- 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 add-ons.
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.