Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Used Car Review - Honda Civic (1996-2000)

Myk Belmonte invites you go back to the 90's. The questions: Would you forget the bands Eraserheads and Parokya ni Edgar having gigs on the bars of Quezon City and Makati? How about reading MOD magazine on a weekly basis? Or drooling on a Honda Civic (whether stock or modified) that passed by in front of you?

1996-2000 Honda Civic

Watch the Fast and Furious movie installments (especially the two earlier ones) and you'll spot modified EK Civics that you can count using your fingers. But did you know that it had a contrasting start? It was introduced in July 1972 as a two door model, with a three door hatchback being available two months later. It had evolved from something spartan to something sporty (somewhat) with Type-R, GTi, and SiR versions (only the SiR had been locally sold) being marketed.

The EK's predecessors - the EF and EG platform based models - enjoyed a range of moderate to successful reception in the Philippines. The EF Civic had a short run locally, not because it was a lemon but rather, the EG Civic was set to be released a year later. The EG Civic was introduced in 1992 and became an alternative to the ubiquitous Corolla, Lancer, and Sentra. The hatchback version became a modifiers dream, with many a part being available.

Let's now go to the Civic EK which had been available from 1996 to the millennium year. The car itself became a trend setter on the market by offering a double wishbone suspension setup (previously seen in sports cars) and an enthusiasts dream, the vaunted VTEC (Variable Valve Timing Engine Control) engine technology, which put emphasis on high end torque. A minor model change was done in 1999 with a new color palette and several exterior revisions. Trim levels include the base LXi, the volume seller VTi, and the SiR (introduced in 1998 and will be done on a separate review). Its successor, the ES Civic, didn't meet up to the expectations of the EK.

Value and Costs
EK Civics do flirt within the price range of P170,000-P330,000 (this does not include the SiR). The wide price range represents Civics of the said platform in varying conditions and status. Rice units (which I personally advise buyers to steer away from them) do gain the upper side of the range. Among its direct competitors of the same time period, the EK Civic holds a premium above them. There are EK Hatchbacks (Honda Cars Philippines Inc. did not market these locally) scattering in the used car market. These are Japan imports and best to steer away from these imports.

Cost of maintenance is at par with its rivals from Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan of the same period. Spare parts are abundant from the original, replacement, and third party ones; the EK enjoys this advantage over its older brothers. Buyers must be vigilant with the rear trailing arm bushing (this could be a disaster when not inspected), the aircon compressor, and the automatic transmission system - a common problem among 90's era Hondas.

Exterior and Interior
So, what does the EK Civic offer the ordinary motorist? Design. Timeless and classic design. It may be simple looking but there is such saying of "less is more". Clean lines, and not an awkward design to be visible on the human eye. The exterior design became the EK's advantage over its successor, the ES Civic, which the ZZ Altis ate sales of it.

If the exterior is simple, so is the interior. You would not see any "buluroy" there, just the plain items of a 1.6 sedan - radio, aircon controls, aircon vents, etc. The all black interior is easy to clean and maintain. Control location are where should be, easy to reach within the driver and even the front passenger. Safety freaks would not want the Civic EK, since it does not have airbags and ABS brakes - which are novelty items among cars in the 90s.

Back then, consumers do have a choice of three engines (the SiR exclusive won't be included) to suit their Civics. A non-VTEC D15Z4 1,493cc that has 110hp at 5,800 rpm and 138Nm at 4,200rpm and a VTEC powered D16Y5 1,590cc which possess 125hp at 6,400rpm and 148Nm at 5,500 rpm. LXi models do come with the non-VTEC engine while the VTI does have the VTEC (coincidence with the V on the start). The LXi is a smooth operator but the VTEC growl is not present. VTi models just require a light foot and you'll notice the rush even at low speeds, which gives you to relieve your Lewis Hamilton fantasies.

Driving Impressions
The EK Civic is a treat for both the driver and the passenger. Comfortable to ride in and your passengers who always take a nap on road trips would surely thank you. But the Civic EK is definitely a driver's car, with the sports car genes infused to it. Handling is agile and even at low speeds, you'll feel that you're in a sports car, just don't forget that you have four passengers with you and buckle that safety belt.

There are cars 10 years old or more that can compete with modern ones. The EK Civic is among the cars that fit the description. The D16Y5 VTEC engine can keep pace with current vehicles and comfort is one aspect that the FD Civic does not have (it does have a firm ride especially at the rear). This car started the engine technology wars that led to acronyms VVT-i, MIVEC, and VTC - all household names.

The Good:
  • Comfortable and agile
  • Sports Car like power (for VTI variant)
  • Logically located controls
The Bad:
  • No airbags or ABS 
  • Suspension bushing can be a pain to fix if not maintained by past owner
  • No luxury items to offer
The Pick: 1999-2000 1.6 VTi (gotta love the luxury car like colors)

Engines: 1,493cc D15Z4 and 1,590cc D16Y5 I4 gasoline
Power: 110hp @ 5,800rpm (1.5); 125hp @ 6,400rpm (1.6)
Torque: 138Nm @ 4,200rpm (1.5); 148Nm @ 5,500rpm (1.6)
Fuel Consumption: 7-10km/L (city); 10-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front and rear independent double wishbone

Price (New): P500,000-P660,000 (range from 1996-2000, this does not include the SiR)
Price (Now): P170,000-P330,000
Rivals: Toyota Corolla, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra, Ford Lynx, Mazda 323 Familia, Daewoo Espero, Daewoo Cielo
On Sale: 1996-2000

Honda Cars Quezon City - 712-6850
Honda Cars Pasig - 928-1288
Honda Cars Kalookan - 366-5701

Photo courtesy of


  1. NIce info truly helpful...thanks bro!

  2. Hello Myk,
    Thank you for your nice sharing. This is such a informative and helpful post about used car. Specially for describe the good side and the bad side. I like this post very much.