Fuel-efficient and peppy engine, user-friendly controls, roomy interior, large trunk.
Controversial gauge design, rear-folding seat not split.
Not many relationships can last 35 years. Yet Americans are still in love with the Honda Civic, a car that debuted in the 1970s and has gone on to be one of the best-selling cars in the U.S. Sure, the Civic hasn't often been the flashiest of the economy sedans out there, but it has always boasted the most desirable attributes of a successful long-term partner: reliable, safe and economical. And the Civic has still managed to keep its youthful look over the years thanks to occasional reworkings and face-lifts. The most recent redesign dates back to 2006 and includes dramatic exterior styling and a futuristic dash design.
We decided to test a 2008 Honda Civic to find out how well this latest Civic is faring in the marketplace. Our test car was a four-door, five-seat Civic LX sedan — a step above the base model. It comes standard with many features that are pretty much expected these days, such as antilock brakes, side and side curtain airbags, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. These features, along with impressive build quality, a fuel-efficient and peppy engine and plenty of cargo space make the 2008 Honda Civic LX a great all-around economy sedan.
Don't think of using the Honda Civic LX as a getaway car — it isn't going to blow the doors off any highway patrol vehicles. But the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, still has plenty of power for just about any other situation. Our five-speed automatic-equipped Civic accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds, which is quite respectable for a small sedan; for comparison, a Mazda Mazda3 with the 2.0-liter engine we recently tested got to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds.
One nice attribute about the Civic was its frugalness — for the time we spent with our 2008 Civic LX tester, we averaged 27 mpg. The EPA gives the Civic a 25 mpg city rating and a 36 mpg highway rating, both of which rank near the top of the economy sedan segment.
Braking, while mostly on par with the class and price point, leaves a little to be desired. We found significant ABS noise and shudder during the braking test, especially up front. The Civic also has a tendency to wander slightly under full braking.
These aren't issues that will likely come up during less stressful driving, of course, and it was here that the Civic shines. The steering is accurate and the handling, though modest in terms of absolute limits, is sporty enough to make the car fun to drive on twisty roads.
The 2008 Honda Civic LX is particularly roomy for a small car. There is plenty of headroom and legroom in both the front and the rear. The fabric front seats in the Honda Civic LX are comfortable, but in a hang-out-on-the-sofa kind of way, as opposed to a stay-awake-and-drive-all-night kind of way. While soft, they lack any bolsters or reinforcements for additional support. The manual adjustments offer a broad range of seating positions, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel comes standard. Some of our taller staffers remarked that the Civic's driver seat doesn't go back as far as those on some other models we've tested, such as the Toyota Corolla. The backseat sits three adults relatively comfortably, and the completely flat floor in back saves the middle rear passenger from having to navigate any uncomfortable humps.
The Civic's small, yet reasonably thick steering wheel feels good in our hands and reminds us of those found in sportier cars. Overall visibility from the driver seat is just fine, but the positioning of the Civic's pillars and headrests create a couple of blind spots.
While driving, we experienced a good deal of wind and road noise, but it wasn't uncomfortable or overly distracting. (Hondas in general aren't particularly known for their quiet ride.)
It might be a stretch to call the 2008 Honda Civic controversial, but one of the styling cues that seems to cause quite a stir among drivers is Honda's split gauge cluster design. A traditional tachometer is in the usual spot behind the steering wheel, while the digital speedometer and fuel gauge sit higher up in the dash, above the sight line of the wheel. While this seems strange at first, we find that the placement makes it easy for us to check our speed and fuel levels without having to take our eyes very far off the road. And the icy blue lights on the black display are very pleasing to look at. Other controls, such as those for climate, are simple and easy to use.
The 160-watt, four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system doesn't shake anyone's windows while we wait at red lights, but it does an adequate job of playing our tunes. Auxiliary audio jacks are a must-have feature these days, and the Civic LX comes standard with one. We noticed how a tray in the center console between the gearshifter and the cupholders was the perfect place for our MP3 player to sit while plugged in.
Trunk space is impressive, as we were easily able to fit a large suitcase and two sets of golf clubs horizontally, with a bit of room to spare. Our only complaint is that the folding rear seat only comes down as one unit; it's not split.
Design/Fit and Finish
The fit and finish of our 2008 Honda Civic LX is impressive, and we generally think the Civic is one of the best in the segment in this regard. On the outside, body panel gaps are tight and consistent. On the inside, a mix of colors and textures keep the car visually interesting without being garish. Materials are of decent quality — the seat cloth, for example, is one of the nicest in the price range (but we would avoid getting the light color our test car came with). Overall, the Civic's interior gives the impression that you're driving a more expensive car than you actually are.
Who should consider this vehicle
A student, retiree or small family who wants a well-performing economy car. Alternately, a road-weary commuter who's ready to ditch the big SUV for better gas mileage and a lower cost of ownership.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2008 Honda Civic Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2008 Honda Civic and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2008 Civic featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our 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.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2008 Honda Civic and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2008 Civic 4.4 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2008 Civic.
Review In November 2013 my 2008 Honda Civic experienced a motor mount failure. The vehicle has been well maintained, driven easy and only has 57,000 miles on it. Investigation on the internet shows this to be a very common problem. Honda absolutely refuses to do anything about the problem, other than charging their customers a hefty fee for the repairs. This generation of Civic has also had issues with the windshield visors failing after a few years. Unfortunately the Civic has become an under engineered vehicle that Honda has cut too many corners with.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Honda Civic 2008 Submodel Types: Sedan, Coupe, Hatchback, Si, Hybrid, Si w/Navigation, Type R, Si w/Summer Tires, Natural Gas
Available Trims: LX, EX, EX-L, Si, EX-T, Touring, LX-P, Hybrid, EX-L w/Navigation, EX w/Honda Sensing, Sport, LX w/Honda Sensing, SE, LX-S, EX-T w/Honda Sensing, Sport Touring, Si w/Summer Tires, Value Package, DX-VP, EX-L Navigation, Si w/Navigation, DX, EX-L w/Honda Sensing, EX-L Navigation and Honda Sensing, HF, Hybrid w/Leather, Type R, EX Special Edition, GX, VP, VX, Base, EX w/Navigation, Hybrid w/Leather and Navigation, Hybrid w/Navigation, LX Special Edition, Natural Gas
Exterior Colors: Crystal Black Pearl, Modern Steel Metallic, Lunar Silver Metallic, Taffeta White, Alabaster Silver Metallic, Cosmic Blue Metallic, White Orchid Pearl, Rallye Red, Aegean Blue Metallic, Dyno Blue Pearl, Burgundy Night Pearl, Crimson Pearl, Polished Metal Metallic, Urban Titanium Metallic, Kona Coffee Metallic, Royal Blue Pearl, Nighthawk Black Pearl, Atomic Blue Metallic, Galaxy Gray Metallic, Satin Silver Metallic, Tango Red Pearl, Eternal Blue Pearl, Magnesium Metallic, Energy Green Pearl, Opal Silver Blue Metallic, Satin Silver, Sonic Gray Pearl, Borrego Beige Metallic, Cool Mist Metallic, Fiji Blue Pearl, Vogue Silver Metallic, Orange Fire Pearl, Shoreline Mist Metallic, Sunburst Orange Pearl, Clover Green, Clover Green Pearl, Titanium Metallic, Flamenco Black Pearl, Granada Black Pearl Metallic, Green Opal Metallic, Radiant Ruby Pearl, Cypress Green Pearl Metallic, Dark Green Pearl Metallic, Frost White, Galapagos Green, Magnetic Pearl, Championship White, Flamenco Black Pearl Metallic, Grayish Blue Metallic, Isle Green Pearl, Milano Red, Red, Silver Stone Metallic, Sonoma Red Pearl, Spectrum White Pearl, Vivid Blue Pearl
Interior Colors: Black cloth, Gray cloth, Ivory cloth, Black leather, Beige cloth, Gray leather, Black/Gray cloth, Black/Red premium cloth, Black/Ivory cloth, Gray, Black premium cloth, Ivory leather, Black, Ivory, Beige leather, Black/Gray leather, Blue cloth, Beige, Black/Ivory leather, Stone cloth, Red/Black Suede-Effect Fabric suede/cloth, Stone leather
Popular Features: Rear Bench Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Alarm, Tire Pressure Warning, USB Inputs, Stability Control, Bluetooth, Back-up camera, Trip Computer, Auto Climate Control, Sunroof/Moonroof, Aux Audio Inputs, Keyless Entry/Start, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Heated seats, Remote Start, Lane Departure Warning, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Leather Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Power Driver Seat, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision safety system, Navigation, Upgraded Headlights, Post-collision safety system