First introduced to the North American marketplace for the 1973 model year, the Honda Civic has been largely considered the benchmark for basic, affordable automotive transportation. Gaining popularity in the 1970s and 1980s among growing motoring customer base seeking more fuel efficient vehicles, the Civics economical nature and reliability shaped Hondas reputation in the United States.
The Honda Civic had been offered various body styles over the decades including a Wagovan in the 1980s with all-wheel drive. By the 1990s, United States-sold Civic were offered as a two-door coupe, four-door sedan and a three-door hatchback. For 1998, the Honda Civic was powered by a 1.6 four-cylinder engine featuring differing power levels depending on the trim level.
On CX, DX and LX trim levels, engine power was rated at 106 horsepower standard equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Adding VTEC engine technology, the fuel economy leading 1998 Civic HX was offered with an optional continuously variable transmission. Equipped with a VTEC engine allowing 127 horsepower of output, the Honda Civic EX served as the top-trimmed model for 1998. For 1999, a new Honda Civic Si model was offered with the two-door coupe.
The 1999 Civic Si coupe is performance-tailored with a 160-horsepower engine, stiffer suspension and a rear spoiler. Power windows, air conditioning, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel were included inside the Honda Civic Si. A redesigned Honda Civic emerged in 2001 with a completely new suspension system. The hatchback body style returned for 2002 serving as the basis for the latest iteration of the Civic Si.
For the 2003 model year, a gasoline/electric hybrid version of the Honda Civic was first introduced. Featuring a 13 horsepower electric motor combined with a 1.3-liter engine, fuel economy of the Honda Civic Hybrid was rated at up to 51 miles per gallon in highway driving. After 2004, the Honda Civic line was defined as several separate models.