2009 Honda Civic

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Key Specs
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2009 Honda Civic. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    25-30 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    140-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Forward-looking design
  • Gas mileage
  • Nimble handling
  • Interior build quality
  • Reliability

The Bad

  • Spongy brake-pedal feel
  • Firm ride
  • Comfort of leather bucket seats
  • Higher trims get expensive

Notable Features of the 2009 Honda Civic

  • Updated exterior styling
  • Stability system available on more models
  • Available USB port for MP3 players
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick
  • Natural-gas-powered GX sedan

2009 Honda Civic Road Test

Mike Hanley
Honda's compact Civic made headlines earlier this year when it became the best-selling vehicle in the country for the month of May, beating longtime sales champ the Ford F-Series. You may remember that American car buyers were in a state of panic then, with gas prices soaring (how times have changed), and in search of cars that were lightweights at the pump.

The urgency of this summer's fuel-economy rush has passed, but perhaps someday that moment will be looked at as a turning point in the importance of fuel efficiency in the car-shopping process. Either way, Honda's Civic will probably still be among the models shoppers turn to.

While the Civic's EPA-estimated 25/36 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission might be what draws buyers into Honda showrooms, they'll leave with the keys to a new Civic because of all the other things the car does well. Its nimble handling and maneuverability will win over city dwellers, while commuters will appreciate its refined cabin and drivability. Consumers who want a small car but don't want to give up higher-end features will appreciate the Civic's optional upscale amenities.

You'll pay more for a Civic than you would for a similarly equipped Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla, but you get what you pay for. Even so, while the Civic gets many things right, there are a few areas where it misses the mark — namely ride quality and brake-pedal feel.

Futuristic Looks
The Civic was ...

Honda's compact Civic made headlines earlier this year when it became the best-selling vehicle in the country for the month of May, beating longtime sales champ the Ford F-Series. You may remember that American car buyers were in a state of panic then, with gas prices soaring (how times have changed), and in search of cars that were lightweights at the pump.

The urgency of this summer's fuel-economy rush has passed, but perhaps someday that moment will be looked at as a turning point in the importance of fuel efficiency in the car-shopping process. Either way, Honda's Civic will probably still be among the models shoppers turn to.

While the Civic's EPA-estimated 25/36 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission might be what draws buyers into Honda showrooms, they'll leave with the keys to a new Civic because of all the other things the car does well. Its nimble handling and maneuverability will win over city dwellers, while commuters will appreciate its refined cabin and drivability. Consumers who want a small car but don't want to give up higher-end features will appreciate the Civic's optional upscale amenities.

You'll pay more for a Civic than you would for a similarly equipped Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla, but you get what you pay for. Even so, while the Civic gets many things right, there are a few areas where it misses the mark — namely ride quality and brake-pedal feel.

Futuristic Looks
The Civic was last redesigned for the 2006 model year, but the design it received then is still among the most forward-looking in the small-car category. The car's short hood and dramatically raked windshield make the Civic instantly recognizable and much sleeker-looking than most of its competitors.

The Civic gets some minor exterior changes for 2009 that update the car's look but don't significantly alter its overall appearance. The changes include a new lower front bumper molding that has more ports than the previous one, plus a reshaped chrome bar in the grille. Changes in back are equally subtle, including a new chrome bar above the license plate, and restyled taillights (see a side-by-side comparison with the 2008 model).

Ride & Handling
For a small non-sports car, the Civic offers a relatively engaging driving experience. Drivers benefit from nimble handling thanks to quick-responding steering and a taut suspension. There's a moderate amount of body roll when cornering, but the sedan's low ride height means the leaning never worries you.

The Civic's taut suspension is worth elaborating on because of the way it affects the car's ride quality. While the suspension isn't punishing, like a serious performance car's can be, you definitely feel all the little cracks, bumps and holes that make up an average road. Returning Civic owners will be familiar with this firm ride tuning, but newcomers in search of better gas mileage might be surprised by the mild jarring on rougher roads.

On the highway, the Civic cruises comfortably and the sedan is easy to guide between lanes. A big plus with this car is visibility; forward views are expansive and not at all impeded by the hood, which isn't really visible from the driver's seat. Over-shoulder and rear views are good, too. The cabin can get loud at times, but as always the condition and material of the road dictates cabin noise to a large degree regardless of the car.

Going & Stopping
Getting up to highway speeds takes a little time in the Civic when it's equipped with the 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which powers most trim levels. (A hybrid version and a high-performance Si model are also offered.) Merging with fast-moving traffic requires aggressive accelerator work, but the engine revs smoothly even if it doesn't make the greatest sounds. Once you reach a cruising speed, the engine doesn't feel taxed maintaining it. It does, however, feel much more at home in stop-and-go city driving; it doesn't have any trouble making a quick getaway from a stoplight.

Excluding Hybrid and Si models, the Civic is offered with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. My EX-L test car was equipped with the automatic, which makes smooth shifts and responds to a jab of the gas pedal with a quick kickdown. On one cold morning, however, I noticed that the transmission shifted slowly right after startup.

Brake pedal feel could use some work; it's not very linear, and the pedal has a somewhat spongy feel to it.

The Inside
The Civic's cabin takes after its exterior in that it's different from many other designs on the road. The dash features a two-tiered instrument panel. On the upper portion is a large digital speedometer that's flanked by digital fuel and engine-temperature gauges. They're positioned just below eye level, which makes them easy to read at a glance. Below this group of instruments is a large tachometer. Though the design is very different than most instrument panels, it doesn't take long to get used to and see the logic in it.

Apart from some odd angles on the dashboard where trim pieces meet, the Civic's fit and finish are good, and the cabin utilizes nice materials. The uplevel EX-L trim comes with premium features, including a moonroof, padded door trim and heated leather seats.

The leather bucket seats in front have firm cushioning, but they didn't initially seem to fit my back that well; the lower portion of the backrest pushed against my lower back, and the upper portion didn't offer great support. I adapted to the seat in time, but it still wasn't ideal. The backseat is small for tall adults, with little extra room to spare. Children should find it more accommodating.

Cargo
Civic sedans have a 12-cubic-foot trunk (10.4 cubic feet in the Civic Hybrid), while the coupe offers 11.5 cubic feet of trunk room. Base models have a folding backseat that makes it easier to carry longer pieces of cargo inside the car. Some of the higher trims have a 60/40-split folding backseat that gives you the functionality of the one-piece design without sacrificing all of your rear seating. With the backseat folded, the extended cargo floor is nearly flat, with just a small bump in the floor at the base of the backrest.

Safety
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system and active head restraints for the front seats. EX-L, Hybrid and Si models also have an electronic stability system.

The Civic was awarded Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety due to its Good overall scores in frontal-offset, side-impact and rear crash tests, as well as its available stability system. Among small cars, the Civic is one of the top-performing models in IIHS testing.

Civic in the Market
The Civic is one of the better small cars available today for a few key reasons: It offers a refined driving experience that features a dose of sportiness, a finely crafted interior that distances itself from much of the competition, and efficient powertrain choices that give you a lot of miles for each gallon of gas. Even its higher price hasn't been detrimental, as Civic sales are up 9 percent through October in what has been a very tough market. Buyers must see the same kind of value in the Civic that we do.

Send Mike an email 



2009 Civic Video

Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2009 Honda Civic. It competes with the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra.

Latest 2009 Civic Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.2)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Very reliable, never had issues with the car.

by comfort from orlando, fl on July 23, 2018

This car is very reliable, never had issues with it, runs like it is brand new. minor bumps on the exterior but hardly noticeable and drives smooth. Read full review

(5.0)

Super reliable vehicle.

by Kevin from Muncie on July 15, 2018

We purchased the car used with 35,000 miles on it. We've had the car for 7 years and driven it 100,000 miles and it has been super reliable. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 Honda Civic currently has 6 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2009 Honda Civic DX

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

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

Moderate overlap front

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

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Driver Torso
marginal
Overall Side
acceptable
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Honda

Program Benefits

Carfax vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    1-year/12,000-mile non-powertrain warranty begins after expiration of original warranty (3 years/36,000 miles) or on date sold as certified (no deductible); 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty begins from the original in-service date (no deductible)
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 182 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Civic received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

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.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

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.

What is included in 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).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

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.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker