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The 2001 Honda Civic Sedan

Doing Civic Duty with Honda

2001 Model a Nice Little People Mover

by Jim Bray

New for 2001, the Honda Civic’s seventh generation feels like more than an entry level car.

I first drove the Civic in 1976. In fact, I owned one and it was a wonderful little car for 48.000 miles. By then, however, the front fenders had pretty well rusted away and at 48001 miles it seemed the Civic was telling us in no uncertain terms that it was retiring and went from being wholly dependable to, shall we say, an interesting driving experience.

That was back in the comparatively early days of Japanese cars, however, and a lot has changed since then. Today’s Hondas are world class vehicles that can match their quality and technology against anyone’s, and this Civic is a prime example of that.

My test unit was the 2001 Civic LX sedan, which sells for approximately $16,000.

Once I got over my initial angst at being saddled with an automatic transmission, I quickly began to really like what turns out to be a very nice car.

This year’s Civic is only available as a four door sedan or a two door coupe: no hatchback is offered. It comes with a 1.7 litre SOHC (single overhead cam) 16-Valve four cylinder ultra low emissions (ULEV) engine that puts out 115 horsepower @ 6100 rpm and 110 foot pounds of torque @ 4500 rpm. Displacement and power are increased from the previous Civic and, even though the power rating doesn’t sound like a lot (and some other models in this class offer more), numbers never tell the whole story.

Incidentally, the top end EX comes with a 127-hp VTEC-E engine.

In my “real world tests” (zipping around for a couple of weeks), I found the Civic had plenty of jam and gets up to whatever clip you desire, within reason. I had no trouble reaching freeway speeds while still on the acceleration lanes, and once there the car maintains its momentum well unless you throw a major hill at it.

The new Civic is very refined, and the automatic transmission shifts extremely smoothly, better than the trannies of some higher end cars I’ve driven.

So if you absolutely must have an automatic, this is a good one.

The engine and four speed automatic transmission are EPA rated at 30/38 city/highway miles per gallon, so the Civic won’t break the bank to keep on the road – and that’s part of the reason one buys this class of vehicle.

The Front MacPhearson Strut and Rear Double Wishbone suspensions are all new for 2001, and the tires and front brake rotors have been enlarged to make the Civic more stable on the road. This, and the power rack-and-pinion steering, helps give the car a sporty feel you may not expect with a basic economy sedan.

Stopping the Civic are power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes.

The 2001 redesign has given the Civic a less pleasing, slightly shorter exterior, but with a tad more interior room. The dashboard has all the gauges you really need, and they’re large and easy to read. Most of the switches are illuminated at night, and the interior lights in my tester were connected to the keyless entry system so that, when you unlock the doors, the inside lights up in a most friendly manner.

The LX also comes with cruise control, power windows, mirrors and door locks.

Seating positions (especially up front) are comfortable, though my driver’s seat was a tad loose and wiggled a bit. This was the only fit and finish problem I noticed in what otherwise seemed to be a very well built vehicle. On the upside, the driver’s left foot gets a nice footrest, which is wonderful on twisty bits of road.

The Civic’s flat floor makes the middle of the back seat more comfortable for whoever’s unlucky enough to be there.

One other small complaint I had concerned the air conditioning. Honda included a really nice touch in that, when you switch on the windshield defogger, the air conditioning comes on as well, helping it work more quickly. Unfortunately, when you switch back to the heat or vent positions, the A/C stays on. This can be frustrating on very cold days.

Still, that’s pretty picky because, all things considered, the 2001 Honda Civic is a very nice car that belies its entry level status.


Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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