An excellent value
Struts had to be replaced at 30,000 miles.
Gas gauge is almost useless.
Bought my Civic brand new and have racked up 34,000 miles to date. Overall, I like the car, but have no misconceptions about what it is: an econobox. That being said, it feels like it's put together well and performs better than an econobox should. It's fun to drive and feels smooth and solid. The interior fit and finish are better than many previous cars I have owned.
Although the 1.7L, 127 hp motor works hard above 80 mph, the car feels more stable at high speed (around 100 mph) than it has a right to. Gearing is pretty good, but a 6th gear would have kept revs down and reduced engine noise, as well as wear and tear. The VTEC engine feels best when pulling from about 4000 RPM; a bit more horsepower would have been nice. I'd love to see the horsepower and torque curves for it.
Like many fellow owners of this car, my struts had to be replaced, and the gas gauge has been erratic (replaced once and still not accurate). I personally go by the odometer, not the gas gauge. Actual fuel economy (miles driven / gallons purchased) is typically in the low 30's, ranging from 27 or 28 when dogging it, to 37-39 milking it on long trips. Avoiding aggressive driving habits, one should be able to expect at least 30 in the city and 34 on the highway. Mileage seems to fall off when traveling at 80 or higher on the highway (again, that 6th gear would've been nice).
Handling is decent and while it's no performance car, it feels responsive and nimble. One can have fun on twisting roads and feel in control. The OEM Firestone FR 690's were simply atrocious. Noisy, poor wet traction, bad in the snow, merely acceptable in dry conditions and only lasted about 30,000 miles. Replaced them with Firestone Affinity LH30's - BIG IMPROVEMENT! When living in South Florida, I never had complaints about the ride. However, the car feels harsh & nasty on some of metro Detroit's attempts at simulating off-road conditions. No doubt Detroit's horrible road conditions hastened the need to replace the struts, but the fact that they're on national backorder this early in the vehicle's life cycle says something, don't you think?
The seats are comfortable, and there's room in the back for my kids. Also worth noting, the Coupe came standard with a cargo net, 6x9's in the rear and tweeters in the front. The Sedan came sans net and was equipped with 6.5" speakers front and rear. Come on Honda! Being a parent doesn't preclude me from liking crisper highs and deeper bass! As for leaving the cargo net off the Sedan - I simply don't get it.
All in all, the car works well for me. I don't see anything better out there without spending more money. Other cars in its class lack the refinement, styling and overall "feel" of the Civic. I'm sure the Corolla is a good car, but it looks tired and wasn't as much fun to drive. When you take a good look out there, nothing else gives you as much for as little.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 15th September, 2003