Honda Civic Review
Since its launch in 1973, the Honda Civic has been one of the most popular compact cars sold in America. Its success can be attributed to its consistently high level of fit and finish and an impressive, long-standing reputation for reliability and low running costs. High fuel economy, environmental awareness and engaging performance have also played a large role in making the Honda Civic a top choice for many Americans.
The latest Honda Civic offers spacious seating, advanced safety features and phenomenal turbocharged engine, and represents one of the best choices for an affordable sedan, coupe or hatchback. For shoppers looking for a used Civic, the car's long production run and wide range of models should make it easy to find what you want.
Current Honda Civic
The Honda Civic is sold in many trim levels across its sedan, coupe and hatchback body styles. The base LX trim is consistent across all of them, however, so every Civic regardless of body style starts with automatic headlights, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a USB port. More expensive Civic trim levels add features such as LED headlights, leather upholstery, navigation, a 12-speaker audio system and a central touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, With the exception of the Honda Sensing advanced safety package (standard on the Touring models and optional on lower trims), extra features are baked into the trim levels themselves; there are no stand-alone options.
Civic sedans and coupes in LX and EX trims are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder producing 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. Every hatchback and sedans and coupes in EX-T trim and higher come with a more powerful turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. With the six-speed manual transmission, it makes 174 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) reduces torque output to 162 lb-ft. The Sport hatchback is slightly more powerful; it bumps up to 180 hp, and manual-equipped models see torque rise to 177 lb-ft. Honda also offers a performance-oriented Civic Si (sedan or coupe) that has a 205-hp turbocharged engine.
In reviews, we've found the current Civic has a sharpness on the road that's been absent in recent years. Steering response is lively, and there's notably less body roll than in the previous Civic. That's also true for the Civic coupe, which has a slightly sportier suspension tune for crisper handling. At the same time, though, the Civic's ride is eminently comfortable, and there's less noise inside than Civic drivers have come to expect.
Used Honda Civic Models
The current Honda Civic represents the car's 10th generation, which debuted for the 2016 model year. This latest Civic is dramatically improved over the previous generation. Highlights include a roomier and higher-quality cabin, more expressive exterior and interior styling, a more compliant ride, improved performance, and more tech and safety features. The hatchback and Civic Si were not available for the first year, but otherwise this Civic hasn't received any notable changes.
The previous, ninth-generation Honda Civic was produced from 2012 to 2015. We're not overly fond of this generation's debut year. It was barely an upgrade over the car it replaced and was even worse in a few areas, while other cars in the segment made giant leaps forward. But Honda made a significant overhaul for 2013 to correct the first year's missteps. In addition to more attractive styling and a nicer interior, the 2013 model year also brought more standard features and retuned suspension and steering systems for better handling. Crashworthiness was also improved. The result was a car that once again stood among the class leaders.
This Civic was available as a coupe or sedan. Mainstream trim levels consisted of the DX, LX, EX and EX-L, with even the base model including an impressive array of items that included Bluetooth phone and audio, a rearview camera and Pandora radio functionality. The equipment only went up from there, eventually arriving at the leather-lined EX-L. There were also the Hybrid sedan, Natural Gas sedan, and Si coupe and sedan. A HF (high fuel efficiency) version was also available, with gas-saving features such as low-rolling-resistance tires and subtle aerodynamic tweaks.
The powertrain for the DX, LX, EX and EX-L versions was a 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing 140 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque (bumped to 143 hp and 129 lb-ft in 2014). It was matched to either a five-speed manual (not available on the EX-L) or a CVT. The Hybrid's 1.5-liter gasoline and electric motor was also matched to a CVT and produced a total of 110 hp and 127 lb-ft. The clean-burning Natural Gas model put out 110 hp and 106 lb-ft, while the Si sported a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 201 hp and 170 lb-ft (increased to 205 hp and 174 lb-ft in 2014) . The Si was only available with a six-speed manual.
In reviews of the time, we found the Civic was a pretty capable small car. Exterior styling was unadventurous but tasteful, boasting more visual pizzazz than this generation started with. The cabin had intuitive controls and a central multifunction display, and the materials and switchgear were in line with what most competitors offered. Its generous selection of engines and configurations helped it appeal to a wide variety of shoppers, while typical small Honda traits such as nimble handling and high fuel economy remained intact. However, many other new small cars also offered these traits, causing us to suggest that shoppers may want to consider other top competing models as well.
If you can, we recommend avoiding the 2012 Civic. Aside from the aforementioned changes to the '13 model, there are a few other changes to be aware of for this generation. The 2014 model received refreshed styling for the coupe, upgraded interior materials quality, more power for all but the natural gas and hybrid versions, and additional features including keyless ignition, a larger touchscreen display, enhanced smartphone integration and a blind-spot camera. The only significant addition for 2015, the final model year in this generation, was an SE model that slotted between the LX and EX sedans.
The eighth-generation Civic was produced from 2006 to 2011. We preferred it to the version that came after, and overall it should be a great pick for a used small car. For this generation, Honda offered the standard Civic in coupe and sedan body styles in four trim levels: DX, LX, EX and EX-L. These Civics had a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 140 hp; it was paired with a five-speed manual transmission, and a five-speed automatic was optional. Less common Civic variants include the Si (featuring a high-performance 2.0-liter engine matched to a six-speed manual), GX (with a 113-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that ran on clean-burning compressed natural gas) and Hybrid (with a 1.3-liter gas engine and an electric motor, making 110 hp combined).
Our editors found this Honda Civic to be a well-rounded car, and it should be a top pick for anybody shopping in this segment. Thanks to the wide array of configurations, it should also be easy to find a Civic that meets your needs. The only major downsides include elevated road noise and a controversial dash layout. The coupe was tuned to feel sportier than the sedan, but both are fun to drive, with quick steering and impressive handling. The 1.8-liter engine won't overwhelm anyone, but it provides enough power for comfortable everyday driving. The Hybrid gets fantastic fuel mileage, and the GX is impressively clean, but both suffer from slow acceleration.
Only minor updates occurred during this car's run. The Si sedan debuted for '07, while the following year saw a limited-edition Mugen Si model and the addition of a leather upholstery option. For '09, the LX-S and DX Value Package trims debuted along with a minor exterior refresh. For the final two years, the Civic continued on essentially unchanged.
Previous to the 2006-'11 model was the seventh-generation Honda Civic, which was sold from 2001 to '05. There were coupe and sedan body styles as well as a two-door hatchback. Honda offered its typical mainstream trims — DX, LX and EX — plus a few specialty trims such as VP, HX, SE and Hybrid. The hatchback came only in the Si trim. Most models had a 1.7-liter engine good for 115 hp, 117 hp (HX) or 127 hp (EX). The Civic Hybrid mated an 85-hp 1.3-liter four-cylinder gas engine to a 13-hp electric motor and offered the best fuel economy of the lineup. The Civic Si produced 160 hp from its 2.0-liter engine. At the time, we commented favorably about the car's fuel-efficient engines, roomy interior and top safety scores but were disappointed by the limited availability of antilock brakes.
Sold from 1996 to 2000, the sixth-generation Civic was in many ways a refinement of the style and technology found on the previous generation. Coupe, sedan and hatchback body styles were available. Sedans were offered in DX, LX and EX trim levels. Engine choices were a 1.6-liter good for 106 hp in the DX and LX or 127 hp in the VTEC-equipped EX. There was also a higher-fuel-economy coupe, the 115-hp HX. Honda didn't release an Si trim until 1999. Based on the coupe body style, the Si was powered by a high-performance 1.6-liter engine tuned to put out 160 hp.
Honda's VTEC technology first appeared in the fifth-generation Civic, which was sold from 1992 to '95. The Civic VX featured a fuel-efficient 92-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder with VTEC-E. More powerful was the 125-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder VTEC engine found in the Civic Si and EX sedan trims. First sold only in hatchback and sedan body styles, the fifth-gen Honda Civic got two coupe trims in 1993, the DX and EX. The lower CX and DX trims each had a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 70 hp.
Read the most recent 2018 Honda Civic review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Honda Civic page.
For more on past Honda Civic models, view our Honda Civic history page.