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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
above-average fuel economy
nimble, with tight steering that also adds to the fun-to-drive factor
Shoppers seeking more power might be interested in the Si model
Car and Driver
Reviews around the Web recognize the 2008 Honda Civic sedan's smooth acceleration, flat cornering, and good fuel economy.
Cars.com reviewers find that even though the four-cylinder engine generates a mere 140 hp, the 2008 Civic offers "a lot of pep." ConsumerGuide is less enthusiastic, saying only that the Civic sedans "have adequate power around town and for highway merging and passing." Motor Trend notes that “the Civic's meager 140 horsepower hampered it” in their tests. They go on to say, “Despite its relatively svelte 2786-pound curb weight, the Civic…consumed 0-to-60 in 9.4 seconds.” Edmunds adds that “the 1.8-liter engine won't overwhelm anyone, but it provides enough power for comfortable city driving.” They also note that the 1.8-liter engine provides above-average fuel economy for the small car class: "The 2008 EPA estimates are 24 mpg city and 36 mpg highway for an automatic-equipped Civic."
The 197-hp Civic Si is another matter entirely. “It's a high-revving affair,” reports Cars.com. “This is Honda's performance trademark. 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. The engine noise is decidedly different to anyone used to gruntier muscle cars or the low torque that Volkswagen aims for in its GLI.” Car and Driver says the Civic Si “offers a slightly larger and more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 197 horsepower,” and “for those seeking an uncompromised, near-sports-car-like experience, the Civic Si Mugen sedan keeps the powertrain of the Si but features a multitude of chassis and exterior tweaks.”
Honda also offers a Civic Hybrid sedan (covered separately) and a Civic GX that’s powered with compressed natural gas. The natural-gas version, Car and Driver notes, gets a “113-hp, 1.8-liter CNG four-cylinder engine, two speakers instead of four, two-speed intermittent wipers, and an exterior temperature display.”
The base Honda Civic either comes with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional, “slick-shifting” five-speed automatic, according to Car and Driver. “The Civic Si is only available with a six-speed manual transmission,” they add. ConsumerGuide notes "the automatic is especially alert to throttle inputs."
The 2008 Honda Civic’s handling is noteworthy for its class. It’s “responsive and quiet with a firm, but not harsh, ride,” Cars.com says. “The Civic boasts accurate steering, strong brakes, a roomy interior, and a willing suspension,” Car and Driver agrees, while Edmunds says it’s “fun to drive, with great steering feel and impressive handling.”
TheCarConnection.com agrees for the most part with these reviewers. The 2008 Honda Civic’s power steering is quick, as is braking response. The ride is a little busy for the longish wheelbase, probably because of a compact suspension design. It’s the Civic Si that can be a bit much to endure on choppy roads; the Mugen edition is recommended only for hardcore enthusiasts.
The 2008 Honda Civic sedan handles well in all forms; in Si and Mugen editions, it’s a strong performer outright.