The oil crisis of the 1970s reshaped the automotive industry. High gas prices coupled with limited gas supply began taking a toll on the US. In addition, growing environmental concerns lead to new pollution – emission standards. The US government even launched a “Don’t be fuelish” propaganda campaign. Domestically, car manufacturers were simply trying to keep up. Many of America’s beloved vehicle models were no longer viable options, muscle and luxury was simply impractical. And while domestic manufacturers tinkered tirelessly with many existing models, Honda had the answer: The Honda Civic. Let’s take a look through the years at the Honda Civic, one of the longest continuing and most popular models on the automotive market.
First Generation (1972 – 1979)
Introduced on July 11, 1972, the Honda Civic was equipped with a 1169 cc, 72 cu in, 4-cylinder engine.
- Given a front-wheel drive and a lightweight, compact design, the Honda Civic offered gas mileage in the forties and had room for four.
- First Generation Civics were available as a coupe, three and five -door hatchback, and five-door station wagon.
- They featured a simulated wood trim dashboard, front power disc brakes, optional air conditioning, and an optional AM/FM radio.
- From 1972 to 1974, the Civic was Japan’s Car of the Year. It ranked third in the European Car of the Year awards, and was Road Test Magazine’s 1974 Car of the Year.
“Gasoline made simple.”
- The 50 HP engine would get an upgrade in 1975 with the Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) engine. The CVCC head design allowed for more efficient combustion and did not require a catalytic converter or unleaded fuel to meet emissions standards.
- In 1975, a new five-speed manual transmission and wagon body style were introduced.
- The Civic was ranked first on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first list of America’s most fuel-efficient cars in 1977.
Second Generation (1980-1983)
Rolled out in 1980, the second generation Civic was larger and came with an increase in engine power.
- The CVCC added a third valve per cylinder for the base 1300 cc, 55 HP engine and optional 1500, 67 HP engine.
- Base models came with a four-speed manual transmission while a five-speed manual and two-speed semi-automatic came optional.
- Upgrading to a GL trim brought a clock and tachometer to the interior, and new trim and rear window wiper on the outside.
- In 1983, the S model replaced the GL and introduced firmer suspension and a rear stabilizing bar.
Third Generation (1984-1987)
The third generation Civic saw more change, and was nicknamed “Tall Boy” for its new look.
- At its introduction, the 1983 Honda Civic won the Car of the Year Japan Award.
- 1984’s Civic merged the five-door hatchback and wagon models into the Honda Civic Shuttle. Affectionately earning its own nicknames, the “wagovan” and not so affectionately, the “breadbox,” the Shuttle had sliding back seats that allowed for additional cargo room.
- 1984 also introduced a two-seat coupe style, the CRX, with the D Series
- The high performance Si model came out the same year and saw the introduction of the Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) 6 L, 118 HP engine.
- A push button 4WD engine was available for the first time in 1984, until improved in 1987 to the “Realtime” 4WD system that would automatically engage when the front wheels lost traction.
- The third generation saw another first: Domestic production of the Civic began in 1986 at Honda’s East Liberty Auto Plant in Ohio.
Fourth Generation (1988-1991)
Fourth generation US models featured electronic fuel injection, a slight increase in wheelbase, and a Formula 1 inspired control-arm suspension setup.
- The hatchback began to gain popularity among the street racing circuit. The lightweight design and suspension set-up, with the ability to “engine swap” with more powerful B-series motors, makes the fourth generation Civic an ideal street performer and a favorite for many enthusiasts.
- The B-series motors were the first to utilize Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC), improving engine efficiency and power performance in low and high RPM outputs.
- The Civic went through a facelift in 1990. The aesthetics of the Civic started to change to a more modern, sleeker look.
- The front bumper changed, and the design of the lights and taillights changed. Safety regulations also dictated changes to the interior including the seatbelts. The Civic received automatic seat belts, powered shoulder belts that retracted when the door was opened.
- A wide selection of Civic models and trims were offered, including the Si and CRX.
Fifth Generation (1992-1995)
1991 again saw an increased wheelbase, overall increased dimensions, and more aerodynamic styling.
- The fifth generation focused on lightweight materials and fuel efficiency, with some models getting 48/55 MPG.
- The cowl was raised to allow for more suspension travel and a softer ride.
- DOHC and SOHC VTEC engine variations were available, and the fifth generation retained popularity with racers and enthusiasts.
- Notably, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award again in 1991.
Sixth Generation (1996-2000)
The Civic underwent a less drastic facelift from the 1995 model, but did see more revisions under the hood.
- Power-to-weight ratio took a backseat, as the 1.6-L, 106 horsepower engine was redesigned to earn lower emissions in the CX, DX, and LX models.
- The HX replaced the VX, and the new VTEC-E engine netted 39/45 MPG.
- In 1998, the natural gas powered GX was sold exclusively to fleet customers for the first time.
- The following year marked the arrival of Honda’s bundle “Value Package” (VP), offering features like air conditioning, CD player, power locks, keyless entry, and automatic transmission for one price.
- The Civic Si would return in 1998. 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, the 160 HP, B16AS engine improved performance with a better intake manifold, larger throttle body, and low-friction/high silicon pistons in the 1999 model. The fully counter-weighted crankshaft, improved exhaust, independent suspension, and 27/31 MPG fuel economy made the short run onto many enthusiasts wish list.
- The Civic would take the Car of the Year Japan Award for the third time and in 1996.
- Automobile Magazine honored the Civic as its Automobile of the Year in 1996 as well.
Seventh Generation (2001–2005)
The Seventh Generation Civic saw little change to exterior dimensions. However, the interior space increased significantly, bumping the Civic from subcompact to compact.
- The headlights and front end underwent change, as did the taillights.
- A MacPherson strut replaced the double wishbone suspension.
- To combat cabin noise, more insulation was added. Standard cabin air filters were also installed for the first time.
- Now measuring 1.7 L, the engine produced 117 HP in the DX and LX, and 127 HP in the EX.
- The Civic Hybrid was introduced in 2003, powered by a 1.3 L, 85 HP / 13 HP electric motor. It was the first to be certified as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV), and received 46/51 MPG.
- The natural gas powered Civic GX returned and was recognized as a top vehicle by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy in 2001 and 2002.
- The Civic would win the Car of the Year Japan Award for a record 4th
- The Honda Civic EX was International Car of the Year in 2005.
Eighth Generation (2006-2010)
The eighth generation Civic acquired Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV-2) certification and a beefier 1.8 L engine, all while not sacrificing gas mileage.
- The Civic’s crash test performance was rated highly by the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
- It would win the 2006 North American Car of the Year, Motor Trend 2006 Car of the Year award, and 2006 Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Car of the Year.
- The sedan was named Best New Economy Car in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year awards and the Civic Si was named Best New Sport Car.
- In 2006, it also won the North American Car of the Year and the North American International Auto Show Car of the Year awards for 2006.
- In November 2006, the Civic received the prestigious Car of The Year award from Brazilian magazine Auto Esporte.
Ninth Generation (2011-2015)
Spy images of the highly anticipated ninth generation prototype surfaced in September of 2010. Honda unveiled a well-received sketch of the ninth generation Civic in December 2010, and the concept was shown the following month at the North American International Auto Show. The final production hit the streets in April of 2011, almost 100% true to the concept. However, the vehicle failed to earn a Consumers Report recommendation for the first time.
- Eco Assist Technology was added to most models, allowing the driver to improve fuel efficiency.
- Vehicle Stability Assistance (VSA) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) became standard options in 2011, and in 2013, new standard features included a rear backup camera, Bluetooth controls, and Pandora Radio
- 2013 saw new exterior and interior trims and improvements to rear suspension, ride quality, and handling.
Tenth Generation (2015-Present)
The tenth generation Civic is a fastback design, with a “sleek and sophisticated” look that features sexier curves, highlighted by new LED headlights and taillights, and an aggressive front end.
- The base 2.0 L, DOHC engine is paired to either a 6-speed manual or CVT transmission. The CVT has an EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 35 MGP.
- An optional direct injected 1.5L, turbocharged DOHC engine comes paired with aCVT transmission in the EX-T trim.
- The dash features a 7-inch LCD all-digital Driver Information Interface (DII).
- 2016 Civic received a near perfect NHTSA 5-star safety rating.
- The 2017 Hatchback’s standard engine is the 174 HP, 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
- The 2017 Sport and Sport Touring variations of the hatchback and comes with a new exhaust setup that ups horsepower to 180.
- Honda’s sensing package includes lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and automated emergency braking. All either standard or options available for this year.
- Rumor has it that the Type R will fall somewhere between the 320 – 400 HP range, all based on creating the right balance between beast and driving experience. It features a sporty hood scoop, spoiler and a lowered body.
Honda Civic Facts
- The Honda Civic is the longest continuously produced Japanese vehicle model.
- The Honda Civic is sold in more than 160 nations and regions worldwide.
- Over 18.5 million Honda Civics have been sold since 1972.
- Rumble, the first Transformer to be designated as a Decepticon, is a 2006 Habanero Red Honda Civic Si in his Alternative form.
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