Honda Civic

First Gen

Since 1973 when Honda first flooded the North American coastline with the Civic, sporting a transversely mounted engine, front-wheel drive, a fully independent suspension system and a somewhat quirky-cute styling with plenty of room for four plus luggage. Where the north American markets of Chevrolet and Ford struggled to diversify their brands from RWD to FWD, Honda simply built the best car it could advertising their humble tagline of “It’ll get you where you’re going!”

Simplicity was Honda’s intent at the time, offering the 1973 1st Gen civic as both a 3-door hatchback and a Sedan, both versions equipped with 12 inch wheels, A/C, 2-speed automatic transmission and a four cylinder engine.

In 1974 Honda bumped up the Civics’ engine a few CCs to 1273 and a Horsepower of 52 which was pretty impressive for its minuscule displacement.  It was the arrival of the CVCC engine in 1975 that established the Japanese maker as a credible threat to the old guard. While the majority of automakers begrudgingly fit exhaust catalysts to their vehicles in order to meet the nation’s tightening emissions standards, Honda quietly went to work and found a better way. Displacing 1488 cc and producing 53 horsepower, the CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine featured a head and fuel-delivery design for cleaner more complete combustion that met the new standards without the need for a catalytic converter and while still running leaded gasoline. A new five-speed manual transmission and wagon body style came onboard in ’75, and the Civic was ranked number one on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first list of America’s most fuel-efficient cars in 1977.

Second Gen

In 1980 Honda debuted their Second Gen model available with a 55hp 1.3L and a 67hp 1.5L both using the CVCC design. Base models got a 4-speed manual transmission while DX trims got the five-cog unit with a 2speed automatic transmission as an option. To celebrate the final year of the Second Gen Honda dumped the 1500 GL trim and replaced it with the Civic S Model which featured a firmer suspension, a rear stabilizer bar and 13inch wheels.

Third Gen

In 1984, while Arnold declared himself as the terminator and MTV continued its mission to make radio obsolete, Honda celebrated by releasing an all-new Civic which shared a wheel base with the Accord and Prelude. The Civic S model standardized the 1.5litre four cylinder 3-valve head engine across its line-up but unfortunately discontinued the independent rear suspension. The Third Gen Civic became known as the “Tall Boy” due to its extra height and larger rear window. In 1987 the wagon was produced with a four-wheel drive system.

In 1986 Honda started building Civic at its facility in Central Ohio and introduced the Civic Si model as a hatchback.

Fourth Gen

The Fourth Gen Civic made its debut in 1988 with a newer engine family and softer body shape. The DX hatchback and sedan as well as the newly introduced LX sedan and wagon were equipped with a 92hp 1.5L 16v, while those seeking some Si power could enjoy the 4WD Civic wagon with a 105hp, 16v 4-banger that motivated the CRX Si. This generation offered its enthusiasts power windows, locks, mirrors and intermittent wipers which was no doubt a big thing in 1988!

The 90’s began with revised bumpers and taillights as the EX trim level arrived to knock off the LX. It was equipped with 14 inch wheels and offered all the features as the LX plus a 105hp engine from the recently released Si.

Fifth Gen

The 1992 Fifth Gen introduced not only newer trim levels but also Honda’s Pride in Power, VTEC (Valve Timing Electronic Control). The trims for the hatchback came in CX, DX, VX and Si while the sedans came in DX, LX and EX trims. While the lower trims came with a 102hp 1.5L engine, the Si was equipped with a 125hp engine. 1995 marked the end of the line for the Fifth Gen civic.

Sixth Gen

The Sixth Gen Civic made several changes to its line up in 1996 as only the CX and DX made the hatchback cut with a fully revised 106hp 1.6L engine. Honda also added the HX trim to the coupe lineup and later made a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for it. Not much changed for the regular Civic lineup in the 2000 model year, with only a few new paint options highlighting the final year of production for the Sixth-generation Civic.

Seventh Gen

Well, now that the millennium bug had come to pass as the century’s biggest gimmick, Honda brought forth the Seventh Gen Civic for its debut in 2001. The internet had now taken root, MP3 downloads were the in thing (as if they still aren’t!) and Honda made its presence known with a fresh styling, new suspension and a 117hp 1.7L engine for DX and LX trims, and 127hp 1.7L for EX trims. Shifting was taken care of with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic and the CVT returned on the GX trim and as an option for the HX trim. In 2002 the civic was upgraded with a revised steering system and modified suspension to address ride and handling. Sound insulation was also used to improve cabin noise levels. 2002 also saw the return of the Si but only as an exclusive 3-door hatchback.

In 2003, Honda released the Civic hybrid to the U.S. market powered by an 85-hp 1.3-liter four mated to a 13-hp electric motor sandwiched between the gas engine and the transmission. The combo employed a number of efficiency tricks including engine stop-start, cylinder deactivation, and low-rolling-resistance tires, among others, to earn a rating of 46 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway. It was the first vehicle sold here to be certified as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) from the California Air Resources Board. Honda loyalists gleefully pointed out that the 1995 Civic VX returned 48/55 mpg in the same tests.

Even more sound-deadening materials arrived for 2004, as did new stereo speakers to take advantage of the ostensibly quieter cabin. Hybrid drivers got more comfortable thanks to a height-adjustable seat. To finish out the run, in 2005 Honda created an SE model featuring aluminum wheels, a spoiler, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel; the Special Edition package was revamped for both the sedan and coupe, offering an upgraded stereo with MP3 capability and a six-disc CD changer.

Eight Gen

2006 is when Honda released its Eight Gen Civic. By now, no one could doubt the Civic’s integrity. It was fresh and funky with a shorter hood, steeply raked and expensive windshield. With its sleek design, the Si made another return to the fold as a coupe. Squint long enough at this generation’s redesigned Instrument panel and it may surprise you to see that it greatly resembles Mr. Bilbo Baggin’s Front door! Jokes aside; available as both Sedans and Coupes the trim levels carried on for 2006 in DX, LX and EX trims all powered by the same 140hp 1.8L 4cyl iVTEC engines along with either a 5 speed manual of a 5 speed automatic transmission with LSD (Limited Slip Differential).

The first ever Civic Sedan Si arrived for 2007 and in 2008 Honda introduced the Civics in Leather Upholstery which appeared for the first time as and EX-L trim. 2008 also saw the release of the Limited-Production Model of the Mugen Si Sedan.

Ninth Gen

Appearing as a concept, the ninth-generation Civic made its public debut at the 2011 Detroit auto show. Although technically a prototype, Honda’s usual practice is to preview its latest models as near-production concepts to keep the car-buying public’s attention as long as possible.

However, with the 2012 models hitting the market, Honda seemed to have taken a step backward and many consumers were underwhelmed. The styling updates showcased a longer hood, sculpted bumper and larger tail lamps which, no doubt, made the civic look more conventional than before. Unfortunately, the sharp dynamics that helped shape the Civic’s reputation were set apart from the rest of the Generations while the economy-car pack were dulled in the redesign process with a softer suspension and wider range of body dynamics. In addition, the steering response was slowed down to improve linearity while road feel and feedback were reduced in the process. Adding insult to injury, the interior layout and quality of materials, long a Civic high point, took a huge backward step and while still competent enough, the 2012 Civic lost the plot!

Fully aware of its backlash, Honda immediately withdrew to the drawing board and made some drastic changes following the Civic’s 2013 and 2014 models, and thereafter its 2015 production. The suspension was massaged with thicker anti-roll bars, stiffer springs and re-tuned dampers making the ride much more controlled without being harsh. The steering was also addressed, Honda quickening the ratio by eight percent (quantified as going from 16.1:1 to 14.9:1). Although it still lacked feel, the new steering ratio returned the quick and agile personality of previous models. Those tweaks, combined with a refreshed interior featuring a reworked center stack and upgraded plastics, made the Civic far less of a bummer.

Following the 2015 Civic, Honda offered the widest array of configurations and options in the Civic’s 40-plus-year history. The coupe is available in LX, EX and EXL with 5speed manual and CVT. Si gets a 6speed manual with a 205hp 4 cyl, iVTEC engine. Sedans come in LX, SE, EX EX-L and Si trims as well as the HF hybrid trims. The 2015 models also feature the all-out Touring model equipped standard with a sunroof, alloys, Navigation, Lane-watch/Blind Spot assist and an elegant leather interior.

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