Best Honda Civic models of the 21st Century

A list of the Honda Civic generations from the past 20 years, including the answer to the age old question: What is the best Honda Civic?

a black honda civic car

The Honda Civic, Honda’s compact car line up, has been around since the late 70s. Since then, there have been 11 generations of the Civic, ranging from regular Civics to variations of the hot Civic Si and Type R. This was (and is) Honda’s way of taking advantage of the booming small car market.

Going even further than that, there have been several different Civic body styles, ranging from a Civic wagon (primarily a Japanese model) to an EK three door hatchback. 

Of course, these different Honda Civic generations have come with highs and lows. Here is a list of the best and worst Honda Civic generations of the 21st century.

What's the best Honda Civic?

photo of parked red honda

It all depends on what you want out of a Civic. Generally speaking, the most recent iteration is the best Honda Civic, but not necessarily the most recent model year. The mid generation refreshes rarely offer anything new, so finding a deal within that given generation can provide great value that includes the most recent safety features.

If you want something sporty, then the Honda Civic Type R might be your cup of tea. It really is a proper enthusiast machine, especially with some of the previous generations. 

If you’re looking for something more practical and less flashy, then a more base model and less sporty Civic trim might be right for you.

However, this isn’t an article about the different Honda Civic trim levels; this is a look into the the Honda Civics of the past, present and future.

The seventh generation Civic

courtesy of: wikipedia.com

The seventh generation of Honda Civic’s was introduced in 2001 and ran until 2005. This generation contained the normal Civic sedan lineup, but also had a more rare spec in it: The Honda Civic Si, but in the form of a 2 door hatchback. This was a model that the automotive world seemed to be asking for — that being an enjoyable fun car — even though it had very limited sales.

With its four cylinder engine from an Acura RSX, the Civic Si hot hatch made 160 horsepower. As with all Civic Si models, this was only offered with a manual transmission (a 5-speed in this particular model). Interestingly, the shifter was located on the center stack, rather than near the center console. 

As for the more run-of-the-mill Civic models in this generation, they were, and continue to be, fairly reliable Hondas. It was offered as a 4-door and coupe body style. While there was a Civic Type R model within this generation, it was only offered overseas in Europe and Japan. When this Honda Civic Si was sold in Canada, it was badged as a Honda Civic SiR.

With this being a Honda, there was an abundance of trim levels for the sedan variant: The DX, VP, LX, Civic EX, LX Special Edition, EX Special Edition and hybrid. With the Honda Civic coupe, there was the same ones plus Si and RAJ.

The good

This generation had the rare Honda Civic Si hatchback that the community wanted. With this limited run, this particular model is starting to see an increase in price and collectibility.

The bad

The starting model year has had many complaints related to transmission failure and slipping. However, the following 2002-2005 Civic model years seem to have ironed out those issues. Consumer reports also noted that the 2009/2010 model years had battery life issues.

The eighth generation Civic

courtesy of: wikipedia.com

The eighth generation Honda Civic had a production run from 2005 to 2012, with a facelift refresh in 2008. This was also introduction to the odd front end edge shape. As with most of the Civic generations, the overseas Honda Civic has slight variations in body style.

This generations marked the end of the Civic Si in its hot hatch form, at least for the time being. It was replaced with a 2 door Civic coupe that made 197 horsepower, a 37 horsepower increase over the previous generation Civic Si.

Even though this was a more conventional Si model, enthusiasts were still excited for a continuation. For those looking for more practical-fun, the Civic Si was still offered in a four door configuration. These looked like a regular civic, but was only identifiable as an Si from the minimal badging on the outside. Once again, only overseas countries would receive a Civic Type R.

The Regular Honda Civic averaged about 26 mpg, but the hybrid model achieved a combined 42 mpg, giving it a fuel economy advantage.

The good

It’s a Civic that is still a decent car for its price point, especially used. Honda engines tend to be bullet proof, meaning an owner should be able to put hundreds of thousands of miles on it if it’s maintained properly.

The bad

This generation was known for having a failing passenger airbag sensor and motor mount issues, along with some electrical issues. The motor mount issues make this a hard generation to recommend, as well as the (subjectively) ugly wedge shape.

The ninth generation Civic

courtesy of: wikipedia.com

The ninth generation Honda Civic models ran from 2011-2017. This was a departure from the wedged front face design and hints at what the Civic would look like today–especially with the facelift model.

This generation also saw the beginnings of safety features, like a back-up camera. This was also when blind spot monitoring was catching on, if you selected the option. However, that wouldn’t come until later in the ninth generation run. 

The EcoAssist technology from the Honda Insight also appeared in this Civic generation, with the exception of the Si. This was also the first Honda Civic to have a factory screen in the center console.

This generation also saw the revival of the Honda Civic HF model, which was aimed towards maximizing fuel economy. It “featured” a retuned Honda R18 engine to achieve a combined 41 mpg.

The good

This generation, particularly post-face lift, was the start of a push for better safety features. Continuously variable transmissions (CVT) were helping with fuel economy, although they are an expensive repair (which is something to consider).

The bad

Unfortunately, this generation has had many complaints of wind noise and being cheaply made (but it is a cheap car, with a sticker price starting at 19,000). However, it was bad enough to warrant consumer reports taking it off of their recommended vehicles list.

The tenth generation Civic

an automobile on the asphalt road

This generation of the Honda Civic ran from 2015 to 2022.

After years and years of being teased by the foreign markets, North American markets finally got the Honda Civic Type R. This new sporty Civic hatchback received much praise from the automotive community, especially given the increased power output of the turbocharged engine. 

Honda going with the five door hatchback body also kept the Type R relatively practical and usable for everyday driving (assuming you’re okay with its flashy appearance). Some have complained about the lack of all wheel drive, but given its power output, front wheel drive is good enough.

The Honda Civic Si remains in the line up as a sporty civic sedan and coupe. However, the coupe was discontinued in 2021. This was the year that the Honda swapped out the naturally aspirated engine with a turbocharged 1.5 liter four cylinder engine.

Once again, the CVT was standard (with the exception of the Si and Type R), but all models had the option for a six speed manual transmission. Even though the regular Civic’s performance was pretty average, not every model is supposed to be exciting. The Civic has always been a practicality-first vehicle.

In terms of features, the later 10th generation Civics saw the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Of course, they also came with a large amount of safety features, like forward collision warning.

The good

Especially in the tail years of this generation, the safety features were a great addition. The icing on the cake was adding the Honda Civic Type R and a regular Civic hatchback to the line up.

The bad

Within the earlier years of this generation, there were some complaints about A/C failure and electrical problems. To avoid that, you’re better off opting for the latter years of the generation.

The eleventh generation Civic

black and red honda steering wheel

The eleventh generation of the Honda Civic was just released in the 2022 model year. When looking from the front end, nobody could blame you for confusing it with a Honda Accord, the Civic’s big brother. 

The major change between this generation and the 10th generation is mostly the standardization of the same safety features across all trim levels. Everything from lane departure warning to adaptive cruise control are standard. 

The heated front seats in the higher trimmed EX and Touring models will keep you warm on those cold winter days. Don’t forget about the rain sensing windshield wipers.

Especially on these new Civics, the interior provides a very clean, professional look. Again, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard. The larger screen is front and center for all infotainment wants and needs.

Just recently, Honda announced their refreshed Civic Type R that appears to have a toned down exterior.

The good

The design refresh was welcomed. With it being a similar look to the Accord, it makes it feel a bit more important, but that might just be me.

The bad

Although there are no recalls thus far, there have been some complaints about various electrical issues.

So, what are the worst Honda Civic models?

courtesy of: wikipedia.com

The 2016/2017 model years should be avoided because of the recalls and continued issues. Similarly, the 2006-2008 model years have multiple electrical issues and the motor mount issues.

The only thing to be weary of is the CVT in recent generations, especially high-mile Civics. Once they get over 100,000 miles, it’s probable that they’ll need to be replaced.

Which Honda Civic model is best Honda Civic model?

a blue honda civic si

I’m personally drawn to the early 2000s Civic Si hatchback, but that’s just the design and raw nature calling to me, as well as it being an enjoyable small car.

In reality, most of the Honda Civic generations have something to offer, depending on what you’re looking for. Want a turbo engine? Get a newer Civic, where they are standard. Want something sporty? Get a Civic Si. Want something sporty-er? Get a Civic Type R (if you’re willing to shell out the cash).

In the end, as long as you do your due diligence before making a car purchase — and are willing to spend the money on repairs (*cough* CVT) — then you’ll be just fine.

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