Nuts & Bolts: 2014 Honda Civic EX-L coupe

Bottom line:The Honda Civic, available as coupe or sedan and offering gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid or CNG (compressed natural gas) power systems, is easily one of the best small-car buys available. It offers top quality, safety, reliability and fuel economy at a reasonable price.

Ride, handling and acceleration: The tested EX-L coupe gets good marks in all three. “Good” means it is a pleasant, very competent driver on highways and dry roads. It is a safe, steady driver on snow-packed roads when driven the way all vehicles — four-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive — should be driven over snow and ice: SLOWLY!

Head-turning quotient: Pleasant, acceptable. It is not a flash-mobile. It is a Civic.

Body style/layout: The Civic is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive compact car available as a coupe or sedan. It is offered in five trim levels — the base LX, the mid-grade EX, the up-level EX-L and EX-L Navi, and the extra-fuel-efficient HF sedan.

Engine/transmission: It comes with a 1.8-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing. A five-speed manual transmission is standard.

2014 Civic EX-L Coupe. (Honda/Wieck)

Capacities: Seating is for five people. Cargo capacity is 12.5 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons of gasoline (regular grade is recommended).

Mileage: I averaged 21 mpg in the city — lots of traffic congestion — and 38 on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; and electronic brake-force distribution.

Price: The base price of the 2014 Honda Civic EX-L coupe with continuously variable automatic transmission, heated front seats, and onboard navigation with rear-view camera and Honda LaneWatch is $24,040. Dealer’s invoice price for that model is $22,331. Price as tested is $24,830.

Note: Not-so-funny things can happen after a vehicle review is sent to editors and posted. Take last week’s column on the 2014 Ram 3500 Big Horn heavy-duty work truck. We were finishing one last dump run a day before shipping it back to Chrysler. The truck was stationary — engine idling, cabin heat on. Mary Anne and I entered the front cabin and simultaneously slammed the front doors. Pop! Then there was the sound of glass falling into the cargo bay. The right rear window over the cargo bay blew out. A stress fracture we hadn’t noticed? We’re investigating. We’ll let you know.

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