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2009 Honda Civic Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: The 8th gen Civic Si sedan. 8000rpm never gets old. by cjones314

cjones314

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Introduction

I live in Atlanta. There is plenty of traffic to put the K20 to the test. And it performs beautifully.

Reviewed: 2009 Honda Civic

4dr Sedan 197-horsepower 2.0L I4 6-speed manual FWD

Why the 2009 Honda Civic?

Handling

You won't find a better FWD performer without going back to the Integra Type R. Especially with the sedans. Slight oversteer on drop-throttle. Comically stable at high speed; there's noticeable downforce above 80mph.The stock suspension does very well at the limit. The scary part about this car is that weaving through traffic isn't scary. It should be. But it isn't.

Quietness

There are few cars you can buy that are this loud from the factory. On WOT (on the high lift/duration cams), the K20's symphony of exhuast notes will override any conversation you thought you were going to have in the car. There are few NA 4-bangers that sound this good. Of course it's all natural sound - no speakers here. I can't imagine how loud that would be... But one you're cruising, sound is kept reasonalby well in-check. The exhaust will boom once it gets warm (incidentally, this is also when the engine sounds the best at its top end... but I digress), but if you really can't stand it, throw a pillow behind the back seats - it'll muffle the exhuast sound.

Fuel economy

17mpg if you use all OE specification fluids and drive short trips around town. I get 32mpg with Amsoil full synthetic with cruise control at 65mph. 24mpg for mixed (normal). It *requires* premium. The K20Z3 uses multi-port fuel injection (not DI) with a static compression ratio of 11.0:1. If you put lower grade fuel in, you'll not only have missed the point of the car - you'll also make the engine eat itself from the inside out.

Safety & braking

I'm sure it's not-so-safe by today's standards. I can still see out of it, so I guess I could die in a crash since the doors don't completely cover my shoulders. Nevertheless, the Civic Si was distinguised at the top of its class when it was built. Braking is quite good. OE rotors/pads make a HUGE difference if you're getting an Si used. The VSA system is brake-vectoring and throttle-modulating. It is surprisingly un-intrusive. It still allows some wheel spin. It'll make turns seem tidier. But if you're at the limits, you should turn of VSA to unleash the chassis's engineering since it really wakes up at the limit. Anecdotally, I bruised my chest against the seatbelt from doing a full ABS-stop once. I was running Michelin A/S 3's (and I still am). Point being... it stops quickly.

Interior styling

The interior is ergonomic. It's intuitive. It's very well put-together. I don't care that there's plastic since it's so well manufactured. The gauge layout works better than a conventional setup in my opinion. The black is regrettable in an Atlanta summer, but it works because the color keeps your attention on the road more.

Why Not the 2009 Honda Civic?

Handling

No matter what speed you're going, the car is telling you that you can be going faster. It's confidence-inspiring. It's a driver's car. And it's a very real sense of confidence - not the kind of false security those AWD systems generate. You really can pull more than 1 g in a fast corner.

Brand reputation & image

Ricer. You should know what that word means in car culture before you get yourself into the Civic Si. That said, the eighth generation Civic Si has been around long enough that people are starting to figure out what Honda actually made... so maybe the reputation isn't all bad.

Quietness

It's loud and encourages speed once you learn how to dance with it. I've had people (not cops) get angry about my speed... only to see other cars going the same speed or faster in the same conditions (and no one bats and eye).

Tires

Get Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3's and call it a day. Or if you really want Super Sports, do that ... I'm not jealous. I really like the A/S 3's, but you should be aware that you'll need to rotate often - no matter what tires you get. The fronty wheels take a beating while the rear wheels merely keep the trunk from from rubbing its butt on the pavement.

Other Features of the 2009 Honda Civic

Powertrain performance

197hp isn't a lot, especially by today's standards in a sporty car, but Honda is able to make it seem like plenty. The characteristic of the power delivery is what is most desireable, though. As much as turbos and torque are all the rage now, the linear power delivery (flat torque curve) really matches up well with the FWD setup. The K20Z3 is the last gasp of the high-revving engine era from Honda. It's easy to get this car moving, but to get it to dance at the limit, you really have to hone your skills... and this car (more than any other I've driven) rewards your efforts by actually doing what you'd expect it to do all the time.

Reliability & durability

I have had few to no reliability issues. There are regular wear items that when driven hard will wear out faster, but otherwise, these are relatively bullet-proof. Honda's engineers really know what they're doing. I have never had an issue where something broke and I said, "Why wasn't that component made strong enough?" It's always something like, "Ooh. The brakes are pulsing really badly. Welp... I guess that's what happens when you use cheap, aftermarket brake hardware in heavy traffic." Just be sure to check your oil level every 500 miles or so if you're driving it hard on shorter, around-town trips. It'll drink some oil in that case. Long trips aren't a concern, though.

Handling

Conclusion

Get it if:
You like the VTEC sound and engine characteristic, you like being connected to the road, you like realibility, and you like manual transmissions.

You like the sports sedan paradigm: "Having the time of your life while simultaneously terrifying everyone you love".

Don't get if:
You have an (irrational) fear of plastic, even when its well-made. You prioritize comfort over performance. You (irrationally) hate all FWD cars ever. You want a quiet commuter car.

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