10 Cool Honda Civic Models of All Time

As the eleventh Honda Civic reaches the market around the world, let’s take a look at the best variations that helped build its reputation

The first Honda Civic appeared fifty years ago. At the time, the motorcycle division was successful but the car division was struggling. The N360 was competent, but its kei car dimensions limited it to the Japanese market. The company needed a strong product in the standard compact segment especially once exports became popular. Fortunately, the model shown above came to the rescue in 1972.

At first, the small size and low weight brought the fuel efficiency North America needed so badly during the oil crisis. Over time, the Honda Civic became even more interesting thanks to its great handling and several performance versions. Nowadays, it is a solid contender in the compact segment in all countries where Honda offers it. Here, we are going to see some high points of such a beautiful history.

1975 Honda Civic CVCC

The old Civic was one of the first hatchbacks to use engine and traction up front, and a sloped fastback-like design on the rear. It helped Honda dictate the style guidelines of the category

The 1st Civic is interesting itself. Besides the regular hatchback lid, it had an option keeping the rear glass fixed. The CVCC engine, debuted in 1975, optimized fuel burning to the point of not needing the catalytic converter, which gave it a sales edge in the U.S.. This generation also had a station wagon body for added utility and the sporty 1200 RS: it was sold only in Japan and had upgraded engine and stiffer ride.

1980 Honda Civic Country

Besides the new variations below, the 2nd gen Civic had the Country version, a station wagon with typically North-American wooden panels. Ironically, it was only available in the Japanese market.

While this is not the best Honda Civic year, it is important nonetheless. The company wnted to make the most of its increasing success. The existing versions became larger and received more powerful engines, but the biggest upgrades regarded body styles. The sedan arrived for the first time, there were two upscale versions, Ballade and Quint, and British Leyland rebadged it as Triumph Acclaim under license.

1983 Honda Civic Shuttle

The Shuttle was named Wagovan in the U.S. While the regular model resembled early minivans, the AWD version had visual changes that made it look like the initial example of what would be the crossover car.

This generation was primarily focused on aerodynamics; the hatchback adopted a Kammback design and converted the fastback into the CRX coupé. However, the version that made this list is the Shuttle; this souped up Honda Civic engaged in the minivan trend by using short and tall body. The model had unique solutions such as taller rear windows, available AWD, and a rear bench with longitudinal sliding.

1989 Si and SiR

The hood on regular 1990s Honda Civic hatchback models was lower on the center. On the SiR version, it had the opposite shape so as to accommodate the larger VTEC engine which made it a legend in Honda generations of cars.

This generation was marked by evolutionary upgrades. The most notable one is the SiR performance trim, which gave the EF Civic hatch its first VTEC engine. Paired to 16 valves, it made the 1.6L engine reach 158 hp in Japan, which is awesome even in today’s standards. That powertrain helped establish the 90s Honda Civic as a global reference among compact cars when it comes to handling and engine performance.

1992 Civic VX

While the exterior only features the exclusive 13″ aluminum wheels, the VX version’s interior also has reduced trim and molding and an exclusive variation of the famed Civic VTEC engine. It is a favorite car among hypermilers.

While the Honda Civic EG hatch is often known for its sporty trims and the Del Sol body, its aerodynamic design had another benefit. The VX version responded to increasing gas prices by using several solutions for weight reduction and the VTEC-E engine; it had a high-mileage mode which used an ultra lean air fuel mixture to reach impressive 39/49 mpg according to EPA’s most recent city/highway standards.

1998 Honda Civic Aerodeck

Besides many body styles, the 90s Civic had several sporty versions as well. This generation had Si, SiR-II, VTi and Type R according to the region. The common aspect, as usual, was the VTEC engine.

While the EK Civic hatchback kept getting better and better especially at its Si version, Honda had some new plans for the family. This generation had the five-door hatchback and the station wagon borrowed from the Domani lineup developed initially for Japan – Canada also received the exclusive Acura EL. The Aerodeck was named after the shooting brake body Honda made for the Accord some years earlier.

2001 Honda Civic Hybrid

A notable feature of the 7th gen Civic is the flat cabin floor. It brought leading internal space in its category, despite the relatively unchanged dimensions. In North America, that made it a compact car for the first time.

Design and powertrain received mostly evolutionary updates this time. What makes this one of the best Honda Civic years is receiving a hybrid version back in the early 2000s. Honda chose to use a regular car while Toyota created the Prius exclusively for that purpose. With technologies such as lean burn, special VTEC engine and start/stop technology, it achieved unparalleled fuel efficiency for its segment.

2007 European Civic Type R

The 8th generation had one of the most dramatic design changes in the history of this car. In Brazil, the sedan had such a great reception that it stole buyers from larger sedans like the Accord or the Ford Fusion.

In this generation, the hatchback version was developed with little in common with the others. That gave Honda freedom to go wild with the now 15-year old Honda Civic Type R: 198 hp, 142 lb-ft, low weight, and exclusive suspension and tires. If you wanted an even sportier driving experience, there was a Race subdivision. It let go of items like A/C, fog lights, and soundproofing to lose additional 88 lb.

2011 Civic Si Coupé

The coupé version had an intermediate solution: it preserved the original style but received the engineering upgrades. The Si trim was famous for its naturally-aspirated 2.4L engine, which ignored the downsizing trend.

While the European side of the family did well enough to deserve a station wagon again, things were bad in North America. Sedan and coupé received such negative reviews for cheap trim, bland dynamics, and inexpressive design that Honda gave them an emergency facelift only two years later. In this generation, Honda divided Type R and Si versions more clearly for the former and the latter group, respectively.

2017 Honda Civic Type R

With a turbocharged 2.0L engine, the 10th gen Honda Civic Type R set a lap time of 7:43.80 in Nürburgring. The Renault Mégane broke its record in 2019, but Honda claimed it back with the Type R’s Limited Edition.

The new model had another complete change which yielded raving reviews from everyone. Honda took the opportunity to streamline the lineup across the globe as well; there were coupé, hatchback, and sedan and they all look sportier than ever. Honda rearranged Si and Type R versions to become moderate and radical levels of performance. The latter is the fastest Honda Civic model available up to the moment.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best Honda Civic year?

2020 when it comes to performance. It was the year when Honda released the Type R Limited Edition for the hatchback model.

What is the best Honda Civic to mod?

The Civic EG hatch is the go-to generation. It was the last one without the Type R version, so tuners from all around the world took it to themselves to customize the model.

What is the best year Honda Civic?

2005 in terms of design. The model had its most radical reinvention from one generation to the next, and gave the hatchback an exclusive project with more aggressive design.

Where are Honda Civics made?

The 11th gen model is assembled in Canada, China, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, and United States.

Are Honda Civics good cars?

They have been consistently awarded around the world, whether for their performance, design or reliability.

Author Profile

Danillo Almeida has explored his passion for cars in two distinct ways. The first one is his graduation course in Mechanical Engineering, which will hopefully lead to a job position in the field. The other one is expressing his knowledge and opinions on the matter through writing. Almeida has already contributed to blogs, stores, and websites in general writing automotive content in many formats.