for the GX.
The 2010 Honda Civic handles more confidently than the average compact car, but it's not as capable as the class-leading Mazda 3. Still, for most drivers the Civic's handling will be just fine, and for enthusiasts the Civic Si's sporty suspension tuning and high-revving engine should satisfy. Ride quality is smooth enough, but not as cushy as, say, the Elantra's. In typical Honda fashion, road noise is elevated even at moderate speeds. The Civic Hybrid and natural-gas GX are quite slow; we're inclined to forgive the uniquely powered GX, but not the Hybrid, as the Toyota Prius is quicker and cheaper.