One of our cars is getting repaired so we're spending quite a few days with a 2004 Honda Civic Courtesy Car. The Honda Civic for many years has been known to be reliable and affordable transportation. It's supposed to provide economy without damaging your wallet. This Civic defintely continues that tradition.
This generation of Civic came out in 2001, it's available in coupe form or sedan form like ours is. It's available in 4 trim levels: DX, SE, LX and Si. Power comes from a 1.7L SOHC L4 with 115 HP in our car mated to either a 5-Speed Manual or a 4-Speed Auto like ours.
Exterior styling goes towards a mainstream approach which has made Civic so appealing for years. I just wished Honda would've stuck with this approach in the new 2006 Model. The 2004 Civic's styling is appealing to the masses and I quite liked it.
Interior styling is also quite elegant. Materials are quite nice, although there are a few too many cheap pieces, but hey, it's a compact car. However I'd like to see a few more soft touch pieces, not just a couple. Seats are firm and supportive, although the seatbottom is too flat for my liking. Headroom is generous, as is legroom which is definitely welcome. Rear Headroom is almost non-existant for people over 5`10 like myself but legroom is plentiful. The stereo is plain-jane compared to many in this class but it's acceptable.
Acceleration in this car is pretty good, even with automatic transmission and seems on par with most in this class. The 4-Speed Auto generally shifts smoothly, but is a bit slow to upshift/downshift at times. Handling is quite good and feels secure. Steering is good and predictable. Braking performance was dismal, the pedal didn't react until it was pressed almost 2/3 way down and is rather jerky in it's application. The throttle pedal is too sensitive at even light engagement. This is an old Detroit trick to make the car feel faster which it does to a point, but seems to be more of an annoyance than a benefit. Noise seems to be a problem in this car which surprised me as Honda's 4-Cylinders are supposed to be smooth and refined and some of the best in their class. Perhaps for the deaf that may be true, however in reality, the engines get extremely noisy past 4000 RPM to the point where it can be annoying at the very least. I happen to like to hear the engine, but it was a little too much in the Civic. Perhaps more sound deadening material would help.
Sadly, overall I wasn't overly impressed with this Civic. I like Civic's of the past but it seems that Honda could've done a bit more to it to make it a perfect car. However I'd rather take it over the new Civic considering it's a lot more stylish and is a lot more affordable. Still it provides lots of value and it's worth adding to your shopping list. However the competiton can offer just as good, if not more than the Civic and it's a good idea to shop around and remember to get it inspected and get a VIN History Check.
I happened to drive another 04 Civic and it was in a lot better shape. I still find the engine a little too noisy at anything over 3000 RPM and the brake/throttle response takes getting used to but overall it is a nice little compact. I myself prefer bigger cars and feel cramped and uncomfortable in small cars like that, but if people want affordable transportation that has a good quality record, nothing beats a Civic.