Weidel on Wheels: Accord and Civic still fit your sedan needs

By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Even though its impact has been diminished somewhat with the emergence of strong competitors, such as Kia, Hyundai and several American manufacturers, Honda vehicles remain near or at the top. Two reasons why are the Civic and Accord, two Honda products that have been standouts for more than a decade. When it comes to making a selection in the compact or mid-size sedan class, these two vehicles are always high on the list of car shoppers. The 2011 Civic arrives with no significant changes the last two years following a tweaking of the 2009 model. That’s not the case with the Accord, which has many changes for 2011 that may intrigue car buyers. Accord It’s been three years since many changes have been made to the Accord. Most notable for the 2011 model is the revised aerodynamics that gives the Accord better gas mileage. The SE model driven here gets 23 to 34 miles per gallon, which is nearly as high as the smaller Civic. People familiar with the Accord will easily notice the exterior changes. The grille is new, the front bumper is a little different and the tail light reflectors have also been altered. While retaining its defining qualities — value, reliability, performance, passenger accommodations, resale capability — there’s no doubt the competition is inching up on the Accord. The list of legitimate rivals includes the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata and Mazda 6. The Accord’s performance still ranks high. The test-driven SE model has a peppy 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces 177 horsepower. For a more dynamic performance, the Accord EX version has a much strong 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that produces 190 horsepower. Although the Accord no longer blows away the competition with its interior styling and features, it still ranks high. One reason is the roominess the Accord provides, which offers great leg and head space for all passengers. However, the hard plastics are more than some competitors provide. Civic Offered again in a sedan or coupe, the Civic remains a class leader in numerous departments. For a compact vehicle, the Civic is very roomy and doesn’t leave any of its passengers with that cramped feeling. It also features an appealing style and continues to have a strong reputation for reliability in all areas, including comfort, efficiency and driving capability. Even the lower-end Civic EX — a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower — was spunky navigating in the surrounding Sacramento foothills and in freeway passing situations during the test week. The more upscale SI model (2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 197 horsepower) is obviously a lot zippier. Always a selling point for the Civic is gas mileage, and that continues to run high at 26 to 34 miles per gallon. What is also running high is the sticker price. One pays for the Honda name, evidenced by a price range between $15,655 to $24,455 (the EX goes for $19,605). The Civic historically has a reputation for a steady ride and that hasn’t changed. This compact vehicle will grip the road with assurance, corners well, but can get noisier at higher speeds. __________ 2011 Honda Civic EX Price: $19,605 Power: 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower Mileage estimate: 26 mpg city; 34 mpg highway Standard features include: 60/40-split rear seatback; leather upholstery; center console; heated front seats; six-speaker sound system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Satellite radio, USB input; fog lights; four-wheel disc brakes; one-touch power windows 2011 Honda Accord SE Price: $23,730 Power: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 177 horsepower Mileage estimate: 23 mpg city; 34 mpg highway Standard features include: Stability and traction control; tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; six-speaker sound system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack; eight-way power driver seat; leather upholstery; daytime running lights; tire pressure warning; center console