Weekend Roundup: Sketches of 2012 Honda Civic Teased; 2011 Jeep Compass Driven

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Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We've gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your viewing.

2012 Honda Civic Concept Sketches Revealed, Set to Bow at Detroit Auto Show

Honda's development cycle has put the Civic on a five-year cadence for some time now. However, due to major changes late in the design process, Honda was forced to delay the introduction of its ninth-generation Civic by a year. Now, with design and engineering nearly finalized, the automaker is apparently ready to roll the car out in front of the world. A so-called concept Civic (i.e. a lightly-disguised variant of the production car) will debut at next month's 2011 Detroit auto show.

First Drives: 2011 Jeep Compass, 2011 Ford Explorer, 2011 Kia Optima SX, and 2014 Volkswagen Golf Blue-E-Motion

We had our first crack at a number of brand-new vehicles this week, including the completely revised 2011 Jeep lineup. The latest revision to the SUV-maker's portfolio is the 2011 Compass, which marks a drastic change from its econobox predecessor. Speaking of SUV revolutions, we finally had our first crack at seat time in the new 2011 Ford Explorer, which ditches its body-on-frame roots in favor of fuel economy. Our time in the 2011 Kia Optima SX revealed the car to feel quite European, almost as much as most Volkswagens. On that note, the auto giant doesn't yet have an electric vehicle in production, but we sampled the company's EV technology in the form of its Golf Blue-E-Motion prototype.

Retail Customers Take Delivery of First 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Automakers have been taunting us with concepts of electric vehicles for several years, but as of this week, they're finally starting to trickle down to consumers. A $225,000 bid by NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick secured the second production Chevrolet Volt to roll off the line this week, but he wasn't the first to take delivery. That honor went to Jeffrey Kaffee, a retired commercial airline pilot from Parsippany, New Jersey. The first Nissan Leaf in the U.S. was delivered earlier this week to Olivier Chalouhi of San Francisco, California, who replaced his electric bicycle with the (slightly more practical) EV.

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