Last-gen Civic rates well in most ar­eas


Model: 2011 to 2015 Honda Civic

Ve­hi­cle type: Sedan or Coupe His­tory/ de­scrip­tion: The last- gen­er­a­tion Honda Civic launched for model-year 2011 as the lat­est it­er­a­tion of the Cana­dian-built com­pact and it went on to main­tain its recog­ni­tion as one of the smartest choices in its seg­ment via an award-win­ning rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity, dura­bil­ity, resid­ual val­ues and safety.

Look for sedan or coupe mod­els on of­fer, with fea­ture con­tent in­clud­ing Blue­tooth, a sun­roof, nav­i­ga­tion with voice com­mand, heated leather seat­ing, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, pre­mium au­dio sys­tems and more.

Main­stream mod­els in­cluded LX and EX trims, and the sporty Civic Si was avail­able for shop­pers af­ter el­e­vated power and han­dling ca­pa­bil­i­ties. A Civic Hy­brid was also avail­able, though we’ll cover it in a sep­a­rate ar­ti­cle.

Stan­dard mod­els got 140 horse­power and came with a five-speed man­ual or five-speed au­to­matic gear­box for much of this gen­er­a­tion’s life.

The Civic Si, avail­able in coupe or sedan, gets a 200-horse­power en­gine and six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion com­bi­na­tion.

Look for a 2014 or 2015 unit to cap­i­tal­ize on a slightly up­dated in­te­rior, new fuel-sav­ing Con­tin­u­ally Vari­able Trans­mis­sion (CVT), and new tech­nol­ogy ad­dons.

What own­ers like: Own­ers say Civic is ma­neu­ver­able, com­fort­able and rel­a­tively solid to drive. Gen­er­ous trunk space and cargo space are noted, and fuel ef­fi­ciency and per­for­mance are well rated.

What own­ers dis­like: Com­mon com­plaints in­clude some pla­s­ticky and low-bud­get in­te­rior bits, ex­ces­sive road noise on some mod­els, and an in­te­rior de­sign that’s highly func­tional, al­beit bor­ing to look at. Some own­ers re­port that the CVT trans­mis­sion on newer mod­els takes some get­ting used to, thanks to some­times-jerky op­er­a­tion

The test drive: This gen­er­a­tion Civic doesn’t have a tim­ing belt (older ones did), and the tim­ing chain used in its place should last the life of the ve­hi­cle with­out any is­sue, pro­vid­ing that the en­gine oil sched­ule is ad­hered to in full. Check ser­vice records to en­sure that’s the case.

If con­sid­er­ing the sporty Civic Si, note that the model may have been driven hard on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. This is a non-is­sue if main­te­nance was kept up to date, though shop­pers should ap­proach a used Civic Si as­sum­ing it’ll need new tires, brakes and a new clutch, un­til they have proof to the con­trary. Squeal­ing brakes, or a spongy pedal feel, may in­di­cate worn out brakes.

Fur­ther, putting the car into a high gear at a low speed (for in­stance, third gear at 50 km/h) and ap­ply­ing full throt­tle where ap­pro­pri­ate can coax slip­page from a badly worn clutch.

Though fairly in­con­clu­sive, some own­ers have re­ported oil con­sump­tion in this gen­er­a­tion Civic, and the own­ers com­mu­nity sug­gests it might come from some re­design to en­gine in­ter­nals and the use of a ‘thin­ner’ en­gine oil for fuel econ­omy.

This is­sue likely poses no cause for worry for the ma­jor­ity of shop­pers, though keep­ing an eye on oil lev­els at all times is highly ad­vised re­gard­less.

Run the cli­mate con­trol fan on all of its speed set­tings, not­ing that a buzzing sound may be caused by a bro­ken or warped blend door near the mo­tor, which will need to be ad­justed or re­placed.

Note that many used Civics will have been mod­i­fied in some form or an­other by past own­ers. This is es­pe­cially true on the sportier Civic Si, which is typ­i­cally bought by en­thu­si­ast driv­ers keen on af­ter­mar­ket up­grades.

Though mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions are typ­i­cally no cause for alarm, shop­pers are ad­vised to con­firm that all parts, and their in­stal­la­tion, are of high qual­ity.

Also, for the av­er­age shop­per, avoid­ing a model with mod­i­fied sus­pen­sion, re-pro­grammed en­gine man­age­ment or other ma­jor mod­i­fi­ca­tions is a good idea.

The ver­dict: Prob­lems with a used Civic will likely be easy to rec­og­nize and ad­dress dur­ing a pre-pur­chase in­spec­tion, and find­ing a healthy used Civic from this gen­er­a­tion is largely a func­tion of track­ing down a model that’s been well main­tained and has all ser­vice records up to date.

If the Civic you’re con­sid­er­ing meets th­ese cri­te­ria, buy con­fi­dently. Just re­mem­ber, main­te­nance and up­keep play a big­ger role in the long-term re­li­a­bil­ity of a ve­hi­cle than the badge on the hood.

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