The Honda Civic is among the most common vehicles on the road. With its sibling the Accord, it's an automotive industry version of a comfortable recliner in your living room. It's not fancy, but you know what you're getting and you like it.
With the 2009, Honda Civic Si, however, what ever staid, plain or other non-sexy thoughts you might have about the Honda Civic, forget them. The refreshed Civic Si, first introduced in 2006, has morphed into a sports car.
Good numbers: 197 horsepower at 7,800 rpm. The six-speed manual transmission rips through the gears pretty well for four cylinder playing with some bigger boys.
Small mesh cutouts in the steering wheel sports give it more of a sports car look. The Civic Si also gets and upgraded, stiffer suspension with more heavy duty roll bars, upgraded four-wheel disc brakes and an improved electric power steering setup.
Cargo Room (6)
For a smaller sedan/sports car, the trunk has generous space, although the lid infringes upon overall space.
Maybe my middle-age vision is rapidly diminishing? Nope. It's the small navigation buttons and a not-too-clear screen, particularly when sunlight hits it. The instrument panel in double-tiered with the analog tachometer below the digital speedometer.
Handsome trim and upscale feel are a big plus for a car at this price point.
Front Seats (5)
Good support, better comfort and tight on fast cornering, not that that's an endorsement to power around corners. (But it's a blast in the Si.)
Fuel Economy (5)
Good city and highway averages, but the good averages are counterbalanced with the recommendation of premium fuel.
Arguably the Si's biggest disappointment. The engine growls, but not a cool, sports car growl. It's just noisy.
Rear Seats (3)
Good in a pinch for adults, but not a place for a long haul except for the petite.
Ride Quality (5)
Stable and in control regardless of conditions. Strong stopping and tight radius for parking or other tight situations.
Total (53 out of 100)
Class — Sport compact.
Primary competition — Nissan Versa, Scion xBV, Mitsubishi Ralliart.
— 2.0L DOHC MPFI 16-valve i-VTEC I4 engine, Aluminum-alloy engine block, Drive-by-wire throttle, Close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission w/OD, Helical limited-slip differential, Front wheel drive, MacPherson strut front suspension, Multi-link rear suspension, Front & rear stabilizer bars, Electric power rack & pinion steering, Power ventilated front/solid rear disc brakes, Chrome exhaust finisher.
Exterior — 17" alloy wheels, power tilt moonroof w/1-touch feature, body-colored bumpers, body-colored rear wing spoiler, Multi-reflector halogen headlamps, Fog lights Body-colored power mirrors
Variable intermittent windshield wipers, Body-colored door handles, Cloth reclining front sport bucket seats, 60/40 fold-down rear, Center console w/sliding armrest, Floor mats, Textured aluminum pedals, Tilt & telescoping steering column, Perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel w/audio & cruise controls, 2-tier instrument panel w/red backlit gauges, Indicator lights, Headlights-on reminder, Outside temp indicator, Maintenance Minder system, power windows w/driver auto-up/down, Power door locks, Remote entry, Cruise control, Remote fuel filler door release, Remote trunk release w/lock, Security system, Immobilizer theft-deterrent system, Air conditioning w/air filtration system, Rear window defroster w/timer, Satin-finish door handle pulls, Front door pocket storage bins, Dual visor vanity mirrors, Map lights, Cargo area light, Aluminum shift knob w/leather, Passenger-side seatback pocket, Rear seat garment hooks.
Safety-Four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) w/electronic brake distribution (EBD), Brake assist, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) w/traction control, Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, Side-impact door beams, Daytime running lights, Dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, Dual front side-impact airbags w/passenger-side occupant position detection system, Side curtain airbags, front & rear, 3-point seat belts in all seating positions, Outboard lower anchors & tethers for children (LATCH), Emergency trunk release, Tire pressure monitoring system.
For more standard equipment/option package information, visit: www.honda.com.
MSRP — $21,904; Price As Driven — $24,295.
Mileage Estimates — 21 mpg (city), 29 mpg (hwy).
Warranty — Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.
The Final Words — The Honda Civic is available in about 20 configurations, but the Si is the only offering that stands alone. Considering the conservative nature of the vehicle, it's hard to beat the Si. It's a reliable daily driver with a sporty edge — just enough to categorize it outside of the mainstream.
James, a journalist since 1976, is co-author of Tour de France For
Dummies. He owns several websites, contributes to many print and online
publications and is also the editor of TheWeeklyDriver.com. A long-distance runner for nearly 30 years, Raia also rides his bike — to nearby coffeehouses. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.