HONDA CIVIC REVIEW

Since its launch in 1973, 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 and low running costs. High fuel economy, environmental awareness and engaging performance have also played a large role in making the Honda Civic a top choice for many Americans.

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. It is also the most radically designed Civic to date, inside and out. For small car shoppers looking for a used vehicle, 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.

All trims but the Si are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 140 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. 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 that pumps out 197 hp. It comes exclusively with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission.

The Civic GX is powered by a 113-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that 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 (CVT) and its EPA-estimated fuel economy is 40 mpg city and 45 mpg highway.

In reviews and road tests, our editors found the Honda Civic to be a well-rounded car. Inside, this Civic has a dramatic-looking interior that features a two-tier dashboard layout. A digital speedometer sits on top of the dash, while the tachometer sits underneath. Honda has tuned the coupe to feel sportier than the sedan. Both are fun to drive, with quick steering and impressive handling. The 1.8-liter engine won't overwhelm anyone, but it provides enough power for comfortable city driving. The Hybrid gets fantastic fuel mileage, and the GX is impressively clean, but both suffer from slow acceleration.

The current Honda Civic represents the eighth generation of this popular car, first introduced for the 2006 model year. All current body styles and trim combinations were available that year, except for the Si sedan, which debuted for '07. The following year saw a limited-edition Mugen Si model and the addition of a leather upholstery option. For '09, the LX-S and DX Value Package trims debuted along with a minor exterior refreshening.

Previous to the current model was the seventh-generation Honda Civic, which was sold from 2001-'05. There were coupe and sedan body styles as well as a two-door hatchback. Honda offered its typical mainstream trims -- DX, LX and EX -- plus a few specialty trims such as VP, HX, SE and Hybrid. The hatchback came only in the Si trim. Most models had a 1.7-liter engine good for 117 hp or 127 hp (EX). The Civic Hybrid mated an 85-hp 1.3-liter four-cylinder gas engine to a 13-hp electric motor and offered the best fuel economy of the lineup. The Civic Si produced 160 hp from its 2.0-liter engine. At the time, we commented favorably about the car's fuel-efficient engines, roomy interior and top safety scores but were disappointed by the limited availability of antilock brakes.

Sold from 1996-2000, the sixth-generation Civic was in many ways a refinement of the style and technology found on the previous generation. Coupe, sedan and hatchback body styles were available. Sedans were offered in DX, LX and EX trim levels. Engine choices were a 1.6-liter good for 106 hp in the DX and LX or 127 hp in the VTEC-equipped EX. There was also a higher-fuel-economy coupe, the 115-hp HX. 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 tuned to put out 160 hp.
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 125-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 Honda 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.