The History of Honda Civic



The Honda Civic was the beginning of automotive influence for Honda. This car model which started as a subcompact car in 1972, and became a full compact car in the 2000s has wowed people in terms of performance, reliability and very important, sportiness. Since inception, 10 generations of this model have raced down our streets and roads, and without a doubt have been one of the go-to cars for the middle class across the Americas and even across the world. Made in Japan with the goal of entering the compact automobile market, the Honda Civic has been a base model for many of Honda’s many car variants and models.


Drawing inspiration from the British Mini car, an icon of British popular culture, Honda seized the opportunity to make commercial success in the automotive car industry especially in the international market. Using the front engine, front-wheel drive design and a two-door layout, the Civic provided great interiors and great fuel efficiency along with high environment friendliness appealing to many. Compactness was the goal with the Honda Civic, which at the time was the demand from the automotive industry, and with a well-executed design, the Civic itself became an inspiration to many at home in Japan and even abroad. Preceding the Honda Civic is the Honda N600 and Honda Z600 which had issues in relation to engine design (too large) and material change within the domestic market, which the Civic solved.

Variations and Class

Many changes have occurred over the last 48 years of the Honda Civic which have appealed to the public over 10 generations of car models.

The 1st generation model was a low cost German finesse automobile which had a 1169cc, four-cylinder water-cooled engine. Its variability with both leaded and unleaded fuel increased the car’s popularity. During this generation, Honda introduced the CVCC engine at a time the oil crisis hit to help with fuel efficiency and meet the Environmental Protection emission standards. This generation Civic which lasted from 1973 to 1979 introduced Honda as a force to reckon with in the automobile industry especially in the US.

The 2nd generation, 1980 to 1983, shaped the 4-door sedan we know the Civic for today. With a 1488cc model, the Civic was a lot bigger than its previous model. During this generation, various engine designs were introduced including the two-speed semi-automatic. The Civic produced more horsepower with the base engine – 1335cc – at 55 hp and the optional engine – 1488cc – at 67 hp.

The third and fourth generation, 1983 to 1988 and 1988 to 1991 respectively, were focused on trying to maintain the popularity the first generation Civic had. In this generation, some changes were made to the CVCC engine with an introduction of a D-Series engine. In 1984, a 4WD drive version of the Civic was released. Si models which were hinted in the second generations came to live in this generation set bringing higher performance and upgraded suspension systems. A technology called ‘realtime’ was introduced in relation to its automatic transmission. Within the fourth generation, there wasn’t much change aside from body style design and a fully independent rear suspension across all the Civic model.

From 1991 to 1995, the Honda Civic increase its dimensions and added some aerodynamic styling. The fuel efficiency of the Honda Civic in the 5th generation increased to 48/55 MPG due to the introduction of the VX Hatchback. Various variants were made along with the new body style, the Civic Coupe.

The 6th generation, 1995 to 2000, added new stylings without any major engine difference. This generation was significantly dominated by various trim levels such as the GX, CX, DX, EXR

With the new decade, 7th generation (2000 – 2005), major changes occurred with the interior especially with the use of flat rear floor. Changes were also made with the suspension – from a double wishbone to a MacPherson strut. The trim levels by which the Honda Civic sold were reduced to four, DX, LX, EX and HX. In 2003, the hybrid Civic was introduced.

A new generation, a new strategy. In the 8th generation (2006 – 2011), Honda split the Civic to two main models, the sedan and coupe design and the hatchback design. The interior and exterior design were vastly different from previous models though having the same body style. The same trim levels as the 7th generation was maintained. The hybrid model was continued regardless of issues with the batteries, with the model having a 1.3-litre petrol engine alongside a CVT transmission.

From 2012 to 2015, the ninth generation brought about more focus to the 2008 financial crisis leading Honda to deliver a lighter and more fuel efficient model while maintaining the earlier trim levels. The HF sedan was introduced with some massive improvements to the aerodynamics and fuel efficiency of the car. The hybrid Civic was increased to a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine alongside an electric motor that reached 23hp. The Si model released had a different engine from all the Civics released in the generation.

Currently, the tenth generation (2016 to present) Honda Civic features a fastback exterior alongside some high tech interior. The Civic is a lot lighter than previous models due to material choice – higher grade steel. The engine features a 1.6 litre i-VTEC engine with a variable transmission. The Civic Si was reintroduced in 2016 with a 1.5 litre turbocharged engine that has a 205hp.

In terms of body style, the first and second generation, the 2-door fastback and 4-door fastback body style model was used. The 3-door hatchback was used for 8 generations ending in 2011 while the 5-door hatchback is still used alongside the 4-door sedan.

Safety Features and Reliability

Over the years, Honda have released fine technology through the Civic brand, some which are still lasting and very useful in this times especially in the areas of safety. These safety features include anti-lock brakes, stability control, front-impact and side-impact and overhead airbags, pretensioners, security system or vehicle intrusion systems, pressure monitoring system.

The Honda Civic has the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure which helps distribute collision energy evenly, absorbing and deflecting the energy from all passengers. It’s part of the active safety systems Honda prides itself to have developed and works. Along the ACE body structure comes another feature which has been introduced since 2012 (9th generation) to help the drivers easily detect for anything or anyone in their blind spot.

In terms of reliability, the changes that Honda have implement over the many models have raised question as to what the first generation Honda Civic gave. However, even with issues regarding their hybrid attempt, the car model still rates high among consumer with an above 70 score. With the Honda Civic, the issues eventually surface out after many revisions. Though, many consumers would prefer that those revisions are done within the development labs and not when the cars are already on the streets.

Acclaim and Reception

The Honda Civic since the 1970s as received high reception among environmental conscious individuals as well as with fuel efficient and high performances hobbyist. In the early years of the Honda Civic, it won the Car of the Year Japan, and in 2005, it won the International Car of the Year with the Honda Civic EX. The Civic Model has won various awards across the globe such as Best New Sport Car and New Economy Car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Honda Civic rated 5 out of 5 in terms of frontal impact and side impact rear seat, 4 out of 5 in terms of side impact front seat and rollover.


The Honda Civic is car that has brought many innovations with it, regardless of the few slip-ups, the Civic still remains a top-class 4-door sedan that is reliable, efficient, high performing and environment-friendly.