Efficient, practical, affordable, polished, and pleasant to drive, if not downright fun, with a reputation for reliability: These are the Honda Civic's hallmarks, and nothing about the 2005 model suggests anything has changed.
Measured by the hardware, little has changed on the Civic for 2005. There are a couple of new paint colors and a Special Edition package at the high end of the line-up. On the other hand, price increases are so modest that they haven't kept pace with inflation, and the Civic had significant changes inside and out for 2004.
Few carmakers offer the range or diversity Honda builds into the Civic line. There are sedans, coupes, and a hatchback, with an emphasis on either features and convenience, performance or fuel efficiency, and low cost of operation. All are notable for their excellent fuel economy, free-revving engines, and solid handling, including the electrically assisted Hybrid. Up-level Civics come with powerful VTEC engines that deliver brisk acceleration. The Honda Civic Si hatchback is the flagship performance model, and a favorite among young enthusiast drivers for good reason. All provide superb comfort for front-seat passengers.
Three specialized Civics are designed specifically to minimize environmental impact and deliver better fuel economy than all but a few cars currently available. The most extreme is the Honda Civic Hybrid sedan, which gets up to 51 mpg with help from an electric motor that never needs to be plugged in. Owning and driving a Civic Hybrid is just like life with a regular Civic, almost. The Civic HX coupe gets 44 mpg on regular unleaded. There's also a Civic GX sedan that burns natural gas; Honda claims it has the cleanest internal combustion engine in the world.
Subtle styling changes were made for 2004 when bumpers, hoods, headlights, and grilles on the coupe and sedan were redesigned to emphasize a baby-brother resemblance to the slick, smooth Honda Accord. The sporty Si hatchback was trimmed with new head- and tail lamps. All Civics were improved with less visible updates that reduced noise and vibration inside.
Nearly four decades after its introduction, the Honda Civic can rightfully be called an automotive icon. It remains one of America's best-selling small cars for good reason.
Honda Civic comes as a four-door sedan, two-door coupe or the three-door Si hatchback. The sedans and coupes offer several engines choices and trim levels. All come standard with a five-speed manual transmission. Most models are available with either a four-speed automatic transmission ($800) or CVT continuously variable automatic ($1,000). Honda's package-pricing policy means extra equipment is geared to the trim level, with few individual options. A new Special Edition trim package is offered for 2005. Prices have increased a modest $150 from 2004 for all models except the Si, which rises $220.
The Honda Civic DX sedan ($13,160) and DX coupe ($13,810) are the least expensive Civics. Both are powered by a 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 115 horsepower. The DX sedan has wind-up windows and manual locks, and it lacks such features as air conditioning and seat-height adjustment. An optional VP or Value Package ($400) adds air conditioning, a CD player and a center console. The VP is included in the price of the standard DX coupe.
In other Civic trim levels, the coupes are less expensive. The LX sedan ($15,510) and LX coupe ($15,310) get the 115-hp engine with more standard equipment, including air conditioning, 15-inch (rather than 14-inch) steel wheels, anti-roll bars front and rear, power-windows, a height-adjustable driver's seat, remote keyless entry and a CD player.
The Civic EX sedan ($17,410) and coupe ($17,010) get more power from a more sophisticated 127-horsepower VTEC (for variable valve timing) version of the 1.7-liter engine. EX also adds 15-inch aluminum wheels, body-colored power mirrors, upgraded audio with six speakers, and a tilt-and-slide glass sunroof. For 2005, Honda offers a Special Edition Civic for the first time in several years. The SE is actually an option package ($450) on the EX. It includes an in-dash 6-disc CD changer with an auxiliary jack for Ipod-style MP3 players and satellite radio receivers. The SE also adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear-deck spoiler, unique alloy wheels and special badges.
The Honda Civic Si ($19,220) is only available as a hatchback and the hatchback is only available as the Si. The Si comes with a high-output 2.0-liter VTEC engine delivering 160 horsepower, sport tires and suspension and EX-grade features. It's not offered with an automatic.
Three specialty Civics put a particular premium on fuel efficiency. The Honda Civic HX ($13,860) comes with DX-style amenities and a lean-burn engine that combines up to 44 mpg highway with an impressive 117 horsepower. Civic HX offers the optional CVT.
The Honda Civic Hybrid ($19,800) represents the ultimate in environmental responsibility, using a small gas engine and a big electric motor to achieve up to 51 mpg. The Hybrid is equipped comparably to the EX sedan, with a five-speed manual transmission or optional CVT. The hybrid system provides up to 93 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque with the electric motor assist. Fuel economy is improved up to 30 percent compared to other Civic sedans, while meeting the EPA's partial zero emissions standard.
Finally, the Civic GX sedan ($20,190) comes with a 100-hp, natural gas-powered engine that requires a special fueling station for home use. The GX may have the cleanest internal combustion engine in the world, as Honda claims, but it's also the most expensive and one of the least powerful Civics. For 2005, the GX gets the same styling changes introduced on other Civic sedans in 2004.
Safety equipment includes two-stage front airbags, child seat anchors for the back seat and an emergency release lever inside the trunk, all standard. Side-impact airbags come standard on the Hybrid and are optional on all models ($250) and we strongly recommend getting them. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on the EX, Si, and Hybrid, and optional on GX. We wish ABS was available on all models. The Civic scores well in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash impact tests, with most models earning the full five stars for all passenger positions. Civic comes with good seat belts, with pre-tensioners for both lap and shoulder belts in front, three-point safety belts for all five seating positions; be sure and wear them as they are the most important safety feature on the car.