Nuts & Bolts: 2012 Honda Civic LX

Bottom line: Anyone looking for a foolproof small car would be wise to shop Honda Civic offerings.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The 2012 Honda Civic LX sedan gets “very good” marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: The styling is conservative — ordinary-people. It blends in, or disappears into, practically everything.

Body style: The Honda Civic is a compact, front-engine, front-wheel-drive car sold as a coupe or a sedan. There are six trim levels: base DX, the more popularly equipped LX and EX, the high-fuel-efficiency HF, and the gasoline-electric Hybrid. Also available is a CNG Civic, which is engineered to run on compressed natural gas and could be ideal for fixed-route/depot-based commercial customers.

Engine/transmissions: The LX comes with a 1.8-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing (140 horsepower, 128 foot-pounds of torque). A five-speed manual transmission is standard. A five-speed automatic is optional.

Capacities: Seats five people (real-world comfortable seating for four, especially on trips in excess of 50 miles). Cargo volume is 12.5 cubic feet. The 13.2-gallon fuel tank takes regular gasoline.

Real-world mileage: I got 35 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving with three occupants and light loads (100 pounds or less of cargo).

Safety: Standard equipment includes ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency braking assistance, electronic stability and traction control, and side and head air bags.

Price: The 2012 Honda Civic LX sedan starts at $18,005 with manual transmission and $18,805 with a five-speed automatic. The respective dealer invoice prices on those models are $16,744 and $17,485. Add a $790 destination fee.

Hint: Times have changed. Increased competition means that many Honda dealers are willing to bargain. Keep in mind that used Honda Civics remain among the best bargains out there.

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