1994 Honda Civic EX 1.6 VTEC from North America
Quick, reliable, roomy, cute, simple, fun, economical
Clutch replaced at 160k miles.
Tires replaced around 163k, and fronts replaced again at 179k (one year apart).
Brake pads and rear rotors replaced around 170k.
Timing belt replaced around 177k (as preventative maintenance).
Radiator replaced around 180k.
Driver's seat replaced around 183k.
Battery replaced around 187k.
Engine consumed about a quart every 1k-1500 miles; oil changed mainly with a synthetic blend; consumption was lower with Dino (conventional) oil at the cost of lost performance and fuel efficiency.
For an economy car, the 94 Civic EX 5 speed coupe is a nice car. It handles well out of the box, has decent acceleration mated with a manual transmission (do NOT get an automatic Civic if you have any desire to feel like you're moving), revs freely and gets good gas mileage (30-35 mixed MPG). What the car lacks in low end grunt, it makes up in upper end growl. Just don't mistake it for a race car; it may feel like one, but it's not gonna beat that Z28, Maxima or Mustang (unless you slap on a turbo or do a good engine swap).
The EX version of the Civic has the 1.6 litre sohc D16Z6 engine in it, which is more powerful than the CX, VX, DX and LX engines, and is the same as the engine in the Si hatch of the same vintage. This engine features VTEC (variable valve timing), which doubles the intake valves after I think 5400 RPM. I never really noticed this changeover; maybe it was that I usually shifted by 5000 RPM anyway. The VTEC B and H series engines, which are DOHC, have a more noticeable VTEC switchover, though I don't consider them a replacement for a nice V6 or V8, since they also have weak low end torque...
Room inside the Civic is impressive, especially for a car of its small size. Honda knows how to use space, or at least they did with the 92-95 generation of the Civic (they got more cramped in later generations). The coupe's front seat has plenty of legroom and hip room. This was accomplished by allowing the seats to go back almost to the rear seat cushion, and orienting the seats toward the middle of the car.
My Civic had more leg and hip room than my 98 Maxima. The only problem was that, if I had a passenger, since I'm so big (6 foot, 350+ pounds), we would butt into each other. The upside is that there's plenty of room between the seats and the doors, and there is plenty of space on your right side without a passenger. No armrest of any sort, means that I was always groping the passenger seat.
As for the backseat, it is pretty comfortable for two medium-sized people (of about half my size), and even I didn't bang my head against the window at 6 feet tall, and legroom was alright. The actual seat in the back has decent cushioning.
The trunk is big for such a small car (similar in size to my Accord's trunk), and the rear seat folds (in one huge piece) to expand cargo room to fit that bike or a couple of snowboards. Some things are hard to fit in though. I had trouble getting a lawnmower in the back seat (trunk full) through the front door, and a 27 inch TV took some effort to get in, and it got in the way of the gear shifter.
On that note, one day, I got into my car, and the seat snapped. Granted, I'm huge, but I didn't see it coming. I propped the seat up against the rear seat with a long ice scraper, and that held me up until I made it to the junkyard, where I had to buy both front seats (they don't sell them separately) for like 160 bucks. Unfortunately, the new seat was from one of the budget-basement hatches, and it didn't have the better foam and upholstery of the EX seat. It still annoys me that the junkyard guy insisted that all Civic seats are identical, other than color...
Feature wise, the Civic EX has most of the electrical bells and whistles like PL, PW, PM, cruise, sunroof, ABS (optional in some parts), AC... One thing it does lack that it should have had, is a lights on chime. Luckily, I was taught to turn off my car when I pulled into the parking space, but I still had to check to make sure the lights were off before leaving my car. Of course, I still check my Maxima every time, even though it has the chime...
My previous car was an automatic 93 Accord LX. This car had noticeably better low end torque, despite being a good 600 lbs. heavier. As you might guess, the Accord felt a lot more substantial. It actually felt more like a tank than the Maxima... If you want all around huge cargo and passenger space, a more substantial body and decent low end pull, the Accord may serve you better than the Civic. It isn't that much bigger, though.
I did do some modifications of my Civic. The stock intake quickly went out in favor of an AEM short ram intake, which earned me a ticket within 2 hours of installing it. I later redid the exhaust, which has rusted through at the axle-back pipe, with an RS*R ExMag cat-back exhaust. Now, this exhaust isn't a fart can exhaust, but it is moderately louder than the stock exhaust. Unlike most exhausts, it actually HELPED my mid range torque, helping me to climb the mountains to my field observations in the morning. I thought the sound was good, but, now that I drive a Maxima (which puts out real torque and power while running almost silently), the Civic is loud and annoying.
I later added a DC 4-2-1 header, which actually gave me better low end to mid range torque, while making it feel like I had lost my upper end. In all reality, I think it was just less powerful relative to the increase in torque... Either way, the Civic is a car that is meant to be driven hard and with a grin on the face. People who don't like to rev their engines, needn't look into this car. I wasn't a revver before getting my Civic (didn't help my first two cars were automatics), but it turned me into one hell of a revver.
As far as the transmission is concerned, it is one tight gearbox. The EX and Si Civics have very good gearing geared for performance, while still getting good mileage. The lower gears are aggressively low for performance, while the higher gears are more normal to allow for the good gas mileage. The shifter is smooth as silk, except sometimes on the 1-2 shift (despite running synthetic gear oil), but this is an 11 year old car with a lot of miles on it. I can't see it wearing out anytime soon; it's a bulletproof setup.
I bought a 98 Maxima GXE this past April, since the Civic was starting to feel old and it was uncomfortable. I kept the Civic for a couple of months, and I still found it to be fun to drive and pretty quick on its feet, even next to the 190 hp/205 lb.ft. Maxima. Unfortunately, the newer Civics have gotten fatter, uglier, more American, while not gaining enough oomph. It looks like the new 2006 Civic is the answer to most of the complaints about the last two Civic generations (96-00 and 01-05).
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th October, 2005
The newer civics are "more american" but are also safer than the older ones.
As far as safety is concerned, vehicles today should be safer than they were 10 years ago. With the advent of side curtain airbags and the like, it should save lives. I personally don't like air bags, ABS, tcs, vsa, etc. but for the 70% of the population who can't control their cars, it's perfect. I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but have newer cars lost their road feel? It seems like the newer I look, the more numb they feel.