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Used Honda Civic review: 1992-1995

The Civic quickly won a following in the early 1970s. It was stylish, economical, performed well and was well built, the same qualities that drive Civic sales today. 

The Civic was never a cheap small car and lost ground to rivals such as Mazda, Subaru, Nissan and Toyota which closed the gap through the 1980s.  It was still stylish and well built, but its performance was lacklustre. Perhaps the thing that brought the Civic out of the doldrums was the arrival of the VTEC engine.

Model Watch

The heavily revised fifth-generation Civic launched late in 1991 wasn't anything special.  The new range opened with the Breeze, a bright three-door hatch with a 1.3-litre engine that produced 55kW at 6300 revs.

It had a five-speed manual gearbox and power steering was standard.  The mid-range GL, a four-door sedan or three-door hatch, had a 1.5-litre engine with twin carburettors which produced 74kW at 6300 revs.

This was a disappointing per former, and thirsty to boot.  Top of the range was the Si, as a four-door sedan or three-door hatch. It had a 1.6-litre, double overhead camshaft, fuel-injected engine which boasted 96kW.

It had four-wheel disc brakes, upgraded trim and tilt adjustable steering wheel.  The VTEC variable valve timing engine made its first appearance in the four-door VEi sedan which was released in February 1993. It was a 1.5-litre engine configured for fuel economy. It produced 66kW, and was offered only as a five-speed manual.  Other standard features included a driver's airbag, power steering, central locking, power windows and mirrors, tachometer, and cloth trim.

In September 1993 the Civic came in for a mid-life makeover, with a raft of revisions, particularly to the engines offered.  The Breeze got a 1.5-litre engine which now had throttle body injection and 67kW.  The GL was replaced by the GLi with a 1.5-litre engine which developed 74kW.  Fuel economy continued to be the main focus of the VEi with its 1.5-litre VTEC/E engine which produced peak power of 66kW.

If economy was a priority for the VEi, the new VTi was a breath of fresh air, with the emphasis on performance.  The VTi had a 1.6-litre double overhead camshaft, four-cylinder engine with 96kW on tap at 6600 revs. Standard equipment on the VTi included an electric sunroof.  Driver's side airbags became standard across the Civic range in August 1994.

In The Shop

The trade likes the Civics after the revised engines arrived late in 1992. Before that, they say, the engines were generally thirsty and lacked performance.  Performance and economy issues apart, Honda engines -- as well as gearboxes, drive lines and diffs -- are robust and give little concern.  Rear wheel bearings are a source of trouble.

The problems are mostly related to ancillaries such as airconditioning compressors, which are a known source of trouble.  There are no real problems with the Civic body. They're well built in the first instance and stand up well in service.  Check for service record, and evidence of regular maintenance.

Owner's Views

Kristen Jones has owned her 1993 Breeze for four years, and says it has been cheap to run, and easy to drive and park. She has had no problems with it and would happily recommend it.

Debbie Williamson bought her 1993 Civic GL new, and has now done 210,000km. She says it is reliable, comfortable, economical, attractive, roomy, easy to drive and to this point has had nothing go wrong.

Jim Liaskos has owned his 1994 Honda Civic manual GLi for 10 years. It has now done 240,000 km, and he says it handles well and is economical.  Apart from normal service items, he has replaced the front wheel bearings, the clutch master cylinder, noisy gearbox bearings, thermostat and the brake master cylinder.

The bottom line

The Civic was struggling to live up to its reputation before the revised engine range arrived in late 1991, and improved both its performance and economy.

Look For

  • Good build quality
  • Robust and reliable mechanicals
  • Poor performance and fuel economy prior to 1991 engine upgrade
  • Noisy rear wheel bearings

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
1995 $2,200 $6,490
1994 $2,200 $6,160
1993 $2,200 $6,160
1992 $2,200 $5,060

View all Honda Civic pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$3,630
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,200
Highest Price
$5,060

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Breeze 1.3L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 1992 Honda Civic 1992 Breeze Pricing and Specs
GL 1.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,800 – 4,730 1992 Honda Civic 1992 GL Pricing and Specs
Si 1.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,400 – 4,070 1992 Honda Civic 1992 Si Pricing and Specs
GL 1.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,900 – 5,060 1992 Honda Civic 1992 GL Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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