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Honda's 2014 Civic EX Coupe is miserly and comfy over the long haul

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There’s a reason Honda’s Civic is the most stolen car in the U.S. It’s because it’s the most popular, all-around compact car be it sedan or coupe.

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We tested the 2014 Civic Coupe EX that underwent a subtle refreshing for 2014. The biggest news is that the Civic now sports a CVT transmission in place of the former 5-speed automatic transmission. Don’t know that change was for the better as CVT’s have come to be a love-hate thing among new car buyers. Perhaps it’s because drivers don’t feel and hear gear changes since the CVT is controlled by a chainlike belt with variable transmission ratios for optimum engine performance and gas mileage.

The other question is, will drivers be able to rock the car back and forth with quick gear changes from D to R (like the 5-speed allows) if getting stuck in snow?

Combining the 1.8L, 143-hp (129 lb/ft of torque) four-cylinder with the CVT produces EPA mileage estimates of 29 city, 38-highway mpg. This combo has been 0-60 tested in 8.7 seconds. Not exceptionally quick, but sufficient for most Civic buyers who are notably more economy conscious. And with the impressive mileage figures, the Civic coupes, although aimed at young, single buyers, also makes great commuter cars for all age groups.

Civics’ interior is tasteful, comfy, but nothing spectacular. The front cloth bucket seats are soft with just the right amount of lateral support. Not too confining, yet aptly supportive. The gauge cluster is split in two with a digital speedometer atop the dash and a large centered tachometer (where the speedo would normally reside) below it. That aside, speedometer readings at that higher eye level allow drivers to maintain eye-road contact. The display also shows audio, Bluetooth and other system functions.

On the center stack resides an 8 1/4x4 ?-inch LCD screen that resembles an iPad in that it’s about the same size and is touchscreen operable with swipe-and-pinch functions as on Apple products. Here all connections and internet inputs are made including audio volume control that can more easily be done with a knob. HVAC controls, however, thankfully function with two knobs and buttons. As for the Pandora app, you must purchase a HondaLink cable kit ($100) for your iPhone 5 or newer, to be compatible. Android is coming sometime this year says Honda.

But kudu’s to Honda for including their effective LaneWatch blind-spot camera system whereupon a camera is embedded in the passenger’s side view mirror that displays on the LCD when activating a right turn signal. This is in addition to a standard rearview camera system.

As in most coupes, rear seat ingress/egress is a bit of a stretch, but it’s helped by front seats that rack well forward. Legroom in the back seat is marginal but sufficient for teens and tweens. Low profile rear headrests are nice in that they provide a clear view rearward.

Back in the 11.7 cubic foot trunk area, it’s big enough for a large roll-a-long or one golf bag with the long clubs stacked atop the bag. Pull two handles in the trunk and the rear seatbacks flip forward expanding this area. But because the bulkhead extends into the trunk area, the hole for stowing wide items is reduced.

As for ride on 16-inch Hankook tires, Civic’s have always been known for a smooth, pliable ride. It parked easily with a tight turning radius. Only major potholes or road imperfections reverberate into the cabin. On Interstates, the Civic feels like a midsize instead of a compact car.

With a standard features list that offers all the amenities most folks want, including a sunroof, keyless ignition and rearview camera, the Civic EX bottom-lined at $21,880 with delivery, after a base of $21,090.

In government safety ratings, Civic coupe received four stars for an overall vehicle score, four for frontal crash, five for side front crash, four for rear seat crash and four for rollover.

When buying a Civic, remember to lock your doors and perhaps employ a steering wheel bar lock when parking it outside. Why make it easy for thieves.

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