Doing Civic Duty with Honda
2001 Model a Nice Little People Mover
by Jim Bray
New for 2001, the Honda Civics 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. Todays Hondas are world class vehicles
that can match their quality and technology against anyones, 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 years 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 doesnt 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 Ive 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 wont break the bank to keep on the road and
thats 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 theyre 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 drivers
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 drivers left foot gets a nice footrest, which is wonderful
on twisty bits of road.
The Civics flat floor makes the middle of the back seat more comfortable
for whoevers 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, thats pretty picky because, all things considered, the 2001 Honda
Civic is a very nice car that belies its entry level status.