Redesigned in 2006, the humble Honda Civic suddenly had styling worthy of a $30,000 European car yet kept the promise of past generations: to be fun, efficient and affordable. In either sedan or coupe guise, the Civic offers many variants from the sport-tuned Si to the CNG (compressed natural gas) GX.
Behind its outstanding resale value is nearly flawless repair and reliability history, and exemplary build quality – an important consideration for those who won’t put up with cheap plastic interiors that rattle and squeak. About the only drawbacks are its limited space for taller drivers and the lack of a really good name-brand audio offering.
Why you want it
For reliable, affordable transportation, but also with a sense of style, quality and comfort not usually found in a compact, the 2006 to 2010 Honda Civic is the obvious choice. In coupe form, it looks like a concept come to life with a sleek profile, flush-mounted lights and sporty alloy wheels. This model generally appeals to a younger crowd, so finding an unmolested used version is more difficult than with the sedan.
On the flip side, Honda sells around 300,000 Civics a year, which means plenty of inventory on dealer lots and private party listings. The Civic’s range is another positive note. In DX trim, it’s a simple, efficient economy car. Inside an EX-L, however, are leather seats, optional DVD navigation and a power sunroof. The racy Si, available as a coupe or sedan, is for the budget-minded driving enthusiast. But beware, the Si comes with a manual transmission only.
Notable features and options
Honda bundles its options by trim level. So a power sunroof, for example, means the EX trims. The base DX does not have air conditioning, only power windows; height-adjustable steering column and driver’s seat; anti-lock brakes; front side-impact and side curtain airbags. For power locks, power mirrors, air conditioning and a radio, move up to the LX (after 2009, the DX-VP also offered these features).
The 2009 EX-L offers leather seating, optional voice-activated navigation, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, electronic stability control, plus a 350-watt Honda sound system with six-speakers and a subwoofer. The standard transmission on all Civics is a five-speed manual (six-speed on the Si), with an automatic option on the DX, LX and EX.
2007: Si sedan offered for the first time, complementing the Si coupe. Both feature a helical limited-slip differential.
2008: Leather seating is offered in the new EX-L trim; a special version of the Si by Honda tuning specialist Mugen is introduced.
2009: The entire lineup receives a slight freshening, featuring new front- and rear-end designs, new wheels, and an upgraded interior. VP and LX-S trims are introduced; EX-L gains Bluetooth, electronic stability control and an available voice-activated navigation system.
Engines and performance
DX, LX and EX trims all have the same 140-horsepower 1.8-liter engine. With a manual transmission, the Civic achieves an EPA rating of 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway (these figures were adjusted from 30/38 in 2008 when the EPA changed its formula for measuring fuel economy). With the five-speed automatic, the Civic earns a respectable 25 mpg city, 36 mpg highway. True to its roots, the car remains nimble and fun to drive, yet also happens to have a civilized ride, quiet cabin, and terrific brakes.
The Civic Si comes with a 197-hp 2.0-liter engine. The ride is considerably firmer, but the ability to attack twists and turns is unrelenting. Thickly bolstered sport seats help keep the driver in place while tearing through the curves, and the six-speed manual is one of the slickest, easiest-to-operate examples in the business.
Recalls, safety ratings and warranties
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2006 to 2010 Honda Civic.
2006: Possible improperly installed accelerator pedals that could come loose; faulty airbag sensor in the front passenger seat on coupe models; improperly installed rear and rear side glass on some coupes.
2006 to 2007: Faulty O-ring in the housing that protects the front wheel bearing; faulty brake light switch at the brake pedal; improper insulation of the CNG model’s natural gas tank that could lead to rupture in the event of a fire.
2008: 128 cars recalled for possible missing nut that holds the fuel hose connector bracket in place.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. A dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you. For more information about the Honda Civic’s recall history, visit the government’s recall website at www.safercar.gov. Enter the year, make and model for a complete list of recalls as well as technical service bulletins (TSB).
Safety-wise, the 2006 to 2010 Honda Civic earns a five-star crash test rating from the NHTSA in its frontal and rear passenger side-impact crash tests; the driver, however, only receives four stars in the side-impact crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Civic sedan its top rating of Good in the offset frontal and side-impact crash tests. The Civic coupe, however, receives only an Acceptable rating in the side-impact crash test.
The 2006 to 2010 Honda Civic offers a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Honda also offers a Certified Pre-Owned program on 2006 and newer cars. This extends powertrain coverage to seven years/100,000 miles from the original warranty’s starting point and basic coverage to four years/48,000 miles if the car is still under warranty, plus one year/12,000 miles for those vehicles whose warranty has expired.
Word on the web
We researched Civic owner and enthusiast websites, as well as Consumer Reports. For the most part, there is little to complain about, with most owners praising the car’s reliability, fuel economy and strong resale value. However, CarComplaints.com and Cartalk.com have several postings on some 2006 to 2009 models suffering from cracked engine blocks. In response, Honda has extended the warranty coverage for this issue to eight years with no mileage restriction.
Auto Trader recommendations
For a great commuter car, get a late, low-mileage EX or EX-L. The niceties of the interior, available navigation and Bluetooth – as well as the added safety afforded by the electronic stability control – make this version a favorite. However, for something with more zip (and providing a manual transmission is not a deal breaker) then consider the Si. It offers all the endearing features of the EX, but with a bigger engine.