$3,093 - $7,473

2009 Honda Civic Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Honda Civic was new.


Performance: 8.3

Despite numerous enhancements to trims, design and features, the 2009 Honda Civic is the same under the hood. But reviewers remain pleased as the car continues to be one of the more refined and agile performers of the affordable small car class. With only 140 horsepower, the Civic's standard four-cylinder engine is not exceptional, but reviews say Honda makes the most of its power when competitors do not. In addition, the Civic's handling and suspension are often singled-out for their refinement and exceptional ride quality.  

  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Strong in measures of performance and, particularly, fuel economy." -- 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
  • "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

The Civic sedan and coupe's 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine has long been considered more polished than you might expect from an affordable compact car, plus it comes mated to a well-liked manual transmission or a five-speed automatic. The EPA rates the 2009 Civic at up to 25/36 mpg city/highway with the 1.8-liter engine and automatic transmission. Ratings for the Si model are lower. 

  • "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
  • "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." -- The Washington Post

Handling and Braking

Test drivers report the Civic's ride is smooth and surprisingly agile, with quick response from the brakes.

  • "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...but they're not annoying. Steering effort is light yet satisfying, and the Civic is quite agile." -- Cars.com

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