Honda Motor Co. Ltd. brings the latest incarnation of its 18-year-old Honda Civic to the market in '01. The seventh-generation Civic has undergone subtle but crucial changes and promises again to keep expectations high in the compact car class.

A smaller exterior paired with a roomier interior show Honda's commitment to improving upon the previous package - even if the differences are sometimes by only a few millimeters. The new Civic also gets a slightly more powerful, 1.7L engine.

It's no accident that Honda has one of the most loyal customer bases in the country. And these loyal customers undoubtedly will overlook the fact that there is nothing outwardly innovative or exciting about the new offering, especially design-wise. Instead, these customers will be purchasing Honda's reputation for an affordable, reliable, high-quality vehicle.

Practically everything else for Honda's '01 changes can be classified as minor changes.

Meanwhile, the Acura division's showing signs of intelligent life: the CL is a great value and an entertaining drive, and the all-new MD-X, what with its muscular V-6 and sophisticated all-wheel drive, is a can't-miss. It even looks mildly exciting - uncharted territory for Honda/Acura.

Ever wonder why cars this boring can sell so well? Hey, don't rock the boat. And stock up on that MD-X, fella.