Used 1996 Honda Civic Review

Edmunds expert review




What's new for 1996

Honda engineers have created a more powerful and more contemporary car with the 1996 Honda Civic.

Vehicle overview

More than two decades ago, Honda introduced the Civic, It was an small, anonymous, unassuming car, competing in a market saturated by mammoth sedans sporting ornate chrome, garish styling treatments, and acres of sheetmetal. The producers of these defunct dinosaurs didn't bat an eye at Honda's fuel sipping entry, despite the fuel crisis of 1973. Big mistake.

Since then, Americans have seen four generations of the Civic come and go, each much improved over the previous model, and each becoming immensely popular with consumers. 1996 brings a new generation; certainly improved by not so much so that we'd consider it revolutionary. The 1996 Civic isn't much smaller than an Accord. Available in hatchback, sedan and coupe body styles, Honda has heeded customers who claimed the 1992-1995 Civic was too sporty looking. A grille has been tacked on up front, sheetmetal contours provide a squarish profile, and larger rear taillamps give the Civic a more conservative look. Sedans, coupes and hatchbacks have been given more individualistic styling themes, with the hatchback retaining honors as most odd among the trio.

Dual airbags are part of the package, with antilock brakes standard on EX models and available on LX sedans. Our press kit says the Civic is equipped with "variable diameter tubular door reinforcing beams." We take this to mean that the Civic passes next year's tough side impact standards. HX coupes are available with a new continuously variable transmission. Hatchbacks ditch the two-piece clamshell hatch from last year in favor of a more conventional one-piece arrangement.

The Civic has few shortcomings, aside from its anonymous personality. Hondas tend to be on the expensive end of the scale when new, but over time, they are a far better value than most of their contemporaries. The Civic is no exception to the rule. It is a car for people who don't enjoy repair garage waiting rooms. It is a car that holds its resale value better than most of the cars it competes with. It is a car that easily endears itself to its owner.

We think the Civic is a solid buy. For those who like a bit of spice in their commute, try the EX version of the coupe. Want a fuel miser? The HX coupe is your car. Strict budgets demand a look at the CX, while sedans are aimed more at the creature comfort side of the scale. Style-conscious buyers will go for the svelte coupe, or the suave EX sedan. Whatever your needs, Honda offers a Civic that will meet them.






Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.