2009 Honda Civic Review
2009 Honda Civic Review
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- Wide-ranging engine lineup offers both fuel efficiency and performance, roomy and refined interior, strong crash test scores, available as a sedan or coupe.
- Controversial gauge cluster design, Bluetooth and stability control only available on upper trims, slow acceleration times of Hybrid and GX models.
Marking the changes for the 2009 Honda Civic are a slight nose and tail job, new wheel designs, a pair of new trim levels (LX-S and DX Value Package) and a number of high-tech enhancements (including Bluetooth availability and a USB audio input).
Comfortable, smartly designed and available in a wide array of configurations, the 2009 Honda Civic sets the bar for the small-car segment.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2009 Honda Civic DX 2dr Coupe (1.8L 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 $3.56 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$150/mo for Civic DX
Avg. Compact Car
To borrow a line from Yogi Berra, it's déjà vu all over again.
Back in the mid-1970s, fuel prices jumped during the first gas crisis of that decade. Honda was there with a neat solution: the Civic, which it had introduced to Americans just a couple years earlier. With its petite yet space-efficient dimensions, 40 mpg fuel economy and reliable nature, the Civic was a big hit for Honda. Compared to the heavy, sluggish American small cars of the time -- automotive luminaries such as the Vega, Pinto and Gremlin -- the much smaller Civic had a light, sporty feel, a lot more room for passengers and fuel economy ratings about 50 percent higher.
More than three decades later, fuel prices have increased again and savvy consumers are again flocking to Honda dealers in search of Civics. But the 2009 Honda Civic is a far cry from that vehicular roller skate of the disco era. The latest Civic is larger and much more luxurious than its puny ancestor. In fact, it's no longer Honda's smallest car; that would be the Fit. And there are now a wide range of Civics, from the give-sports-cars-the-bird-on-a-twisty-road Civic Si to the give-oil-companies-the-bird Civic Hybrid and natural-gas-powered Civic GX.
The current Civic generation bowed for 2006, and we're quite fond of it. Some styling elements are rather odd, such as the minivan-like windshield, snub nose and the dual-tiered instrument panel that combines digital and analog gauges. But the high build quality, sporty driving dynamics, rock-solid reputation for reliability and impressive fuel efficiency more than make up for a few aesthetic quirks. Some may even think of such quirkiness as a plus.
No matter which Civic you choose, this Honda's traditional strengths in comfort, overall quality and safety are all still firmly intact. Though we suggest doing a bit of comparison shopping -- the sporty Mazda 3, affordable Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Rabbit/Jetta are also very good choices -- the 2009 Honda Civic remains an ideal pick for a small sedan or coupe.
Performance & mpg
Civic DX, LX and EX models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent through the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. With an automatic transmission, the Civic sedan goes from zero to 60 mph in a class-typical 9.6 seconds.
The GX also has a 1.8-liter engine, but it's fueled by clean-burning compressed natural gas and makes 113 hp. It only has a cruising range of 200 miles, but with Honda's Phill device, you can refuel from the comfort of your own garage. The GX is also America's cleanest mass-production car in terms of tailpipe emissions.
The 2009 Civic Hybrid uses a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain to maximize fuel economy. Its 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine makes 110 hp and is paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). For the Civic Si, Honda installs a 197-hp 2.0-liter engine and an exclusive six-speed manual transmission with a performance-enhancing limited-slip front differential. The Civic Si goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.
Nearly all Civic models boast above-average fuel efficiency. Civics fitted with the standard 1.8-liter engine and the automatic transmission earn an EPA estimate of 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. The GX posts a similar 24/36/28 mpg, although its smaller "gas" tank results in a shorter range. The Hybrid tops the Civic lineup with fuel mileage of 40 mpg city/45 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined. Civic Si models have a 21/29/24 mpg estimate.
All Civics come with front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Antilock brakes are also standard; EX and Si models have four-wheel discs, while the rest have rear drums. Stability control comes on EX-L, Hybrid and Si trims but is unavailable on the others.
In government crash testing, the 2009 Honda Civic earned a perfect five stars for its protection of occupants in frontal impacts. Side-impact tests resulted in a four-star rating for front passenger protection and five stars for protection of rear passengers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Civic its top rating of "Good" for the car's performance in frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
The 2009 Honda Civic's suspension and steering work together seamlessly, giving the car a well-balanced, confident feel on city streets, back roads and highways alike. Even the mainstream models can be described as being somewhat sporty to drive. The Civic Hybrid and natural-gas GX are unfortunately quite slow, but neither model is meant for supreme acceleration anyway. That task is taken up by the Civic Si. Possessing nimble handling and a delightfully fizzy engine, the Si is one of the few cars available in any price range that makes you want to drive it just for the sake of driving.
The Civic's dash features an unusual, polarizing layout. An analog tachometer is in the traditional location, but the digital speedometer and gas gauge are at the base of the windshield. Though some drivers find the two-tier display distracting, others say it makes quick visual checks of speed easier. Otherwise, its controls are well laid out and easy to operate, while materials are of high quality. The Honda Civic continues to be one of the best small cars in terms of room, interior storage and refinement. Regular Civic sedans have 12 cubic feet of trunk space, but it drops to about 10 for the Hybrid and 6 for the GX due to the space taken up by the hardware of their respective powertrains.
2009 Honda Civic models
The 2009 Honda Civic is a small car available as a sedan or coupe. For both, there are five main trim levels: DX, LX, EX, EX-L and Si. On the Civic sedan, Honda also offers the DX Value Package, the LX-S, the Hybrid and the GX.
The DX is meant for those on a very tight budget and offers little more than 15-inch steel wheels, power windows, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a height-adjustable driver seat. At least with this year's new DX Value Package, you get air-conditioning and a four-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with an auxiliary audio jack. The popular midgrade LX has the above features plus 16-inch wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, a folding rear seat and cruise control. The LX-S adds alloy wheels, a chrome exhaust outlet, a rear spoiler and front sport seats.
Going with a Civic EX gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, six-speaker audio (with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a USB input jack) and a 60/40-split rear seatback with a rear armrest. The EX-L comes with leather upholstery and heated front seats. The sporting Civic Si has most of the EX's features plus a high-output engine, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a premium audio system, sport seats and special interior trim. High-performance summer tires are an option for the Si, and a navigation system with Bluetooth phone connectivity is offered for the Si and EX/EX-L models. Hybrid models are equipped similarly to the EX and have automatic climate control; they can also be equipped with the optional navigation system and leather/heated seats. The GX has a feature list similar to the LX's.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
buy this car
2009 Honda Civic LX 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
I have a 2009 civic sedan lx 5spd manual I purchased new ...336,005 miles later it has never had a single thing break (minus the a.c. somewhat recently). Mileage was always a calculated 40mpg up until it for real old and now I get 36mpg. I just had all major suspension components replaced because I hadn't ever replaced a single thing. Didn't need to...mechanic said all were in … acceptable condition. I don't know what would possess ANYBODY to buy a GM, Chrysler or Ford when you can have Honda and Toyota quality. I will buy this exact same car again. Detroit cars are fine as long as you unload them before 80k and 4 years. Absolute junk beyond that. Honda is the way to go. Period. Update: 353k miles. No issues yet
5 out of 5 stars
Bought a car to flip. Learned to Love it!
2009 Honda Civic LX 2dr Coupe (1.8L 4cyl 5A)
I bought this car and owned it for a year only because I needed a truck. What a blast! The car came with two problems, which allowed for me to afford it at a discounted price. 1. Radio was crazy. changed stations by itself occasionally. Cost: $40 2. Clear coat was fading and flaking off of black paint. Cost: $0 because Honda extended their paint warranty to 7 years Unlimited … miles for all affected models with this defect. WOW! I was so impressed with Honda, they repainted almost my entire car with almost no questions asked. It was so easy, and once I found the right dealer they put me in touch with customer service which went flawlessly. I can't stress enough how easy and streamlined their warranty process was. Not only is Honda great, the car was great. This was my first economy car and once gas was no object I piled the miles on, without care for my mpg's. Every drive I made exciting, because I could rely on my Honda even under hard use, and it was fun to use hard. While its not overly powerful, the motor loves to rev. The Transmission shifts well. The car is surprisingly easy to drift. E brake used on a regular basis! Steering was instant and crisp and there was 0 body roll, unless you loaded it to the brim. I definitely felt a connection to this car. Steering feel was excellent, even over 100 mph. I can't explain how much the engine just likes to go. Its not powerful, not fast, but its so reactive and fun to drive in the curves, and can cruise happily at 90 mph all day. My only gripe was the transmission. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine unit. If you ever wanted to drive and have fun you needed to manually shift it though. It was not so much a performance thing as some economy setting. I had to practically floor it to get a responsive down shift. Once the Honda decides its time, its lightning quick. But until then, your stuck out of the power band. Other then all that, the only creature comforts my car had was a base model radio (acceptable), AC (worked great), and the heater. The little aluminum block doesn't warm up unless you drive and work it in the winter, but once its up to temp....That heater is a FURNACE. I swear, it could burn you if you hold your hands too close for too long. Awesome heater. Car holds a surprising amount of cargo too. I filled so full it was practically a truck one time. Fold down seats. In summary, I really expected to hate this car, but after owning it for one year I would never have sold it had I not needed offroad capability and towing. (trust me I tried) I truly enjoyed driving it, which is really saying something for a boring economizer like a Honda Civic. I can see now why ricers like to ruin them. I brought the maintenance up to date, and the car was better off when I sold it after over 20k miles. Extremely low cost of ownership. I tried to drive the beans out of it but it just asked for more. Surprisingly tough for its size. I'd also like to add that I have drove later model Honda's that were not as peppy as my 2009 1.8.
5 out of 5 stars
2009 Civic EX L
2009 Honda Civic EX-L 4dr Sedan w/Nav (1.8L 4cyl 5A)
Great Gas Mileage , easy to service . I do my own service , only thing that has gone out was the blower fan under the dash. Took 5 min to replace . $50 bucks ..runs perfect, now has 125K on it. All Honda need regular transmission Service , watch video and you will see how easy it is to do. In extreme conditions or super hot weather it is even more important.
2.13 out of 5 stars
Battery fails, Honda won't replace
2009 Honda Civic Hybrid 4dr Sedan (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Please do your research before considering this car. I was hoping to keep this car for >5 years and get excellent milage and help save the planet. What initially was a great hybrid has turned quickly into a disaster. After 1 year, the battery stopped holding a charge. after 15 months, the check engine light came on. Honda performed an irreversible software upgrade that bascially … minimizes the car's use of the hybrid battery (basically making it a non-hybrid car). My MPG has dropped 10 MPG!! The hybrid battery is now basically non-functional and Honda will not fix it despite being under warranty. There are many many simiar complaints (look online). I will never buy Honda again.
2009 Civic Highlights
|Combined MPG||29 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$150/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalAcceptable
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood