2009 Honda Civic 4DR EX-L Navi

The Civic is the small car that every manufacturer wishes it had in its lineup, revered for its reliability and resale value. Having said that, anyone who thinks the Civic is an entry-level car needs to take a closer look at the Monroney sticker-the EX-L we tested prices out at a little over $24,000. (To be fair, the most inexpensive Civic still comes in at about $16,000, but you need to opt for the EX-L or the even-more-costly Si if you want traction control - an option that's available on the $17,000 Fit Sport but not on lesser Civics).

The Civic EX-L isn't exactly riveting to drive, but like all Civics it has a nice ride/handling balance and a perfectly adequate 140-hp four-cylinder. The interior is well put together, although the steeply raked windshield means there's a huge expanse of plastic that runs from the top of the dashboard to the base of the windshield.

I'm going to side with Rusty on the dash layout. Perhaps it's because of my relatively short stature, but no matter how many adjustments I made to the seat and the steering wheel, I found that the Civic's digital speedometer was still partially obscured by the steering wheel. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer an analog speedometer.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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