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The Ultimate Honda Civic Page

The Honda Civic has been a popular compact car option since its debut in the early 1970s. The car has a wide-reaching appeal that has carried through ten generations. First-time and younger car buyers appreciate the vehicle's attractive, fun, and sporty style, while older consumers can appreciate the car's dependability and solid construction. The Civic has undergone a significant number of changes since it first entered the auto market, evolving from a subcompact vehicle to a compact, and it even has a hybrid model.


The Honda Civic was developed over a two-year period in Japan as a car that was basic and would appeal to people around the world. It had a front engine and front-wheel drive as well as a two-box design, with only an engine compartment and cab. This was unlike other compact cars at the time that featured three-box designs and rear-wheel drive. The car was first released in Japan in 1972 starting with the two-door model in July and the three-door, hatchback model two months later. Honda made its American debut the same year. The car was roughly 140 inches long, weighed approximately 1,500 pounds, and had a 50-horsepower engine. Additionally, the vehicle came with a four-speed manual transmission or a Hondamatic two-speed automatic gearbox.

In 1975, strict emissions controls required many cars within Honda's class to use a catalytic converter to meet the standards set by the U.S. Clean Air Act. In preparation for this, Honda released its Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) engine, which was so efficient that it met the EPA's standards and no additions were required. The engine was also impressive in terms of fuel economy. Also in 1975, Honda debuted a Civic station wagon that was 160 inches long and had an 89.9-inch wheelbase.


During the second generation's three years, the Civic experienced a small increase in its size and the amount of room in its interior. The hatchback, for example, had a wheelbase of 88.6 inches, and the wagon was 91.3 inches. In addition, all Civic models would now have the CVCC engine. In 1981, the Civic added a four-door sedan, and a three-speed transmission replaced the Hondamatic two-speed. In 1982, the car manufacturer released a new model called the FE, for "fuel economy." The FE model was able to get 55 mpg on the highway and 41 mpg in the city. The FE design featured a black bumper and headlights that were rectangular. A year later, a sportier model was released, called the S. The S was designed to replace what was the Civic 1500, and it came with a rear stabilizer bar and larger tires.


Major changes were made to the design of the Civic in 1984. The wagon and four-door Civic grew by 5 inches at the wheelbase, and changes were made to the rear of the hatchback. Both the wagon and the four-door received a 12-valve, 1.5-liter engine with 76 horsepower. The hatchback had a 1.3-liter, 60-horsepower engine. Also by 1984, the Civic line had expanded to include three hatchback models (the base model, DX, and S), a new tall wagon, and a sedan. Honda also added the CRX, which was a two-seater that came with a base 1.3-liter engine or a 1.5-liter engine.

In 1985, changes were made to the Civic wagon, including adding a driver-activated four-wheel-drive option and a six-speed manual transmission. A CRX Si trim also debuted, as did the high-fuel-economy CRX HF, which replaced the 1.3-liter CRX and was able to get 57 mpg on the highway and 52 mpg in the city. Cosmetic changes were made in the 1986 model year, including flush-mounted headlights. The Civic Si also received an optional removable glass sunroof and roof spoiler. Two years after the addition of the driver-activated four-wheel drive, Honda added a fully automatic system called Real Time 4WD.


During the fourth generation, car buyers started to notice changes to the design of the Civic, which was getting rounder at the corners and longer. In 1988, significant changes were made. With the exception of the CRX, all models were made with a 98.4-inch wheelbase. The CRX also experienced changes to its length, sitting on a 90.6-inch wheelbase. Cosmetically, the hood was lowered, and a greater glass area was added. These changes made the Civic more stylish and streamlined. The Civics were also given more powerful engines, and fuel injection was added to all models. Also in 1988, the Civic Si hatchback was discontinued, but it would return in the next model year. A new sedan, called the Civic LX, was released. The LX had features such as power windows, intermittent wipers, power locks, power windows, and power mirrors. In 1990, the EX trim was introduced. This was the Civic's first luxury trim. Also in 1990, Honda updated the look of the car's taillights and bumpers.


The CRX did not make it to the 1992 model year, and the Civic wagon was also dropped. Honda continued to update the Civic, however, by changing the look and size of the remaining models. Hatchback models now sported 101.3-inch wheelbases, while four-door sedans reached 103.2 inches. Hatchback trims during 1992 included the CX, DX, VX, and Si. A number of changes to the engine were also made, including the introduction of a VTEC-E engine. Civic sedans were now available with DX, LX, and EX trims. A power moon roof became standard for the EX sedan, as were anti-lock brakes. Efforts to improve Honda Civic safety included the addition of standard airbags.

In 1993, a two-door notchback coupe joined the Civic family. It was available in the DX and EX trims, and it had a 103.2-inch wheelbase. This same year, a replacement for the CRX also made its debut in the form of the Del Sol, which was shorter than the hatchback by eight inches. The Del Sol came in an S or Si trim, seated two, and had a 102-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine or a 1.6-liter engine with 125 horsepower. Passenger-side airbags became a standard feature in all Civics starting in the 1994 model year.


A new body style was released for the 1996 model year. Changes included the addition of a grille and larger lights, and all Civics shared the same wheelbase size of 103.2 inches. A new coupe trim, the HX, was introduced, and the hatchback now only came with the CX and DX trims. Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) certification was given to the 1.6-liter, 106-horsepower engine that was new to the CX, DX, and LX models. In 1997, 14-inch wheels were added to all Civics, and in 1998, new wheel covers were added.


In 2001, the Civic was given a new front suspension and MacPherson strut design. In 2002, the new, sporty Civic Si was released. The most significant change to the seventh-generation Civic was the debut of a hybrid in 2003. The first Civic Hybrid had an 85-horsepower, 1.3-liter, four-cylinder gas engine and a 13-horsepower electric motor. On the freeway, the Hybrid got 51 mpg, and it got 46 mpg in the city. In 2004, the Civic's hood, grille, headlights, and bumpers underwent a redesign, while a rear spoiler option became available in 2005. The standard engine was a 1.7-liter four-cylinder with between 115 and 127 horsepower. The four-door Civic was 175.4 inches long and 1.6 inches taller than the Civic coupe.


The windshield and dashboard got a more stylish and futuristic design in 2006. The 2006 sedan was made 1.4 inches longer than the 2005 model year, with 3.2 inches added to the wheelbase and 1.5 inches to the width. In addition to increasing in size, the 2006 Civic sedan was also heavier by 5 percent. While the sedans were larger, the coupes were now shorter in length by 0.6 inches, wider by 1.4 inches, and shorter in height by 1.6 inches. In 2009, Honda introduced two new trims, LX-S and DX-VP, and an electronic stability system.


In 2012, few changes were made, but in 2013, the Civic sedan was given a number of updates and upgrades, including new sheet metal, a chrome-accented grille, a taller hood, and a lower front bumper. The interior of the 2013 sedan received changes that made it quieter, including the addition of soundproof material to the doors and floor and thicker glass. In addition to cosmetic changes, the front end of the Civic sedan was redesigned to improve safety in the event of a frontal crash, and SmartVent front-seat side-impact airbags were added.

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