2008 Honda Civic Coupe Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Honda Civic Coupe brings back Honda's sporty reputation, with the Si version a particularly fun and engaging ride.

The car experts at TheCarConnection.com studied a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe to compile this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident enthusiasts also drove the new Civic Coupe to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

When Honda engineers set out to redesign the Civic lineup for 2006, it was the two-door model that captured a good deal of their attention. Its reputation had gone stale, and it needed more power. The resulting car has brought back Honda's reputation for fun, fast two-doors, and this year, the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe keeps the good times coming with a choice of engines and a new EX-L version.

The base 2008 Honda Civic Coupe starts with a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Either a five-speed manual or automatic can be teamed to the frugal four. It's a fine powertrain for entry-level buyers, with good power and relatively quiet operation. Handling is good, and the steering is quick and crisp, as is braking response. The ride is a little busy on the Coupe, because it's set firmer and the stabilizer bars are slightly thicker.

Moving up the horsepower charts is the Civic Si Coupe, with a 197-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. A limited-slip differential is standard. The Si models feature tweaked suspensions with 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, and Si badges, along with synthetic suede seats. It gets 21/29 mpg, and the powertrain changes the entire character of the car, turning it into an entertaining performance car with a high redline, sweet shift quality, and a talent for handling tight curves.

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The 2008 Honda Civic Coupe's styling carries over. The futuristic shape works much better as a two-door than it does on the four-door sedan, and so does the unusual double-decker instrument panel. The tiered instruments look like a video game display, but in this two-door, the treatment seems appropriate. The cabin is efficient, and there's good front leg- and headroom. The body style makes it difficult to clamber into the backseat, though, and limited head- and legroom will leave those passengers wanting more space.

The DX model gets standard power windows and 15-inch wheels. Upgrade to the LX and Honda adds air conditioning, cruise control, power locks, a CD audio system with an auxiliary jack, and a folding rear seat. The EX has distinct alloy wheels, a sunroof, and an available navigation system with XM Satellite Radio, while a new EX-L edition tacks on a leather interior with heated seats and mirrors. Both the EX and EX-L sport a seven-speaker CD audio system with MP3 capability. Options include a navigation system.

Every Civic gets dual airbags, side and side curtain airbags, and anti-lock brakes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe a "good" rating, and it earns five-star crash ratings, save for a four-star rating on passenger side impacts from the federal government's NHTSA.

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2008 Honda Civic Coupe

Styling

The streamlined, futuristic style of the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe pairs nicely with the smart design Honda has built its reputation on.

In articles read by TheCarConnection.com, reviewers across the board rave about the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe's smart, futuristic looks.

In terms of styling, the 2008 Honda Civic continues to stand out from the crowd after a major face-lift in 2006 on its eighth-generation body style—a “smartly designed” look, according to Edmunds. Kelley Blue Book notes that while exterior style was once "considered the Civic's only weak point," it has become "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." Cars.com agrees, remarking that while in the past the Civic had been “vanilla,” the current car “took a serious right turn at practical and went right to the sci-fi section." Car and Driver says, “The Civic’s styling—the large, fast windshield, minivan-like front end, and UFO-style two-tiered dashboard—incites a bit of controversy, as these are all love-them-or-hate-them elements.”

Proving that the ultramodern looks of the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe are not just skin deep, the Civic's cosmic realignment extends to the cabin. Edmunds notes the "unusual" layout of the instrument panel, and Cars.com observes that the dashboard "is very deep, punctuated by a radical two-tiered display that's straight out of a Star Trek shuttle pod." Automobile observes “the digital readout with blue backlighting fits in well with the cars [sic] sci-fi ambiance.” Kelley Blue Book says the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe "features the most visually futuristic interior of any vehicle on the market," adding that the Civic's "appeal to younger drivers has put Honda back into the good graces of the tuner and aftermarket crowd."

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2008 Honda Civic Coupe

Performance

The 2008 Honda Civic Coupe offers great fuel economy and, with the Si model, a sporty driving experience.

The 2008 Honda Civic Coupe once again rides high on its reputation as a reliable vehicle that maintains its edge as sporty and fun to drive.

From the base model's 140-hp, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine to the 197-hp, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Civic Si Coupe, the 2008 Civic offers fuel-saving engines and sporting choices.

Car and Driver cites the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe’s smaller four-cylinder engine as a bit slow: “You need to wind the engine up to find the power." This is in line with Kelley Blue Book, who says that although the "refined" 140-hp powerplant "never overwhelms you with power…even when you run the tachometer up to its redline you don't feel like you're bullying the car." Motor Trend says this Civic “failed to impress us as energetic.” The Si version, however, is the key to enthusiasts’ hearts. Its 197-hp engine has an energetic feel, and it motivates the Civic Coupe with authority. “When you slam on the gas the tachometer flies to an 8,000-rpm redline — that's high — and it doesn't feel like it will stop there,” Cars.com says of the engine. Edmunds calls it “delightfully fizzy.”

A pair of five-speed transmissions is offered on the Civic Coupe, while only a six-speed manual comes with the Si. Cars.com feels the "five-speed automatic mitigates the performance penalty normally associated with combining a small four-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission." They add, "Performance fans who can't work a manual gearbox are shut out of the Si." Car and Driver likes the “slick-shifting five-speed manual” in base cars, but Motor Trend notes, “Further, the Civic lacks a true manual mode -- just Drive, D3, 2, and 1 -- making it impossible to lock in fourth gear and difficult to easily exploit the power.”

Fuel economy performance of the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe is just as strong, according to J.D. Power, which rates the Civic Coupe with a fuel economy range of “21 mpg city to 36 mpg highway.” According to Automobile, “The real bonus is at the pumps, where the Civic Coupe's estimated fuel economy rates at 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, making it easy on the pocketbook.” The latter numbers apply to a Civic with the smaller four-cylinder and a manual transmission; with an automatic, the Civic gets 25/36 mpg, and the Si, 21/29 mpg.

In terms of handling, the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe's performance is, according to Cars.com, "nimble, with tight steering that also adds to the fun-to-drive factor." Car and Driver refers to its “somewhat sporty driving experience” in base versions. Edmunds praises how in the 2008 Civic, the "suspension, steering and brakes all work together seamlessly" and calls "even the mainstream models…somewhat sporty to drive." It goes on to note that the 2008 Honda Civic Si provides "nimble handling"; the Si, it says, "is one of the few cars available in any price range that makes you want to drive it just for the sake of driving." Cars.com wraps up its review of the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe by declaring, "The Civic still rules -- in statistical categories as well as in the real world of commuting and soaring gas prices."

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2008 Honda Civic Coupe

Comfort & Quality

For its class, the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe delivers ample comfort and space for both driver and passenger.

The 2008 Honda Civic Coupe stays true to form with quality materials and a relatively high level of comfort.

Cars.com declares, "Nothing in its class has materials that are as nice to the touch, nor do any feel as solid as the Civic's [sic] do." Praising the comfortable front seats as having an abundance of back support, they note, however, that the seat's "short bottoms aren't as strong on thigh support. Seat cushioning is adequate, but a little more might be welcome." Motor Trend points out the “supportive seats.”

However, the rear seat of Honda’s 2008 Civic Coupe doesn’t fare as well. ConsumerGuide Automotive remarks, “The coupe's tiny, hard-to-access rear seat is best left to toddlers.” Kelley Blue Book, on the other hand, finds the Civic comfortable throughout, noting that "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."

Also be aware that the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe is remarkable for what you don't hear or feel, says Kelley Blue Book: "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 fit, finish and design found inside the Civic are first-rate." Cars.com, however, believes “The cloth Honda uses has a strange feel; it's almost too fuzzy.”

Overall, the comfort and quality of the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe are exceptional among the cars of its class reviewed by TheCarConnection.com. Edmunds notes that the Civic "continues to be one of the best small cars in terms of room, interior storage and refinement. Comfortable, smartly designed and available in a wide array of configurations, the 2008 Honda Civic sets the bar for the small car segment."

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2008 Honda Civic Coupe

Safety

With four- and five-star safety ratings, the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe is at the top of its class.

With a multitude of standard safety features, the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe receives top scores for numerous safety tests.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe five stars for most crash tests, save for a four-star rating for driver-side impact protection. It also gives the Civic a four-star rating for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the Civic “good” ratings for both front and side impacts.

Cars.com states that standard safety features for the 2008 Civic Coupe include "antilock brakes, active front head restraints, side-impact airbags for front passengers and side curtain airbags for both rows of seats." And Kelley Blue Book declares that "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."

However, Edmunds notes that while anti-lock brakes are standard on the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe, the "EX and Si models have four-wheel discs, while the rest have rear drums," and that "stability control is an exclusive standard feature on the Si trim only." Cars.com also remarks on the lack of electronic stability control on the base-model Civic, saying that they'd "like to see stability control added as an option to the Civic before the system becomes mandatory in 2012."

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2008 Honda Civic Coupe

Features

Whether you're looking for the latest audio options or everyday conveniences, the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe has a trim package for everyone.

Articles reviewed by TheCarConnection.com praise the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe for offering more features than ever before.

Cars.com lists the various trims: "The Civic is available in DX, LX, EX and EX-L trim levels," as well as the Si version. Car and Driver adds that the "new EX-L trim offers heated leather seats and mirrors for '08." Standard features on all Civic Coupes include power windows and 15-inch wheels; the LX version adds air conditioning, cruise control, power locks, a CD audio system with an auxiliary jack, and a folding rear seat.

Moving up the price scale, the EX has distinct alloy wheels, a sunroof, and available navigation system with XM Satellite Radio, while a new EX-L edition tacks on a leather interior with heated seats and mirrors. Both the EX and EX-L sport a seven-speaker CD audio system with MP3 capability.

"Technological highlights include an available navigation system and a broad array of digital audio options," says Kelley Blue Book about the 2008 Honda Civic Coupe. "Listen 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."

Finally, Kelley Blue Book reveals the 2008 Honda Civic has "More familiar options...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."

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