Compact car; Built in USA, Canada
  • 2-door coupe
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,600 – $4,900*

1997 Honda Civic LX 4-door sedan

1996 Honda Civic DX 2-door hatchback

1997 Honda Civic EX 2-door coupe

1996 Honda Civic EX 4-door sedan

1996 Honda Civic interior

  • Antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride
  • Visibility
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Road noise

This generation continues Civic’s long-standing tradition of reliability and durability. Largely for that reason–coupled with the high new-car prices of LX and EX models, in particular–their resale prices as used vehicles tend to stay high.


Subcompact front-drive Civics again came in three body styles: 2-door notchback coupe, 2-door hatchback, and 4-door sedan. Coupes and sedans were about 2.3 inches longer, whereas the hatchback grew by 4.3 inches–now riding the same wheelbase as the coupe and sedan. A 106-horsepower 4-cylinder engine powered the CX, DX, and LX, and could be accompanied by either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The HX coupe’s engine makes 115 horsepower, driving either a 5-speed or the innovative new CVT (continuously variable) automatic transmission. It operates somewhat like an electrical dimmer, in contrast to a 3-way light switch. EX Civics hold a 127-horsepower engine, with either manual or automatic shift. Dual airbags were standard on all models. Antilock brakes were standard on the EX sedan, but optional on the LX sedan and EX coupe.

Yearly Updates

1997 Civic
For 1997, all Civic models wore 14-inch tires. Otherwise, except for the addition of standard wheel covers, changes were minor this year.
1998 Civic
Civic saw little change for ’98.
1999 Civic
Honda spruced up the Civic for ’99 with minor appearance changes front and rear, plus a revamped dashboard with amber lighting and rotary climate controls in place of sliding levers. Two additional models were added in midyear. The 4-door VP was produced in limited numbers and included air conditioning, keyless entry, and special paint. Also a limited-production model, the 2-door Si got a 160-horsepower engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel disc brakes, a rear spoiler, and low-profile tires on 15-inch wheels.
2000 Civic
Redesigned, slightly bigger Civics were expected for 2001, so changes were few for 2000. A standard tilt steering wheel went into the base CX model.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Civics had a choice of three 1.6-liter, overhead-cam, four-cylinder engines. A 106-horsepower version went into CX, DX, and LX models. The Civic HX coupe got a 115-horsepower engine, while the EX used a 127-horsepower four. Three transmissions were available: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, or (for HX coupe only) Honda’s CVT unit. In mid-1999 Honda added the Si with a 160 horsepower version of the EX engine. It came only with a 5-speed manual.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 106
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 103
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 104
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
CVT automatic
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 127
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 107
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 111
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


Road Test

Based on interior volume, the sedan now qualifies as a compact car, whereas the coupe and hatchback rank as subcompacts. Rear space in any body style is adequate for most people (up to about 6 feet tall) to fit without squeezing. Hatchbacks gained the most interior space. Thinner roof pillars and a bigger rear window improved visibility on all body styles. The driver faces a low steering wheel and easy-to-read gauges. Split folding rear seatbacks on all Civics expanded cargo capacity. The ’01 redesign brought obvious gains in space, refinement, and comfort.

Acceleration is liveliest with the EX, but all Civics perform at least adequately. Gas mileage also is a bonus: An EX with automatic reached 36 mpg on the highway, averaging 29 mpg in suburban commuting. Engine noise has been quieted, but road noise is still prominent at highway speeds.

Except for some overreaction to wavy surfaces, ride comfort is pleasing–well above average for a small car, with few jolts and minimal bounciness. Easy to maneuver, stable, and well-controlled on the highway, the Civic delivers superior steering feedback and excellent response.


Model Tested: 1996 Honda Civic EX 4-door auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 6

Total: 43


2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.2 175.1 67.1 54.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.9 11.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.8 36.2 42.7 34.1
2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.2 164.5 67.1 54.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.4 11.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.8 37.2 42.7 34.1
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.2 175.1 67.1 54.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.9 11.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 37.6 42.7 34.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Civic 2-door coupe


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 2
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 118
Injury 131
Theft 152

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic transmission may shift harshly due to contaminated linear shift solenoid. Fix includes repeated fluid changes plus installation of a new solenoid. (1996-2000)
Audio system
Description: Installing an aftermarket radio can result in loss of dome lights and keyless entry. Those two systems are tied into the Honda radio. (1997)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks onto the front floor (either or both sides) due to insufficient sealer on body seams. (1996-97)
Description: If windshield wipers don’t park in the correct position, wiper motor may need to be replaced. (1998-2000)
Description: Seatbelts may not retract or may retract slowly. Also, the button that keeps the seatbelt tongue from sliding down breaks. The belts should be serviced under the Honda Lifetime Seat Belt Limited Warranty. (1996-97)
Description: The cupholder lid sticks closed or will not close due to missing latch. (1996-97)
Electrical problem
Description: Surging, similar to lock-up torque converter dithering, is caused by a poor electrical ground between the chassis and transmission. (1999)
Check-engine light
Description: “Check Engine” light may glow on vehicles used where salt is used on the roads because the EVAP solenoid fails. (1998-00)

Recall History

Description: Soapy lubricant used to insert brake-booster check valve into vacuum hose causes sticky valve and loss of power assist.
1996-98 w/accessory floormats
Description: Mispositioned floormat could interfere with accelerator pedal.
Description: Some passenger airbag modules were improperly assembled; could prevent proper deployment.
1998-07 Honda Civic GX compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle
Description: In the event of a severe interior fire, the CNG tank may rupture, explode, and be ejected from the vehicle. Dealers will install a heat insulator material to the rear seat back.
Description: Electrical contacts in the ignition switch can degrade, making the engine stall, due to high electrical current passing through the switch at startup.
Description: Certain rear-seatbelt buckles were improperly manufactured and may be difficult to unlatch after a crash.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.