Any time a car company introduces the Ninth Generation of a vehicle, you’ve got to assume the public likes it. Such is the case with the all-new 2012 Honda Civic. It’s one of Honda’s most globally recognized products. Since its launch in 1973, the Civic has been purchased 8.8 million times.

This ninth iteration of the Civic might be the best yet.

For 2012, the Civic gets a new powertrain that delivers more power and improved fuel economy. Honda recognizes that any new models that don’t do both of the above could be in for trouble.

The 2012 Civic model lineup features six trims: Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe, Civic HF, Civic SI (sedan and coupe), Civic Hybrid and Civic Natural Gas. The Sedan and Coupe come in DX, LX, EX and EX-L versions, while the Civic Si is a high performance version. The Civic Hybrid has upgraded Lithium- Ion batteries, and the new-for- 2012 Civic HF is the efficiency and value oriented offering, getting up to 42 miles per gallon in highway driving.

While there are lots of variations in the lineup, the basic Civic underpinnings are the same. Honda has re-engineered the 1.8-liter Inline –4 powerplant to squeeze more mileage out of it, and is introducing a more powerful 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine for the Si. The 1.8-liter engine develops 140 horsepower and 128 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.4- liter in the Si delivers 201 horsepower to the 6-speed manual trans mission. The smaller 1.8-liter engine is mated to a 5-speed manual or 5- speed automatic transmission.

While the efficiency- minded Civic HF is rated at 42 mpg, our test car this week, the Civic Coupe Ex-L, is no slouch when it comes to mileage, delivering 39 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg on city streets.

All Civic models get several key technology upgrades, including motion-adaptive electric power steering, an intelligent multi-informational display, an Eco Assist driver feedback system (except Si models), and an upgraded vehicle stability and traction control system.

I found the test Coupe a funto- drive and comfortable 2-door. MacPherson struts in front, a multilink suspension in back, and stabilizer bars made for a sure feeling on the road. The electronic power steering adjusts with the car’s speed, and feedback was appropriate at low and high speeds.

Our test Coupe was the EX-L version with n a v i g a t i o n , and it had no options checked. Base price was $23,455, and after adding d e s t i n a t i o n charges of $770, the outthe- door price was a pleasant $24,225. Here’s what you get after you write the check: leather trimmed seats and steering wheel with controls, a navigation system with voice controls, FM traffic and XM Satellite radio, a 360-watt sound system with seven speakers and a sub-woofer, Bluetooth, USB interface, a multi-information display, air conditioning with a filtration system, heated seats, a 60/40 folddown rear seat, power windows and doors with an automatic driver’s up/down window, and cruise control. Honda even tosses in the floor mats.

The 2012 Civic Sedan is a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the Coupe has not yet been tested. So, the Civic is obviously a safe, affordable car that Americans love. I have but one bone to pick with our test car: the seat height adjustment simply does not go low enough to accommodate my 6-foot frame. My head brushed the roof, not enough to make me tilt my head, but enough to aggravate. Since the test car had an optional moon roof, the ceiling is actually lower on the edge. Without the moon roof, headroom would be better.

The Ninth Generation 2012 Civic just continues to improve on a product that was already a winner.