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Average User Score
4.6 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 82 reviews
2006 Honda Civic Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 81 reviews
The eighth-generation Honda Civic debuted in 2006 to wide acclaim by both the automotive press and the car-buying public. In a complete redesign of its popular compact car, Honda created a sleeker, more powerful, yet more fuel efficient Civic that offers more premium features. Trim lines are standard DX, mid-range LX, and luxury EX, all of which are available in coupe or sedan body style, and three specialty trims: GX sedan, Hybrid sedan, and Si coupe.
The 2006 Civic has undergone a radical “cab-forward” redesign in which the rake of the wide windshield is probably the most startling or, depending on your point of view, exciting feature of the design. While the sedan’s windshield features a 23.9-degree rake, the coupe, which doesn’t share a single body panel with the sedan, has a 21.9-degree rake - sharper than that of Acura’s NSX sports car. Front and rear overhangs were shortened so much that rear trunk space took a hit, with 12 cubic feet in the sedan and 11.5 cubic feet in the coupe, where previously both had 12.9 cubic feet. Honda calls the overall design “one-motion,” meaning it looks like it’s always in motion. The general press reaction to this radical restyling has been love it or hate it, with some of the haters claiming you can’t tell if that motion is coming or going.
The DX, LX, and EX trims are powered by a SOHC 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine running Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing system that produces 140 hp at 6,300 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. A standard five-speed manual and optional five-speed automatic are offered. A 0-60 test of an LX manual produced 7.7 seconds, with a spin around the skidpad yielding 0.81 g. More important for Civic buyers, the EPA rates the engine at 30/39 mpg for the manual transmission and 30/40 mpg for the automatic. Actual test drives in an EX automatic have mixed-driving averages that range from 26.1 to 33.2 mpg. Reviewers found the 1.8-liter engine peppy around town and adequate for highway cruising, but lacking in passing power.
The GX sedan, almost identical to its Civic sedan brethren, adds a further green twist, with its 1.8-liter four running on natural gas to produce 113 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque and ranking as a natural-gas vehicle (NGV). Honda also provides a natural gas home kit, “Phill,” that allows owners to fill up at home. The EPA gives the Civic NGV a 28/39 mpg rating — similar to that of an LX, but because it has a much smaller tank, GX owners will fuel up almost twice as often as LX drivers, with filling locations few and far between. Further, the GX's extra weight (153 lbs) and fewer horsepower slow the GX’s 0-60 time to a 12.6-second stroll. Reviewers question the overall economy of the GX.
The Civic Hybrid sedan utilizes Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. It pairs a SOHC 1.3-liter four-cylinder gas engine with a 20-hp electric motor to produce a combined 110 hp that turns a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA gives an amazing 49/51 mpg rating to the Civic Hybrid. But like the Toyota Prius has shown, these high EPA hybrid ratings are difficult to match under real driving conditions. Under such conditions a group of reviewers produced 40 mpg with the 2006 Civic Hybrid, with one editor managing 47.2 mpg over 157 miles. Yet another group of reviewers only got 37.8-38 mpg.
The Si Coupe adds the spice to the Civic mix with a hot DOHC 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that spins out 197 hp at 7,800 rpm and 139 lb-ft of torque on the way up to its screaming 8,000 redline. Rowing through the standard close-ratio six-speed manual transmission, 0-60 happens in 6.7 seconds, while the skidpad produced an average of 0.89 g. The EPA estimates 22/31 mpg. One group of reviewers saw 23.7 mpg over almost 22,000 hard-charging miles, while another group averaged 29.9-30.3 mpg.
Honda stiffened the Civic’s body and revised its suspension with its 2006 redesign. The MacPherson struts up front and multilink double wishbones in back get tighter spring and shock tuning in the coupe than the sedan. As a result, the handling has further improved, making the full line of Civics more agile and responsive handlers. Though taut in its suspension tuning, most reviewers found the Civic compliant over imperfect road surfaces. Some reviewers, however, found the coupe, with its tighter suspension and 3.1-inch-shorter wheelbase, to be a little more jarring over uneven pavement than the sedan, but other reviewers found this trait marked the more “sporty” appeal of the coupe.
A few reviewers felt the steering in the corners tended to be too light, but the overall judgment concluded that the steering and braking are responsive and solid. Ventilated front disc brakes are standard across the line, but the DX and LX get rear drum brakes and the EX gets solid rear discs. The LX, DX, and EX use hydraulically-assisted rack and pinion steering and the Hybrid and Si get drive-by-wire electric systems. Overall, reviewers praise the easy drivability of the Civic as a sturdy, reliable daily driver.
And then there’s the Si for sheer, almost sports-car-level fun in the twisties. Reviewers were unanimous in their praise for the Si’s handling prowess. With its sport-tuned suspension, 8,000-rpm redline (though the rev-limiter is set at 8,500!) jewel of an engine, close-ratio six-speed, limited-slip differential, and larger four-wheel disc brakes, what’s there not to love? Yet some critics point out the Si’s torque steering tendency in low-gear blast offs, while others claim it was so much fun the torque steer was worth the trade-off.
Honda’s radical exterior restyling extends to the interior, where its “two-tier” instrument panel has set off a similar love/hate relationship with the motoring press. Honda has divided up the gauges with a central digital speedometer and digital gas and temperature gauges to either side directly under the windshield base. Below them, in the second tier, a traditional analog tachometer is aligned for a through-the-steering-wheel view. Honda says this placement allows the driver a less distracted view of the road while checking the car’s speed.
Controls are within easy reach and move effortlessly. Reviewers were impressed with the mix of high-grade plastics and fabrics that grace the interior. With the tilt/telescoping steering column and supportive front seats drivers and front passengers are treated to a comfortable ride. However, a number of reviewers complained about the placement of the emergency brake next to the shifter at the front of the console as too close to their knee.
Sitting in back, reviewers note that although it is a little larger than its predecessor, there is less room in the coupe’s rear seats and about the same in the sedan. Honda claims that the Civic seats five, and with this year's extra width it’s a little bit more comfortable back there. Reviewers, however, felt knee space was tight if the front seats were more than halfway back. The rear seats are well contoured with a comfortable flat floor for feet to rest on. All models but the Hybrid have folding rear seatbacks, and there are plenty of storage bins and cubbies throughout the cabin.
Standard safety equipment includes dual-stage/dual threshold front airbags, front side airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, ABS brakes with independent electronic rear brake distribution, and active head restraints. In addition, Honda has engineered the Civic for better crash energy absorption.
While reviewers divided on the aesthetic merits of Honda’s exterior and interior redesign, they lined up to present the 2006 Civic with best buy awards in its class.
by Albert A. Dalia
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