Performance

With just 140 horsepower, you'd expect the Civic's efficient four-cylinder engine to be a dud, but it offers a lot of pep. That doesn't mean it has street-racing speed, but it can merge into highway traffic just fine and pass without causing panic. The Mazda3 is probably the only one of the Civic's competitors that's more fun to drive, but of course it's also thirstier at the pump.

The Civic is nimble, with tight steering that also adds to the fun-to-drive factor. The ride is comfortable, but not as cushy as the Corolla's. I didn't mind it during highway commuting, though. Both road and wind noise were minimal for a car in this class.

Best of all for these days of sky-high gasoline prices, the Civic gets 25/36 mpg city/highway. That's near the top of the segment; the less powerful base Corolla is the only one that tops it, and even then it's only in city driving.

    See also:

    Auto Select (A.SEL)
    Use the auto select feature to scan both bands and store the strongest station in each preset. 1. Press the SETUP button. 2. Press to enter the auto select mode. The system goes into scan mo ...

    Changing the Folders
    While playing an MP3/WMA disc, you can select a folder within the disc by pressing either side of the category bar. Each time you press either side of the bar, the folder title and its first ...

    Precautions While Driving
    In Rain Avoid driving in deep water and on flooded roads. This can damage the engine or cause electrical component failure. Other Precautions If there is a strong impact with something under th ...