More Evidence of Civic Decline
Honda's long-running Civic has always defined the simple, basic car, taken to a higher level. For 2001, it's added room for you, your passengers, and your luggage.
The Civic is bigger all around, especially in rear leg room. Combine that with a lowered, flat trunk floor, and you can take the foursome - and their clubs.
The extra room, though, comes without much extra zoom. It used to be that, unlike most competition, Honda's peppy 4-cylinder engines could even go through an automatic transmission with some zest left over. Not any more. And styling's a bit awkward, especially on the coupe.
Hondas have traditionally commanded slightly higher prices than the competition, because they were spirited, nearly-bulletproof cars. Much of that spirit is gone from the new Civic. It's still a basic car, but no longer a special one.
Let's Hope it's Not a Prelude
Honda started as a motorcycle company, and its cars inherited a high degree of advanced engineering and precise, often exhilarating control. Their 2001 Civic isn't a bad car. But it has given up much of its Honda-ness - and it shows.
Take the suspension. For better packaging, Honda gave up its unique front double-wishbones, opting to follow the McPherson strut crowd. Does it matter what the suspension's called? It does when you can feel it in the driving. And the new Civic is less precise and less enjoyable to drive than its predecessors. Before, you could tell that you were driving a Honda, even blindfolded - not that we recommend that. This one doesn't pass the blindfold test.
To be sure, the car is quieter, stiffer, and even better put together than before. But Honda was already the class leader in those areas. The engineers might have been better used in protecting the meaning and value behind the H logo.