Civics in all shapes and forms occupy this article, previewing 1988 all-new models.
This is also from R&T’s 1987 November issue:
I presume Americans still like large windows in homes, but in modern cars it’s only the windshield.
Other differences, then & now: 700 lbs heavier, 8″ more wheelbase, about 50% more horsepower. At least they aren’t torture in back anymore.
Yes, not a big fan of the gun slits that pass as windows these days. It would be understandable if the windows were small because of a low sleek roof, but the reason the windows are small is because manufacturers just moved the belt line up. So you just end up with huge doors and tiny windows.
Very well done article. I miss cars with good visibility all around. Remember those days? When pillars were not so wide as to hide a pedestrian, even the front pillars! I suppose this is due to roll-over and crash protection requirementsj, as well as that some pillars now conceal airbags. No wonder pillarless hardtops have just about vanished. My favourite civic here is the wagon.
I sometimes wonder if we have hit a tipping point on safety, where the additional strength and crash protection is overcome by poor visibility, weight, and general isolation from the environment. Reactive vs proactive. We are probably not there yet, but we have to be getting close.
The low hanging fruit was picked years ago, now regulators seem to be looking for hemorrhoids on a gnat’s ass at this point. Cameras, beepers, vibrators, to compensate for lack of vision area caused by bunker house design with exploding air bags from all directions.
All the distraction from the electronic touch screens, navigation, bluetooth, texting, etc. just makes things more dangerous.
I wonder how many people have been hurt or killed when curtain airbags deploy and then blind and shock the driver into no chance of having control to avoid a deadly situation after the first collision resulting into a more deadly (and now airbagless) impact.
I distinctly recall overhearing on the news, like yesterday, that the US vehicle fatality rate jumped 2015, highest level in 25 years for my state. I think the tipping point is passed.
I have owned a couple 1991 Civic wagons and the angle of the A-pillar is more upright than on the sedan, with the roof being I think something like 1.5″ higher as well. And you would have thought that they would have used the same dashboard from the sedan but no, that was all custom as well. The entire cluster and its hooded cover is angled up steeper for the driver who sits up a bit higher than in the sedan.
It is very disappointing when you buy a dash part (something like an HVAC vent grille), or an external rear view mirror, from a sedan, and then bring it home and it ALMOST is the same as the one on your wagon!
The 1988-91 Civic wagon is one of the best vehicles ever designed in terms of outward visibility (in all directions) from the driver’s seat. The hood slopes down so far that you can see the road only a few feet in front of the vehicle.
Agreed, I absolutely adored my family’s ’90 Civic Wagon (1.5, auto, brown) growing up. I had numerous people comment on the fishbowl like visibility, and particularly the awesome view forward with the low dash and upright windscreen.
Regarding safety, visibility and awareness are more important than airbags, etc. etc. etc. It is interesting to me that passive safety devices are considered critical, but simply paying attention is rather low on the perceived safety totem pole, for most drivers.
It’s just today’s “it’s not my fault” mentality. Except when it comes to drinking and driving. Not that I condone it, I just think the special enforcement, special penalties, and now the push to lower the BAC further are efforts that would be best redirected at other areas of careless driving.
There is the old saying “the most dangerous component is the nut behind the wheel”.
I agree it would help if said nut could see out!
The hatch Civic of this generation was a really attractive design.
Cars are more & more being offered with driving aids correcting for tailgating, lane departure, “radar cruise control,” etc. Along with Google’s progress in self-driving cars, the thoroughly detached driver may become a reality soon.
The only remaining reason to even have windows would be to prevent motion sickness unless they’re going to virtualize windows too.
I must admit 20 years of commuting and almost 9 years with kids has made the idea of self driving cars a lot more attractive than it used to be.
Squirrely kids are probably a worse distraction than smart phones. A coworker once had a great tee shirt labeled “Dad’s Tours” w/ “Don’t make me have to stop this car!” & on the reverse side, “We’ll get there when we get there!”
Cell-phone dash integration may solve one problem; rear-seat video players are probably the best solution to the other. We have a running joke about “Finding Nemo” always being shown on van or SUV rear screens.
Yes! Oh how the Si stirred the heart!
Agreed. Many people forget that this platform enjoyed Honda’s first ever application of VTEC in the 1989 JDM Civic and CRX SiR models. I do think the following generation of Civics were much better looking, but made no real improvements mechanically or in convenience.
Better looking? Not the European model. I looked at the (just replaced) Civic with a view to buying one and the thing that went through my mind was “OK, OK, it looks like a mutant cockroach, but you can’t see it when driving, it’s reliable and even if not, there’s that 8 year Honda guarantee etc. etc.”
Didn’t buy one because the cars I considered were snapped before I managed to make an offer, but I would have DESPITE its looks…
I actually like it, because it’s different. There’s nothing like it on the road (but than I prefer cars that look distinctive rather than just trying to imitate a Golf, which is what this category has become).
And think back to 2006 when the “space-age” Civic was introduced (the current Civic is based on which)- it looked sensational compared to its predecessor:
Well, the C-segment is called “Golf-class” for a reason.
Speaking of the Golf-class, watch this; Opel’s Comeback Kid.
Johannes, tell me about it; I own this Astra K’s predecessor, the J. The K is much better than mine, which in its turn was a great improvement over the earlier H:
It’s good to see that Opel is getting back on its feet. Next year the new Insignia (I assume that also means a new Buick Regal), according to some German articles I’ve read it will be about 15 cm longer than the current gen, yet it will lose 100 kg weight on average.
When I said better looking, I was referring to the fifth generation 1992-1995 cars.
These were a good car a friend had one and loved it a hatch though not the twincam fastback model, Not bad to drive a bit underppowered but for a shopping trolley they go ok, my friend discovered the dynamic shortcomings of her Civic when I let her loose in my Amon Corona, but the Honda was good for what it was.
I prefer the generation after this (the EG), but really only because the hatch now has a little tailgate that drops down between the taillights, and because B16A and B18C swaps are easier due to the hydro transmission.
One of my funniest memories involves the CRX si. My friend really yearned for one of these and planned to buy one after graduation from university. A group of us went to the auto show and checked them out. The sad puppy-dog look on my friend’s face afterwards was priceless: at 6′ 5″ there was just no way he was going to fit.
My 1st Japanese car was this generation of Civic. The 1st Honda dealer I went to had 2 blue AWD wagons sitting out front. They may have had AWD (a debatable feature in south west Tennessee) but a price 30% higher than my old car (an 82 J2000) just seemed too high.
The Ford dealer I visited next had 2 red Escort GTs (the 1st generation of FWD but near the end of it’s run). It seemed like an okay car, but I could not get the seat to go back far enough to get comfortable behind the wheel.
Back to Honda, where another dealer had the Civic hatch I wanted had a few hundred bucks of “ADDED DEALER PROFIT” added to the M.S.R.P. while the Civic 4 door came with a rebate of a few hundred bucks.
Took a test drive in an Accord LX 2 door, but wound up with the Civic 4 door. Darn car had a leak in the cowl that didn’t show up right away, and that was back when Hondas had 12 month/12,000 mile warranties. A great car otherwise.
Funny — I had a 1985 Pontiac Sunbird (same thing as the J2000) and went from that to a new Honda Civic LX sedan in 1990. I was fond of some things about the Sunbird, but the Civic was light years ahead! I loved it for almost 5 years until it was unfortunately totaled in a flood. No major problems although something did come up with the automatic transmission. Should’ve gotten the stick — which I did when I replaced the 1990 with a 1995 Civic.
Here’s the ’90 not too long after I got it, on an architectural sightseeing trip in Oklahoma (I lived in Dallas, TX at that time).
Interesting article. The “Of Technical Interest” section is particularly interesting to me.
First, great that it was even written and included. Too much of what you read today seems written quickly and shallow for quick consumption, especially quick internet consumption (CC is a very nice exception to that, BTW, the articles and posts here can be very detailed, insightful, and thorough- the recent pieces on John Riccardo, and on the Peak Chevy Experience with the ’65 Impala come to mind, but there are many others too).
Second, at least at one time, Honda’s engineering was exceptional. I owned an Acura Integra with a 1.5 liter DOHC engine. A great engine, actually the best part of the car. But how Honda could design this Civic SOHC engine so elegantly for less money and a less sporting purpose, and fit its intended use so well, is fascinating. Same with the suspension design. Others do this kind of thing too, but Honda seems especially good at it, or at least they were at one time.
A high school friend owned an ’89 Civic LX sedan (this was in 1996-98). I had been primarily raised on big cars, but that Civic was very, very nice for what it was, and absolute light years ahead of the one compact my parents had owned (’83 Escort L). I particularly remember how big the interior seemed given the small exterior dimensions, and how magnificent the visibility was. Like riding in a glass box.
I see a representative of the generation following this one every day. My next-door neighbor owns a teal ’93 Si hatchback, in excellent shape given its age and original condition. He must like Civics as his other car is a ’99 LX hatchback.
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