Is a Honda Civic a Good First Car? (incl. Civic Si + Type R)

The Honda Civic is one of the best first cars through a combination of above-average fuel economy, low ownership costs, high durability, and impressive safety ratings.

But what about the other Civic variants as first cars?

honda civic good first car

11 Reasons to Get the Honda Civic for Your First Car

#1 Strong Fuel Economy

Fuel consumption varies between model years and trims, but the Honda Civic’s performance in this aspect ranges from above-average to exceptional.

They typically come pretty close to matching EPA estimates in real-world driving.

 Fuel Economy
Hyundai Elantra37 mpg combined
Kia Forte35 mpg combined
Honda Civic33 mpg combined
Toyota Corolla33 mpg combined
Nissan Sentra32 mpg combined
Mazda Mazda 331 mpg combined
BMW 330i30 mpg combined
Range Rover18 mpg combined
Honda Civic vs. other cars in fuel consumption.

The newer turbocharged engine in the Civic sedan (available in the 2016 model year and newer) can achieve an impressive 36 mpg in city/highway combined driving.

It offers the fuel efficiency of an economy model and the performance of a sporty one.

#2 Impeccable Crash Safety Record

Driver safety is a top priority for first cars or parents buying a vehicle for their teenage kid.

Honda Civics have consistently scored remarkably well in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests.

Crucially, they are multiple-time winners of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award.

See the long list of IIHS awards the Civic received:

 IIHS Award
(4dr Sedan)
IIHS Award
(4dr Hatchback)
IIHS Award
(2dr Coupe)
2022 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick +Top Safety Pick +
2021 Honda CivicTop Safety PickTop Safety Pick
2020 Honda CivicTop Safety PickTop Safety PickTop Safety Pick
2017 Honda CivicTop Safety PickTop Safety PickTop Safety Pick
2016 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick +Top Safety Pick +
2015 Honda CivicTop Safety PickTop Safety Pick
2014 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick +Top Safety Pick
2013 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick +Top Safety Pick +
2012 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick
2011 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick
2010 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick
2009 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick
2008 Honda Civic
2007 Honda Civic
2006 Honda CivicTop Safety Pick
Honda Civic IIHS awards.

When you get a Honda Civic for your first car, you’re buying one of the safest vehicles on the road.

Driving safely is still important, but the Civic will ably do its part.

#3 Thoroughly Inexpensive Upkeep

RepairPal ranked the Honda Civic #3 out of 36 compact cars in reliability.

It costs approximately $368 annually to maintain; the figure is significantly lower than compact cars’ average of $526 per year.

If you’re considering a used Honda Civic for your first car, the year-on-year increase in annual maintenance costs info (below) is useful.

The BMW 3-Series is an excellent yardstick because it’s a luxury compact car with high ownership costs.

YearAnnual Costs (Honda Civic)Annual Costs (Honda Accord)Annual Costs (BMW 3-Series)
Civic vs. Accord vs. 3-Series annual upkeep costs (CarEdge)

Just as importantly, the probability of significant repairs is low for the Honda Civic:

  • 1.61% in year 1,
  • 7.56$ in year 5,
  • 15.57% in year 10, and
  • 30.00% in year 12.

That said, a used car’s condition varies depending on its service history, directly affecting your upkeep expenses.

#4 Substantial Resale Value

Honda Civics retain value well, depreciating 39% after five years and 71% at the full-decade mark.

The table below assumes a brand-new Honda Civic that retails for approx. $24,000.

Vehicle AgeDepreciationValue LostResale Value
Honda Civic 10-year depreciation.

The Honda Civic comes with:

  • 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty.
  • 3-year/36,000-mile roadside warranty.
  • 5-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty.
  • 5-year/unlimited-mile rust warranty.

If you’re getting a used Civic out of warranty, buying extended coverage is necessary.

As far as non-luxury compacts go, the Toyota Corolla beats the Honda Civic with its stronger value retention.

 5-yr Depreciation10-yr Depreciation
Honda Civic39%71%
Toyota Corolla38%59%
Honda Accord42%72%
BMW 3-Series55%78%
Honda Civic depreciation compared to other cars (CarEdge)

That said, the depreciation rate is only a concern up a point when a relatively old but well-cared-for vehicle can re-sell at or near its previous purchase price.

#5 Relatively Inexpensive Insurance for Teenagers

See the table below on the average full coverage cost for the various age groups (assuming good driver and credit and brand-new vehicle):

Honda Accord$4,687/year$2,116/year
Honda Civic$5,070/year$2,289/year
Toyota Corolla$5,570/year$2,516/year
BMW 3 Series$6,019/year$2,717/year
Civic vs. other cars insurance costs (CarEdge)

16-year-old male teens can expect higher insurance costs.

Insurance premiums for a car with the Civic’s safety credentials are generally inexpensive.

Still, you may find that it costs a little more than other equivalent compact cars as the Honda Civic is a hot favorite among thieves.

#6 Adequately Powered

Naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engines in mainstream cars are generally adequate and competent for the job.

The Honda Civic inline-four powertrain produces between 110 hp and 158 hp, depending on the model year.

You will typically find the Honda Civic’s engine the more-powerful one among rival compacts like the Corolla, Elantra, and Forte.

Class-leading acceleration is the Civic’s strong suit.

#7 Good All-Round Visibility

Visibility in the Honda Civic ranges from above-average to good in most Civic model years.

Relatively slim windshield pillars and good-sized windows help the view out the front and sides.

The newer Civics’ sloping roofline and tall rear package reduce the back window height, compromising the rearward view somewhat.

Plus, the deep dashboard also makes it harder to see the hood.

That said, older Civics have comparatively better visibility with a more-upright design and plenty of glass areas.

#8 Perfect Size to Drive and Park

Compact and subcompact cars have the ideal size for ease of maneuverability, especially in urban settings.

With a relatively low curb weight between 2,700 lbs and 3,000 lbs, reasonable ground clearance, and good visibility, the Honda Civic is an easy car to drive for beginners.

That said, the compact Civic has been growing in size and is one of the larger small cars.

#9 Reasonably Comfortable and Composed

Although the Civic’s suspension does a pretty good job smoothing out bumps on the road, it doesn’t ride as comfortably as competitors like the Corolla.

However, the trade-off is reasonable given the car’s sporty handling – this has been the Civic’s DNA.

The driver has plenty of headroom, although the driving position is a little low compared to other Japanese and Korean compact cars.

Plus, the rear seat is reasonably roomy with ample knee room.

#10 Class-Competitive Safety Features

New drivers need all the help they can get in their first car to assist in safe driving.

Depending on the model year, your Honda Civic may have:

  • Airbags.
  • Pre-collision safety system.
  • Anti-theft alarm system.
  • Stability control.
  • Traction control.
  • Antilock braking system.
  • Emergency braking assist.

Higher-spec Civics like the EX and Sport trims have the above, plus:

  • Blindspot warning.
  • Post-collision safety system.

Tech and safety features vary between model years and trims, so some verification is necessary.

#11 Car of the Year

The 11th-generation 2022 Honda Civic won the prestigious 2022 North American Car of the Year award.

Further, the 2016 Honda Civic and 2006 Honda Civic also earned the same honor.

These awards judge excellence in innovation, performance, safety features, technology, and value.

You know you’re in an excellent car when you own a Honda Civic.

Specific Honda Civic Models:

Is a Honda Civic Si a Good First Car?

honda civic si first car

It is now in its 11th generation.

The Civic Si is a step up on the base model with added performance; but still, it is a good first car with many positives:

  • Front-wheel-drive sporty car – most sports cars deliver power exclusively to the rear wheels. An FWD is the better choice for most new drivers.
  • More-than-adequate but not excessive power – all Civic Si models have an inline-four engine that produces between 197 and 205 hp, depending on the model year.
  • Strong fuel economy – between 23 mpg and 31 mpg in combined driving, depending on model year.
  • Good outward views – similar to the base Civic.
  • Nimble, compact car – easy to drive and park.
  • Excellent handling – fun to drive. Plus, the responsive steering is communicative and makes driving safer.
  • Ample cargo space – an ideal first car you can use for road trips and long journeys.
  • Plenty of safety tech – antilock brake system, traction control, stability control, and airbags, among others, are standard for Civic Si models down to 2007. Pre-2007 models have less.

Essential facts you should know about the Civic Si:

  • Premium fuel – required (2006 to 2015) or recommended (2017 to the latest).
  • Relatively low-slung vehicle – not as bad as thoroughbred sports cars but still lower than a compact Toyota, Hyundai, or Kia.

For teen drivers who desire a sportier car than everyday sedans, the Honda Civic Si represents the perfect balance between performance, comfort, and practicality.

Civic Si Compared with Sporty First Cars

These alternatives are equally fun-to-drive reasonable first cars.

Table Guide:

  • Fuel Economy: mpg combined (manual).
  • Maintenance Costs: per year avg. (RepairPal).
  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Visibility: excellent, good, average, poor.
 HorsepowerFuel Econ.Maint. CostsSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Visibility
Honda Civic Si197-205 hp30$368+4/45/5Good
Subaru BRZ205-228 hp24$6723.8/4NAGood
Mazda Miata116-181 hp29$429NANAAverage
Honda Civic110-158 hp33$3684/45/5Good
Honda Civic Si comparison with other first cars.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster that continues to improve with each iteration, combining a sporty rear-wheel-drive platform and modern conveniences.

The lightweight Miata delivers crisp performance without being disproportionately powerful.

Plus, it’s one of the most fuel-efficient sports cars you can buy – on par with the Civic Si.

Alternatively, the Subaru BRZ is a reasonably good first car – it produces a tad more power and is cheaper to buy than the Civic Si.

Still, the Honda Civic Si is an excellent choice if you want a sporty first car.

Is a Honda Civic Type R a Good First Car?

honda civic type r first car

The Civic Type R is an award-winning hot hatchback and an excellent high-performance compact car.

However, the powerful engine in compact dimensions makes the Honda Civic Type R less unsuitable for a first car, although it does have pluses worth considering:

  • Potent small car – the inline-four turbocharged powertrain produces over 300-hp at 6,500 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque, although the car weighs around 3,100 lbs.
  • Reasonably fuel-efficient – 25 mpg combined is above-average if you consider the horses the engine produces.
  • Premium fuel – recommended; an added cost new drivers should beware.
  • Average visibility – the forward view is as good as any Civic, but the rear wing compromises the view out the back.
  • Front-wheel-drive – the better drivetrain for new drivers. Most high-performance cars are rear-wheel-driven.
  • Good ride quality – a balance between athleticism and comfort.
  • Roomy cabin – one of the roomiest hatchbacks.
  • Plenty of safety features – airbags, fog lights, pre and post-collision safety systems, anti-theft alarm, stability control, traction control, ABS, EBA, plus others.

Impressively, the Civic Type R is a capable driving machine with minimal compromise to practicality.

It is a good first car if you have your heart set on a Civic Type R and can handle the power responsibly.

Is a Honda Civic CRX a Good First Car?

1991 was the final model year for the Honda Civic CRX coupe.

Most old vehicles aren’t suitable as a first ride, but the Honda CRX is a relatively good first car despite some drawbacks:

  • Superb gas mileage for its age – high-20s mpg combined for the base trim and 40 mpg for the CRX HF coupe.
  • Affordable maintenance – $320 annually is cheaper than most old coupes.
  • Relatively inexpensive to buy – although some well-maintained CRXs can cost close to $20,000.
  • Low and tiny – the compactness should be a plus for maneuverability, but changing lanes can be risky when larger and taller vehicles cannot see it.
  • Questionable safety – no official NHTSA data is available, but automotive safety tech has progressed by leaps and bounds in the decades that followed the last CRX.
  • No power steering – a minor gripe, but it matters to new drivers.
  • Low curb weight – at 2,500 lbs or less, it may feel unstable at highway speeds (a Honda Civic weighs around 3,000 lbs).

Still, the CRX is more than three decades old, so opting for a newer regular Civic will ensure your first car can last a few years longer.

Is a Honda Civic del Sol a Good First Car?

Although the Honda Civic Del Sol replaced the CRX, its production run ended in 1997, a short four years after its debut.

It’s a small open-air two-seater based on the then-previous generation Civic that rivals the Mazda Miata as fun-to-drive little cars for younger drivers.

Still, the Honda del Sol has as many positives as negatives, making it an average first car:

  • Thrifty on fuel – low-30s mpg combined in the base trim.
  • Reliable and easy car to work on – only if you’re mechanically inclined.
  • Low on practicality – the two-seater design means it can’t carry more passengers nor has room for grocery shopping or road trips.
  • Questionable safety – no government crash test ratings available.

If you like Del Sol’s coupe design, the Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster will appeal.

The newer Civic sedan is a safer vehicle and the better first car than the del Sol.

Best Honda Civic for Your First Car

Honda Civics are super-reliable vehicles, so recognizing the worst among them is key to ensuring your Civic is as dependable as its long-standing reputation suggests.

Table Guide:

  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Fuel Economy: mpg city/highway/combined (base trim; auto).
  • Reliability: /100; higher = fewer problems (JD Power).
  • Complaints: total reported problems (CarComplaints).
Model YearSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Fuel Econ.ReliabilityComplaints
2022 Civic4/45/531/40/3584/100
2021 Civic4/45/530/38/3384/1006
2020 Civic4/45/530/38/33NA8
2019 Civic4/45/530/38/3381/10029
2018 Civic4/45/531/40/3480/10041
2017 Civic4/45/531/40/3481/10099
2016 Civic4/45/531/41/3578/100408
2015 Civic4/45/530/39/33NA82
2014 Civic4/45/530/39/33NA67
2013 Civic4/45/528/39/32NA120
2012 Civic4/45/528/39/32NA205
2011 Civic4/43/525/36/29NA97
2010 Civic4/4NA25/36/29NA295
2009 Civic4/4NA25/36/2982/100415
2008 Civic4/4NA25/36/29NA639
2007 Civic4/4NA25/36/29NA757
2006 Civic4/4NA26/36/30NA812
2005 CivicNANA25/34/29NA132
2004 CivicNANA25/34/29NA175
2003 CivicNANA25/34/29NA201
2002 CivicNANA26/34/29NA554
2001 CivicNANA25/34/29NA1,227
Honda Civic model years comparison.

The 2001 Honda Civic has the most overall complaints – transmission issues and failures are its most-reported problems – so avoid it if you’re researching Civics for your first car.

Otherwise, the 2006 and newer sedans are the better Honda Civic for new drivers due to their impeccable crash safety and current tech and safety features.

If you opt for an older Civic, it still has a frugal engine and is dependable.

The Honda Civic Sport trim is the (slightly) better first car if you value the added safety features like fog lights and post-collision safety system.

However, the Sport trim’s fuel economy does suffer a little (1-2 mpg) compared to the LX due to the extra weight.

FYI – The post-collision safety system helps prevent second collisions – a situation where residual energy from the initial impact causes the car to continue traveling, leading to a second collision.

If you’re considering a Civic because of the performance advantage it has over other competing regular sedans, the trim with a turbo engine is your go-to option.

The 2016 or newer Honda Civic is the best Honda Civic for your first car; it has an optional turbocharged engine capable of spirited acceleration but still returns an impressive 36 mpg combined.

The slightly higher price than the base trim is worth paying.

Base Civic vs. Civic Si vs. Civic Type R vs. del Sol vs. CRX

Table Guide:

  • Fuel Economy: mpg combined (base trim).
  • Maintenance Costs: per year avg. (RepairPal).
  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Visibility: excellent, good, average, poor.
VehicleHorsepowerFuel Econ.Maint. CostsSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Visibility
Civic110-158 hp33$3684/45/5Good
Civic Si197-205 hp30$368+4/45/5Good
Civic Type R306 hp25$368+4/45/5Average
Civic del Sol106 hp31$366NANAGood
Civic CRX92 hp29$320NANAGood
Standard Honda Civic vs. Civic Si vs. Civic Type R vs. del sol vs. CRX.

All Honda Civic models and trims are fuel-efficient and inexpensive to run.

Although the regular Honda Civic is the best first car among them, your decision will ultimately depend on the body style you like best.

That said, the del Sol and CRX are dated, and the Type R hatchback is a little too hot for most new drivers to handle.

Honda Civic Compared with Similar Vehicles

Table Guide:

  • Fuel Economy: mpg city/highway/combined (auto).
  • Reliability: /100; higher = fewer problems; 5yr avg. (JD Power).
  • Maintenance Costs: per year avg. (RepairPal).
  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Visibility: excellent, good, average, poor.
 Fuel Econ.ReliabilityMaint. CostsSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Visibility
Honda Civic30/38/3382/100$3684/45/5Good
Toyota Corolla30/38/3383/100$3624/45/5Good
Hyundai Elantra33/43/3781/100$4524/45/5Good
Mazda Mazda 328/36/3180/100$4334/45/5Average
Kia Forte31/41/3583/100$4514/45/5Good
Nissan Sentra29/37/3283/100$4914/45/5Good
Honda Civic comparison with similar vehicles.

The Toyota Corolla is the cheapest compact car to repair and maintain, on par with the Honda Civic.

It may look and feel relatively dull, but it is supremely dependable and a capable all-rounder.

Opt for the Hyundai Elantra or Kia Forte if you want some of the thriftiest compact sedans – plus, they have generous warranty coverage.

If the fun factor is crucial for you, the Mazda 3 will appeal with its super-sharp handling and the sprightly yet efficient engine.

Despite stiff competition, the Honda Civic remains a compelling choice with solid performances in crucial first car aspects.