First Generation: 1972-1979
The first-gen Honda Civic was the one that started it all. It kick-started Honda’s success Stateside and came in two flavors: A three-door hatchback and a sedan. Teeny, tiny 12-inch wheels, radial tires, air conditioning, a two-speed automatic transmission, and a rear hatch wiper were the only options, and it started at just $1,415 when new.
Second Generation: 1979-1983
The second-gen Civic was even more of a success than the first. Its wheelbase was slightly longer by two inches, and both of its two engine options – a 1.3- and 1.5-liter – now used the CVCC (or, Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) design that was introduced on the update in 1975. This new Civic was also offered in more trims, either as a three-door hatchback, a four-door sedan, a five-door hatchback, or a five-door wagon.
Third Generation: 1983-1987
By the mid ‘80s, the Honda Civic had transformed from niche to mainstream. The five-door hatchback and wagon models merged into a single four-door “shuttle wagon,” or “wagovan,” and the wheelbase grew by five inches over the previous generation. Now standard was a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, except on the three-door, which still used the same old 1.3 from the second-gen model. The third-gen model was also the first to offer an Si trim.
In 1987, Honda wholly redesigned the Civic. It still had some of the same boxy cues of previous generations, but now it came in four different trims, including the CRX, HF, DX, and Si models. The fourth-generation Civic’s engine now featured electronic fuel injection, and the car was assembled at Honda’s stateside facility in Central Ohio.
The fifth-gen Civic, which graced the market from 1992 to 1995, was the most dramatically updated generation of the bunch. It ditched most of its signature boxy styling in place of a smoother look. This new Civic was now much larger than most of its predecessors, and had an EPA rating of 48 miles per gallon in the city, and 55 combined. The fifth-gen Civic also cemented the Civic’s place as a tuning legend.
The sixth-gen Civic was less radically redesigned than its counterparts. The same sleek, aerodynamic design from the fifth-gen model carried over, but now a new headlight and taillight treatment, alongside a range of trim options in the U.S. – CX, DX, EX, EXR, HX, LX – made the lineup more expansive.
The seventh-gen Civic made its debut in September of 2000. The new model actually measured in at the same size as the previous model, but now the cabin was more spacious, moving the Civic up to the compact car segment. Honda offered the Civic in four different trims: DX, LX, EX, and HX – but the coupe was dropped in Japan.
Just five years after the seventh-gen Civic was introduced, Honda started selling the eighth-gen model in the U.S. Two different platforms were used for the sedan and coupe, as well as one for the European hatchback. As of 2006, 16.5 million Civics had been sold worldwide, and 7.3 million of them were sold in the United States.
Nearing 40 years on the market, the ninth-gen Civic introduced an "energetic, sleek and aerodynamic" new look. The new Civic went on sale in the U.S. in April of 2011 as both a coupe and sedan, and was the first generation to include Honda's Eco Assist technology.
An impressive 45 years out from its initial debut, the Honda Civic is still kicking. The tenth-gen Civic was introduced in 2015. It rides on the all-new Honda compact global platform, comes in sedan, coupe, and hatchback configurations, and is available in both Si – and for the first time in the U.S. – Type R trims.
Here’s to another 50 years, Honda.
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