By on March 2, 2007

2007_civic_sedan_08.jpgHerbie Hancock is a jazz pianist with a lesser known passion for all things electronic. After trading his sublime Steinway for some cutting-edge synthesizers, Hancock’s musical career Rockit-ed into interstellar space. It’s unclear why Honda reversed Hancock's career path for their eighth generation Civic. Here we have a machine that harkens back to the time when funk-fusion hit the airwaves and flying wedge concepts littered the world's design studios. What’s up with that?

The retro echoes are obvious, but let’s be clear about their execution: the new Civic’s tall profile, cab forward silhouette and skaterboi ramp cum windshield is less old school Lamborghini, more "Minivan Jr." Despite Audi-esque tail lights, the four-door’s strange proportions clearly say “I wanna be a hatchback!” About the best that can be said about the design: it's unmistakable from ten feet or ten furlongs away.

2007_civic_sedan_39.jpgToo bad the windows aren't opaque. Honda’s interior decorators invite you to savor their first ever KITT car cabin. This ode to seventies sci-fi chic sports a two story gauge cluster. A digital speedometer sits up top; a Cyclopsian analog tachometer lingers below. The lighting effects aren’t quite Peter Max, but it’s not for lack of trying. All that’s needed is a flashing LED display and testy, effeminate voice to protect you against the “world of criminals who operate above the law.”  

Fortunately, the Civic’s high quality fit and finish create a suitable cavern for A to B’ers determined to enjoy their daily dose of gridlock or weekly jaunt to the local supermarket. The Civic’s cloth doesn't look or feel cheap, even having the foresight to spend quality time on the inviting door panels. True to Honda’s heritage, both major and minor controls are faultlessly, sensuously ergonomic. And there’s plenty of head, leg, shoulder and trunk space for five Civic-minded adults. 

2007_civic_sedan_03.jpgThe Civic LX' rear cargo-hole also makes the win list, with decklid operation and load height that's Verne Troyer compliant. But the hood's Dustbuster profile and long arm A-pillar make forward visibility a game of chance on the turnpike or within Wholefoods’ parking lot. Once you get over the front end's lack of visual reinforcement and the video game interfaces, taking a commanding grip on the Civic LX’ slick two-spoke wheel is child's play.

But not in the Atari 2600 kind of way. Honda's funky-fresh wedgemobile handles in a manner more befitting a Gran Turismo endurance race. Most everything from the ghosts of Civics past is present and accounted for: linear steering, powerful brakes, confident handling and reasonably well controlled body motions. The Civic’s 16" wheels encourage fast cornering and deep braking, even if the chassis’ limitations are strictly R&B (reached and breached).

2007_civic_sedan_36.jpgWhile it’s nice to think that frugal little cars are driven by financially challenged enthusiasts, an automatic transmission is mandatory in this neck of the woods. The Civic's slushbox shifts effortlessly between five well-matched gears. 

That's a good thing. With a 1.8-liter four cylinder mill huffing out 140hp at 6300rpm, the amble from rest to 60mph require more than a couple of cogs and almost nine seconds of the Civic driver’s time. Let’s face it: the Civic LX’ acceleration isn’t exactly the stuff of NOPI folklore. But the mill gets the job done with a vario-cammed powerband that revs freely, with minimal thrash and complaint. More importantly (at least for the target market), the $17k sedan clocks in at 30/40 EPA mpg. 

Granted, the LX-trimmed Civic won't set souls afire with greasy bits worthy of The Temple of VTEC. But the little Honda is a direct hit on the average American’s big car sensibilities. The diminutive sedan serves-up the kind of calm, confident ride and sound isolation normally associated with premium priced luxobarges. And that's what makes this package special: strict attention to dynamic details while catering to the comfort-oriented demands of penny-pinching customers seeking reliable basic transportation.

2007_civic_sedan_04.jpgYes, but– somehow the Civic’s small car persona got lost in translation. While you gotta love all those airbags and the superlative passive safety, there’s no getting around the fact that the 2750lb Civic is a bigger beast than ever before. Which begs the question: was adding extra heft the right path for a car known for catering to both the entry-level dynamically dense buyer and the performance crazed Import Tuner crowd?

In this age of bigger is better, the current gen Civic bowed to market trends and sold the pistonheads out. Yes, the Civic is still a comforting method of family transport with unique styling and respectable performance. Sure, it’s still a modern day Model A: a blank canvas for street savvy tuners to make a, um, “strong” visual, auditory and performance statement. But the Civic is no longer a sport compact. Forget about the questionable nostalgic styling; this may be the biggest letdown of them all.

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89 Comments on “Honda Civic LX Review...”

  • avatar

    As you alluded to, the lack of a hatch in this car removes it from a lot of first-time buyer’s lists (and from mine). I can only assume that the CAD god determined that it confounded the design of the rear crumple zone and threw up the error message “!!!$$$$$!!!”. Alas, Honda will still sell plenty of these capable cars, and their buyers will borrow the parent’s SUV for the big jobs. As to the style, I suppose the present mission is to not “be the bean”; mission accomplished.

  • avatar

    Does the “no longer a sport compact” charge apply to the Si as well, or just the others?

    I’m personally a big fan of the exterior styling. The bit I cannot stand is the deep, double-decker IP.

    For price comparison and real-world fuel economy information:

  • avatar

    I’ll admit, when Honda did the ’00 redesign, I thought they had lost it and were going down the same path of abandoning their enthusiast root like Mitsubishi had done. That Civic was okay, but it was completely uninspiring compared to the 92-95 or 96-99 or even the 88-91 models. They paid by losing their status as king of the sport compacts and got elbowed aside by the WRX, with the the Mini Cooper S and SRT-4 (say what you will about their cheesy interiors, you can’t argue with sub 60 acceleration times for under $20K)

    Fortunately, Honda learned from their mistake of trying to move away from those who embraced their cars. A free-revving engine, a stylish design, and a renewed commitment to the compact market all help bring this car back to the respectability among enthusiasts that they had lost before.

    I still don’t like their coupe designs, It looks too much like a dust buster. The sedan, with it’s low-slung profile reminds me of the cars of the future, but it doesn’t look weird like the Prius. There is a more organic flow in the lines instead of something that looks like it was modeled from origami. My only criticism, the dash. Honda tried too hard with this dual-level design. Folks who have this car say it’s not that bad at all, but then again, folks who have Azteks don’t think they have an ugly vehicle. Bring back the simpler layout. It may be boring, but not everbody wants to feel like they’re piloting one of the shuttles from the Enterprise.

  • avatar

    I personally like the sloped wedge lines on the new Civic and the Star Trek cockpit. It is still th best car out there in this class. I just wish they weren’t so blasted expensive. My sense is that they have left many college students and second family car buyers behind. I realize they introduced the Fit to fill in this void somewhat, but the Fit is not a Civic. I know we all generally agree that premium car appointments in basic go-go mobiles is a good thing, but at what price? The Elantra is the new Civic (in terms of price and affordability) in my view, as both the Honda and the Corolla go up segment with each iteration. Now the good thing about Civics is their phenomenal resale value. Have you checked on KBB or Edmunds lately for a five-year old Civic. Astounding. Yet again, you pay for this at the front end where many historic Civic buyers can no longer afford it. Strange indeed.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    The one thing that never ceases to catch my attention on this car is the un-be-freakin-lievable fit and finish. Even driving by at 80 MPH this thing looks like it’s CNC cut from a single piece of aluminum. I just can’t get over the perfection of the body panel shape, panel gaps and perfect paint. I don’t think I’ve seen anything comparable under $50K. Maybe Accord?

    Did they go back to the double wishbone up front – or is this McPherson strut?

    And yes – as with most Hondas – you might just as well buy new. If you can get past the arrogant “You want it we got it. If you don’t buy it someone else will.” dealer personnel.

  • avatar

    I just drove a 4 door LX a couple weeks ago. I couldn’t get over the feeling of looking down a tunnel at the road, and I hate digital speedometers. I’m sure I’d get used to the whole thing, but I didn’t want to. One thing I liked, though, was the steering–amazingly tight and direct. I really liked the shifter too, which was typical, unmatched Honda precision. Why do you say a slushbox is mandatory? Yuck! Also, to whom am I asking this question? I can’t find the author’s name anywhere.

  • avatar

    I owned an ’02 Civic SiR (Si in the US), and I loved the machine for being a fun, practical little whip, despite its bland looks.

    The new Civic reverses that status, with no hatch, odd and “buttony” interior, all in a better looking (especially the coupe) car.

    But c’mon… 2750lbs? A Civic? Add good size driver and some gear and you’re breaking 3000! I thought Civics were sopposed to be light? Add to that, you can’t see the hood of the car from the inside, and the windows seem like gunslits compared to Hondas of old.

    I hate to say it, but Honda’s rep for building driver’s cars has been surpassed by Mazda. Honda now occupies the Goldilocks’ middle between Mazda’s “too hard” and Toyota’s “too soft”.

  • avatar

    No mention that the 06 was recalled 3 times. Very un-Honda like. Also the lack of Hoda’s double wishbone suspension.
    Fit and finish are still great,as is the smooth powertrain. Overall still best car in it’s class.

  • avatar

    Fix the lousy driver interface and this will be at the top of my list to replace my wife’s Saturn. She’s very much an A-to-B driver, and I do all the maintenance. A Civic makes this a win-win situation.

    The exterior styling–much like everything Honda and Acura are leaning towards these days–is clearly very close to previously executed Teutonic ideas (Audi is just the beginning). Which means it looks pretty good. However, I take visibility very seriously and will have to check out this windshield first hand, since I haven’t heard anything good about it to date.

    Agreed that this needs to be a 5-door hatch or liftback of some sort. Trying to squeeze a trunk on a chassis this size is just an exercise in engineering to the lowest common denominator, taking style over practicality…not really a great angle for an uber-practical car.

  • avatar

    My comments: Part 1 –
    I’ve owned 4 Civics over the years. My Civic was of the CVCC variety. (It rusted out—but was still strong of engine–when it was retired.) More recently, in February of ‘06, after putting some 160,000 miles on it, I traded in my trusty ’96 Civic hatchback (MT), and purchased a new ’06 Civic LX sedan (AT).

    Fast forward to July of ’06: Traded in my ‘06 LX sedan, for a ’06 Civic EX coupe (MT). (A classic case of “buyer’s remorse.” Occasional spirited driving is more fun when manually selecting gears. And with no need for 4 doors, the coupe would be just fine.)

    While some may dislike the (“cheese wedge”) looks of the new Civic coupe, I much prefer its styling verses that of the sedan. It’s subjective of course. If a cars looks is somewhat controversial, it certainly beats plain or bland: I’m looking at you, Corolla.

    The LX Civic sedan is so de-contented that, unless you’re into austerity (in that case, get a DX), moving up to the EX brings a lot more toys to the table: Alloy wheels; disc stoppers at all four corners; a sunroof; remote trunk release, outside temperature display; audio controls on the steering wheel; rear-seat cup holders and armrest; modestly upgraded ICE; variable wipers, and an additional 12-volt outlet in the center console. Oddly, the interior trunk lid is lined in just the EX sedan. An OEM navigation system is available–only in EX trim–but save $1,700 and get a Garmin “Nuvi” GPS unit instead.

    The Civic sedan has certainly gotten more portly over time. Blame it on an increase in overall size, slightly larger engines, and additional safety equipment: Some of the weight gain is also due to the increase in the number of airbags: From 2 in 1996, to 8 in 2006.


    Honda Civic — 4-door sedan – base engine – by generation:
    *Weight varies by trim level/options, so figure +/- 50 pounds-ish.

    5th Generation: 1992-1995: Curb weight: 2,213 lbs.
    Engine: 1.5 L / 102 HP / 98 ft. lbs.

    6th Generation: 1996-2000: Curb weight: 2,319 lbs.
    (Gain over previous generation: 106 lbs.)
    Engine: 1.6L / 106 HP / 103 ft. lbs.

    7th Generation: 2001-2005 Curb weight: 2,421 lbs.
    (Gain over previous gen.: 102 lbs.)
    Engine: 1.7L / 115 HP / 110 ft. lbs.

    8th Generation: 2006+ Curb weight: 2,685 lbs. – LX (MT).
    (Gain over previous gen.: 264 lbs.)
    Engine: 1.8L / 140 HP / 128 ft. lbs.

    The Civic sedan weight gain from 1995 to 2006 amounts to roughly 472 lbs. – Oink!
    (It’s also gotten 3” wider, and the wheelbase has lengthened by about 3” as well.)
    However, for the frugal pistonhead, the Civic continues to deliver great MPG. :-)

  • avatar

    – Part 2 –
    Driving dynamics of the new Civic verses older variants:
    My 2006 Civic coupe weighs around 2,700 pounds. While fun to drive, the ’06 Civic is not as much fun to toss around as was my old 1996 Civic DX hatchback, which weighed around 2,200 pounds.

    I’m not exactly sure why the new Civic feels less “tossable.” More horsepower, or better, a lot more torque, would be welcome additions to the larger, heavier, base-model Civics. Yes, there’s the Civic Si, but my point here is: Honda, please upgrade the engines in base cars. While Honda says “EX owners don’t care about performance,” an injection of some adrenaline into the cars motivator would be welcomed by those who drive while awake.

    What it was like to drive a 1996 Civic hatchback? Well, I’d agree with this by Autobytel:
    “…we had low expectations when we got behind the wheel [of the base 106-hp version]. These were quickly blown out the window. The high-revving little engine was zippy and quick. Paired with a 5-speed manual transmission, it was responsive and provided plenty of power. — The shifter has a short, light throw requiring only fingertip operation. The gates are more precise, making for fast, clean shifts. – The…suspension delivers the same bright handling…an impressive accomplishment in a car this light. — To cut costs, Honda went from 4-wheel disc brakes to discs in the front and drum brakes in the rear…and to be honest, we didn’t notice a difference. Braking is still short and grippy.”

    Not a bad summary of the dynamics—considering it retailed for $12,000 back in ‘96.

    Regarding the 8th Generation sedan vs. the (non-Si) coupe: Buy a ’06 Civic coupe instead of a sedan, and you gain a tighter suspension (20 percent stiffer up front, 28 percent in back), along with stiffer damping and thicker anti-roll bars. It also offers front seats with deeper bolstering, and a (useless) “ambient light” LED. To me, the coupe is easier on the eyes and, along with the 5-speed manual, a lot more fun to drive on twisty back roads. :-)

  • avatar

    Great cars, I had an ’83 that only had a sewing machine sized engine (and a manual), but was a true joy to drive. I have to say, though, that Playstation instrument cluster would drive me to the competition…or actually to a Fit, which seems to be the only Honda channeling true to heritage Honda soul anyway.

  • avatar

    Guys, don’t expect a hotter engine base. The Civic has grows a lot, but without sacrifcing mileage.

    likewise, get used to the Dustbuster wedge, the aerodynamics (a’la Prius) are good for 1-2 MPG highway.

  • avatar

    Civics moved upscale in the naming convention of their trim lines, too. I had an 88 hatch in “base” trim. No radio, no cigarette lighter, no passenger side rear view mirror. And back then Civics maxed out at “DX”. The DX trim is now bottom of the Civic lineup. And generally, the Civolltra3’s now need a decent feature list to keep them above the mini-car class.

    And I think Honda even knows, Fit is now the new “Civic”. The rumored new CRX would be based on the Fit platform.

  • avatar

    A re-review? Interesting. A friend has this exact model. It’s very nice, the windshield view does take some getting used to. I parked it once and parallel parking is a challenge when you can’t see the front end at all. I would love to take a new si out for a spin. This model feels a lot tighter, as in better put together than previous models (which were no slouches).

  • avatar

    I have a few more minutes to comment now, had to run out the door earlier. I’d just edit my earlier comment, but can’t seem to find the button…

    On the IP: I’d like the tach and speedometer together. But if one’s got to be further away, and thus easier to read without taking my eyes off the road (kind of like a poor man’s HUD), it’s the tach. If I’m hooning it along a challenging road, the tach’s the instrument I need to see easily and quickly. So the opposite of the layout they went with.

    On the reliability front, in my research the 2006 Civic’s been achieving domestic-like repair rates so far. Most problems involve warped, poorly fitting, or rattling interior trim. Also a seal beneath the center console that can become dislodged and let water up into the car.

    The latest results of my reliability survey:

  • avatar

    I still have my trusty 1998 Civic EX coupe, which got me through grad school. I am amazed at the resale value. I stole it in great condition with 104K miles for $5300 two a half years ago. It’s still easily worth over $5,000. I know cars aren’t really investments, but when they hold their value like that, it’s a legitimate argument. I mean, how much is a 98 Neon, Cavalier, or Escort worth with 130K miles? A hundred bucks?

  • avatar
    Doan C.

    I drive the 2006 LX Sedan since March 2006. I love the interior design. I find nothing wrong with tach and speedometer. The look and the bigger size that what I like most of new Civic. The only problems I see is the paint job. It flake off very easy in high power car wash. Everything else amazed me. I haven’t run any problems with it. All the comparing of Coupe vs. Sedan. It all the same. The only exception is that the sedan have four door. The rear end look differently in view. I drive allots in the cities. There allots of braking everywhere I go. I prefer a automatic because it have a better reaction at tough situation in the heavy congested road.

  • avatar

    [I]While you gotta love all those airbags and the superlative passive safety, there’s no getting around the fact that the 2750lb Civic is a bigger beast than ever before.[/I]

    I asked this question on other forums and now I am asking it here: when it comes to styling excesses, and the propensity for most every redesigned model to be larger than the last, is it 1959 all over again? Or is the “best” yet to come?

  • avatar

    Models seem to get bigger, then new models/marques slot in under them. I can’t explain it, except that maybe people who follow a particular model throughout their lives demand it, consciously or subconsciously. Maybe someone who was a college student in a CVCC in the late 70s still wants a Civic, but expects more space and a bigger car with the same nameplate today.

    The general trend in cars getting heavier, though, has been discussed a lot. Bigger engines, better crash protection, and high levels of NVH suppression are the norm now.

  • avatar

    One thing I admire about Honda is the effort put into engineering, especially when it comes to Honda engines.

    The amount of effort expended on just one detail: How the (halo car) Civic Si *sounds* when crossing over into VTEC (from “mild” cam, to “wild” cam) mode.

    Details here:

    “Small team of engineers perform some magic, give new Civic Si a sporty growl.”

  • avatar

    I believe the official line is that Honda is not sharing a Civic Hatchback with the USA because we get the Fit instead.

    I say phooey.

    The euro-hatch version of this car is frickin’ sweet.

    I LOVE the instrument pod in this car. Cool as heck. I look into other people’s Civics to see how fast I’m going on my scooter in town. The speedo is legible from OUTSIDE the car.

    When I bought my first real car late last year, if Honda had the Hatch version of the Civic here, I would have likely gone with that. No sale.

  • avatar

    The 2001 Civic is bigger than the 94 Accord. Small cars have grown in size to become more mid sized rather than compact. Former midsize cars are now becoming full size. So as a model grows there is always a need for something to slot in underneath. And with our McDonald’s diets cars need to be big.

  • avatar


    That might be one of the best answers to my question I’ve heard yet. Thank you.

    The reason I ask if it’s 1959 again, tongue-in-cheek, is to inquire as to whether or not we’ve reached the pinnacle of supersizing and extreme design elements (such as oversized taillights, headlights, fender flares, etc.) and if we’re due for a correction. Surely many of the vehicles only appear larger due to these design elements and outsized sheet metal, and with a return to design minimalism could be achieved without sacrificing interior room.

  • avatar

    After driving the 06 LX, I ended up buying a hatchback: the 05 Civic Si, in black. Possibly the most underrated Civic ever. So many positives: shifter, clutch, hatch, seats, and torque. The updated version (04-05 vs. (02-03) made a lot of difference in my eyes: bigger, classier wheels, side rocker panels, and better looking head a tail lights. No, it’s not a drag racer, but it has all the torque I ever need. (That’s right, torque–in a Civic.) Plus, 100 mph feels like 50–stout and planted at high speeds. So many people complain about no hatch with a Civic, but whenever it’s offered, it never sells!

  • avatar

    I highly disagree with the the author’s view of the civic’s exterior. IMO I think this is the first new sedan and coupe design that really works and that is not overly retro (american design) or overly “evolutionary” (German Design). As another poster mentioned, this is the design of the future, and I mean that in a good way. I think a lot of Japanese and Korean companies are going to be cribbing these honda design elements. Although I do think the sedan does work better than the coupe, which might be problematic for coupe sales if too many people agree with me, especially with the sedan getting the SI trim.

  • avatar

    The Euro-Civics, with the hatchback, look a lot more cohesive, and smaller.
    I’m hoping that they bring them stateside, in the form of an SiR and company.
    They’ll bring the enthusiasts back to the marque.

  • avatar

    As the owner of a 2006 Civic LX, I can say the article above is accurate enough. The only thing I don’t understand is why the guages seem so spaceship for most reviewers. I’ve had the car a few months now and the guages serve their purpose well, they are bright, legible, and one can view the speedo’s digits without taking their eyes off the road. The transmission’s gear are well spaced from 1-4, but 5th gear is excessively low–one can hear the engine lugging at the low RPMs. The A-pillars block a considerable amount of vision and the rear visibility isn’t good, either. Another complaint would be the placement of the HVAC vents. They are equally spread out across the dash in a 1-2-3-4 arrangement instead of the more common 1-23-4 style. Vents 1 and 2 are blocked by the steering wheel, 3 and 4 can’t blow on the driver. Other than that, it’s all the car I could ask for…

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Thanks for reading everyone. Yes, I wrote this review.

    (Note to RF: the author’s name shows up on the homepage, but not on the actual review)

    ejacobs: yes there’s a manual transmission option, but the point made is that few people in the market for a sedan actually want it.

    Blunozer: I’m digging the Goldilocks reference. Well said.

    kph: Yes the Fit is the new Civic, and that doesn’t sit well with me. We had so many generations of Civics that were sleek and sporty in the Sport Compact way, and the Fit just doesn’t cut it.

    86er: The late 50s, the late 70s…history keeps on repeating itself, and the Japanese aren’t immune to the disease. Cars are getting insanely large these days much to the Civic’s detriment. Something’s gotta give.

    Zoomzit: actually I kinda agree with you. The exterior styling is cohesive and unique, especially compared to the yawn-city Corolla. But its wikkid retro; you can’t deny its roots to 1970s flying wedges.

    This ride is the love child of an Aston Martin Bulldog and the Ford Aerostar. It would be fine, except for the Civic name is attached to it.

  • avatar

    The thing that would keep me out of the new Civic is the raked windshield that so amplifies the vision-reduction of any dirt on the windshield, and the football-field size solar collector dashboard. I’m also very disappointed with the weight gain.

  • avatar

    Does anyone else see a very TSX like profile in that last picture in the review, or is that just me? I mean, swap the tail lights and raise the hood line a little, and it looks like the lineage is clear. I never noticed that before.

  • avatar

    Speaking of car size “inflation”, dig this:

    1985 Cadillac DeVille sedan: 110″ wb, 3350lbs, 125 hp
    2007 Toyota Camry Sedan 109″ wb, 3300lbs, 160-260hp

  • avatar

    DonLuc: guages serve their purpose well, they are bright, legible, and one can view the speedo’s digits without taking their eyes off the road.

    Think of it as the poor man’s head-up display.

  • avatar

    Frank Williams: “Think of it [the speedo] as the poor man’s head-up display.”


    “Honda researchers conducted a study that tracked the eye movements of drivers and prioritized the Civic’s gauges and their placement for quick recognition time. Based on this research, a two-tier instrument panel was devised that also takes advantage of the generous dashboard space from the steeply raked windshield.”

    “A digital speedometer, fuel gauge and engine temperature gauge are housed in the upper level to be more in-line with the drivers line-of-sight, resulting in shorter eye movements between the most commonly referenced gauges and the road. A digital readout on the speedometer was chosen to further enhance the cognition times during meter viewing.”

    The above is from:

  • avatar

    Whine: Bring back the edit button soon.

  • avatar

    There will be a new division in automobile classes soon. Those whose drivers would buy an autopilot option for and those that will have the steering wheel taken out of their cold, dead hands. This solidly belongs in the former.

  • avatar


    Was that the first year of the downsized FWD DeVille? I remember that ad, and the distinctive typeface, calling it a new kind of Cadillac. It was followed shortly afterwards by the Troyner-sized Seville and Eldorado. If you put today’s mid-sized cars up against them, they’re giants.

  • avatar

    I’m going to side with those who don’t really care for the new Civic’s design. As for the review stating: “it’s unmistakable from ten feet or ten furlongs away.”, I disagree. At least I disagree for the front three-quarters of the car. Because until you get to the rear quarter, I think the new Civic looks a lot like the Prius. I know it’s mainly the shape, but when you glance quickly at the front, the civic looks like it’s shape was derivided from the Prius. I don’t want to say it’s copied, because it’s probably more a function of an optimization of the aero-dynamic properties than style, but they are the only to cars to have that crazy rake to them.

    And I’m sorry, but the insturment cluster looks like it’s from an 80s video game. Maybe Rad Racer? And I too have noticed that I can read speeds on Civics when driving by the road.

    As for coupe vs. sedan, you might as well go with the coupe because those are not very comfortable back seats.

  • avatar

    To me, the coupe looks WAY better than the sedan. The Civic sedan has those minivan triangle front side windows and big fat tail lights on a droopy butt (didn’t they learn anything from the 04-05 Accord sedan?) The Civic coupe’s “ass in the air” looks better to me. The coupe’s front bumper is more normal, too. In my opinion, the civic hasn’t had a truly handsome sedan since the 5th gen 92-95 models.

  • avatar

    I have to say I don’t think I can ever get past the windshield / hood combination on these. The angle between the two looks clunky and awkward enough on the coupe, but on the sedan makes the car look beyond horrendous. As others have mentioned, the awkward sloping windshield doesn’t do anything for the driver either. 1-2mpg saved? I’ll take the $0.25 hit at the pumps and you can keep the dust-buster paradigm.

  • avatar

    I rather like the geometry of the shape. There’s one that parks on the block next to my house, and after seeing it every day for a while, I noticed that the arc of the roof actually touches the tops of both wheel arches and draws the eye smoothly back to ground. It’s really very organic and balanced. I think it will age very well.

    That said, after trying to bring home lawn furniture in an older Accord, I will never buy another small sedan. Hatchbacks are far more functional.

  • avatar

    starlightmica: Yes; they were Roger Smith’s coffin nails; destroyed the brand’s premium image completely.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Indeed, Sajeev, the Civic is no longer a sport compact. But I’d argue that’s been the case since 2001, and that the latest generation has made up some lost ground.

    Actually, driving a current Civic back-to-back with a ’96-’00 reveals how much better the steering has become. For all its double-wishbone goodness, that older model had a pretty gummy and slow-ratioed helm. It got worse from ’01-’05, but is far better now.

    On the other hand, the ’96-’00 model still looks classy. I personally like the looks of the current one, but it’s *not* going to age well. What’s happening to those simple but timeless Honda lines of the late’90s-early ’00s?

  • avatar

    I agree – as part of the Civic evolution into a more refined and spacious mode of transportation it has lost some of its fun. The Fit is much more of the spirit of Civic s past and is a much better purchase in that its not that much smaller, more fun to drive and certainly much more hip. However, Honda isn’t exactly having problems selling them so we can assume they have found a new audience or their previous Civic customers are aging and now crave more refinement and space. Either way – its not exactly a predicament for Honda.

  • avatar

    I always enjoy your reviews; they are certainly accurate. But I do question the tone of this one. It reads as if you really didn’t want to like the Civic, and begrudgingly note that the ride, handling, drivetrain, steering, interior, etc. are excellent.

    I get that you don’t like the steeply raked windshield and bifurcated I.P., but those are matters of taste. Given the runaway sales of the Civic and the fact that Toyota delayed its Corolla introduction to update the styling, I’d say you’re in the minority.

    I mean, seriously, would you really prefer a Caliber, Focus, Elantra, Cobalt or Corolla? Maybe a 3 or a Lancer Ralliart, but for most folks, the Civic is the cream of the crop. No?

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Overall, I like the look of this current Civic, except for the jutting “jowls” at the front corners. The bumper needs a line that follows the upper edge of the lower opening, from which the lower bumper corners recede.

    These cars are amazingly roomy inside – they seem to have stretched beyond the Civic “mission” toward Accord territory. The Fit only hits the mark if you measure it against the first-release Civic. But, the Civic still presents an excellent value and mileage proposition.

    I do not understand the advantage of altering dashboard layouts. On various cars, we’ve seen attempts to move the dials to dash center, all-digital, a mix of digital and analog, HUD, every color (and then, your choice of colors in Mustang), now two-layer on this Civic – are the designers of interiors just bored, or what? Can this be called a visually ergonomic step forward?

  • avatar

    Check out the gear shift. It’s on the right side of the emergency brake handle. I’ve never driven a car with that configuration, but I’d imagine it to be weird to reach out for the gear shift. I wonder if this is due to the fact that the original Civic is a right hand car.

    Btw, Saveej, how does it compare to the Mazda3?

    When I was a student I owned a 91 Ford Escort (Mazda 323). It was a hatchback with lots of cargo space once the rear seats were folded down. It hauled all of my girlfriend’s belongings (including her bed) twice that she moved. We camped in it a few times (fold the rear seats and fill it with sheets…lots of fun). Bought it at 140K for $4000 CDN in 2000 and traded it in at 260k for $500 when it was about to fall apart. The 1.8L 89HP Ford engine was still strong (well, as strong as a 89HP engine can get), but it needed a new tranny and suspension work.

    When I was in the market for a new compact car in 2005 it had to be a hatchback. I would have bought a Civic hatch if Honda offered one. The Matrix was too old, weak, noisy and soft riding, the Focus was too crappy (but cheap $$$) and the Mini was just too impractical (and expensive $$$). Alas, the Mazda3 stole my heart…

    I personally just don’t get why anybody would want to buy a compact sedan?

  • avatar

    I heard that Honda uses environmentally friendly paint, which doesn’t keep its finish/glossiness/niceness as long as other car companies. Is there any truth to this?

  • avatar

    Last civic I had was in 00 which I traded in 01. Couldnt stand it. It was an LX nonetheless. But I do miss the MPG figures of it tho… Actually, I miss the honesty of that car.. great commuter car which could have saved me a decent chunk of change if I kept it.

    I miss my civic i.e after hating it…trading it… Go figure.

  • avatar

    i know its not exactly the same car, but i was seriously considering the purchase of a new 4-door civic hybrid to replace our 94 bmw 318is coupe. i want a daily driver that goes easy on the environment and i will still have a 97 boxster, plus my wife’s 2001 slk 320, in the garage for the weekends and special occassions. i realize the civic is not a bmw but does anyone out there think this decision/choice makes a lot of sense?

  • avatar

    I’m okay with people hating on the speedometer in the new Civic, really.
    The way I see it, an analog wrist watch beats a digital one, hands down. ;-)

    Yet at the risk of stating the obvious: We live in a digital world. Most things around the house are digital. The channel displays on TVs, the alarm clock on the nightstand, the clock/timers in the microwave, stove, coffee maker, all digital. The message counter in the answering machine, the bathroom scale, the time display on Windows computers, the readouts on a home stereo, display on the DVD player, most new cameras–and the clocks in most cars–digital.

    Yet replace an analog speedometer in a car and there’s no shortage of folks who will exclaim:
    “OMG, what was Honda thinking?”

    In recent issue of Car & Driver, they praise the digital (lap) timer in the new Audi R8, yet on to ‘dis the (available) analog chronometer of the Porsche 911. So there ya go.

    Utility: I’d venture the ease of speedometer visibility in a Civic is preferable to say, the “illegible” deep-set dials referenced by Jonny Lieberman in his recent review of the Solstice GXP here at TTAC.

    One trivia item about the digital speedometer in the Civic: When backing out of a garage, say, the car displays the reverse speed. (Try that with an analog speedometer. ;-) There’s no negative sign in front the reverse-speed readout, but Honda engineers no doubt figured that most would know if they were backing up, or not.

    As for other’s ability to see a Civic speedometer while on the road, here’s a secret: If I match someone else’s speed on the highway, and look at my speedometer, the speed they are going is revealed to me! Even on a two-lane road when following another car, by keeping the distance between the two cars the same, the speed of the car in front can be known. How amazing is that!

    It took me a long time for to figure this out, so don’t tell anyone, okay? ;-)

  • avatar

    NamDuong: "I heard that Honda uses environmentally friendly paint, which doesn’t keep its finish/glossiness/niceness as long as other car companies. Is there any truth to this?" Yes, it's true. Honda now uses an environmentally-friendly water-borne paint system. It's not as durable as earlier systems, but it protects the plant workers and the planet. With newer Hondas, it pays to keep 'em well waxed, and to promptly touch up stone chips and the like. Guess it's the price to be paid to help Mother Earth.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I always enjoy your reviews; they are certainly accurate. But I do question the tone of this one. It reads as if you really didn’t want to like the Civic, and begrudgingly note that the ride, handling, drivetrain, steering, interior, etc. are excellent. SherbornSean: Yes, it performs excellently for a car that isn’t related to previous generations of the Honda Civic. But it is a Honda Civic and I expect more from the brand. It’s not a sport compact anymore, it feels too pudgy, soft and minivan-tall. Yes the older LX’s weren’t the ideal sport compacts, but they felt more willing then this new one. ******************** Btw, Sajeev, how does it compare to the Mazda3? Reza: Sorry, I haven’t tested a Mazda 3. But it sounds like Mazda has the performance slant that older Civics (that I’ve driven) enjoyed. ******************** I know its not exactly the same car, but i was seriously considering the purchase of a new 4-door civic hybrid to replace our 94 bmw 318is coupe. philipwitak: I wouldn’t recommend the Hybrid if you enjoy the performance of your 3-series. Check out our road test:

  • avatar
    IC Turbo

    Glenn Swanson: One trivia item about the digital speedometer in the Civic: When backing out of a garage, say, the car displays the reverse speed. (Try that with an analog speedometer. ;-) There’s no negative sign in front the reverse-speed readout, but Honda engineers no doubt figured that most would know if they were backing up, or not.
    A couple of points. First of all, if you are backing up, you should not be looking forward at the speedo :p Second, even my lowly neon displayed speed in reverse with an analog gauge. The speed sensor counts pulses and has no way to tell which direction its going, only that it is moving, so it has no trouble displaying speed in reverse. I’m not sure how the Honda one works, but what I said is true of the neon and the Honda one should be similar.

  • avatar
    David Holzman

    Reza: I personally just don’t get why anybody would want to buy a compact sedan?

    Because it’s easier for friends to get into the back. Because if you have to pack a lot of stuff for some reason (I used to live in DC, and bring my office up to Cape Cod for August, so that I could work up there), it’s much easier. I don’t see the point of two doors on a car that seats four. And if it were more reliable and had better gas mileage, the RX-8 would be my ideal sports car.

  • avatar
    David Holzman

    Tim: As others have mentioned, the awkward sloping windshield doesn’t do anything for the driver either. 1-2mpg saved?

    I can’t say for sure, but Paul MacReady of Aerovironment, who was the brains behind the GM Ev1, told me that one fight he decided to avoid was over the rake of the windshield. He would have preferred a steeper windshield, and he said it wouldn’t have made any difference to aerodynamics, but the stylists insisted on the raked windshield.

  • avatar

    Tough crowd. ;-)

    IC Turbo:
    “First of all, if you are backing up, you should not be looking forward at the speedo :p”

    An astute observation. FWIW: A passenger in my car tipped me off about this.

    “Second, even my lowly neon displayed speed in reverse with an analog gauge.”

    Fair enough. I’m more than happy to admit when I’m wrong. I stand corrected.

    P.S. As a Civic driver, I’m not about to throw stones at a Neon. :-)

    For me, commenting at TAAC is not about one-upmanship.
    Besides, we all get enough of that out on the roadways.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    It’s interesting to note that Honda has still tried to make the Civic more of a ‘mainstream’ car over the years.

    In that context, I really wonder if the Civic is losing any core audience other than the street racers and the compact sport enthusiasts.

    A lot of valid points have been raised about how blandifyingly domesticated this vehicle is on the open road. It does everything you ask of it and yet, it doesn’t get your blood pressure going.

    All I can say is… bye-bye Civic… hello CR-X.

  • avatar

    Interesting comments regarding raked windshields.
    I’ve wondered just what that does (or not) for the Civics drag coefficient.

    For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says:
    “About 60% of the power required to cruise at highway speeds is taken up overcoming air drag, and this increases very quickly at high speed. Therefore, a vehicle with substantially better aerodynamics will be much more fuel efficient.”

    Question is, does laying the windshield back help matters to a significant degree?

  • avatar

    Ooopss, I mis-read this:

    “Paul MacReady of Aerovironment, who was the brains behind the GM Ev1, told me that one fight he decided to avoid was over the rake of the windshield. He would have preferred a steeper windshield, and he said it wouldn’t have made any difference to aerodynamics…”

    Interesting, David.

  • avatar

    The Civic has moved up in size, equipment and price from the previous edition. But this is nothing new–each generation of Civic has been bigger, pricier and better equipped than the previous generation.

    Nor is this trend restricted to the Civic. Rather, it seems characteristic of Japanese manufacturers that successful models move upmarket. That’s just good business sense: the further upmarket they can move a marque, the higher the profit margin, and their business grows even if they don’t sell more cars. And if they move a model so far upmarket that it no longer fits its original segment, they just introduce a new nameplate to fill the void.

    Other examples: The old Civic segment is filled by the Fit; the old Corolla is the new Yaris, the old Accord is the new Civic, the old Pathfinder is the new X-TERRA.

  • avatar

    “It’s interesting to note that Honda has still tried to make the Civic more of a ‘mainstream’ car over the years.

    In that context, I really wonder if the Civic is losing any core audience other than the street racers and the compact sport enthusiasts.

    A lot of valid points have been raised about how blandifyingly domesticated this vehicle is on the open road. It does everything you ask of it and yet, it doesn’t get your blood pressure going.

    All I can say is… bye-bye Civic… hello CR-X. ”

    If you really think about it, any Civic that wasn’t a Si (and to a lesser extent an EX) wasn’t that exciting to begin with, really. They all did what they were designed to do, go from A to B, sip gas, and not break. What drew enthusiasts to this car was it’s Lego-like interchangeability with parts, so even if you didn’t have a Si, you can turn your DX into one with minimal effort.

  • avatar

    David Holzman: I guess I wasn’t clear with my question. I do not understand why 4 door sedans are more popular than 4 door hatchbacks. With a 4 door hatchback, you get the same passenger space of a 4 door hatch (assuming both cars are on the same size/class) plus the large cargo space when needed. I guess some do not like the station wagon look of the hatchbacks, but there some hatches that look pretty much like a sedan (e.g. Mazda6 hatchback) still, they’re not as popular.

  • avatar

    I think the lede is a bit mangled in this piece; you kind of lost me, although I deduced you meant to say that the exterior design harkens back to another era – the same one from whence Herbie Hancock burst from, into the future. To my eye, the new Civic looks akin to a space pod from a show that PBS used to have called “Red Dwarf.”

    Thing is, the Honda that predates the Civic, is perhaps the kind of machine we might really need now: the 1972 N600, available as either a sedan (of sorts, since there wasn’t much of a rear seat) and a coupe. The 600 indicated the engine was (approximately) 600 cubic-centimeters in displacement and with front-wheel drive and also an extremely low center-of-gravity; the N600 cornered like the proverbial go-kart. I drove a friend’s in 2002, when I did a profile on the car, focusing on his, for AutoWeek and can attest to that.

    The Civic replaced the N600; however, it is my understanding that in Japan you can still buy such cars, now called “microcars.” In 1998, I talked to an engineer, based in Japan, who worked for Subaru. He told me that Subaru had a microcar called the Vivio which had a supercharged, 600 cc engine and an all-wheel-drive train.

    The hang-up was not only that the American market has always been uninterested in small cars, for the most part, but also the dumb-ass Federal regulations against such cars. (To me, they are dumb-ass, since how safe is a motorcycle, in a collision, and they allow that? But hey, that’s perhaps the subject for an editorial.)

    I can visualize commercials for the Vivio. They could use the music for an old song about a farmer who had a farm with animals that “went E-I-E-I-0” (don’t ask me why, just heard this old tune from my late father, a former Missouri farm boy). In the commercial, of course, the animals would go “V-I-V-I-O.” If animated, it could, to borrow an old hippie phrase, get “pretty trippy.”

    But I don’t think we will ever see that ad, just as sadly we probably will never see the Vivio and its sibling microcars, here in the States. Of course, maybe when the petroleum finally does start to peter out…

  • avatar


    One reason hatchbacks don’t sell is due to lack of trunk privacy/total concealment. Some people don’t want prying eyes to perform a smash and grab. Crime statistics on the matter are irrelevant as it wouldn’t persuade people to change their views regarding peace of mind .

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    To my eye, the new Civic looks akin to a space pod from a show that PBS used to have called “Red Dwarf.”

    Terry, I couldn’t get “Rockit” out of my mind when testing this car. They are both from the same era. That’s a compliment…of sorts.

  • avatar

    The dash is indeed “modern”, but it goes better with the Euro Civic, which IMO is an altogether sharper looking car:

    euro civic 5-door

    (I hope that link works – if not it is:



  • avatar

    To those who might disparage the styling of the latest Honda Civic, I would ask to consider the latest small car offerings from Detroit like the Dodge Caliber and, more specifically, the 2008 Ford Focus.

    Say what you will about the Civic’s styling (I’m one of those who like it), but at least it’s a cohesive design. The ‘completely redesigned’ (except that the chassis is still the same as the old C170 Focus) 2008 Ford Focus is anything but, and easily falls into the ‘What were they thinking?’ category of automotive styling.

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    — Reza: I guess I wasn’t clear with my question. I do not understand why 4 door sedans are more popular than 4 door hatchbacks.

    Because Americans associate hatchbacks with being cheap, the low man on the automotive totem pole. It’s basically a matter of perception, created in an era when econobox hatchbacks were offered as the fuel-sipping alternative to larger “real” sedans with trunks.

    Not many people in the US would pay a premium to own a car that screams out “college student.” Style preferences are tough to change.

  • avatar

    My mom has a Mazda6 hatchback and it looks a lot like a sedan with a rear wiper. It’s extremely useful. It seems like hatches have been making a slow comeback, such as with the Mazda3, Fit, Golf, GTI, A3, upcoming 1 Series, and maybe the upcoming Impreza. Hatchbacks seem to do a good job of concealing valuables–probably better than SUVs. With a regular trunk, all a thief would have to do is bust open a window and push a trunk release button or pull a lever to pop it open, which isn’t much different. Anyway, I think it is an image thing with hatchbacks and it’s a mainstream American mindset–cars with a regular trunk are somehow viewed as more upscale. I agree that it is a remnant of the 80s when cheap, gas-sipping hatchbacks were everywhere. It’s the same image-related reason SUVs got so popular–people were able to be bigger and taller, both literally and figuratively.

  • avatar

    Regarding the dash: (which I haven’t actually seen or experienced in person). I like that Honda is using this kind of thinking and research on its vehicles. Lots of comments about how it looks, but folks who have actually lived with it seem to like it. I suppose it’s a bit like trying to rearrange the QWERTY keyboard. We learned it in an ineffecient way, and now are reluctant to change to something that’s actually better. (Well, at least that Honda’s researchers say is better). Still, emotion is a big part of the equation, and I can’t say if I would be revolted by the dash or not.

    I think ash78 is on the right track. Honda snares loyal young buyers with the original Civic, now those buyers have families, better paying jobs, different needs, etc. Probably easier to keep them Civic customers than to try and start a conversation about some other Honda model. I know that when faced with a buying decision, I am waaay more likely to go with a “known”.

    At the same time, if Honda wants new, young buyers of today, it can’t try to sell them Civics. What 15-20yr. old wants the same car that their parents had? Growing up with a car may be enough to steer them into a Honda dealership, but when there, they want something different that doesn’t have all the connotations of their parents’ car.

    PS Hatchback or wagon, please.

  • avatar

    Seems like Civic design is a matter of love-hate. Put me in the “hate” camp.

    I find the sloped windshield ugly, but this is subjective. My main complaint is functional.

    1. A huge piece of glass lets in a lot more solar radiation, making the interior much hotter in the summer – I live in Phoenix AZ and our Summers are hot and long. AC can only do so much, and it is illegal to tint windshield. I know someone people with “solar heated civics” and though she generally likes the car Summer AC has trouble keeping up.

    2. Visibility: The more sloped the glass the more that glare, dirt (windshield is never perfectly clean), and on-coming headlights interfere with visioin.

    3. Cleaning: those huge windshieds are hart to clean well. It can be done but takes much more time.

    Does the super-sloped windscreen improve aerodynamics? I doubt it helps much, but admit I have no data. If anyone else has any data would appreciate it.

    The lack of hatchback also bugs me. Even with rear-seat pass-thru a small sedan is not very useful, hatches rock. Not sure if the lack of US hatches is lack of supply or lack of demand, but I like them (though my taste is not good guide to market – I don’t like 22″ wheels but US spends billions on ’em ;-))

    I find it ironic I always liked “un-fashionable” vehicles (hatches, wagons, heck I love the Honda Element) and I end up disliking the Civic. My opinion is that in the past they served a niche by simply making good cars and ignoring fashion – now they are compromising function to be fashionable.

  • avatar

    March 3rd, 2007 at 2:52 am
    Reza: David Holzman: I guess I wasn’t clear with my question. I do not understand why 4 door sedans are more popular than 4 door hatchbacks. With a 4 door hatchback, you get the same passenger space of a 4 door hatch

    Oh. Good question. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if hatchbacks have a downmarket connotation. Funny, there were cars with similar shapes in the ’60, but with a trunk, not a hatch, although Ithink by and large the trunk opened up into the car itself. They were called fastbacks. The ’67 Mustang, the Plymouth Barracuda, the Olds Toronado, and the Rambler Marlin were classic examples, but even some regular ol’ big cars, like full size chevies in certain years could be had with that styling.

  • avatar
    David Fauman

    I just bought my 23 year old daughter this exact car. She looked for weeks at many cars. After many years of owning Fords, at the dealer the Fusion was such a horror story we had to leave (trunk lid on crooked and wrong height to adjacent metal work). When I pointed this out on the showroom floor-they didn’t know what I meant. If you cannot get the sheet metal right how can you be trusted with the tolerances on the transmission? (you can’t) The US car dealers were a scurvy lot. Buying a car from them would have been like having dental surgery for recreation. The Honda dealer in Ann Arbor was the only one to treat her with respect. Am I a HONDA person-NO. BUT, the car is competent in every respect (if boring). Sigh- Ford is toast and I for one think its managers and dealers are a bunch of slimy incompetents.

  • avatar

    Having driven my civic since august, I mostly agree with the review, however, I’m not sure its valid to slam it for not being eminently “rice-able” in the same sense that its not valid to complain about an entry level Dell pc being no good for gaming. Neither are upgrade freindly, but thats not why you bought it. You bought for all the other reasons you posted: lots of room, handles well, relatively quiet, smoothish ride, economy. Am I ever going to be able to tune my civic up to 260 horse power? probably not. but if I wanted that, I’d have bought an evo, and car payments be damned.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I’m not sure its valid to slam it for not being eminently “rice-able” in the same sense that its not valid to complain about an entry level Dell pc being no good for gaming.

    Ben, its not about being rice-able, its about the Civic being less of a Civic and more of a baby-Odyssey.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t know about it being less or more of a civic, being the first civic I’ve ever driven. is it just that its larger? is it slower or something?

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    The size, the minivan seating position, the general softness. Its not the easiest thing to quantify, its something you feel after driving a few generations of Civics.

    Its kinda like listening to Phil Collin’s work from the 1980s and his latest offerings. Or maybe Herbie Hancock too. :)

  • avatar

    I have a EX coupe, and I didnt like the speedo at first either, but after driving it long distances I’ve come to appreciate it. In fact, the entire driving experience seems to have been designed to minimize the time you need to take your eyes off the road.

    As an engineer, I can verify that the sloped winshield makes a difference, although the impact on mpg prob depends on how fast you’re driving. At 70+ mph I’d guess that any improvement in the aerodynamics is important.

    Plus, this is the first car I’ve driven that actually seems to lives up to the epa esimates.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    March 2nd, 2007 at 7:19 pm
    i know its not exactly the same car, but i was seriously considering the purchase of a new 4-door civic hybrid to replace our 94 bmw 318is coupe. i want a daily driver that goes easy on the environment and i will still have a 97 boxster, plus my wife’s 2001 slk 320, in the garage for the weekends and special occassions. i realize the civic is not a bmw but does anyone out there think this decision/choice makes a lot of sense?”

    Makes sense to me. I drove a Civic Hybrid about a month ago, and own a 2005 Prius Hybrid (best car I’ve ever owned bar none). My wife is not fond of the instrument panel on the Prius, so we’ll never be a two-Prius family. But she wants a hybrid next time.

    My subjective gut feelings/comparison? The Civic Hybrid has slightly less high speed passing power than the Prius. It has a significantly smaller trunk area and is not nearly as flexible (no hatch, no folding rear seat, either). The seating position is lower. The interior is nice on both cars, the Honda probably takes less getting used to, but them I’m comparing a Prius to it!

    The ride is comparable and I think the Honda may have felt better built than the Prius. The MPG on the Civic Hybrid should run about 10% less than the Prius, and the cost to purchase is similar. The Civic Hybrid doesn’t come with vehicle stability control (yet). I think the handling of the Civic Hybrid was a tad tighter than the Prius, and the steering feel might have been a little nicer overall. More “european” feel. (Both are electric power steering set-ups).

    Overall, I was quite impressed with the Civic Hybrid, though overall I still prefer my Prius.

    Would I buy a Civic Hybrid? Yes, if per chance I totalled out my Prius and could not obtain another, and I needed a car, yes.

    I’m not trying to damn the Civic Hybrid with faint praise. In fact, it was an extremely nice car.

    I admire your intent to get an economical car and find it lauditory that you are moving on from a four cylinder car to a hybrid, so you have had good intentions with regards to daily drivers (in plain english, you aren’t moving “down” from a massive SUV).

    My wife and I stopped at our local food store on the way home from work yesterday and a brain surgeon friend of ours from church stopped us to talk about the Prius. He is thinking “hybrid” in order to move away from his massive Stupendously Ugly Vehicle. He doesn’t want to go with an Accord V6 hybrid or a Highlander V6 hybrid. I advised he try the Prius and the Civic Hybrid.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    By the way, philipwitak, it took me 8 months to get to test-drive a Civic Hybrid and now, there are about 4 or so cars sitting new at the local Honda dealer. Likewise, you scarcely could get a test-drive on a Prius over the past several years (I actually rented a Prius from Enterprise before ordering mine), now there are 3 at the local Toyota dealer.

    Once gas goes to $3.50 a gallon in the summer or fall, you’ll find the hybrid buying experience to be much more like it had been up until a few months ago – so now might be the time to buy. You might even get to choose a color (I didn’t in my 2005 Prius – it was “here it is, or we’ll offer it to the next person on the list and bump you down a slot – your call.” – politely done, of course).

  • avatar

    I have to agree. The EPA estimates seem pretty close. Theres a very large gap between city driving, and fast-and-far highway cruising. I’m not sure I’ve quite seen 41 mpg yet, but maybe 38-39 which is 10 mpg up from 28-29 city driving. I’m guessing the aero-dynamic design has something to do with that, which I guess is taken less advantage of at lower speeds? dunno.

  • avatar

    I have an 06 Civic, and I LOVE it!!! However I am selling my baby for something a little bigger and with a little more HP.
    The biggest flaw with this car is that when you go into a mall parking lot you have to pick out your civic to a hundred others in the lot. (ya really not a flaw with the car itself)
    Smaller flaws being: it’s a little slow, a little small and a really noticeable lag when the AC is on.
    Pros: Cup holders (they are huge) Lots of storage in the armrest, wicked instrument panel, tight car, no rattles.
    Other than that… all I have to say is I’m going to miss my car, and I hope my new one stacks up to it.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if it just takes time to let the Civic grow on you, or if it only comes across in the coupe, manual version, but this reviewer has it all wrong. The Civic I ‘hooned’ around in has everything.

    You have to have a stick shift. I don’t knw what he means by ‘automatic is mandatory around here’? Does the reviewer live on Manhattan? If that’s the case, better get a bike. Of course, it can’t be that quick if it ain’t got a stick, but the coupe, and probably the sedan, is motivated fabulously with a stick. I can do anything I want with that set-up. Want to go faster? Just push down the right pedal. 0 -60 times are irrelevant unless you’re at a drag strip. WHat counts is smooth operation, gearing and accessability, and the manual’s got ’em.

    The styling is fantastic! Are you kidding? Better go out and look at some of the competition. Just what is it the reviewer prefers that is offered by the compettion? The Corolla?The Lotus Murcelliago? You are not ready for the High-Life. The Lotus is $400,000 for a coupe, You must be crazy!!! WHat a great shape the Civic Coupe has!

    I LOVE the I.P.!!!! It’s totally unique. After seeing that set-up, nothing else will do. Ever again. You can see the display without the steering wheel getting in your way. I love that!

    I don’t know what gibberish the reviewer is mumbling about, but it doesn’t fit the Civic I drove.

  • avatar
    S. Chaudhry

    Just like the British band, America, I’ve been hit by purple rain (I’ll explain later). I don’t quite know what that is, but I’m sure it hit me when I sat myself down into the cardboard-brown front-passenger seat of the Grenada Black Civic. “I took delivery yesterday,” my friend from school said staring into the owner’s manual that he’d started reading after getting bored of idling in my driveway, waiting for me to find my shoes. “Well, my dad did, anyway,” he added. He looked up, smiled and asked what I thought.

    “Sorry, I couldn’t find my shoes. Anyway, let’s go for a drive?” What I wanted to say was, “Hey! The seats on your previous Civic were built for the Joker, not for the Penguin.” It took him less time to back out of my driveway, put on his sunglasses, call his mother to tell her he’ll be home late and find a suitable radio station that both of us could agree upon than it took me to find a comfy place in the accommodating burger-friendly seat. Seatbelt on, Legs stretched out, seatback reclined slightly, ill-measuring-protractor-angled headrest set (to the least painful height setting) and I was ready to tilt my neck up and expect my head to make an authentic ‘thud’ against the ceiling (as it would’ve every time I’d try such a stunt in his previous-gen Civic). But, wait a minute. None such incident occurred. “We didn’t order the sunroof package because it came with auto-folding side mirrors. Every time a pedestrian would fold them manually to facilitate a pass through the gap between my car and the one parked next to it, they’d damage the electric motors that power them.” I’ve got legroom, I’ve got headroom. I’ve got enough noise cancellation to recognize Stevie Nicks at her worst while being able to hear every word my friend says without having to remove wax. Now’s the time to look at the interior.

    My God.

    George Jetson, I think the dealership accidentally delivered your car. Mind picking it up and giving ours back?

    I’d woken up ten minutes ago, so I rubbed my eyes to ensure I wasn’t dreaming of the Millennium Falcon. I wasn’t. Until the day we have our own spaceships (driving a car will be the ultimate pleasure then, don’t you think?) Honda should stick to designing car interiors. But, I’m still a passenger, so let’s see if it’s any better from a driver’s perspective. We pulled over to buy a Coke (my gasoline) and I got a chance to see more than what I saw of the exterior as I was walking up to it when I exited my house. I didn’t like the architect’s ruler-drafted, then sent back to the future headlamps. Neither did I like the letter-opener sliced gap in the otherwise clean fascia that feeds air to the bay. Now, I’m walking around the vehicle and I see that Honda has tried (and failed) to shame Diablos of the nineties with its ridiculous hood/windshield angle. Also, its profile isn’t the best in all automobiledom, but wouldn’t you say that you’ve seen far, far worse? It looks like a toad that’s confused its back from its front. The wheels also appear tiny in comparison to the rest of the car.

    I like door handles that came on cars a few years back. See-saw like levered motion took care of business. The feeling of operating one of those was delightful. It was like sliding your fingers into…well, you know what I mean. But the ones on this car are what Honda calls ‘grip-type’ which probably means they’ll please all those with well-toned forearms. The roofline’s descent into the trunk lid from the rear three-quarters view is an aesthetic masterpiece, and is, perhaps, the most visually pleasing aspect of the entire exterior of the car. I’m sure it also helps sculpt the turbulent air to flow in a laminar fashion, providing ample rear passenger noise cancelling. My Coke’s almost finished, so I step towards the rear to examine the view most motorists will get to see of the new Civic. The taillights are big. They remind me of how amusing Aviators look on people with small(ish) faces. The rear is otherwise clean, and apart from the fact that the area in the middle could benefit from a bit more visual mass (perhaps by adding something to the plate’s light housing) I’m pleased to note twin exhaust pipes shaped like the space alien’s view of an oval racetrack.

    My friend hands me the keys, and walking towards the passenger-side door for the first time, tells me to back out of the potholed parking area carefully. I yank the door handle outward (which required a bit less strength than it does to rearrange bedroom furniture) and push the seat all the way back to make room for my knees to avoid the typical steering-column collision. Now, let’s revisit the interior. “Hmm,” I think to myself, “Now I get it.” It’s half as ugly from here than it was from the passenger seat. Everything is focused and angled toward the driver. The central oversized tachometer, the elevated digital speed display and even the air conditioning and stereo controls are all meant to be viewed and operated by the driver. I still don’t like it much. Though there’s a smallish gap in the dash panel fitting, the finish is first rate and all the plastics (everything from the window operation to the air conditioning buttons) have a real nice sensuous feel.

    The steering wheel feels small(er) and thick in my hands, with a grippy texture and a half-sporty look (the spokes are a drilled-through mesh-like job). There are numerous storage places surrounding you, with neat center console tricks and undedicated cup holders that can provide more volume if you need to put more than just your morning Starbucks. I turn the key, and purple lights turn on like monsoon rain all around me. Purple rain. Heh, I laugh at myself sometimes. Anyway, before I lose my train of thought… The tach needle jumps to its idle spot while the engine exhales away uninspiringly. The shift lever requires the same amount of strength as it would to extract Excalibur from the stone. So, out of reverse and into drive, the transmission feels assuring and comfortable, swapping cogs with ease and smoothness. Not at all like the neck-snapping gear changes I’d experienced in Civics of old. The pedal placement was very good, and pedal feel is one of the best this side of Munich. The brake pedal, especially, had a linear response and an assuring action. Once we were out of busy traffic, I put some weight on the accelerator. Being a 1.8 lit, I wasn’t expecting Millennium Falcon speeds (as the interior had earlier hinted…or had it?) but I was rather pleasantly surprised at how quickly the 140 horses pulled me close to the Capri Blue E-Class ahead. It’s a respectable unit with a usable torque plateau that’ll keep any commuter pleased who’s trying to get to work before someone else takes that precious parking spot. Accelerating towards higher speeds, the gearbox felt a tad slushy. This is strange, as I’ve experienced exactly the opposite with all other cars. But overall, it’s a pretty happy marriage.

    Now, I, like countless others, love an engine note. But I like it to be an exciting and smooth Bavarian six. The Civic’s sounded like a moaning grandparent. More howlin’ home appliance and less Howlin’ Wolf. Not very exciting. However, you will love the slight whine from the air intake each time your foot turns to lead. Reminds me of the faulty heating elements in the Husqvarna oven we have at home. Speed bumps reiterated the confident brakes, and soon after, something surprising happened.

    Now, I have before me a 36 yard roll of 3M Scotch tape from 1972. I tried it yesterday, and it sticks. That’s exactly what happened with the Civic when the road stopped drawing itself straight. Honda has recently been trying to emulate European sports sedans and has been targeting customers who would normally have gone straight to their local BMW dealer and ordered a 3-Series. Even based on blind faith alone, chances are they’d have made the right decision. However, whatever it is that Honda’s been doing, it’s beginning to show. Handling has long been the pursuit of many a performance-minded enthusiast. The dynamicist’s view of it is that it’s the sum of the driver and the vehicle: the driver providing input and the vehicle responding with feedback. Steering response, ratio, control force, backlash, direction change stability and cornering adhesion are all well sorted in the Civic, with excellent damping and springing rates that are comfortable around town yet sporty enough in the bends. As soon as the road got twisty, the Civic came to life. The powered steering feels a little light, but makes up for it by being responsive. The high-strung VTEC unit stayed in the sweet-spot while the car danced around with low body-roll and sharp turn-in. It was a blast to course the city runabout through the tree-lined winding roads, making me feel like a whale chaser with thumbs at 3:45 at the helm of Ahab’s Pequod.

    A rather nimble Pequod. One that (thankfully) didn’t sink. This was (dare I say?) as much fun as a Bimmer. Of course, the rear-wheel drive dynamics were absent, but for a puller this was great. But, rather like Ahab, this car has a great heart and fatal flaws. I’m left happiest when looking out of the gigantic windshield, guiding the wheels through the tight stuff, nailing many of the apexes and accelerating out, soon to brake for more. Rinse, lather, repeat. After spending an entire day driving the Civic, we went back to my friend’s house and started comparing it with his previous-gen model. Getting in and out is easier in the new one, and rear headroom is just as bad in either. So is rear legroom, but only if the front seats are pushed as far as the rails allow. There are neat little reading lamps for the rear passengers on either side that operate with a push of the finger, but leave them on for over ten minutes and turning them back off again might require burn cream application to your fingertips. The trunk space on the new Civic has decreased, but only marginally. Honda has, however, begun to develop some overconfident characteristics: We make it; you take it the way it is. For instance, the headlamps could be adjusted for beam angle by sticking your arm deep through the engine compartment and reaching down into the wheel wells. This was useful, as you could recalibrate them as immediately as you’d notice they’re misaligned. It came in handy on post-daylight driving on the highway. But in the new Civic, you can’t do that. They’ll point where they want to.

    The Honda Civic has evolved into a larger vessel than it was originally designed to be. Its larger size is felt when at the wheel, with miles of dashboard in front and its playful willingness to become a small car when carved through bends is apparent. Overall, it’s a nice car that’s fun while you’re behind the wheel, but so very forgetful when you’re not. It’s not pretty to look at, which is a disappointment. All Hondas, they’re nice and everything, but as soon as you get out, you forget they even exist. If you must spend money on an automobile, then you must spend it on this. But then if you absolutely mustn’t, you absolutely must.

  • avatar

    Last Friday I ordered an LX Coup with a manual transmission. I use to own two Civics before my two current Jeeps. I’m not replacing a Jeep with the Civic, but the Civic is just going to be a new daily driver so that I can take my current daily driver, and Jeep Wrangler, and build it up as an off-road toy (and further drive down it’s mpg… LOL).

    I was also shopping some other smaller vehicles like a Civic, or even going to an Accord Coup, but I just couldn’t justify any other vehicle for just daily driver use. It just needs to get me to work safely (about 50 miles a day) and offer great mpg.

    I am going to miss driving my Jeep daily, but it has another purpose to serve other then just putting commuting miles on it.

    Another reason that I picked a Honda over any Big 2.8 vehicle is that I no longer want to buy UAW built vehicles.

  • avatar

    I dig my 2008 Civic LX. A month after I bought it we took a 2500 mile trip. 40 MPG on the highway with 3 adults and luggage, at 72 mph. Not too shabby for a non-hybrid.

    Plenty roomy, I like the instrument panel, easy to read, seating is very comfortable. Over all we averaged 37 mpg including city driving.

  • avatar

    I’m a 2003 Honda Civic LX Sport driver for two days now. As my handle suggests, I was a Volvo driver, and drove Volvos for 22 yrs, until the timing belt went on my beloved 93 850 about 3 weeks ago, in New Jersey. If one has never experienced the “death” of a car in a foreign country – believe me, it’s no picnic. Anyway, the prospect of a $6-8K engine repair bill buried my beloved all-leather Volvo.

    So, I started looking for cars upon my return to Canada. As I am recently retired, another Volvo (S60 would have been my choice) was not in my budget. One of my brothers-in-law drives a 2008 Civic, and I was most impressed with the car, save two things – that cursed “digital” read-out, and that it was an automatic. I’ll drive a 5-speed until my knees give out. Anyway, after looking at used Accords — if I could afford a used Accord, I could afford a used Volvo.

    So the hunt was on for a “decent” Civic. I found a 2003 Civic LX Sport, with only 81k km on the odometer. Love the car – my “homage” to my leather Volvo is the leather-clad steering wheel, gear knob and boot. I have to admit – after my last Volvo, the stereo system in this Civic sucks, big time, but I suppose it’s adequate for my needs (it does play CDs) I fully realize that I’ve gone from essentially an Alpine, 8-speaker system to whatever Honda puts in (4 speakers, from what I can tell). I’m open to suggestions on how to “upgrade” it. What I lost from the Volvo? Outside thermometer (it was nice to know how friggen cold it was on those frigid Canadian January mornings), leather seats and seat heaters (sigh…), and automatic lights. I actually have to turn on and off the headlights on this car – something I haven’t done since 1996…..

    What I gained? Keyless remote, and security-coded immobilization keys (nice toy – saves on insurance, too…), moon-roof, and probably most importantly, another 10 mpg (Imperial), and regular gas!!! – the Volvo took premium, at an addition 11 cents/litre (or about $0.40 per US gallon!!!!), that’s quite a savings per fill-up.

    The front end of this car is very tight and responsive – actually, impressively tight. The turning radius sucks for a car this size, but I’ve been used to a Volvo 850 for the past 12 yrs, which had a very wide radius. My old Volvo 240 still has/had the best turning radius of any car on the road. Sigh…. Why can’t they build cars with a tight turning radius anymore?

    My major complaint? The back end has a soft bounce – akin to our fathers’ old GMs. Feels like sitting on the sofa. I’m used to that “hard” European ride, and perhaps, after reading the comments above, I should have looked at a Mazda.

    However, I’m enjoying this car. Not too big, yet not too small. Hope it’s not too “buzzy” on the highway. I’ve gone from a 5-cylinder 2.4 litre engine to a 1.7 litre 4 cylinder. I’ve got all the other “creature comforts” – like cruise control and electric windows. Like my creature comforts…

    Needless to say – I’ll be watching the timing belt on this like a hawk. Accords have a timing chain, and the salesman told me they’re only chanced once every 500,000km. Do Hondas last that long? I buried my beloved Volvo 850 at 320416km. That’s just a tad over 200,000mi for you Yanks.

    So, any suggestions on how to improve the radio/stereo sound? And what about that mushy back end?

    The trunk is amazingly large, and, like my last Volvo, I have a 60-40 split back seat. Sweet…

    This car sips gas, which is fine by me. And I now get to giggle every time I fill up – it’s costing me 11 cents/litre less on every fill-up.

    Any suggestions on how to “soup this car up”? I have a spoiler on ther rear. My Volvo had a back fog light, which I used on occasion. That’s also something I’ll miss – like about two times per year. I’m no teen, but I have to say, this car’s some peppy thing. And when I went from a Volvo 240 to an 850, I told everyone I was driving a “poor man’s BMW”. I haven’t figured out how to describe this car.

    In sum, I’m happy with my purchase. Wish the stereo was better, and I’ll probably miss the thermometer, come January. No block heater, either. Hope I won’t have to have one installed. AC/heat is impressive, so far, though neither has been tested in high/low temps. And, believe me, in my neck of the woods, it can be +35C in summer, and -35C in the winter. You Yanks can crunch the numbers. The rest of the world understands….(Take the hint – go metric!! – join the rest of us…….)

    To Honda – lose that nasty digital display. It’s reminescent of the nasty GM products of the early 1990s. Hated it then, and hate it now….

    Oh, and did I mention that the car’s actually built in Canada? (Alliston, Ontario)

  • avatar

    I picked up my 2009 Civic Coupe yesterda. Wow! I am impressed with this car!

    I went with the manual transmission, which is great! The shifting is very smooth, and it makes the car zippy! I had test driven an auto and it felt a little sluggish at take off and when passing (which hey for the mpg, what do you expect?). Plus I like the fact that with a manual that I can down shift if I need more passing power.

    The car for just being an LX model is also nicely done and even includes front side dual-stage airbags, plus the side curtain airbags and ABS. The seats are really comfortable and the car is just comfortable to sit in and drive.

    At first when I saw the digital mph display, I didn’t know what to think of it? It is different. But just on the second day of ownership I love it. It’s very easy to read and it doesn’t require me to take my eyes off the road to check my speed (as we all do).

    I also love the style of the car as it’s very sharp including the new front grill on the 2009 model. So to sum up this car, I don’t know how the Big 2.8 (and the UAW) can compete in this class?! Way to go Honda!

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