2001-2005 Honda Civic review

Overall rating:4 Star Rating: Recommended
Updated: September 28, 2013
2005 Honda Civic
2005 Honda Civic

The 2001-2005 Civic is a fuel-efficient compact car, available as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe. The Civic handles well, but the ride is firm. The base DX, mid-level LX and top of the line EX are the most commonly available trim levels. Transmission choices included a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on EX models.
Inside, the Civic is pretty roomy for a small car. Fit and finish is good; controls and instruments are simple and straightforward. Front seats are comfortable and supportive. Visibility is good all-around. The trunk is spacious and rear seat folds down for extra space. Honda Civic is fairly reliable, although at this age, you might have to check several cars before you can find one in mechanically sound condition. Common problems are mostly minor, although some repairs could be quite expensive; read more below. Maintenance costs are lower than average.

2005 Honda Civic interior
Honda Civic interior
2005 Honda Civic engine
Honda Civic 1.7-liter VTEC engine
Honda Civic EPA Fuel Economy: MPG
city/hwy
L/100 km
city/hwy
2001 DX, LX, EX auto 26/34 9.0/6.9
2002 LX, DX auto 26/34 9.0/6.9
2003 EX auto 26/34 9.0/6.9
2002, 2004, 2005 EX auto 26/35 9.0/6.7
2003-2005 DX, LX auto 25/34 9.4/6.9
2001-2002 DX, LX manual 28/33 8.4/7.1
2001-2002 EX manual 27/33 8.7/7.1
2003 DX, LX, EX manual 27/35 8.7/6.7
2004-2005 DX, LX, EX manual 27/34 8.7/6.9

Engine: The Civic DX and LX come with a 115-hp 1.7-liter 16-Valve SOHC engine. The EX is equipped with the 127-hp 1.7-liter SOHC VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control). Both these engines have a timing belt that must be replaced at recommended intervals. If properly maintained, either engine should not give you too many problems.

Timing belt: According to the maintenance schedule for the 2005 Honda Civic, a timing belt must be replaced at 110,000 miles or 176,000 km. However, if the car is driven in very hot or very cold conditions, it must be replaced every 60,000 miles or 100,000 km. The 1.7L engine in the 2001-2005 Civic is an interference engine, meaning if the timing belt breaks, the engine might be severely damaged. To replace a timing belt, you are looking at around $300-400.

Civic Si: The sporty Si (SiR in Canada) hatchback was added for 2002, but they are rare on the used car market. The 2002-2005 Civic Si comes with a high-revving 160-hp 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC engine, manual transmission (no automatic) and firmer suspension.

Safety: NHTSA awarded the 2001-2005 Honda Civic with a five-star rating for frontal crash tests. In the frontal offset crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2001-2005 Honda Civic received "Good" overall rating.

Handling and ride: Honda Civic handles well, although the ride is firm and the engine is a bit noisy on acceleration. The road noise is also noticeable at highway speeds. Overall, it's a fun to drive little car.

Fuel economy: The EPA rates the 2004 automatic Honda Civic EX (1.7L VTEC) at 26/35 mpg or 9.0/6.7 L/100 km on regular gasoline. This means you can get up to 360 miles to a tank (13.2 gallons or 50 liters). A very few cars for this price can beat that.

Pros: Fuel economy, holds value well, interior comfort, low maintenance costs, reliability, trunk space.

Cons: Road and engine noise, firm ride, paint scratches easily.

Similar cars:

Used Toyota Corolla Used Toyota Corolla
1998-2002 »
Chevrolet Cobalt Chevrolet Cobalt
2005-2010 »


Overall: Used 2001-2005 Honda Civic could serve well as a cheap commuter car. If you can find one that is good mechanical shape, it can easily last for three-four years without major issues. Great fuel economy, low maintenance costs and five-star frontal crash rating are a big plus. Overall reliability is above average. An automatic transmission is probably the most expensive potential problem, but having the vehicle properly inspected before purchase will help avoiding cars with worn transmissions. Among similar cars, the 1998-2002 Toyota Corolla is also reliable and it has a timing chain instead of the belt. The 2003-2008 Corolla is another alternative. Chevrolet Cobalt might not be as reliable, but you can buy it with lower mileage cheaper. Mazda Protege is also worth considering. Read about Honda Civic common problems and what to look for on the next page.