Automotive Review - 2008 Honda Civic Sedan ~ Auto Guru India - Junction of News, Auto Reviews, Advice

Mar 31, 2008

Automotive Review - 2008 Honda Civic Sedan

The Good: The legendary nameplate continues to balance price & performance in one nice package with tons of variations (over 20 different models between the coupe and sedan)

The Bad: Interesting gauge cluster design, road noise is pronounced

Overall: The civic is a leader in its class and a staple, for over 30 years in the US. The engine is refined and with many trim levels/models to choose from it's easy to find a Civic that will suit your budget.

For a very long time now, over a quarter century, Honda's been a force in the industry, with Civic's and Accords buzzing around the United States, often times crushing what had been the long term expectations for a vehicle (longevity curve). I remember the 300 thousand club advertisements Honda aired. I owned a Honda and like so many other Honda drivers, found it extremely reliable and exceptionally easy to keep on the road. It's difficult not to love Honda. A friend drives an Accord coupe, and has since 1998 when they were re-sytled. Every two years, he'll go get another one, going on 10 years now.

The 2008 Honda Civic is a small car available as a sedan or coupe. For both, there are five main trim levels: DX, LX, EX, EX-L and Si. On the Civic sedan you can also find the Hybrid, the GX and the Mugen Si. The DX is for those on a tight budget and offers power windows, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel & a height-adjustable driver seat. Then there's the popular mid-grade LX, which comes with 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control and a four-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with an auxiliary audio jack.

Go on the road with the Civic EX and you get 16-inch alloys, sunroof, six-speaker audio with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a 60/40-split rear seatback with a rear armrest. This year's new Civic EX-L comes with leather upholstery and heated front seats. The Civic Si has most of the EX's features plus a high-output engine, a premium audio system, 17-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, and special interior trim.

A navigation system is offered for the Si and EX/EX-L models. Hybrid models are equipped similarly to the EX and have automatic climate control and optional navigation. The GX has a feature list similar to the LX's.

The limited-production Civic Mugen Si sedan has a track-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels with more aggressive tires, performance exhaust and a specialized exterior body kit

We're on the Road, in the 2008 Honda Civic Sedan, Consumer Reports top rated Sedan, scoring great marks for reliability and depreciation, and good marks for satisfaction. Under the hood find the 1.8 liter inline 4 cylinder outputting 140 hp, (except for the Si and Hybrid models outputting 197 and 110 hp respectively) and 128 lb ft of torque.

Four engine and four transmission choices range from the 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine (Civic DX, LX, EX and EX-L), with either a 5-speed manual or an available 5-speed automatic transmission, to a 197-horsepower, 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine (Civic Si) with a 6-speed manual transmission. Several years ago the civic was the smallest car from Honda, but now the Fit takes that title. While acceleration is respectable, it's not built for blazing quick acceleration, it clocks a 0-60 time of 10.1 seconds (EX sedan).

The Civic exterior looks better than ever. Coming up on a re-designed Civic several years ago, shortly after they were redesigned, I remember asking myself, if that was a new luxury brand model. Well as I drew closer, I was surprised (in a good way) to find it bear the legendary nameplate. Especially the Si model, looks like it's a luxury sports car masquerading! Nice back side! The Civic sedan looks like it is anxious to hit the road with a seriously sloped front windshield which allows for a more forward dash inside, and the two tiered gauge cluster. Fit and finish is good. From the front fascia and the grill, to the intergrated head lamps the Civic looks ready to roll. We especially like the bumper split front grille, and the way the Honda emblem is incorporated to the silver accent span streaking across the grill, looks like it could be symbolic of aircraft with such a sweeping wing upfront.

Handling is steady and compliant, and provides good direct feedback.

Safety: Seated in the driver's position you'll find great visibility that you'd expect in this class vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Civic its best rating for front and side impact crashes for driver and passenger. All Civics' come standard with drivers and front passenger's seat belt reminder, Dual-Stage, Dual-Threshold front airbags (SRS); Front side airbags with passenger-side occupant position detection; side curtain airbags; VSA; ABS; EBD; TPMS; Side-impact door beams; Child proof rear door locks; LATCH; and a comprehensive list of other standard safety features that will help keep you safe.

Driving Impressions: For the casual or long distance commuter the Civic is an ideal combination of good gas mileage, comfort and safety. You'll enjoy driving the Civic with stable, responsive handling and a steady compliant ride, and though there is a bit of road noise, the Civic really does well overall. From everyday errands to the weekend road trip, you'll enjoy exploring in the Civic. We like the mix of digital and analogue gauges (the speedometer is digital, while the RPM gauge is analogue) and the speedometer, temp and fuel gauge are also included in the top tier (forward most tier) of the dash and the rpm, odometer, drive indicator are on the lower level, closest to the driver position. The seating is comfortable for most, especially for this class vehicle. Controls are where you'd expect them and you won't need to crack the manual to operate the vehicle, turn on the stereo or play a CD. The Civic also helps you every week at the pump, with good MPG!

The way you feel inside: The Civic offers solid build quality you can rely on, seat comfort is good. You will notice somewhat pronounced road noise. Inside find nice creature comforts like power outlets (front and center on upper trim levels, front only on lower trims); Cruise Control (not on DX); Leather wrapped steering wheel on all models; A/C with Air Filtration System (not on DX); Power Windows; good storage compartments; steering mounted controls (Cruise and Audio on upper trims) and available Nav system, which as a technology person remains one of my favorite options, along with the heated front seats available on the EX-L trim. Also find an aux input to plug in your mp3 player on most models. Find thoughtful design elements like tilt and telescoping steering, there's a lot to love from Honda's Civic!

By the numbers: The EPA rating for the 2008, 5 speed automatic, Civic Sedan is 25 MPG city / 36 highway and we averaged 28 MPG on regular fuel, when driving between combined (city and highway) miles.

The 5 speed manual transmission, sedan is rated at 26 city, 34 highway. While the Si Sedan gets 21 city / 29 highway, and the GX sedan, 24 city/36 highway. The 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid is rated at 40 city / 45 highway.

The sticker price on the 2008 Honda Civic Sedan starts at 15,010 for the 5 speed manual transmission DX model. The tested model (Civic EX-L 5 speed automatic - with Nav & XM which includes leather accent seating up) MSRP is $22,460. The ever popular Civic Hybrid Sedan starts at $22,600 add Nav and XM satellite for an MSRP of 24,350. With so many variations on the Civic (including Coupe and numerous trim levels) it's easy to find one that suits you!

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Brian LeBow is the original author of this new car review.

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