I have often said that the answer to most automotive questions is the Honda Civic. Looking for a reliable car? Get a Honda Civic. Want a family car that's economical to buy and drive? Get a Honda Civic. Need a cure for cancer? Get a Honda Civic. (Okay, maybe no one's ever cured cancer with a Civic, but I bet that's 'cause no one has tried.) This car has all the bases covered, and the outfield, too: Honda makes a hybrid Civic, an outstanding hot rod Civic, and even a Civic that doesn't require gasoline.
What they haven't made is a luxurious Civic -- something along the lines of Canada's Civic-based Acura CSX. But for 2008 they have come quite a bit closer with the Civic EX-L, which adds leather seats and interior trim to the top-of-the-line Civic EX.
I've never been a fan of leather. I grew up when cheap cars had vinyl seats, and I spent enough summers searing the back of my thighs that I still see cloth seats as the pinnacle of automotive comfort. But as a parent, I do appreciate the rugged, stain-resistant, easy-to-clean nature of leather. And I must admit that top-end cowhides really do make for a very nice car... even if you do still sear your thighs on hot summer days.
So what does the addition of leather do to the Civic? And where does the Civic stand now that Toyota has launched its new-for-2009 Corolla? All is revealed in my 2008 Honda Civic EX-L test drive. -- Aaron Gold
Photo © Aaron Gold