Don’t you just love that “new car” smell? Here’s why you shouldn’t. A study was released by the Ecology Center, finding that some vehicle interiors have chemical levels that may be hazardous to the occupants' health. This nonprofit environmental group based in Ann Arbor, Mich., also ranked 204 vehicles for interior air quality in its 2012 Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars.
It’s a good thing if you drive a 2012 Honda Civic as its interior has the least amount of potentially toxic chemicals. It doesn’t have bromine-based flame retardants and uses PVC-free interior fabrics and interior trim. It also has low levels of heavy metals and other metal allergens.
On the other hand, the models that have the highest amounts of potentially toxic chemicals are the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the 2011 Chrysler 200 SC and 2011 Kia Soul. Jeff Gearhart, research director for the Ecology Center, said that the concern about the range of chemicals in the car’s interiors is significant and is even increasing.
He added that the chemicals in these vehicles sometimes exceed those in homes or offices. He exclaimed, “That new-car smell is a cocktail of chemicals." The Ecology Center tested 11 interior parts (like steering wheels, instrument panels, carpeting, dashboards, armrests, seating and hard and soft trim) for toxic chemicals including bromine, chlorine, lead and heavy metals.
Gearhart said that majority of these chemicals don’t have a chemical bond to the materials so they’re released over time. The study found that drivers who are exposed to these chemicals, whether through inhalation or contact with dust, are putting their health at risk over conditions like allergies, liver toxicity, birth defects and cancer.
Gearhart said that cars are the “most unique environment that these chemicals can be in” since it’s “kind of a chemistry experiment on wheels." He explained that cars may reach very high temperatures due to the sun exposure, making chemicals released at quicker rates. Mitsubishi and Kia have yet to comment on this study.
A statement was released by Chrysler, reiterating its confidence in the safety of its vehicles. Chrysler said that the study only measured the presence of a component and not if the material affected the health of an occupant. Chrysler Group added that the disclaimer on HealthyStuff.org on its Web site “speaks for itself."
Honda is committed to follow its foundational pillars of safety, fun-to-drive performance, style, comfort, convenience, durability, quality and refinement in each of its models, and that includes the 2012 Civic. That is why this aerodynamic car is not only a smart buy, but also an investment that will provide long-term joy for its owners – which is admittedly, quite unique for this kind of vehicle.
In terms of safety, the 2012 Civic comes with advanced safety systems which includes the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE)™ body structure exclusive for Honda. ACE™ is used for frontal collision energy management and vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility. There are also a handful of standard safety equipment which include the following: two-row side curtain airbags, dual-stage, multiple-threshold driver’s and front passenger’s airbags, driver’s and front passenger’s side airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Brake Assist, and a new Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering system which enables the driver to steer into the ideal direction to avoid oversteering and understeering. In terms of its internal crash test information, it looks like the 2012 Civic will achieve top marks for both the NHTSA New Car Assessment Program and the IIHS designation as “Top Safety Pick”.
Of course, Honda will not compromise driving experience with safety. As such, every Civic is designed to be “fun to drive”. A MacPherson strut front suspension, multi-link rear suspension, and front rear stabilizer bars are all integrated in the car. Also, motion-adaptive Electric Power Steering (EPS) is installed for better steering response at low speeds as well as outstanding experience at higher speeds. Unlike a traditional hydraulic-boosted steering system, the EPS will use too much power from the engine which is beneficial to both the power output and fuel economy.
The 2012 Honda Civic is fitted with standard 15-inch wheels with all-season tires while the Civic EX and Civic EX-L models come in 16-inch wheels; also on bigger 17-inch wheels Civic Si models (also available in performance-oriented summer tires). All these provide comfort in different weather conditions. Furthermore, the Civic Si Sedan and Civic Si Coupe comes with new, larger displacement engine and specially tuned suspension.