Best Bet
  • (4.5) 129 reviews
  • Available Prices: $3,408–$11,396
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 25-30
  • Engine: 140-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic w/OD
2008 Honda Civic

Our Take on the Latest Model 2008 Honda Civic

What We Don't Like

  • Hybrid's backseat doesn't fold
  • No manual Hybrid
  • Some headroom/legroom decreases

Notable Features

  • Mugen high-performance sedan
  • New leather package
  • Sedan, coupe, Hybrid and Si models
  • High-performance Si sedan
  • SULEV emissions
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • GPS navigation option

2008 Honda Civic Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

The three years since the Honda Civic was last redesigned have been plenty of time for the competition to catch up to Honda's solid, fuel-efficient, entertaining daily driver, but after revisiting the Civic, it's really hard to think of any car that has managed the feat. The Civic still rules — in statistical categories as well as in the real world of commuting and soaring gas prices.

The Competitive Landscape
We'll get to what makes the Civic so darn good inside and out in a bit. For now, it's important to understand what makes the Civic such a target. Its chief rival is the Toyota Corolla, which was completely redesigned for 2009 and is on sale now. My early estimation of that car — I've driven it only briefly — is that it isn't as well thought-out inside, gets nearly identical mileage and doesn't handle as well. The cars are priced roughly the same.

Other competitors include the Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Kia Spectra, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevy Cobalt. While each competitor offers a relatively good value — and some, like the Mazda, also provide a good driving experience — none combine all the positive attributes of the Civic in one vehicle.

Lineup
The Civic is built in two body styles, sedan and coupe. Both come in DX, LX, EX and EX-L trim levels, all with different price tags and features. Compare the features and prices here, or look at the 2008 Civic side-by-side with the 2007 version here. There's also a hybrid version of the sedan, which gets 40/45 mpg city/highway. A high-performance Si model is available in both sedan and coupe body styles. (I reviewed the Si last year.)

For this review, I tested a 2008 Civic EX-L with navigation.

Exterior
In the past, the Civic was a very vanilla sedan, like many of its competitors. This latest generation, though, took a serious right turn at practical and went right to the sci-fi section. The hood is radically sloped, and the headlights narrowly lead to a chrome bar over the trademark Honda "H."

The truncated rear end is stylish, not only dominating the rear of the car but also altering the profile. It makes for an odd stance that is very un-sedanlike. The coupe isn't quite as awkward in that regard; it features a rear that rises high behind the doors.

It's a little surprising that Honda took a chance with one of its biggest sellers, but it's a risk that has paid off.

Interior
There are two things anyone who steps into a Civic will immediately notice: The dashboard is very deep, punctuated by a radical two-tiered display that's straight out of a Star Trek shuttle pod. Then there's the interior quality. Nothing in its class has materials that are as nice to the touch, nor do any feel as solid as the Civic's do. The Nissan Sentra may come close on this front, but I'll take the Civic's friendly ergonomics and numerous bins any day.

My tester came equipped with leather, which was quite nice — though not on par with the new Accord or Odyssey's — but that's not a feature I think many economy car shoppers would necessarily choose. It brings the price of an EX model from $18,710 to $19,910. However, the one feature I don't like in the Civic is the standard cloth material on the seats. It's a "fuzzy" material, which to me seems like it won't wear well and is prone to generating static shocks. That said, fellow Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays prefers that material to other types of cloth. To each his own.

The seats themselves were both supportive and comfortable, and the cabin feels spacious for front passengers. There was plenty of footroom in back, but headroom was tight. Despite the specs indicating otherwise, the legroom was much better than in the new Ford Focus sedan I recently tested.

Performance
With just 140 horsepower, you'd expect the Civic's efficient four-cylinder engine to be a dud, but it offers a lot of pep. That doesn't mean it has street-racing speed, but it can merge into highway traffic just fine and pass without causing panic. The Mazda3 is probably the only one of the Civic's competitors that's more fun to drive, but of course it's also thirstier at the pump.

The Civic is nimble, with tight steering that also adds to the fun-to-drive factor. The ride is comfortable, but not as cushy as the Corolla's. I didn't mind it during highway commuting, though. Both road and wind noise were minimal for a car in this class.

Best of all for these days of sky-high gasoline prices, the Civic gets 25/36 mpg city/highway. That's near the top of the segment; the less powerful base Corolla is the only one that tops it, and even then it's only in city driving.

Safety
The Honda Civic received top scores in front-, side- and rear-impact crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Usually cars that achieve such a feat earn the organization's Top Safety Pick award, but the Civic doesn't come with electronic stability control even as an option, and that takes it out of the running. We'd like to see stability control added as an option to the Civic before the system becomes mandatory in 2012.

The Civic does come with standard antilock brakes, active front head restraints, side-impact airbags for front passengers and side curtain airbags for both rows of seats.

Civic in the Market
What most impresses me about the Civic is that after nearly three years on the market it still holds up to extreme scrutiny in a very competitive segment. It's also priced well, coming in lower than the Nissan Sentra and about on par with the Corolla.

If you want someone to simply come out and say the Civic is a better car than the rest, then I guess I'm your man. Even if all you want is hard numbers, the Civic wins on a lot of those fronts, too, especially those all-important mpg and MSRP numbers.

Send David an email 


Consumer Reviews

(4.5)

Average based on 129 reviews

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The most car to drive

by Honda crazy from Atlanta on November 9, 2017

This has been the best car I have owne drive it everywhere I brought used with 44000 miles now it was close 200000 miles and still drives like the first day I drove it

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12 Trims Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2008 Honda Civic trim comparison will help you decide.
 

Honda Civic Articles

2008 Honda Civic Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Honda Civic DX

Head Restraints and Seats
G
Moderate overlap front
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on Honda Civic DX

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
G
Overall Rear
G
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
G

Moderate overlap front

Chest
G
Head/Neck
G
Left Leg/Foot
G
Overall Front
G
Restraints
G
Right Leg/Foot
G
Structure/safety cage
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
G
Driver Torso
A
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
A
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Honda Civic DX

Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Honda Civic DX

Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Front Seat
Rear Seat
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Recalls

There are currently 5 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $4,100 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

36mo/36,000mi

Powertrain

60mo/60,000mi

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

Powertrain

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years