The ninth-generation Honda Civic sedan is part of a wave of small cars that debuted in the early 2010s. These cars brought higher levels of technology and comfort to segments that used to focus only on low prices. They also were more fuel efficient. Just consider the ninth-generation Civic. Originally on sale new during the 2012 through 2015 model years, the lineup even offers a hybrid variant capable of 44 mpg in combined driving. Other high-end features for the 2012-2015 Honda Civic included sophisticated driver-assistance measures, heated leather seats and a high-performance sport sedan. Of course, that’s a lot to like in an affordable used car, too.
Just remember that Honda continuously updated the Civic sedan during these years. For used-car shoppers, this means some content offered in 2015 models, for example, might not be available on cars from 2012. With that in mind, we take a year-by-year approach to reviewing the ninth-generation Honda Civic sedan.
New Hybrid and CNG-powered Civics Debut for 2012
The ninth-generation Honda Civic sedan launched with four different powertrains, including two rarely found in the segment. The one for the Civic Hybrid combines a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a small lithium-ion battery pack and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Together, they deliver a total of 110 horsepower and EPA ratings of 43/44 mpg city/highway. The 2012 Toyota Corolla, with a single engine choice, is rated at 26/34 with an automatic transmission (or 27/33 with a manual).
As for the Civic Natural Gas, it lives up to its name with an engine that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). That powerplant is a variant of the Civic’s standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that’s been re-engineered for the different fuel source. It produces 110 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque while earning EPA grades of 27/38 mpg city/highway. For comparison, the gasoline version of the engine, with the same transmission, has ratings of 28/38. The gasoline engine is more powerful and enables a longer range, though.
In terms of availability, the 2012-2015 Civic Natural Gas never was exactly common. However, it was on sale nationally as a new vehicle. About 25,000 new hybrid models were sold during the entire generation.
By comparison, the number of 2018 mainstream compact sedans that are on sale with hybrid or CNG powertrains is exactly zero.
2013: All-new All Over Again?
Despite its many improvements over the previous model year, the all-new 2012 Honda Civic wasn’t an immediate hit with either customers or critics. As a result, Honda thoroughly upgraded the Civic again the very next year. The 2013 Honda Civic sedan introduced fresh exterior styling, soft-touch interior surfaces and a number of engineering updates for better ride and handling. The 2013 model year marked some major advances in Civic technology as well.
For a starting point, the 2013 Civic sedan is the earliest one you’ll find with a standard rearview camera, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, access to Pandora Internet radio and Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming. It also was the first Civic sedan to offer forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning.
The Civic sedan earned an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ recognition for 2013. The sedan was certified for the same rating in 2014. It additionally received a traditional Top Safety Pick award for 2012 and 2015. As for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ratings, the ninth-generation Civic sedan had 5 Star Overall Safety Scores for its entire cycle.
The Civic Enters the Infotainment Age for 2014
Nor did Honda rest on its laurels for 2014. This year’s enhancements included an especially popular feature for used-car shoppers: the Civic’s first modern-day infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. In the range-topping setup, the system provides satellite-linked navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, access to Pandora Internet Radio and a multi-angle rearview camera.
If you’re shopping for pre-owned small cars with the latest technology, the 2014 Honda Civic sedan also introduced two others that may appeal to you. Like many premium vehicles, the 2014 Civic sedan offers a passive-entry system and push-button start. This lets you get into the car and go without ever taking the key from your pocket or purse. The second technology comes into play once you’re on the road.
Honda’s Lane Watch system is designed to help monitor your blind spot on the passenger side of the vehicle. It relies on a small rear-facing camera that’s built into the right-side exterior mirror. When you flick on your right turn signal, the camera live-streams video to Civic’s infotainment screen, showing a wider-angle view of vehicles behind you.
2014 2.4: The Si Sedan Powers up
Before the Type R hatchback debuted for the current, 10th-generation Civic, the Si models were the best-performing athletes on the U.S. Civic roster. In fact, the turbocharged 2018 Si sedan still makes the same 205 horsepower as the 2014 model. But that’s only because the 2014 model enjoys a small power boost over the 2013 Civic Si. Thanks to a retuned exhaust system, the 2014 edition can squeeze out four more horsepower from its naturally aspirated, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Further, with 174 pound-feet of torque, 2014 Si sedan welcomes a similar increase in that measure. Also new for 2014 is a revised suspension to help you get the most fun possible from the Civic Si’s increased output.
The 2014 Civic Si sedan finishes up with a revised body kit that’s highlighted by a new wing-style rear spoiler.
A Special Send-off for 2015
With Honda preparing to launch the 10th-generation 2016 Civic, the 2015 sedan doesn’t really offer anything you can’t get with earlier models. That said, it offers those features in a new, high-value trim level. The 2015 Civic Special Edition, or SE, covers the middle ground between the entry-level LX and the higher-grade EX trims. Content-wise, the Special Edition combines affordable touches such as cloth seats with premium equipment such as Honda’s LaneWatch technology, automatic climate control, 15-inch alloy wheels and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen and two tweeter speakers.
The 2015 Civic SE also upgrades from a manual transmission to a standard continuously variable transmission. First available for the non-hybrid sedan in 2014, the CVT enables EPA ratings as high as 31/40 mpg in the Civic HF trim.