The Honda Civic is a line of subcompact/compact cars manufactured by Honda. In the United States of America, the Civic is the second-longest continuously-running nameplate from a Japanese manufacturer; only the Toyota Corolla, introduced in 1968, has been in production longer. The Civic, along with the Accord and Prelude, comprised Honda's vehicles sold in North America until the 1990s, when the model lineup was expanded. Having gone through several generational changes, the Civic has become larger and more upmarket, and it currently slots between the Fit and Accord.
It was introduced in July 1972 as a two-door coupe, followed by a three-door hatchback that September. With the transverse engine mounting of its 1169cc engine and front-wheel drive like the British Mini, the car provided good interior space despite overall small dimensions. Early models of the Civic were typically outfitted with a basic AM radio, a rudimentary heater, foam-cushioned plastic trim, two-speed wipers and painted steel rims with a chromed wheel nut cap. The current Civic has become much more luxurious with air conditioning, power locks, and power windows, plus options like leather upholstery, satellite-linked navigation, and a six-speed manual transmission. Initially gaining a reputation for being fuel-efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly, later iterations have become well-known for performance and sportiness, especially the Civic Type-R and Civic Si.
The Civic has been rebadged for international markets with such models as the Honda Ballade and Honda Domani/Acura EL. The Civic platform also served as the basis for the CR-X sport compact, the CR-X del Sol targa convertible, and the CR-V compact SUV.
As of 2008, the Civic has been the top-selling car in Canada for ten straight years. With high gas prices and a weak economy in June 2008, the Civic supplanted the Ford F-150 to become the top-selling vehicle in the United States.
Main article: First-generation Honda Civic
The first generation Honda Civic was introduced in 1973. Equipped with a 1,169ml (71.3cuin) four-cylinder engine, the first generation Civic was designed to compete with American compact vehicles and offered features such as front power disc brakes and reclining vinyl bucket seats and AM radio. The Civic was available as coupe, both three and five door hatchback as well as a five door station wagon body style. Due to the 1973 oil crisis demand for fuel efficient vehicles was high and the Civic's build quality matched its fuel economy allowing it to succeed in the market.
Now HONDA corporation has introduced new CIVIC SPORT in 2006-Present
Main article: Second-generation Honda Civic
In 1980 the Civic was redesigned. The new model featured more angular and larger body styles and increased engine power in the form of an optional 1.5L (91.5cuin) engine. A "3-box" four door sedan was also introduced as well as a three-speed automatic to replace the two-speed unit available in the previous generation. In 1983 a sport-oriented "S" model was introduced offering firmer suspension, sports tires, and a five-speed manual transmission.
Main article: Third-generation Honda Civic
The third generation was released in 1984. The five-door hatchback and wagon were merged into a four-door "shuttle wagon" and an additional coupe style was introduced, labeled CRX. A new 12-valve 1.5L (91.5cuin) four-cylinder engine was also offered, once again with increased power. 1984 saw the release of a high performance Si model for the Japanese market featuring a more powerful 1.6L (97.6cuin) and uprated suspension. The Si model was offered in the US as a 3-door model and the CRX variant. 4WD model was introduced for the first time in 1984 and latter upgraded in 1987.
Main article: Fourth-generation Honda Civic
For 1988 the Civic was redesigned again with increased dimensions and a lower hood line. A wide range of models and trim levels were offered for various markets around the world. All US models now featured fuel injection, but carbureted models were available elsewhere. The fourth generation saw the introduction of the long running D series engine.
Main article: Fifth-generation Honda Civic
Introduced in 1991 the redesigned Civic featured the usual increased dimensions as well as more aerodynamic styling. The wagon variant was now only available in the Japanese market where the previous generation wagon was carried over. The old HF model was brought back and renamed VX which was Honda's most fuel efficient model sold at the time. In the US the Si featured a VTEC valve train where as the VX featured a VTEC-E. In Canada the Si model was referred to as an SiR as the Si name was already used on the highest Canadian trim level which was equivalent to the US market EX.
Main article: Sixth-generation Honda Civic
The sixth generation featured updated styling although less radical than previous redesigns. Suspension and engine options were similar to the previous generation but several new variants were introduced, including two distinct wagon models: the "Orthia" based on the standard Civic which was sold in the Japanese market and the Domani based wagon which was offered in the European market. It also saw the introduction of the Acura 1.6EL, an upscale version of the Civic introduced in the Canadian market. None of these models were offered in the US. Building on the success of the Japanese market Civic SiRII a Type-R model was offered for the first time, available in Asia and Europe only. The Honda Civic Type R featured major reductions in weight as well as improved engine output and a number of other changes and additions designed to improve performance. The North American market saw the introduction of an uprated Civic Si (SiR in the Canada) with a more powerful Dual Overhead Cam 1.6L VTEC engine. In 1998, in the United States, Honda introduced their first Natural Gas Powered Civic, the GX.
Main article: Seventh-generation Honda Civic
The seventh-generation was released in 2001. While the redesign retained the previous generations exterior dimensions, interior space was improved in part by using a flat rear floor. Power was also increased on some trim levels. In North America the coupe and sedan body styles were available except for the Si (SiR in Canada) which was offered only as a three-door hatchback. The rest of the world received three and five-door hatchbacks. The Type-R (Available in Europe and Asia only) was redesigned as well this time using a more powerful i-VTEC motor and using the three-door hatchback body style. This generation saw Honda introduce their first Civic Hybrid.
Main article: Eighth-generation Honda Civic
For the 2006 generation Honda split the model into two different platforms, one primarily for the home market and North America and the other designed for the European market using a simpler rear suspension from the Honda Fit and more aggressive styling. Although the North American and the home market model differ externally, they are mechanically identical. The European model is a available as a three and five-door hatchback while the Japanese/North American model is available as either sedan or coupe. Both Si and Type-R trim levels continue although the Japanese and European Type-R while sharing the same engine are mechanically different. In the US an improved version of the Si tuned by Honda tuner Mugen is offered featuring cosmetic alliterations and changes to the suspension and exhaust system. The Acura version of the Civic not only received the design change, but also saw a new nameplate, changing from the Acura EL to the Acura CSX.
For 2009, Honda has announced that the Civic will receive a minor face lift, including a slight redesign to the front and rear. The interior changes will include bluetooth compatibility and an optional leather wrapped steering wheel in the LX model.
While the Civic is sold in largely the same form worldwide, differences in the name of the models exist between markets. In Japan, the hatchback Civic is just called "Civic" while the sedan model was called the "Civic Ferio" during the fifth and sixth generation. The sixth-generation sedan was also sold as the Integra SJ. In Europe and the United States, "Civic" generically refers to any model, though in Europe the coupe is branded the "Civic Coupe". A four-door station wagon model called the Civic Shuttle (also Civic Pro in Japan) was available from 1984 until 1991 (this brand name would later be revived for the mid-1990s Honda Shuttle people carrier, known in some markets as the Honda Stream). In South Africa, the sedan (the only model sold there until the 1996 launch of the sixth generation sedan and hatch) was known as the Ballade.
Other models have been built off the Civic platform, including CR-X, Quint, Concerto, Domani, CR-X Del Sol, Integra, and CR-V.
Also, at various times, the Civic or Civic-derived models have been sold by marques other than Honda — for example, Rover sold the 200, 400 and 45, each of which were Civic-based at some point (first 200s were the second generation Ballade; from 1990 the 200 and 400 were based on the Concerto; the 400 was the 1995 Domani), as was their predecessor, the Triumph Acclaim, based on the first Honda Ballade. The Honda Domani, an upscale model based on the Civic, was sold as the Isuzu Gemini in Japan (1992-2000), and confusingly the 5-door Domani was sold as the Honda Civic (along with the "real" hatchback and sedan Civics) in Europe from 1995 to 2000. In Thailand, the sixth generation Civic was available as the four-door Isuzu Vertex. The sixth-generation station wagon was sold as the Honda Orthia, with the Partner as the downmarket commercial variant. The seventh generation minivan model is called the Honda Stream. In Canada, the sixth and seventh generation Civics were mildly redesigned to create the Acura EL until the advent of the eight generation Civic, which was used to create the Acura CSX. Honda Japan adopted the CSX styling for the Civic in its home country.
The three-door hatchback body style has been somewhat unpopular in the United States, but has achieved wide acceptance in Canada, as well as popularity in Japan and European markets, helping cement Honda's reputation as a maker of sporty compact models. Starting in 2002, the Civic three-door hatchback has been built exclusively at Honda's manufacturing plant in Swindon, England - previously the five-door "Civic"/Domani and the Civic Aerodeck (based on the Japanese Orthia) were built in this plant for sale in Europe along with the Japanese EK-series Civics. Accordingly, all instances of the current model (left or right hand drive, anywhere in the world) are British-made cars designed with Japanese engineering, except for the US-built two-door coupe and the sedan version built in Brazil for the Latin American market.
In North America, the Civic hatchback was dropped for 2006. The 2006 model year standard Civics for North America are manufactured in Alliston, Ontario, Canada (sedans, coupes and Si Coupes) and East Liberty, Ohio (sedans), while the Hybrid version is manufactured in Japan.
In Asia, the oldest Honda assembly/manufacturing facility is near Lahore, Pakistan and the Civic has been produced in large numbers since 1994. The 2006 Civic was launched in the local market with a firm view of exporting this model to other countries by 2007. In India, the Civic sedan was launched in July 2006 for the first time.
In Brazil, although being considered for local manufacturing since the early 1980s (it was illegal to import cars in Brazil from 1973 until 1990), the Civic wasn't available until 1992, via official importing. In 1997, production of the sixth generation Civic sedan started in the Sumaré (a city near Campinas, in the state of São Paulo) factory. The only differences between the Japanese model and the Brazilian model were a slightly higher ground clearance, due to the country's road conditions and adaptations to make the engine suitable to Brazilian commercial gasoline, which contains about 25% ethanol (E25). The seventh generation production started in 2001, displacing the Chevrolet Vectra from the top sales record for the mid-size sedan segment, however it lost that position to the Toyota Corolla the following year. In 2006, the eighth generation was released and regained the sales leadership. Furthermore, the Brazilian subsidiary began producing flex-fuel versions for the Civic and the Fit models, capable of running on any blend of gasoline (E20 to E25 blend in Brazil) and ethanol up to E100.
The current eighth-generation Civic's crash test performance has been rated highly by both the US Government's NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS awarded the Civic with a rating of Good on both frontal and side impact crash tests and lists the Civic as the second-best 2007 small car in overall crashworthiness.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Test Ratings
Side Impact Front Seat:
Side Impact Rear Seat:
In Australia, 1982–2004 Civics were assessed in the Used Car Safety Ratings 2006 on their level of occupant protection regardless of size or era.
- (1982–1983) - "worse than average"
- (1984–1987) - "significantly worse than average"
- (1988–1991) - "worse than average"
- (1992–2004) - "average"
In many areas, the Civic is popular as a platform for modification and customization by an enthusiast community. Civics in fourth, fifth, and sixth generations had a high power-to-weight ratio and a higher hp-to-liter output compared to many of their direct competitors which allowed for naturally better acceleration, braking and handling given similar parts. As well, starting with the fourth generation and continuing until the 2000 model year, Civics had front and rear double wishbone suspension, something common in midsize and larger cars but rarely found in compacts. This advanced four-wheel independent suspension was inspired by Honda's racing research and allowed class-leading handling. Also, because of parts interchangeability, many Civics which were originally equipped with lower-power engines can later be equipped with a newer Honda engine, or many other upgrades.
The recent seventh and eighth generations, now rated as compacts rather than subcompacts, are still competitive as tuner projects. However, they have succumbed to added weight, and higher centers of gravity which has significantly reduced their appeal amongst passionate drivers. Particularly controversial among the tuner community was the replacement of the front double wishbone suspension with a MacPherson strut, as a double wishbone is easier to tune but this freed up front seating legroom. These changes made the car safer on the whole though, and broadened its appeal to the average consumer. The seventh generation's styling was more mainstream, though the eight generation returned to a more aggressive look.
From 1972 to 1974, the Civic was awarded "Car of the Year Japan." In 1973, the Civic ranked third in Europe’s "Car of the Year" awards, the highest ranking for a Japanese vehicle at that time. It also took the top prize among imported vehicles in the U.S. Road Test magazine’s "1974 Car of the Year." The Civic was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1980 as well as its 2006 Car of the Year. In 1996, Automobile Magazine honored the Civic as its Automobile of the Year. The Civic has been on Car and Driver magazine's yearly Ten Best list six times, in 1985, 1988-91, and 1996. The Civic GX, a natural gas version of the vehicle was named Greenest Car of 2005 by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Honda claimed 5 of the top 10 Greenest car slots, 3 of which were models of the Civic. The Civic Si was named "Best New Sport Car" and the sedan was named "Best New Economy Car" in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year awards. The Civic also won the North American Car of the Year and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Car of the Year awards for 2006. In November 2006, the Civic received the prestigious "Car of The Year" award from Brazilian magazine Auto Esporte. The four-door Civic VXi sedan won the South African Car of the Year award for 2007.
Touring car racing
Although Civics are not designed to be performance cars nor hold any legitimate racing victories, they have been used for racing ever since their introduction. In 1973, a Civic was entered, alongside cars of much larger engine sizes, in the Australian Bathurst 1000 endurance race.
In recent years the Civic has been used in a wide variety of racing series, particularly in Japan. It is also used in touring car races in Europe and the United States. In the UK, the Civic is used in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with Synchro Motorsport, and in endurance series such as Barwell Motorsport and Cartek Motorsport. In 2002, Honda entered the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with a works effort to win the title in the new Civic Type R.
In 2002 JAS Motorsport entered the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) with a Super-2000 spec Civic and was used until restart season of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in 2005.
For 2007 BTCC season, Team Halfords ran Honda Civics for Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden and continued to use the Civic into the 2008 season.
In 2007 Honda's R&D Engineering Team completed 645 laps in an 8th generation Civic Si coupe (FG2) to place first in the E1 class of the famous '25 Hours of Thunderhill' marathon race. The drivers on Honda's team included were Kim Wolfkill, Lee Niffenegger, Marie Sage, John Sherk, Rich Hays, Matt Staal and Car and Driver journalist Tony Swan.
Drag and Street Racing
With the huge availability of modification parts to make the Civic quicker and its popularity in street racing, the Civic has become a popular choice for sports compact drag racing, where in the United States, it has helped to launch the career of numerous drag racers such as JoJo Callos, Kenny Tran and Lisa Kubo.
In the Tuner Car world, the ease with which the Civic's engine can be swapped out makes it practical to use as both a family car during the week and a performance vehicle at the tracks. Well rounded in all areas, older models of the Civic remain popular among car enthusiasts today and enjoy ready availability of aftermarket parts.
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