Okay, I spent so much time driving and helping my girlfriend out with her 1995 Honda Civic CX that I might as well have owned the thing. The CX model was a nicely styled 2 door hatchback that was a far cry from the late 70s, early 80s equivalents. Before I get started on this view I want to make it clear that I am talking about the CX model and not the civic as a whole.
Okay now for a little history. My girlfriend started out with a 1987 Toyota Tercel. The car wasn't bad per se but with a non fuel injected 1.3L engine and a 4 speed it wasn't very practical when she had to commute on the highway. That and it also had some bizarre overheating issues. When the car failed air emissions less than a year later she finally had enough of it and was looking around for a more reliable replacement. So in 1999, after steering her out of a near disaster of purchasing an overpriced 1984 Pontiac Fiero, she found a 1995 Honda Civic CX. Unfortunately I was so involved in work and school that I really couldn't help her check out the car. So the next thing I know she purchased this 1995 Honda Civic CX with 80,000 miles for $7K (OUCH!!!!!!!).
Anyways here were the specs and features on her car:
1.5L 4 cylinder OHC engine with 70HP and 90lbs of torque
5 spd manual transmission
dual front airbags
Now her particular car had a bunch of aftermarket add-ons so I will list them separately:
Pioneer CD Player head unit
Pioneer 4 channel amp
Polk audio front and rear speakers
INTERIOR: As mentioned above the civic is the no frills model so don't expect a luxurious interior. The front seats are of average comfort and they provide just a hair more leg room than the average 2 door hatchback. So as with most compact cars a person with very long legs probably won't be the most comfortable in this car. Headroom is average for this type of car. For long drives you will probably want to make several stops along the way. The rear seats are better than most cars in this category but once again they certainly won't be comfortable for anything but quick trips around town. Children will be able to go longer distances in the backseat but they will still probably require frequent stops since the seats get uncomfortable after a while. The car does have pretty good visibility all around so you shouldn't have too much of an issue with blind spots. The manual windows and locks are fairly durable and will last for a number of years. The interior was starting to come apart though (foam starting to come out of the front seats). So as with most newer cars don't expect a perfect interior unless the car has been garaged and babied with Armor All. The hatch room is average but as with the other two door hatchbacks that I have reviewed there really isn't much room height-wise. The civic cx has a little bit of a different configuration for the opening of it's hatch though. Most cars you simply pop open the rear window and you gain access to the hatch. The Civic CX hatch on the other hand is more like a pick-up truck with a topper on it. Meaning that you open the rear window AND a small rear gate. With the rear seats that fold down you can get a fair bit of room length-wise from the hatch. It will be adequate for groceries and there is room for sub-woofers but if you do put subs in there you won't have room for much else.
DRIVING: The 1.5L engine is average for regular driving but it certainly isn't as peppy as some other compact Hondas that I have driven. For those of you who live up in the hills you would definitely need to get a run at the hill and downshift in order to make it up and if there is snow on the ground, well you might as well pull your car over and walk if it involves a hill. The stickshift is easy to use and the clutch is of average stiffness (certainly not like driving a Z-28 Camaro). The real drawback is if you live in an area with high highway speeds. Once you hit about 70MPH in this thing it starts doing what a number of entry line economy cars start doing. Meaning that it shakes REALLY BAD. I've had the thing up to 85-90MPH and you really struggle to keep the thing on the road. Not to mention you will have to brace your feet or knees against the glove box because it will rattle so bad that it will drive you insane.
The point is that if you need a vehicle that goes over 65MPH on a regular basis then you will want to look at one of the higher end models. As with most econo cars this one doesn't have power-steering but unlike most cars without power steering THIS ONE REALLY NEEDS IT. This sucker has probably some of the hardest turning of any vehicle that I have been in. Now this won't be an issue for most but the aftermarket sunroof whistled and leaked at higher speeds and during bad weather. The aftermarket sunroof was probably the dumbest thing the previous owner could've done to this vehicle.
GAS MILEAGE: There are a number of specs on the car's gas mileage but realistically expect to get about 35MPG around town and just shy of 40MPG on the highway (of course this all depends at what speed/rpm you drive at).
Sound System: I really can't comment on it since this one came with an aftermarket system. Since this is the cheapest model and the average stock system is virtually worthless, you will probably want to replace it. This is assuming that you prefer to listen to your music at more than background volume. As mentioned you can put subs in the rear hatch but you will pretty much be giving up any room for anything else in there.
Now for the bad:
1. Maintenance: This sucker certainly didn't live up to Honda's reliability. The engine overheated and had coolant system issues on a regular basis (hoses, radiator, ect. all had to be replaced) even though the engine had less than 120K on it and it was less than 10 years old. The worst problem though came in when the seals on the car failed and started mixing anti-freeze with the oil. So a Honda which are well known for their bullet-proof engines that go for well over 200K, is having an entire seal replacement and valve resurfacing at under 120K miles.
2. As mentioned above this vehicle has no frills WHICH INCLUDES A/C. I can put up with not having all of the bells and whistles but not having A/C just doesn't work for me. The really frustrating thing about this was that the prior owner lied to my girlfriend and told her that it had A/C and she didn't figure out for quite a while since she purchased it during the winter. As mentioned above power steering would also greatly improve the driveability of the CX.
3. Cost: People have a tendency to way over-value and over-price their Hondas. I don't care what vehicle it is, if it doesn't have A/C there is no way a used vehicle can justify a $7K price-tag. So be sure to research what the vehicle is really worth and don't be afraid to haggle or walk-a-way. Honda built a really good reputation for themselves but they don't justify the price-tag that a number of people charge for them. As good as they are no car is infallible.
4. The CX model isn't a very good vehicle for bad weather, hills or high-speed freeways. So I really recommend one of the more upgraded models (particularly the LX) if any of those are a factor for you.
In conclusion, this car was a bitter disappointment for a Honda. As always the maintenance by the prior owner is important but I feel that this model as a whole could've really been improved or done away with. I really recommend saving some extra cash and getting one of the upgraded models (particularly the LX) as they seem to be put together a little bit better, not to mention they will have a better resale value.
Amount Paid (US$):
1995Model and Options:
1.5L 5spd CX