By on October 18, 2017

2018 Civic Sedan

There’s a good argument to be made that Honda has its mojo back, at least when it comes to the Civic. The ninth-generation car landed on the market with all the appeal of a wet fart, yet sales remained relatively strong, proving – once again – that no one listens to auto journos.

The latest Civic is leagues ahead of the old model, so much so that it has a very good chance of ousting the Camry from its perch atop America’s passenger car pyramid. Can the cheapest Civic, the LX, capture some of the luminescence cast by its more expensive brothers, particularly the Type R? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on October 11, 2017

218 Honda Civic Type R base illustration - Image: Honda, Illustration: The Truth About CarsAmerican Honda launched the 2017 Honda Civic Type R in a single, fully equipped variant. Although you don’t see it in emblem form on the back of the car, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R is sold exclusively in Touring trim. The model code, evidenced by NHTSA certification papers filed by American Honda and located by TTAC’s own Bozi Tatarevic, is FK8G7.

But Bozi found an extra Civic Type R in American Honda’s NHTSA filings for 2018. It’s still a Type R, it still uses the K20C1 engine that sends 306 horsepower to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. But this is the FK8G3 Civic Type R, sans Touring.

There’s reason to believe it’ll be distinctly more affordable. (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2017

2018 Acura ILX Special Edition - Image: AcuraIt has become increasingly evident that America’s compact sedan consumers aren’t terribly interested in a semi-premium-branded version of a previous-generation Honda Civic.

Shocking.

But for 2018, the Acura ILX gains a new Special Edition. Ah, that’ll do the trick. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry and 2018 Honda Civic - Images: Honda And ToyotaIn many ways, September 2017’s auto sales bucked the trend. After the industry combined for decreased volume, year-over-year, in each of 2017’s first eight months, auto sales in September rose 6 percent. Meanwhile, the shrinking car sector that tumbled 12 percent through the first two-thirds of 2017 was down only 3 percent in September.

There were two big reason the passenger car decline wasn’t worse: America’s two best-selling cars.

Excluding the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry, U.S. car sales fell 6 percent. But as the clear-out of remaining 2017 Honda Accords got underway and produced 10-percent growth, the launch of the 2018 Toyota Camry generated a 13-percent uptick. Meanwhile, the Honda Civic’s 26-percent surge allowed the compact Honda to expand its lead over the midsize Camry in the race to end 2017 as America’s best-selling car. (Read More…)

By on September 29, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: HondaGeorge W. Bush was finishing his second year as president of the United States when Toyota reported 434,145 Camry sales in calendar year 2002. No other passenger car generated more U.S. volume that year.

Or the next year. Or the next. Or the one after that. In fact, the Toyota Camry’s reign as America’s best-selling car continued for a decade and a half, stretching from 2002 through 2016.

Unless the launch of the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry results in a superior final third of 2017, however, Toyota’s tenure atop the leaderboard will end this year. Ahead of the Camry by 1,153 sales through the first eight months of 2017 is the Honda Civic.

With 2018 Civics arriving in Honda showrooms on October 3, 2017, Honda is determined to leave well enough alone. The recipe is unchanged. Honda will not mess with success. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2017

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Let’s get this out of the way right up front: The 2017 Honda Civic Si is not a baby Civic Type R. Yes, it shares the name and platform, but not only does it differ mechanically and stylistically in key ways, it also provides a different driving experience.

Different, but still excellent. Just a different kind of excellent. I’ll get to that right after I find my thesaurus.

Like its main competitors – the Ford Focus ST, Subaru WRX, and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Civic Si is supposed to be the mid-level performance trim of a compact car (in Subaru’s case, the WRX is based on the Impreza but drops the moniker). As such, it’s not the outright burner the Type R is, and that’s just fine.

(Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

2017 Honda Civic SI, Image: Jack Baruth

Long before he launched a reasonably successful solo career, and long before he took time out of his busy day to personally criticize my musicianship, Victor Wooten was already recognized for his unique and astoundingly proficient technique on the electric bass guitar. Some time around 1990, an interviewer asked him how much time he devoted to learning new instruments. Just for perspective, it should be noted that this was very much the era of Prince and a few other musicians who, like Stephen Stills and Walter Becker before them, would often record anything from a demo track to an entire album by playing all the instruments themselves, using hired hands to fill in the gaps on the road.

Wooten gave the interviewer his characteristic cocked-head pause before replying. “Instead of putting time into learning other instruments,” he noted, speaking slowly as if to a child, “I take that time… and I put it into learning my instrument.” There’s a lesson here, if anybody cares to learn it. Don’t waste your time doing things badly.

In the paragraphs that follow, I will attempt to convince you that the Civic Si is eminently superior to its more celebrated Type R sibling because it adheres strictly to Victor Wooten’s advice. The Type R attempts to supersize its platform’s basic capabilities to the point where it can do battle with everything from rally-reps to ponycars, but the Si pursues the much cheaper, much less ambitious path of being simply the best Civic possible.

Its success in doing so is beyond any contradiction.

(Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

2018 Honda Fit Sport 6MT in Orange Fury - Image: HondaThe Dodge Dart is dead. The Ford Fiesta is likely on its last legs in the United States. Ford Focus production is moving to China, off the North American continent where demand for Ford small cars is rapidly declining. General Motors is scaling back production at the Chevrolet Sonic’s Orion Township, Michigan, assembly plant.

That’s the Detroit small car picture, or at least part of it. From Japan’s perspective, however, small cars are entirely worth it, not just because of the sales success enjoyed by the Honda Civic (currently America’s best-selling car through 2017’s first seven months) and Toyota Corolla, but because of the demographic small cars target. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

2003 Honda Civic GX in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The compressed natural gas-burning Honda Civic GX first appeared in the United States in 1998, for sale to fleet buyers, but individuals in California were able to buy Civic GXs soon after that. In spite of its extremely clean tailpipe emissions, few Californians opted to endure the hassle of trying to refuel the GX, and so these cars are very rare sights in the Golden State.

Here’s a crashed example I spotted a few weeks ago in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2017 Honda Civic hatchback - Image: Honda

The lifespan of an average car-model usually lasts a half-decade before the automaker shells out for a full redesign, unless it’s a Nissan Frontier or Lincoln Navigator. That’s more or less the rule at Honda when it comes to the top-selling compact car in North America, the Civic.

While the eighth-generation Civic soldiered on for a lengthy six years, Honda sold the preceding seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth versions of the model for either four or five years. Thanks to a boring design and lackluster reviews, the automaker spirited the ninth-gen model off of dealer lots after just four years, but not before adding extra content and style via an emergency 2013 model year refresh.

We’re now hearing the current generation — larger than ever before, radically redesigned for 2016, and a sales leader in a shrinking segment — won’t see a full redesign until the 2022 model year. That’s a six-year stretch. A stretch where automakers will be scrambling to hold on to compact-car market share in a land flush with small crossovers. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

1986 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The third-generation Honda Civic, built from 1984 through the 1987 model year, was a tremendous sales success in the United States. In places where rust wasn’t a big problem, they lasted for decades, and they were fun to drive for such frugal machines.

Well, some of them were fun to drive; the fourth-gen Civics and CRXs with the 1500cc engines accelerated respectably by mid-1980s standard, but base-model 1300cc versions were on the miserable side. For that reason, few bought these cars, so this ’86 in a Denver self-service yard is an interesting Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

You’re not likely to find another car sporting over 300 horsepower and a price below $35,000 with the same kind of visual impact as the Honda Civic Type R. Call it over the top, call it arresting, or call it exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Honda designers and engineers know what buyers they want to reach — as many as possible. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have decided to spice up its every-popular Civic with warm (Si) and hot (Type R) variants. With both models, deciding on power and price meant walking a fine line. Honda wants the Civic to be a big tent model. Nothing too exclusive, thank you very much.

Regular Civics for the masses, a 205 hp offering for the lively commute type, and a 306 hp hatch festooned with go-fast add-ons for the wannabe (or legitimate) racers. Seems like a pretty good range, right? Nope, there’s still white space in need of filling, says the Civic’s head engineer. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Si Coupe Red and Blue, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

After a four-hour journey that included a ferry ride across the Northumberland Strait from Prince Edward Island, we arrived at one of the largest import car meets in Atlantic Canada in Bedford, Nova Scotia. There, owners showed off rows upon rows of cars in varying states of modification and personalization, from tasteful to tasteless.

My car club friends and I walked though to say hello to other folks we’d only previously chatted with on our local import forum, all the while gawking at some of the wildest vehicles east of Quebec. Body kits, massive turbo setups, and convoluted engine swaps ruled the day. But I only remember one vehicle vividly, parked at the end of a row and free from the usual slack-jawed, drooling masses: a pristine, unmodified, 1999 or 2000 Honda Civic Si Coupe (actually an SiR in Canada) still wearing its factory Electron Blue Pearl paint.

To me, back in 2007, this was automotive perfection.

Fast forward some 10 years later. I had the chance to meet the 2017 Honda Civic Si, a quicker, more mature, and more usable younger sibling wearing a similar shade of blue — then proceeded to act like a 22-year-old again and drive the ever-living snot out of it.

(Read More…)

By on June 5, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Coupe Si – Image: Honda

Not everyone was blown away by the new Honda Civic Si’s 205 horsepower, especially after a year of rumors suggesting output could fall in the 220-hp range. While the hotter (but not hottest) version of Honda’s 10th-generation Civic possesses the same horsepower rating as its predecessor, albeit with significantly less displacement, many Big H aficionados had hoped for more.

Nah, you don’t want that, Honda says. The Si’s massaged 1.5-liter turbo does offer increased torque (192 lb-ft) compared to the previous 2.4-liter model, but the automaker claims the addition of more ponies would have harmed the model. (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version), Image: Honda

Earlier this month, Honda announced pricing for its hotter Civic Si sedan and coupe, both of which carry an after-delivery price of $24,775. However, at 205 horsepower, the 2017 Civic Si’s powertrain could leave some front-drive sporty car lovers wanting more.

Not to fear, the Civic Type R will arrive on dealer lots imminently. Offered on North American shores for the first time, the Type R adds an extra 101 hp to the Si’s power output, all thanks to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Torque tops out at 295 lb-ft, and a hatch is the only bodystyle available.

According to new photos of a fresh-from-England batch of Type Rs, the cost of that extra power amounts to about $100 per horse. (Read More…)

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