Long story short, the Acura CSX fits exactly what we're looking for in a car. Good economy, nice interior, and amenities. Well, if you haven't heard of it you're probably not living in Canada right now.
Check it out. Basically the U.S. Civic with the base RSX engine and improved mileage.
I dug into the U.S. Code of Federal Regs, and it turns out that importing a car from Canada is very possible.
2 criteria must be met:
1) U.S. Approved Emissions, as proved by a sticker on the car, the EPA waives it (they haven't updated their list since 2001 and all cars sold in Canada qualified), or a letter from the manufacturer. It has LEV-2, so we're good there.
2) The DOT requires a letter from the manufactuer stating that the vehicle meets all the US Motor Vehicle safety requirements. If headlights or the speedo need changed (by mention of the letter), an invoice from a manufacturer's dealer to have these replaced.
You fill out a form, go through customs, and you have a one-of-a-kind.
sorry to have misled. i believe my earlier comment about 25 years must be for cars which do NOT meet those requirements.
either that or i completely made it up.
the topic comes up frequently on teamswift.net because many gringo suzukiclone aficionados want to get their hands on the 89-94 canadian-market-only firefly 1.0 turbo. but due to safety regs (lack of door frame-mounted seatbelts is one) they can't be brought in legally.
good luck getting your acura-pimped civic. my brother in-law had one of them a couple of years ago. he liked it.
Padle shifters are crazy. Good for racing and people who like to pretend to be racing their ferrari in a 25 zone,
Personally, I'm just going to get a super high shifter that looks like it belongs in an 18 wheeler.
Yeah, the paddle shifters are good if you're going in a straight line (unless they're mounted on the column), otherwise, steering and shifting is really tough. That wasn't a big sell -- leather, sport handling, small size, efficient engine/tranny (better than the TSX) really fit our definition of what we've been searching for. Small, efficient, comfortable, Honda-based.
After some research, it turns out the CSX may be too pricey with the automatic (required for the wife), so we may try for the 04-05 1.7EL. Old design is fine -- better mileage too. I thought it would be cheaper. We may try for the base model instead of "Premium", but the auto ramps up the price. Plus, we'd have to go to Alberta to buy it - no Provincial tax (that would save around $1000 USD. Everywhere is 7% mandatory national tax or whatever, but all other provinces add anywhere from 5-10% additonal. PEI was 10 -- rediculous! Two more considerations:
1. Warranty -- will my local Acura dealer service it according to warranty specs, or just stand there and stare at it, thinking "WTF is that? A Civic, TSX, no...RSX motor though. It says CSX on the back. I can't find anything on this. Is it a Buick?" Ugh.
2. Insurance. My agent would be like -- "You're doing what? I don't know if we can do that, well maybe" (and this rediculously high rate comes out).
SV0b0y- forget the 18-wheeler shifter, get a column shift manual. 3-on-the-tree. Hell's yeah!