Well, it's been 5 years since I purchased this car used, with 32k on the clock.
It now has 145k on it, and I'm expecting to own it another 3 years and 60k.
So that right there should tell you something about it.
This gen of Civic is, quite simply put, the ideal commuter and city car.
The engine is reasonably smooth and peppy.
Very low road noise with Goodyear Affinity Triple-treads.
Steering is nicely weighted for city driving.
Ride quality is sportier than it's American counterparts, and build quailty is far and above the class leader.
5 adults will fit if needed.
Sunroof and power gizmos abound.
Repairs are infrequent and cheap.
36 highway, 30 city.
How can you go wrong?
It rides and sounds like a well-built car.
Interior design is not startling, and ergonomics are well-thought out.
Rear disc brakes.
Drums just don't cut it, even for a car this light.
And make the rear defrost button illuminate like the rest of the buttons.
It throws the whole dash balance off at night.
I've owned six cars in my life: two Chryslers, one Chevrolet, two Volkswagens, and this is my second Honda Civic. My first Civic, a 1996, made me a Honda fan for life. I'm actually embarrassed for having bought into the "German engineering" hype, because neither of my VWs was that great of a car, and as for the Chev and Chryslers, well... we all make mistakes. My wife and I have two other vehicles, but because my Civic (past and present) has comfortable front seats, lots of room for the kids, tons of trunk space, a decent stereo, phenomenal fuel economy and bulletproof reliability, we always seem to take it everywhere. The 1.7L VTEC engine is a perfect blend of economy and performance.
The Honda Civic is, to me, as close to the perfect car as you can get. Cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, cheap on gas, reasonably nice looking compared to similar offerings from Toyota and Nissan, cheap on gas, roomy and comfortable, easy to drive and incredibly reliable. My favorite features are the engine and the transmission. Honda engines are nothing short of incredible--the perfect compromise of fuel economy and power--and their manual transmissions are among smoothest I've ever driven. Combined with great visibility, a light and nimble chassis and easy-to-use controls, the powertrain makes the Civic a very satisfying daily driver. Oh, and it started this morning at -36 deg., no problem!
The only problem I had with both of my Civics was the trunk/fuel door release. The cable connectors need to be made stronger to withstand the abuse of frequent use in less than favorable conditions (snow, ice, freezing temperatures). Aside from that, one of the most commonly upgraded components is the rear sway bar, because this generation of Civic tends to be prone to pronounced body lean resulting in mild oversteer. Nonetheless, the Civic is surprisingly stable and composed in corners, and the suspension is firm but somehow cushy enough to smooth out the bumps. You can tell that a lot of time has gone into perfecting the driving experience as a whole--something VW claims, but fails, to do.
I purchased my Civic with it's small 127HP 1.7L for my excessive commuting and the need for a gas economy car. After installing a cold-air intake, strut tower brace, stage 1 clutch, lightweight racing flywheel, iridium plugs, and gator belts it flies like a rocket and has an improved gas economy of 30CTY/43HWY. Although the cabin noise is very loud, it is well worth the 400-500 miles per $24 tank of gas. Plus, besides the mods I have only had to change fluids in this car and the periodic check over under the hood. The only exception was an O2 sensor. It is extremely LOW maintenance. Overall, it's modern styling and economy are the best I have experienced between Honda/Acura over the years.
I enjoy that this vehicle can be easily modified with performance parts under the hood. Gas economy too!!!! 40+ MPG is really hard to beat. I researched many newer compact cars that offer a lot less for more money. The 04-05 Civic EX is where you are going to get the most bang for your buck!
Cabin noise is very loud compared to most cars. Especially on the highway. It is like the difference of when you ride on one of those loud commuter planes with propellers (Civic) vs. a large passenger jet (most other cars). A consumer fix might be to install dynamat on the floors and inside the hood
Before buying my 04 Honda ex I owned a 2002 Mazda Protege. The Mazda was much funner to drive, faster, sporty and gas mileage wasn't that different. This Honda is gutless I cant believe how slow it is. I hate the automatic downshift while breaking down hills. There are so many rattles in this car I don't know where to start. Road noise is really loud, same with the engine sounds like its working to hard. I think this is a good commuter car but not much past that. It looks pretty good but the build quality is not up to par for what a Honda should be. I would rate value to cost at a 5-6 with 10 being greatest value.
Road noise, engine noise, more power, fix the rattles.
I just bought an 04 Civic EX. I had owned other Hondas but for a period of time owned an 03 Mazda Protege then an 05 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Civic I have now runs & drives flawlessly and is solid when it comes to handling. I don't worry like I did with the other cars when I see gas go up. The moral of the story is if you've been a Honda owner especially for a while and are thinking of something else, stick with what you know. You just can't go wrong with these vehicles.
The best of both worlds - is very affordable to own & easy to maintain but truly has an up-scale look to it. It drives GREAT. Easy to read gauges, overall very comfortable to be in and of course, great gas mileage.
Acceleration could be just a tad bit better; it's ok but a little extra wouldn't hurt - I'm planning on adding a cool air intake to address this. Headlights could be tad brighter - planning on adding HIDs.