Road Tripping: Georgian Bay in a 2014 Honda Civic
In summer, the Cobble Beach golf resort sparkles with the stripped-down beauty of a Scottish seaside, green as mint jelly on the shores of Georgian Bay.
OWEN SOUND?In summer, the Cobble Beach golf resort sparkles with the stripped-down beauty of a Scottish seaside ? green as mint jelly on the shores of Georgian Bay.
In winter, it becomes a serene outpost, as pristine as the Beetles? White Album.
Ready for a near-polar experience, we headed up on a road trip in the 2014 Honda Civic Touring sedan. At $25,200, the Touring is as swank as it gets in the Civic lineup.
But, first, we had a drop-off to make in Toronto. Errand finished, we called on the Civic?s navigation system to get us out of town.
How frustrating! Poking, punching and squeezing the touch-screen Multi-Information Display (i-Mid) seemed to anger the maps. They blew up or they shrank, as pinch and swipe commands missed their target.
The turn-by-turn voice prompts were a help, until we wanted to shut them off. It took multiple pokes through the menu to achieve silence.
I love technology, but finicky touch screens to control multiple functions are distracting.
Knobs are good and intuitive, but the only knobs in the Civic are for climate control. For a while, I was driving with the cabin at 28C because I thought I was turning up the radio.
The Civic is quiet enough, the seats are roomy enough and the visibility is good enough that the oddities of a road trip are easily absorbed.
New features in the Touring edition include a CVT transmission, push-button start, proximity key and a blind-spot warning system that puts a camera view on the centre screen every time the right turn signal is activated.
As the car turns, a wide view shows the lane to the right. My co-driver liked it but I found it to be information overload.
In Owen Sound, the camera only showed snow banks ? big ones. The roads were glazed with ice and snow, but the Civic plowed ahead with poise and grip.
The continuously variable transmission is smooth, with no abrupt moves as it winds though a faux range of gears programmed to mimic a traditional automatic. With 143 horsepower, the 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine cooks enough juice to pass and merge.
You can also mix things up by switching between Drive and Sport modes. However, at highway speeds, D tended to drone at about 1,500 r.p.m. and S lingered in a strenuous spin at 3,000 r.p.m.
Sport was my preferred choice, which probably contributed to our 8.8 L/100 km average gas consumption ? well above the official claim of 6.0.
Although the Inn at Cobble Beach offers snowshoeing or snowmobiling, we decided to take a drive along Balmy Beach Road, marvelling at the iconic winter scenery as we passed rows of pine trees, cottages and snow-covered fields.
Visibility is good in the Civic, despite a two-tiered dash in front of the driver that seems slightly self-important. The upper tier devotes a lot of space to the speedometer, which is good, but the second tier reserves prime real estate for the tachometer. For a CVT? Who cares?
We scooted to the waterfront in Owen Sound, past the sign for the Great Lakes Elevator Company, to pose the Civic in front of a wintering freighter. From fore to aft, the Civic has a tidy profile.
Next, we headed to Harrison Park, a place right out of an Alice Munro short story. Kids fed ducks as they glided by on a graceful stream, and families took a spin on the sparkly ice at the Good Cheer Rink.
A straw poll at the park would likely have counted more than a few Civic owners. It?s been Canada?s top-selling car for 16 years in a row.
No surprise. It?s reliable, comfortable and satisfying.
2014 Honda Civic Sedan Touring
Price: $15,690 base, $25,200 as tested
Engine: 1.8-L inline four
Power/torque: 143 hp/129 lb.-ft
Fuel Consumption L/100 km: 6.7 city, 5.0 hwy., 8.8 as tested
Competition: Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra.
What?s Best: smooth CVT, good seats, improved styling.
What?s Worst: touch-screen display too finicky.
What?s Interesting: upper tier of dash mimics a heads-up display ? the first thing I usually turn off in a car.