Fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly engines, roomy interior, reputation for durability, impressive crash test scores.
Antilock brakes not available on DX or LX.
A host of minor changes bring the Civic into 2003. On the inside, all models gain improved seat fabrics, rear adjustable outboard headrests and new four-spoke steering wheels. On HX, LX and EX Civics, you'll find improved gauge illumination. There's a new center console for LX and EX, and a CD player is standard for HX and LX. On the outside, the 2003 Honda Civic has freshened taillamps and new wheel designs. Also, there is a Hybrid Civic available for the 2003 model year.
If you're shopping for a small car and you skip the 2003 Honda Civic, you're doing yourself a tremendous disservice.
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2003 Honda Civic DX 2dr Coupe (1.7L 4cyl 5M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.57 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Model HistoryEver since its introduction in 1973, the Honda Civic has been one of America's most popular cars. Thanks to its frugal and clean engines, spunky performance and reputation for excellent reliability and durability, the Civic has been a consistent benchmark for the economy car class. It was last redesigned in 2001 and was the best-selling small car for that year. For 2003, the Civic Hybrid will bolster the Civic's already high prestige.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and OptionsFor now, the Civic Hybrid is offered in sedan format only. In terms of features, the Hybrid is similar to the regular EX trim. Nearly everything is standard, including power doors, locks and mirrors; automatic climate control; a CD player; keyless entry; and cruise control.
Powertrains and PerformanceThe concept for the 2003 Civic Hybrid's powertrain is grounded in simplicity -- use a highly efficient gasoline engine and supplement the performance with an electric motor. On the surface, the system may appear complex, but the Civic Hybrid powertrain provides a simple solution for the seemingly incompatible task of combining both efficiency and performance.
Honda's solution is its Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, which is also referred to as a "hybrid" system because it uses two power sources -- gasoline and electricity. This system first appeared on the Honda Insight. It allows the Civic Hybrid to use a smaller gasoline engine (compared to other Civics') without any significant loss of performance.
The Civic Hybrid IMA system is more advanced than the Insight's, though it is still comprised of the same basic components: a gasoline engine, an electric motor and an energy storage device. The engine is a 1.3-liter four-cylinder. Though it has one overhead camshaft and just two valves per cylinder (when was the last time you heard of a Honda car engine with just eight valves?), the engine is one of Honda's most advanced creations. Nearly everything on it has been designed to promote combustion efficiency and low fuel consumption. It even goes as far as shutting down up to three cylinders during deceleration to improve recharging. By itself, the engine develops 85 horsepower and 87 lb-ft of torque.
The electric motor is positioned between the engine and transmission. With its 13 horsepower and 46 lb-ft of torque, the motor assists the engine when accelerating and recaptures energy when braking or decelerating (regenerative braking). The nickel-metal hydride battery, contained within what Honda calls the Intelligent Processing Unit (IPU), is located between the rear seats and trunk.
Most of the vehicle's propulsion comes from the gasoline engine with the electric motor providing assist as needed. Combined, the engine and motor put out 93 hp at 5,700 rpm and 116 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission is offered as an option. If the CVT is ordered, torque output drops to 105.
Though no speedster, the Civic Hybrid's acceleration is comparable to a regular Civic's. Equipped with a manual transmission, the car averages 46 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway. Cars with the CVT have a 48/47 mpg rating. The EPA has certified the Civic Hybrid as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV).
SafetyThough the Civic Hybrid has not been tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Civic sedan in general has earned very high marks in crash testing. It has a five-star rating for frontal impacts and a four-star rating for side impacts. The IIHS has given the Civic a "good" rating for frontal offset crash results. Standard safety features include dual-stage front airbags, side airbags and antilock brakes.
Interior Design and Special FeaturesOne of the main attractions for the Civic Hybrid is that its interior is virtually identical to a regular Civic's. This means plenty of room for front-and-rear passengers, pleasing ergonomics and high-quality interior materials. Exclusive Hybrid interior features include a digital and analog gauge cluster with an IMA system display, a two-tone dash, special console trim and premium seat fabrics. The only noticeable sacrifice is trunk space -- the Hybrid's trunk holds 10.1 cubic feet of cargo, while a regular Civic sedan can hold 12.9 cubic feet.
Driving Impressions/OpinionsUnlike the two previous hybrid vehicles offered in the U.S. -- the Insight and Toyota Prius -- the Civic Hybrid is a fully functional vehicle for everyday use. Road feel in the Civic Hybrid is comparable to that of other Hondas of this ilk -- a little on the numb side, despite stiffened springs and increased shock-damping rates. On tight mountain curves, there is some body roll, though this is expected considering that the Civic Hybrid is about 200 pounds heavier than the Civic LX. Overall, though, the ride is very comfortable. This Hybrid uses the same MacPherson strut front suspension and reactive-link double-wishbone rear suspension as other Civic models.
The IMA's operation is transparent to the driver; just push on the accelerator and the car goes. And just like the Insight, the Civic Hybrid features an Idle Stop feature. This feature automatically turns off the gasoline engine during complete stops under most circumstances, allowing the Hybrid to use even less fuel and emit fewer emissions.
If you're fond of new technologies, the Civic Hybrid will likely satisfy. It's clean, frugal, well equipped and drives pretty much like a regular Civic. It also qualifies for a $2,000 federal tax deduction. Be aware, however, that if gas prices stay low, the financial gains from the Hybrid's increased fuel mileage are offset by the car's more expensive MSRP. For comparison, a 2002 Civic HX coupe has a 36/44 mpg rating, ULEV certification and costs about $6,000 less.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Honda Civic.
I bought the car new in 2003 and it's been great. I see many complaints about gas mileage, but mine averages 49 MPG with snow tires on. This has been the most trouble free and economical car I've ever owned, and it's fun to drive.
5 out of 5 stars
2.5 years of love for my ep3
2003 Honda Civic Si 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
My Civic Si looked new when I bought it 2.5 years ago with 55K (totally stock). It's now at 90K, and it's been really great. The handling is a dream, it's comfortable as can be up front, and I get 30MPG+ even while having some fun on the mountain roads I drive daily. Its quick enough to be fun, though there are *now* a lot of faster cars for everyday use. I had to replace an O2 sensor … and a door lock actuator (both of which are relatively easy to do yourself, luckily, and thus done for < $300 total). The backseat is a bit tight, but much better than what many similar cars have. The biggest shortcoming of this car is the lack of a 6th gear. 5th at 75mph=3700rpm.
Total 2003 HCH Cost-
HW Items purchased from 79k to 200k miles as follows:
2 sets of tires
1 speed sensor (drove thru deep puddle)
1 set of spark plugs
1 set of ft brake pads
1 fuel filter
Fluid change maintenance from 79K to 200k
miles as follows:
* Several 0-20W/0-30W oil/filter changes (8k mile intervals)
* Two CVT fluid changes noting I assumed to change oil every 100K miles until … I noticed the transmission was slipping and read my OEM operators manual stating to change trans. oil every 30K. After changing the oil the first time THE TRANSMISSION QUIT SLIPPING and I make sure to change this fluid at recommended intervals.
* One Antifreeze change
Car runs good(mildly abused)
4.5 out of 5 stars
Buy one for reliability
2003 Honda Civic LX 2dr Coupe (1.7L 4cyl 4A)
I struggled with constant repairs on domestic cars for years before purchasing this car.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE.
Bought at 47K miles in 2007 and now have 120K.
In that time only ONE thing has ever gone wrong and that was a sensor that only cost $150.
It just blows my mind how reliable this thing is.
This car is such a smart choice and can be found for under $5K atm.
Will be one of the best … vehicle investments you ever make.