Disclaimer - There's not actually 1,000 reasons here but you'll see why the headline was chosen as you read the article.
"It will get you where you're going," was an early slogan of the Honda Civic. In the 1970s, the company who had previously been known for motorcycles garnered a name for itself with their inexpensive, practical, light and fuel-efficient compact cars.
Today, after trying out the 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback on a road trip to Gananoque, the gateway to the beautiful 1000 Islands, this particular Civic, not only got us where we were going, but did so with style, safety and panache.
Both the destination and the ride surprised me. "Why haven't I been here before?" was the question I kept asking while my daughter and I were exploring the 1000 Islands. Less than a three-hour drive east of Mississauga, it was an place I had zipped past numerous times on Highway 401 en route to Montreal, Vermont and even farther east. But literally two minutes off exit 645, we found ourselves in Gananoque, a small town on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. Its galleries, theatres, historic limestone buildings and eateries (many with outdoor patios) were worth seeing on their own, but it was the region's stunning natural beauty that had me kicking myself for not visiting before.
Part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere, a UNESCO designated site, this glacially sculpted landscape combines hard-wood and pine forests, rocky outcrops and cliffs, and expansive crystal-clear waterways dotted with close to 2000 islands. Officially, there are 1864 of them, but what determines whether a particular rocky patch of land surrounded by water is indeed an island is up for debate.
A local informed us that Americans considered a one-square-foot piece of land with one tree an island whereas Canadians maintained that one-square metre and two trees were necessary to qualify. Whether this is true and exactly how many islands exist, I can’t say for sure, but it certainly made no difference as we kayaked, cruised and even flew over this remarkable archipelago. We visited sites, like the majestic Boldt Castle, and paddled above shipwrecks; and we vowed never to drive past exit 645 again without a stop.
Speaking of driving, the Honda Civic I test drove for our trip was also a pleasant surprise; and while there's not enough space to write all 1000 reasons I loved this compact car, here are a few of the highlights:
Adaptive cruise control
I first experienced this impressive technology in the Mazda CX9, and I absolutely loved it for road trips. I set the speed and the distance, and the car accelerated and slowed accordingly, without touching the brake or the gas pedal. There's also a Road Departure Mitigation System, which adjusted steering and braking if we crossed detected lanes. Both features made highway driving considerably more relaxing and easier to enjoy the passing scenery.
Width and shape of the windshield. The larger field of vision on the Honda Civic afforded a more immersive viewing experience. Combined with the soft, comfy seats; sporty feel and handling and great sound system, the time went by quickly on our drive to 1000 Islands (well, at least, once we got through Toronto rush-hour traffic).
For a small car, we could fit a surprising amount of luggage and gear, and there’s all kinds of extra cubbies and compartments. The most ingenious was the center console’s storage unit with sliding cup holders under the armrest. Slide it back, and there’s room enough for large bottles of water, electronics and snacks for the trip. It seemed we could always fit more in this multi-tier unit as our trip went along. The size of the trunk, with plenty of room for all our suitcases, was impressive for a small car; and if we folded the seats down, we could fit even more, including bikes and sporting equipment.
Smooth, easy car to drive with great suspension
Its turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine did a great job of accelerating, and it felt solid on the highways yet manoeuvrable in the city.
Fantastic fuel efficiency
I was very pleasantly surprised how little I paid in gas on our weekend jaunt (approximately six liters per 100K).
It’s simply fun
Driving in a comfy, low seat, I felt connected to the road and appreciated the way it handled, especially on the turns, which it gripped like a faster car. Its sporty design, sleek lines and jazzy metallic blue colour provided some flash but not in an ostentatious way. To be honest, I felt just a little younger in it.
The only feature I wasn't altogether satisfied with was the GPS system, which wasn’t intuitive to use, and many of the places didn't appear without using Wi-Fi. But really for this trip to the 1000 Islands, the most important navigational pointer is don’t drive past exit 645, an oversight I will not be making in the future.