We drive the Honda Civic EX-L and Civic Si

Honda Civic Si Coupe

The Honda Civic is an amazing car. The same basic car can be so different. We sampled our favorite Civic, the Si, along with one of the most luxurious, the EX-L. They are completely different animals and appeal to different people while they are the same chassis and are priced about the same. It is an unlikely comparison but it is intriguing.

All Civics received some freshening up for 2014. There are interior upgrades for all Civic models, sportier exterior styling for Civic coupes, a new CVT that improves fuel efficiency, increased engine performance, and some more features.

Civic Sedan EX-L

Our Civic EX-L is the most luxurious Civic available and it came with leather, navigation and more. These include a new 7 inch touchscreen control center, smart entry with push button start, blind spot monitor, automatic headlights, and a few others.

The EX-L is powered by a 1.8 liter 16 valve four cylinder engine that produces 143 horsepower and is now only available with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

EX-L interior

There is a 5 speed manual still available but only on the base LX model. With a wider gear ratio range, the CVT is claimed to deliver better performance as well as improved fuel economy. Fuel economy ratings are 30/39/33 city/highway/combined, an improvement of +2 mpg city (+1 mpg improvement for models equipped with paddle shifters) and +1 mpg combined compared to 2013 models equipped with the 5-speed automatic.

The new, 12-percent lighter CVT transmission has increased efficiency through reduced internal friction and a 22-percent wider ratio range.

On the Civic Coupe EX and EX-L models, the CVT transmission can be controlled with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to provide a more engaging driver experience. D mode is fully automatic, however the paddle shifters can be used to downshift the transmission for greater engine braking for situations such as descending a steep hill.

The transmission can also be upshifted in D mode. When the paddle shifters are used in D mode, full automatic operation will resume after a short time.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]For spirited driving, S mode includes seven ratios and maintains the selected ratio until the driver operates the paddle shifters again. The system will only shift automatically to prevent over revving the engine or lugging.

The EX-L model is great as a family hauler for parents who do not see driving as an art. The CVT really kills any fun that the driver can have and the engine is too weak to have fun anyway. On the plus side, the car is quiet and smooth and the outstanding fuel economy numbers are sweet.

If you are the type of driver that wants some zing behind the wheel, the Civic Si is perfect for you. It is powered by a 2.4 liter DOHC four cylinder engine that puts out 205 horsepower and comes only with a six speed manual transmission as well as a limited slip differential.

The engine in the Si is one of the sweetest four cylinders in the world and the six speed manual should be showcased to every automotive engineer in the world. It is one of the best shifting transmissions at any price. You can drive the Si like an economy car and it will behave like a very gentle kitten but get on it and the tiger comes out as you get closer to the 7000 rpm redline.

While the suspension on the EX-L is tuned for comfort, the Si is tuned for performance. The EX-L has a 19 mm front anti roll bar and a 16 mm rear bar while the Si has a 21 mm bar in the front and a 20 mm bar in the back Spring rates and damper tuning is also different and the Si has a much quicker ratio steering over the EX-L.

The EX-L comes with 215/45-17 all season tires while the Si has 225/40-18 summer tires. The difference between the two cars is night and day but amazingly the Si does not feel harsh or uncomfortable but it does handle a lot better.

While both cars are in the $24,000 price range, it should be noted that a Civic LX starts out at just $18,390. Probably the biggest difference is fuel economy. While the EX-L is rated at 39 mpg on the highway, the Si is only rated at 31 mpg. It will come down to your personality and your love of driving. If only every car company would offer so many choices on all of their models.

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