COAL: 2004 Honda Civic – A Sensible Car For Many Stages Of Life

2004 Honda Civic 1

For change of pace from my sadness-laden COAL series, let’s talk about what would be the longest-lasting car in my history: a 2004 Honda Civic.

My particular seventh-generation Civic was a 4-door LX variant, and was a fine example of Honda’s car for the masses.

There’s not much to be said about the Honda Civic that hasn’t been said. At the time, the company was selling over 300,000 Civics a year.

It’s easy for me to understand why. In our 7 or so years of ownership, the Civic served dutifully right to the end. It ran well, was great on gas mileage and the basic gray interior held up even as we transitioned from college to being young parents. I never had any issues besides a door handle that broke off in my wife’s hand one night. After that multi-hour repair was complete, the car never even hiccuped again until its final days.

As I mentioned last time, this was my first big purchase as an adult. I was winding up college, and thanks to jobs at the local Apple Store and the college newspaper, could afford the small note that came along with what was then a year-old Civic with high miles. The car had been a lease, and showed up on a big local used car lot. Despite nearly 35,000 miles on the clock, it was in perfect shape. I took it for a test spin and drove away with it as soon as the bank paperwork cleared.

2004 Honda Civic 2

The Civic is so popular because it’s inoffensive. Everything is adequate and predictable. The 115 horsepower wasn’t nearly enough to get into trouble, but it had no problem cruising on the highway. The looks were simple, even with the revised head and taillights on the 2004. The basic cloth interior was impervious to stains and tears. Everything was laid out logically and neatly.

While later Civics would be more opinionated — and in my mind, worse — these 7th-generation cars offered a dependability and simplicity that served my family well for years. It wasn’t flashy or fast or fancy, but it was simply a good car that was cheap to run.

2004 Honda Civic taillights

I still love the way these taillights covered the seams where the trunk and quarter panel met. 

I drove the Civic for many years before my wife’s 1998 Civic bit the dust. I gave her the keys to it and returned to my car-jumping ways that will be outlined in the coming weeks. After our second child was born, I sold what I had at the time and returned to it and we bought her an Odyssey.

By the time I got it back, we’d racked up many, many more miles on the car, but driving it again was like slipping back into your favorite jacket when the weather turns at the end of the summer.

Sadly, I soon noticed that the automatic transmission was beginning to slip. It went downhill quick, and after a transmission rebuild, I sold it on Craigslist. I’m sure we could have had many more years together, but as a new dad, I couldn’t drive something that would leave one of us stranded or worse.

2007-04-02 at 08-18-17

It really did break my heart to get rid of it. I moved out of my last dorm with it, and we pulled away from our wedding reception with streamers flying off of it, and then took our first two kids home from the hospital in the backseat. It was a heck of a run.