Out of curiosity I went for some cruises this past weekend.
The 2012 Civic LX, 2012 Impala LT, 2013 Corolla LE, and 2012 Camry LE four were the subjects of your friendly local Neanderthal's gentle herding instinct.
There was one 2012 Civic remaining at the local emporium. They also had one 2013, somewhere on campus. I didn't lay eyes on it. They had a row of about a dozen 2012s with "sold" signs in them. LX is the base model. Rear drums, no sunroof, a few other hardships like 15" steelies vs. 16" alloys on the EX.
An aside: The dealer had a yellow 1971 AN 600 sedan, just like the car (well, mine was red) Your Historic Neanderthal owned back when the earth was still cooling. Dear lord, that thing is TINY. Did I really fit in it?
Not a bad looking car. Attractive, tight.
Seats comfy. I love the dashboard, this one is a winner. I drove my aunt's Civic hybrid briefly, in 2008. It rode like a buckboard, but it had the same clever dash. The digital speedo and other gauges just below line-of-sight is a great idea.
Fires up and ticks like a watch. Honda MOTOR Company. Though it's a much-moaned-about mere 5-speed, I can't tell that it's lacking anything. We take the car out to some hilly country. By hilly I mean elevation changes of 500 to 1000 feet regularly, on a four-lane undivided highway with a 65 limit.
The car rides quite smoothly, more so than my Soul and perhaps more than the Spectra. Plenty of power for cruising needs.
At turnaround we reset the MPG meter. Going up hill and down dale for about 10 miles, we come up with 40 MPG+ on the DIC.
The heat works fine on a cold, windy day. Winds don't bother it. An unremarkable drive. Which is good.
Now. I don't like the trend to push-buttons. The HVAC has the now-standard five aiming controls, i.e. feet, face, combined, defrost, defrost-and-feet. Same as my Soul.
The rear seat folds down in one piece. I never understood this resistance at Honda, to the split folding seatback. I use it more than I probably realize, and having just one choice is IMO a turn-off. Saleshomie says the seatback in the 2013 Accord does not fold, period. Weird.
So: Fully adequate acceleration and braking. I didn't get into twisties so I can't remark on that. Ride was excellent, though. I guess I'll have to sit one down next to an '11 and '13 to see what all the inky wretches have got their knickers bound up about.
2012 Impala LT. LT, or Lieutenant as I like to call it, is the middle model. It has 17" alloys.
LS being the base with 16" alloys and the LTZ being the Leather n' Lace version with roof, 18" alloys shod with I presume the beloved GY LS2 tires, heated seats, wing, and a few other gadgets of no import to the typical Neanderthal shopper.
LT has the dual zone, which is--as my friend who wrote an amusing and interesting manuscript of his adventures in Vietnam said over and over, is an exclamation of excellence--NUMBER ONE in my book.
It also has the stupid wing, which is a 200 dollar delete. A front bench is a 200 dollar option. Balance, balance. Flip n fold is standard in LT and LTZ. LTZ, Lieutenant Zulu.
The first example of the Impala was less than impressive. This is why you should drive multiple examples of your chosen victims.
Coming off the Soul's tight electric steering and 2013 steering wheel, the Impy's Ancient Mariner pump-steer and larger wheel seemed, well, odd. And slow?
I heard a distinct GDI noise on this motor, both at idle and running. I thought, well if KIA can make this stuff quiet, why can't The General?
The car is quick. Of course, at 3550 lbs. and 300 HP 6/A it should be, no matter the brand.
The ride is quiet, comfortable, and very subdued, compared to the hard-riding Soul that Your Humble Narrator currently marshals as his trusty steed. Did I mention a jet-smooth ride?
We showed 22 MPG on a short (5 miles?) loop including one stomp-it.
This was the most ignorant saleshomie. Comments like, "Hey, how about that brake pedal?", "Cops drive these," and "You won't have to mess with the timing, unlike Honda and Toyota." Huh? WTF?
I tried to 'splain to him about timing belts and chains, and that in fact this very car was a cammer with a chain. I think he thought he was riding in an OHV V8. Thank goodness he's not an engineer.
My impressions were it's a decent enough car, but a little loose. And WTF about that dadburned GDI racket?
I drove three other Impalas at two other dealerships, to get a wide look. Two new, one used.
None of them had GDI noise.
One new one had a clunk in the front suspension. Another used model also felt a bit loose, it was spawn of a rental fleet with about 25K on it.
But after driving four examples of this car that has much scorn heaped on it by many of Amurrica's wittiest autoscribes, I grew to like it. Big, wide, reasonably comfortable seats. DUAL ZONE. Flip n fold, which looks very handy and is an ingenious device which of course The General seems too stupid to feature in any ads I've ever seen.
Available bench. Yes I can. The other Impala in which I remembered to set the DIC also garnered us 22 MPG on our 10-mile test drive. City rating. Consistency.
Gauges are lit in a bluish tint. And the HVAC benefits from being ancient, in that there are in-between settings nestled halfway between the face/feet/both/defog/defog+feet settings. And it's dial-operated, not the more "modern" field of buttons that must give some designers delusions of Space Shuttle work.
Toyota Corolla LE. The 2013 is just like the 2012. While not in the market for this car, it was sitting there and was priced under 20.
In brief, an unremarkable car with a 2.0 four I believe, a four-speed auto, and general blandness.
My pervading thought after driving the car was, "Just keep the Spectra! It's paid for!"
2012 Camry LE four 6/A. This was supposed to be a much-improved car, according to those who get paid to write about such matters. I haven't driven or even been inside a Camry for years, perhaps decades, so there's no baseline to compare it to.
I did notice the multiple buttons vs. dials, which as per the Civic do not impress me. Too many buttons. Dash too complicated.
And it was dark out by now, so declassifying a foreign control panel was just a little more challenging. Blue lights, IIRC, in here too.
Quiet motor, smooth trannie. Smooth ride. I nailed it a couple of times, and though the scribes show it as an under-8-second-to-60 car, it just doesn't feel quick. I know it'll beat my Soul--I think--but the Soul talks to you, and with its lesser inertia it seems to have a little more squirt.
Anyway, the Camry was not the sort of girl I'd want to take home to mom. I'll have to drive another to give it a fair shake.
I DO need to drive an Accord, both '12 and '13. After hearing all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about its (2012) TURRIBLE TURRIBLE ANTIQUATED 5-SPEED AUTOMATIC, if it's anything like the Civic it'll be fine. And of course the '13 has a CVT, which I quite liked when I drove an Altima some weeks back. Or was it months?
So there you have it. Some shallow reviews, an Impala that grew on me, and a pretty derned nice Civic.