The Honda Civic is a compact vehicle introduced by Japanese manufacturer Honda in 1980 and is currently positioned between the Honda Fit/City and Honda Accord in the manufacturer’s current lineup of vehicles.
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The Civic is one of the best-selling vehicles of all time, selling 27 million units over nearly fifty years and across a whopping eleven generations.
The following guide explores each generation to help you figure out which Honda Civic models are the best purchases and possible models and versions to avoid.
Note also, the Civic is one of the easiest cars to modify.
Best years for Honda Civic
Expert ratings have noted the 2022 Honda Civic as a new revision of an old and reliable entrant into the compact vehicle marketplace.
- excellent performance,
- high fuel economy,
- roomy passenger space,
- and a refined design.
The following lists the top 5 best years for the Honda Civic based on the fewest number of consumer-reported issues, overall least serious reported problems, and standard or optional features.
The 2022 Civic is also one of the models in its class with good cargo space. Here’s a list of cargo capacity for all Honda Civics.
The 2020 model of the Honda Civic is one of the most quality vehicles on the market as it has handling that is similar to that of a sports car yet is very economical – diametrically opposite to that of a sports car.
Maintenance of the vehicle is not very difficult and the number of features that it has makes it very competitive against others of its class.
The 2013 version of the Honda Civic had minimal complaints and had a very respectable 84 out of 100 rating on J.D. Power, scoring 86 in reliability.
The 2013 model achieved a Top Safety Pick+ and featured:
- remote lock/unlock,
- powered moonroof,
- and tire-pressure monitoring.
The 2012 model of the Honda Civic is very similar to the 2013 model. In terms of ratings, it achieved 83 out of 100 from J.D. Power and scored 86 in terms of reliability.
It was also a top pick for the IIHS Top Safety Pick award.
It also featured remote lock/unlock, powered moonroof, and tire-pressure monitoring.
The 2011 version of the Honda Civic is a very modern-looking vehicle that has been designed with exceptional exterior design and interior comfort in mind. The vehicle is noted for being extremely easy to drive, which makes it ideal for first-time car buyers.
This model is also known for being affordable for more budget-conscious car buyers.
The 2005 version of the Honda Civic is known for extreme reliability, safety, and fuel efficiency.
While it may not be stunning or visually appealing in comparison to the later models, it is still an effective mode of transportation, and finding one in good condition can be a steal for the car buyer on a tight budget.
Honda Civic years to Avoid
The following are 5 of the worst Honda Civic years based on models having some of the most consumer-reported complaints and generally more costly repairs or issues that pose a high risk to safety.
Quite possibly one of the oddest things to make a vehicle frowned upon to ever happen in car history, the 2016 version of the Honda Civic was developed with soy-based compounds that were integrated into the vehicle’s wiring.
This led to rats eating the wires and coils of the vehicle, leading to problems with driving, safety, and performance later down the line.
While this might be random, other issues like excessive whistling noises as well as AC issues were more commonplace problems that the model experienced.
Just a few issues on the 2012 Honda Civic included:
- paint chipping,
- brake failures,
- and engine stalling.
While pain chipping is not a fatal issue, brake failures and engine stalling could lead to potentially fatal accidents.
Other problems on this model included electronics and software problems like a malfunctioning infotainment system and problematic warning lights.
The 2007 model of the Honda Civic experienced a significant issue: a cracked engine block which meant that there was poor coolant circulation that led to excessive engine overheating.
Other issues also included uneven tire wear as well as paint peeling and cracking. Combined, these issues could cost an owner thousands of dollars to fix.
The 2006 version of the Honda Civic marked the start of the eighth generation of the iconic car series but also marked a turbulent period in the vehicle’s history.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) noted 1,400 complaints against this version because of cracked engine blocks and poorly installed accelerator pedals.
The 2001 model of the Honda Civic was a transmission failure in more ways than one.
In addition to other more common hiccups the Civic line experiences transmission slipping, and a failure for the transmission to properly engage resulted in thousands of complaints and problems from unsatisfied drivers all over the world
Quick Overview Of The Honda Civic Generations
Let’s start at the beginning.
1st Generation: 1972—1978
The Honda Civic was first sold in Japan more than fifty years ago.
What’s more mind-boggling is that that was half a century ago. The vehicle was equipped with bucket seats and a water-cooled engine alongside disk breaks and a wood-trimmed dashboard.
The vehicles in this generation come in four trim levels, such as:
- a fastback sedan,
- a three-door hatchback,
- a five-door hatchback,
- or a five-door station wagon.
2nd Generation: 1979—1982
Three engine transmissions were available to customers in the second generation of the Honda Civic:
- a four-speed manual model,
- a five-speed manual model,
- and a new two-speed semi-automatic model.
This was a major update for the vehicle and was iconic for the entire car industry as a whole.
The trim levels carried on from the previous generation and allowed the option for hatchback, sedan, or station wagon.
3rd Generation: 1983—1986
The next generation of the Hona Civic was noted for having compact dimensions and being relatively lightweight. This generation also introduced a four-cylinder D series engine as well as upgraded suspension systems.
A new four-wheel-drive configuration came out for the first time during this generation of the Honda Civic.
It was ahead of its time in terms of fuel economy, delivering 28mpg on the highway.
4th Generation: 1987—1990
All U.S. models of the Honda Civic in its fourth rendition included an electronic fuel injection and fully independent rear suspension.
5th Generation: 1991—1994
The fifth generation of the Honda Civic became the manufacturer’s most fuel-efficient car model of all time with 48/55MPG. It also included a 1.6L SOHC VTEC valve train.
6th Generation: 1995—1999
Known as the first Natural Gas Powered Honda Civic, the GX was introduced during the sixth generation of the iconic vehicle model.
All base models of this generation of the Honda Civic include a 1.6L, 4-cylinder engine.
7th Generation: 2000—2004
The 7th generation of the Honda Civic made the vehicle an international icon.
While the coupe and sedan body styles were sold in North America, the Si model offered a three-door hatchback in Canada.
The rest of the world had the option of five-door hatchbacks, a rarity until then. This was also a major milestone for environmentally friendly vehicles in the industry as this was the first model to offer a Civic Hybrid that was powered by a 1.3L engine.
8th Generation: 2005—2010
The next generation of the Honda Civic split the vehicle into sedan and coupe platforms.
The hatchback was designed for European markets and included simple rear suspension and more aggressive styling.
9th Generation: 2011—2014
This generation of the Honda Civic included sedan, coupe, hatchback, and station wagon models.
A Hybrid version of the vehicle was developed for the sedan model and managed to equip it with a larger 1.5L i-VTEC engine that resulted in a +3.6 mpg improvement over the eighth-generation hybrid models.
10th Generation: 2015—2020
For the tenth generation of the Honda Civic, the manufacturer offered a re-introduction of the hatchback model into the North American market.
The tenth generation of the Civic has a customizable 7-inch LCD screen positioned behind the steering wheel with a large analog tachometer and digital speedometer amongst other digital displays for a more modern look.
11th Generation: 2021—Present
The most recent generation of this iconic vehicle has a suspension setup that takes advantage of the vehicle’s stiffer body structure and heightened wheelbase to make it more comfortable for drivers.
A new “liftback” style inspired by the coupe vehicle profile is the signature of this generation.
Which Honda Civic generation should you buy?
The ninth generation of the Honda Civic is ideal for owners as it combines affordability with modern tools and technology. These are just great and reliable cars that will do well for everyday use. You will also find the Honda Civic great for road trips.
What year is the most reliable Honda Civic?
The most reliable Honda Civics come from the ninth generation, as either the 2012 or 2013 models, both highly rated according to J.D. Power and have won several awards for their safety.
What are the most common problems with Honda Civics?
We have a full list here of the problems across the Honda Civic models.
As we noted earlier, the Honda Civic transmission has seen various issues and has been both costly and dangerous for owners, drivers, and passengers.
Engine block cracking
Engine block cracking due to engine overheating has been a persistent issue across many generations of the Honda Civic.
Airbag issues have previously left injuries and fatalities in the Civic and have undergone many recalls.
How Many miles will a Honda Civic last?
The Honda Civic will typically last anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 miles over its lifetime, making it a vehicle with exceptional longevity. We have more here on how long the Honda Civic last.
What are the closest competitors to the Honda Civic?
- Toyota Corolla
- Nissan Sentra
- Kia Forte
How long do the transmissions normally last on these models?
The Toyota Corolla transmission can last approximately 200,000 miles while the Nissan Sentra can last anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 miles and is comparable to the Honda Civic.
The Kia Forte, on the other hand, can drive up to approximately 150,000 miles over the course of its lifetime.
Back to overviews: Best & Worst Years Per Honda Model.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.