Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2008 Honda Civic If...
Strong drivetrain choicesExcellent fuel economyHigh build quality and strong resale valuesRelatively spacious for a compact sedan or coupeGood crash test scores
You May Not Like The 2008 Honda Civic If...
Brakes could be strongerLow-rent cabin materialsNoticeable wind noiseGX (natural gas) and Hybrid models lose trunk space
EX-L trim (with leather upholstery) is introducedLimited-edition Mugen Si sedan model
In addition to offering more in-cabin technology than we’ve come to expect, the 2008 Honda Civic also features the most visually futuristic interior of any vehicle on the market. Take a seat behind the wheel and your first impression is dominated by a uniquely sculpted steering wheel and an unconventional two-tier instrument panel. Technological highlights include an available navigation system and a broad array of digital audio options. Third, fourth and fifth passengers would be happier in the sedan’s backseat than in the coupe’s, because the sedan features about four more inches of legroom and two more inches of headroom than the cozy coupe. The fit, finish and design found inside the Civic are first-rate.
Although the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe and Sedan are both distinguished by a low-profile front end, short hood and long, laid-back windshield, the two models have never been more different. The taller sedan rides on a longer wheelbase than the sleeker, sportier coupe that also includes a decklid spoiler as standard equipment. Smaller gaps between the tires and body contribute to each model having a stance with better proportions and more balance. Beneath the sheet metal, the Civic features an advanced body structure designed to better absorb and distribute collision forces, especially in impacts involving taller sport utility vehicles and the like.
We drove the Civic in both coupe and sedan form and found them both notable for what you don’t hear or feel—the ride is smooth and quiet, while cornering and acceleration are easy and nearly effortless. The whole experience is more in line with what you’d expect from a bigger or pricier vehicle. The refined 140-horsepower engine never overwhelms you with power, but even when you run the tachometer up to its redline you don’t feel like you’re bullying the car. The coupe version gets a slightly sportier suspension to go with its decidedly sportier posture, but we found it to be still comfortable after hour-plus drives. Whether you’re in the driver’s seat or one of the Civic’s other seating positions, the 2008 Honda Civic is a perfectly enjoyable way to travel.
The Honda Civic DX Coupe’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $15,000, while the DX Sedan is a few hundred more. Moving up the line finds the Civic EX Sedan with an automatic transmission, leather and navigation at just under $23,000; the Civic Si Coupe is about $22,000. You can get a well-equipped Hyundai Elantra or Ford Focus for far less, but they won’t have the Civic’s polished fit, strong performance or outstanding resale value. We expect our Fair Purchase Prices to reflect real-world transaction prices very close to MSRP. You can find competitors that offer more features for less money, but, when you factor in the Civic’s outstanding resale values, it’s one of the smartest buys out there.
Notable standard equipment on the base Civic Sedan and Coupe models includes power windows, a four-way adjustable steering column, height-adjustable driver’s seat, fold-down rear seatback and an impressive list of safety equipment such as front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, active head restraints, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and more. Notable as not included on the base DX trim level are an audio system, air conditioning and power locks/mirrors.
The Civic’s list of optional equipment is highlighted by a navigation system with voice-recognition software. An advanced 350-watt AM/FM/XM/CD sound system with subwoofer is available on the Si Sedan and EX, EX-L and Si Coupe, but there are several iterations of a 160-watt CD sound system—and all audio systems have MP3/WMA CD playback capability. In addition to an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players, Honda offers an accessory adapter that lets you control an Apple iPod through the car’s audio controls. Getting the navigation system also gives you the ability to play music stored on a variety of digital media cards. More familiar options are included within the various trim levels and include an automatic transmission, one-touch power moonroof, power door locks with keyless remote, power mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control and steering wheel-mounted cruise/audio/navigation controls.
Audio OptionsListen to MP3s on CD. Listen to MP3s on a memory card. Listen to MP3s on an iPod. Listen to XM Satellite Radio. Listen through a 350-watt system with a subwoofer (coupe only). When you’re feeling nostalgic, you can even listen to AM and FM radio broadcasts.Two-Tier Instrument PanelWhile some non-traditional instrument panel layouts come across as gimmicky, the Civic’s two-tier execution seems to make all the sense in the world.
Under the Hood
Bridging the gap between the 197-horsepower high-output engine in the Civic Si and the 45-miles per gallon powerplant in the Civic Hybrid, the Civic sedan and coupe feature a 140-horsepower unit that delivers impressive city/highway mileage of up to 25/36-miles per gallon. A five-speed manual is standard, but a five-speed automatic mitigates the performance penalty normally associated with combining a small four-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. Performance fans who can’t work a manual gearbox are shut out of the Si, as no automatic is offered.1.8-liter in-line 4140 horsepower @ 6300 rpm128 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/34 (manual), 25/36 (automatic)2.0-liter in-line 4197 horsepower @ 7800 rpm139 lb.-ft. of torque @ 6100 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29
As Honda’s best-known and best-loved car line, the 2008 Civic Sedan and Coupe continue to set the bar in the compact-car arena. Long considered the standard by which all other compacts are measured, the Civic is able to lure buyers thanks to its impressive fuel economy, unrivaled reliability and repair history and class-leading resale values. Once considered the Civic’s only weak point, exterior styling is now one of the car’s most appealing attributes. With its sharply raked windshield and low profile, the sleek Civic Coupe looks like nothing else on the road. The car’s appeal to younger drivers has put Honda back into the good graces of the tuner and aftermarket crowd.