Review: 2008 Honda Civic
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Some have long considered the Honda Civic to be the top compact car. But a confusing array of trim levels must be hacked through to find the one you most desire — or can afford. For 2008 several new versions have been added.
Under the Hood
The DX, LX, EX and EX-L use a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed automatic transmission. The GX trim levels come only with an automatic, while the Si is sold with just a 6-speed manual. Hybrids are equipped with the CVT automatic.
The sedan has a large trunk, with a low, wide opening, although the lid hinges eat into stowage space. The Coupe has a slightly tighter cargo area, but rear seatbacks flip forward in all trim levels except the Hybrid and GX NGV, and sit fairly flat to enlarge luggage capacity.
The Civic’s quiet interior features a two-tier instrument panel with a digital speedometer above an analog tachometer, both positioned directly in front of the driver. They're easy to read, but the peculiar design looks as if it’s from an old science-fiction movie.
Interior materials are above average, and there's conveniently positioned console cupholders that can be hidden with a sliding cover. Climate system controls are large, but sound system controls are small and the navigation system screen absorbs too many audio system functions.
On the Road
The manual transmission shifts smoothly, and the automatics are responsive, although the CVT automatic takes some getting used to. The brakes provide effective stopping power, with a pedal that has a soft-but-linear action. Anti-lock brakes are standard.
Estimated fuel economy with the 140-horsepower engine is 24-26 mpg in the city and 34-36 on highways. The Si delivers 21 and 29, with the Hybrid providing 40 city, 45 highway. Figures with the natural gas engine are 24 and 38. The Si calls for premium gasoline, but the other gas engines can use regular-grade fuel.
The Civic is fun to drive. It has light, quick power steering, although some may feel that straight-ahead driving calls for too many small steering wheel movements. The ride is supple and handling is fairly athletic, especially for a nose-heavy, front-wheel-drive car.