2008 Honda Civic


$3,498 - $7,245

2008 Honda Civic Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Honda Civic was new.


Performance: 8.1

The 2008 Honda Civic ranks at the top of its class for performance because reviews say it is both more powerful and more agile than many expect from an entry-level compact car. At 140 horsepower, the Civic's standard engine is not exceptional for this class -- but reviews say that Honda gets more performance out of its 4-cylinder than do most competitors.  The '08 Civic's handling and suspension are often singled-out for their refinement, offering exceptional ride quality for an economy car. 

  • "More than just one great performance bargain. The...Civic lineup encompasses four new models: the sizzling Si, the sleek Coupe, the elegant Sedan, and the 50-mpg Hybrid. Each one is a winner." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Civic is strong in measures of performance and, particularly, fuel economy. It tied the Corolla at the top of our road-driving evaluation with 33 mpg." -- Car and Driver
  • "Because the 197-horsepower Si coupe is so fast and agile, I expected the EX and its 140 horsepower to feel rather anemic, but that was not the case. The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine uses Honda's i-VTEC valve control system that gives the performance of a larger engine and the fuel economy of a smaller one." -- Kansas City Star
  • "It's not a sports car, but the Civic is perky and holds curves nicely." -- U.S. News' Rick Newman
  • "One sunny afternoon I took the car out into the rolling hills of Northeast Pennsylvania and ended up driving and driving -- punching it up hills, throwing the car into curves, slamming on the brakes when no one else was around, whipping down farm lanes -- just for the fun of it. Who would ever expect to do that in an econobox?" -- Business Week

Acceleration and Power

Many reviews praise the 2008 Honda Civic's standard 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine, which seems more polished than you might expect from an affordable compact car.  It comes mated to a well-liked manual transmission or a five-speed automatic.  The EPA estimates that the Civic should travel 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway.

  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Civic sedan isn't all that quick off the mark, but it really responds when you punch the gas at speeds of 25 to 65 mph (Honda engineered the Civic to be the fastest car in its class in that speed range)." -- Business Week
  • "I'd be happy with the standard 1.8-liter, four-cylinder 140-horsepower engine in the new car. It has zip. It saves fuel. It costs less than the hybrid; and it doesn't pollute the air any more than your average political speech." -- Washington Post
  • Car and Driver, in a "sensible shoes" comparison test of the Civic, the Hyundai Elantra, the Nissan Sentra, the Mazda3 and the VW Rabbit, done at the time of the Civic's redesign, measured the Civic's acceleration at a "second-best...0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds," and added, "Hondas, especially those with manual transmissions, usually drive well, too, and this one continues the tradition."

Handling and Braking

Test drivers are pleased with the 2008 Honda Civic's handling and braking.  Most say the ride is smooth and the little car is surprisingly agile.  Ride quality has been steadily improving throughout the affordable small car class for several years, but the Civic holds its own against the competition.

  • "The 2008 Honda Civic's suspension, steering and brakes all work together seamlessly, and even the mainstream models can be described as being somewhat sporty to drive." -- Edmunds
  • "Sedans take bumps in stride, with good absorbency and little float or wallow. LX and EX versions are especially stable at highway speeds."-- Consumer Guide
  • "Surface imperfections are noticeable in the Civic sedan, but they're not annoying. Steering effort is light yet satisfying, and the Civic is quite agile." -- Cars.com
  • "Killer brakes, right-on steering and hard-driving suspension all seem just right on this car, making it a joy to drive in the upper rpm range." -- AutoWeek
  • In a Motor Trend comparison of the Civic, the Mitsubishi Lancer, the Hyundai Elantra and the Nissan Sentra, the Civic tied for third in braking distance from 60 to 0 mph, measuring 126 feet (but competition was tight -- the Lancer won the braking contest at 116 ft.)

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