Since its launch in 1972, the Honda Civic has been one of the most popular compact cars sold in America. Its success can be attributed to its consistently high level of fit and finish and an impressive reputation for reliability, especially for an economy car.
2008 Honda Civic EX 2dr Coupe w/Navigation System Shown
Impressive fuel economy, environmental awareness and engaging performance have also played a large role in making the Honda Civic a top choice for many Americans. Through the development of advanced engine technologies such as variable valve timing (VTEC), Honda has been able to increase the engine performance of the Civic while also improving fuel economy. In the '90s, the Civic was one of the cornerstones of the burgeoning import tuning craze, as young enthusiasts found the car to be an affordable and easy car to modify for performance.
The current Civic is the best yet. It is the most powerful and the most fuel-efficient, and comes in a wide range of models, from the 197-horsepower Civic Si to the Civic Hybrid. It is also the most radically designed Civic to date, inside and out. For those looking for a used car, the Civic is again a smart choice, as its long production run and wide range of models make it easy to find what you want.
The current Honda Civic, which was introduced for the 2006 model year, is available in two body styles: coupe and four-door sedan. Both styles share four trim levels: a base DX, EX, LX and Si. The DX, EX and LX are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 140 hp. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional. All trims get a broad range of safety features, such as antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags.
Those accustomed to the Honda Civic's conservative tradition will be surprised to find a dramatic-looking interior that features a new two-tier dashboard layout. A digital speedometer sits on top of the dash, while the tachometer is the lone instrument gauge behind the steering wheel. In terms of premium features, the DX is pretty limited, and you'll have to jump up to the EX and LX trims to get air-conditioning and powered accessories. The EX and LX also add upgraded stereo systems and sportier 16-inch wheels.
The sedan is also available in two special trims, GX and Hybrid. Powered by a 113-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, the Civic GX runs on clean-burning compressed natural gas. The Civic Hybrid features Honda's latest Integrated Motor Assist system, which consists of a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a 20-hp electric motor. Total output is 110 hp. The Hybrid comes exclusively with a continuously variable transmission, and its EPA-estimated fuel economy is 49/51 mpg.
In reviews and road tests, our editors found the Honda Civic to be a well-rounded car. The 1.8-liter engine won't overwhelm anyone, but it provides enough power for comfortable city driving. Honda has tuned the coupe to feel sportier than the sedan. Both are fun to drive, with great steering feel and wonderful handling.
Driving enthusiasts might want to take a look at the Civic Si. Offered in both coupe and sedan body styles, the Si is powered by a high-revving 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which pumps out 197 hp. It comes exclusively with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission and a front limited-slip differential. The Si also features a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels and the kind of all-around performance that challenges cars costing thousands of dollars more.
Always known for its reliability, the Honda Civic has also earned a reputation for performance and fuel economy. Honda's VTEC technology first appeared in the fifth-generation Civic, which was sold from 1992-'95. The Civic VX featured a fuel-efficient 92-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder with VTEC-E.
More powerful was the 128-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder VTEC engine found in the Civic Si and EX sedan trims. First sold only in hatchback and sedan body styles, the fifth-gen Civic got two coupe trims in 1993, the DX and EX. The lower CX and DX trims each had a 70-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
Sold from 1996-2000, the sixth-generation Civic was in many ways a refinement of the style and technology found on the outgoing model. A 106-hp 1.6-liter engine replaced the engine on the lower CX hatchback and all DX trims (available as a hatchback, coupe and sedan). The EX trim (coupe or sedan) got a 127-hp 1.6-liter engine with VTEC. Honda didn't release an Si trim until 1999. Based on the coupe body style, the Si was powered by a high-performance 1.6-liter engine that was tuned to put out 160 hp.
Although the seventh-generation Honda Civic, which was sold from 2001-'05, might have looked like an extension of the sixth generation in styling, there were many small tweaks to the Civic formula to reduce fuel consumption. Both the 115-hp base engine and the 127-hp engine in the EX were more fuel-efficient than the outgoing 1.6-liter engines. Even bigger news was the launch of the Civic Hybrid in 2003. Powered by Honda's early version of the Integrated Motor Assist system, the Hybrid mated an 85-hp 1.3-liter four-cylinder gas engine to a 13-hp electric motor for a combined 98 hp. The only hatchback available in the seventh generation was the European-designed Civic Si, which was powered by a 160-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder.