Several days before dad pulled the trigger on his new (to him) car, he spun his iPad around so I could take a look at his latest find. Upon gazing at the result of his latest automotive search, the car he would ultimately purchase several days later, I grew exasperated. I really thought something like a late model Fusion worked better for his needs. He disagreed, and dropped this bombshell:
“You’re not listening to me.”
Almost one year ago I published a Question of the Day piece that asked readers to recommend cars for papa Snitkoff. The only car on my short list that dad expressed interest in was a current generation Taurus. Of course that was last year. He never mentioned a bull after that. And I didn’t push him towards looking for a replacement car once it dawned on me that unless something broke on his current ride, he was perfectly fine with what he was driving. That moment came last month when the air conditioning in the Taurus suddenly stopped working. The stifling humidity of a New York summer definitely accelerated his decision making process.
“I wouldn’t begin to suggest a car for Ed’s dad. Unless he’s mentally incapacitated, I’m thinking he can well figure it out himself. And then live with his choice, which is the whole problem about recommending a car to anyone.”
Had I listened to what Paul wrote in the comments section of last year’s post, dad wouldn’t have needed to all but say he wasn’t interested in checking out another mid size sedan. So it goes. I’m glad he let his distaste for my pushiness be known, because once I realized he was truly interested in the Civic I began encouraging him to check out the vehicle in person.
And that’s exactly what we did. This specific Civic appealed to him because of the color and the price. As the above screenshot illustrates, similar coupes in the region are significantly more expensive or have more mileage on them. Another positive was the Carfax, which showed the car only having one previous owner, who put a below average amount of miles on the car before presumably trading it in for a newer car of German origin. Said owner also changed the oil approximately every 7,000 miles or so at their local Honda dealer.
The Honda also happened to reside at the Volkswagen dealership that sold him the 2003 Volkswagen Golf he purchased for my sister before she went away to school. On the drive over I told dad that we should walk out if they refused to drop the price down another 1k, so imagine our surprise to find the car with our target price plastered on its windshield (they apparently lowered the price two days before our visit, but the revised figure didn’t show up on their site or Autolist.com until the day after dad bought it).
Since I had finally let go of my desire to see dad in something else, my ability to judge the Civic on the merits was unimpeded. And I liked what I experienced. Although the Civic has twenty less horsepower than my Focus, the Honda hides its power deficit well. It’s when you’re driving at around 30 mph or so and want the car to downshift when that 140 hp comes up short. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The 5 speed automatic transmission is about as smooth and refined as they come. The 2016 Toyota Camry my friend rented last year was similarly refined, but it did not change gears as quickly as the Honda.
The Civic took corners better than expected. A relatively quick steering ratio and small turning circle contribute to its handling prowess. Unfortunately, the electric power steering doesn’t provide much feedback. Rough pavement didn’t vex the Honda too much but my Focus feels noticeably more composed over road imperfections. Honda clearly prioritized a comfortable, somewhat isolated driving experience, which comes at the expense of the sportiness found in the Ford.
Honda cars and crossovers tend to get criticized for overly intrusive wind and road noise. That doesn’t seem to be the case with this car. In fact I’m pretty sure its quieter than my ride, at least in terms of wind noise. Honda went back to the drawing board after the 2012 Civic got pilloried by the automotive press, and one of their emergency “fixes” involved thicker glass for the windshield and side windows. The Civic also boasts side mirrors mounted on the door instead of in the space between the A pillar and the door. I’m wondering if that also has something to do with the quietness of the car.
The Civic’s biggest weakness is its visibility. Coupes tend to have more blind spots than their sedan counterparts. Dad’s Honda is no different. Due to the steeply raked windshield, its pretty likely you’l encounter visibility issues up front as well.
Once inside the Civic, you’re greeted with a cockpit designed primarily for the driver. The two-tiered dash display and the center stack are angled for accessibility, and while the entire setup isn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing, its hard to criticize the inherent functionality of it all. Audio controls are clearly labeled and font size is perfect for the older demographic. It should surprise no one that interior quality is top notch. The front seats are well bolstered and comfortable.
From a technological standpoint, Honda’s i-MID system is a bit disappointing. While the system uses Bluetooth for phone calls and music streaming, it only allows voice commands in extremely limited circumstances. You have to “tag” fifteen contacts from your phonebook in order to call someone when driving. Honda ostensibly touts this as a safety feature, but my suspicion is that the system lacks the technological sophistication to do anything more, as any audio device connected via USB is unable to be controlled with voice commands. Ford’s basic SYNC system, which I have in my 2013 Ford Focus, allows me to use voice commands to dial anyone in my phonebook without any restrictions. When my iPod Touch is connected via USB, I can also use voice commands to select the artist, album, song, or playlist of my choosing. Honda’s system couldn’t do that in 2013.
I highly doubt dad will use even a fraction of all the gizmos in the Civic. And ultimately it doesn’t matter what I think about the car since I won’t be the one driving it. This post was supposed to be about him anyway. So what’s his verdict?
He loves it.