Monday, June 10, 2013

Used Car Review - Honda Civic (2001-2005)

Don't like a hatchback? Then Myk Belmonte suggests you a sedan, with our first model a popular one among the peers.

2001-2005 Honda Civic

Since the school (Mapua Makati Campus) i'm studying has limited spaces for parking, majority of the students and staff commute or being dropped off. Only a few get the chance of bringing in a car not just because of the limited space but also getting a sticker for four terms is done through a raffle system and traffic in Makati is, well, bad. The Civic is one popular vehicle among the limited spaces in my school.

2001 saw the seventh generation Civic (or fourth locally) with Japan getting first dibs in September 2000. While the size remains the same, interior room increased which accelerated the Civic to the compact size and the front double wishbone suspension (the rear is still the same but more shortened and moved to the under of the car's floor) was traded in favor of a McPherson strut. It sold well but derided the sportiness for interior room, and fast forward to 2006 we get the balanced FD Civic.

Dubbed as the Civic Dimension when it was launched in 2001 (which I have no idea why), the ES Civic was a bit of a sales success for the brand but a lot of buyers were switching to the Corolla Altis, introduced later that year and even the second generation CR-V launched a year later didn't help either (it ate the sales of the Civic despite the high price). You can buy one until early 2006, which are basically leftover units. Trim variants include the 1.5 LXi (dropped in 2004), 1.6 VTi, 1.6 VTi-S, and a 2.0 model which can be ordered with either a fabric or leather upholstery. Limited edition variants include the RS (only 100 of them were built with a special grille and only available in black) and the CE (basically an LXi that can be custom built).

Value and Costs
At par with some compacts of the same era, the ES Civic can be had for P250,000-P400,000. This price range can be either a good or bad thing especially Hondas are known for their high resale values. But then, this car is almost 10 years old so the value can fall down as you read this. Thinking of getting a unit on the upper range of the scale? Also add to your choices the equally superior FD variant, with some models flirting in the P380,000-P400,000 range.

Maintaining a Civic isn't a problem, especially that parts can be purchased without trouble but priced higher than a Toyota or Mitsubishi equivalent. If you plan to get the 2.0 model, you can order engine parts from a 2003-2004 Accord or a second generation CR-V since they share the same engine components. Make sure the unit you're eyeing had its fuel tank being replaced under a recall back in 2005, as well as some 2001-2002 models due to the passenger side SRS airbags that some parts may pop out when deployed and a recent one that affected one million units worldwide.

Exterior and Interior
With the advertising pitch "It's Big and Beautiful", does it live to the claim? The styling suggests that the ES drank growth pills and definitely the passengers benefit from the large interior space. But we'll delve with some styling cues here, starting with the headlights possessing the same shape but triangular in form and has a different reflector styling. There is a beltline crease, but now aligned to the doors. The 2004 update saw a different grille complimented with a wide headlamps, and triangle shaped fog lamps. With the exemption of the 2.0 models, this is a rocker that went mellow with his coat and tie in his JS prom.

For your classmates who love to sit at the back, there is no more dangling legs as the Civic offers a flat rear floor. As always, controls for the air conditioning and audio (they use an aftermarket stereo system) are reasonably situated within the reach of the driver. A card holder below the 1 DIN radio is made standard. The 2.0 model gets a high-metal mesh trim but has the plastics in a more soft touch type, no fake wood afflicting models in the engine displacement range. But for the low models, cheap plastic materials come standard, whether you like it or not.

Choosing your engine choice is like ordering your burger in McDonalds; small, medium, and large. The small is the D15Y2 1,493cc that has 110hp at 5,800rpm and 138Nm at 4,200rpm. This has been discontinued due to the fact 1.5 engines in compacts are a dying breed since smaller vehicles (like the City) have them and and sales cannibalization is one factor. The common one is the D16W9 1,590cc that carries 130hp at 6,000rpm and 149Nm at 4,000rpm while the upgrade (and the large) is the K20A3 1,998cc which possess 155hp at 6,500rpm and 177Nm at 5,000rpm. How do they perform, then. The small (1.5) shows life at 3,000rpm and can propel the rather bulky body, but having no VTEC magic there is no thrill when at high revs. Going for the medium (and popular size, which is the 1.6) has more grunt at the lower range of the revs but the trade off is that the VTEC noise isn't anymore present but it is more relaxed than before. Ordering the large (2.0) would give you a smooth takeoff that gives you speed as you floor it (not the sudden surge).

Driving Impressions
Does it drive well? Steering is precise and excellent, but the double wishbone setting is to be missed. Handling has some understeer and it does not exhibit a bad roll on the mountain roads while braking is still exemplary. Another feature is the electronic steering which adds to a good fuel efficiency in which power assist is only given when needed. Chassis is well behaved on the bad road conditions especially if you plan to take it on a road trip but it tends to bottom up on the deepest of the pot holes.

Despite the transition to being a family car, the Civic is still a great choice thanks to the peppy engines, a great amount of room, and that Honda reliability. Students, place this on your shopping list but study other alternatives too.

The Good:
  • Impressive interior room
  • Fuel efficient
  • Peppy engines
The Bad:
  • Not the Civic that the 90s babies know
  • Cheap interior materials
  • Heavy
The Pick: 1.6 VTi-S

Engines: 1,493cc D15Y2, 1,590cc D16W9, and 1,998cc K20A3 I4 gasoline
Power: 110hp @ 5,800rpm (1.5), 130hp @ 6,000rpm (1.6), 155hp @ 6,500rpm (2.0)
Torque: 138Nm @ 4,200rpm (1.5), 149Nm @ 4,000rpm (1.6), 177Nm @ 5,000rpm (2.0)
Fuel Consumption: 7-11km/L (city), 9-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic (1.5 and 1.6), 5-speed automatic (2.0)
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent double wishbone

Price (New): P625,000-P980,000
Price (Now): P250,000-P400,000
Rivals: Toyota Corolla Altis, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra, Ford Lynx, Chevrolet Optra
On Sale: 2001-Early 2006

Honda Cars Quezon City - (02) 712-6850
Honda Cars Pasig - (02) 928-1288
Honda Cars Kalookan - (02) 366-5701

Photos from


  1. Sir, thank you for this great post! I'm considering honda civic 2005 for my first car. Can you help clarify the difference between 1.6 VTi vs 1.6 VTi-s models? Thanks a lot!