Buying a Lightly Used Honda Civic Isn’t a Good Idea Anymore

For decades, the Honda Civic has been one of the best choices for buyers who want a small, practical, and highly reliable daily driver. In fact, the current 2021 Civic excels in terms of reliability ratings. However, it appears to be a bit of a different story for lightly used models. According to Consumer Reports, the 2016 to 2019 Honda Civic models received unusually low-reliability ratings.

Why has the Honda Civic’s reliability rating decreased?

One of the greatest strengths Consumer Reports has is that it shows reliability ratings for various years of a particular model. In this regard, the Honda Civic has enjoyed stellar reliability ratings since the 2009 model. To reach these high scores, the Civic had to excel with major components such as the engine and transmission and smaller components such as in-car electronics.

Despite this, the 2016 Honda Civic’s arrival saw a significant dip in the overall reliability rating. Consumer Reports noted that the main issues pertained to the climate system, suspension, brakes, paint/trim, body integrity, and in-car electronics. For the 2018 model, Consumer Reports noted significant issues with the reliability of the various engine options. From the 2016 to the 2019 model, the ratings remained relatively low despite minor improvements in various categories.

According to Consumer Reports, the 2020 model is a completely different story. This is because the 2020 Honda Civic received excellent reliability ratings across the board. These improvements brought the Civic closer to the ratings of established competitors such as the Toyota Corolla.

What happened in 2016?

Honda Civic seen at the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.
2019 Honda Civic | Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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The fact that the reliability ratings began to tank with the 2016 Honda Civic is not a coincidence. This is because the 2016 model marked the introduction of the tenth-generation Civic. According to Automotive News, virtually every part of the tenth-gen Civic was brand-new. As a result, it appears the Honda struggled with new areas that it had previously excelled in.

In the 2018 model, the reliability issues are likely attributed to the brand-new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. So much so that CarBuzz reports that Honda had to extend the warranties of over 1 million 2016-2018 Civic and CR-V models equipped with the turbo engine due to widespread issues. In short, Honda found that gasoline was mixing with the engine oil. As a result, CarBuzz notes that vehicles reportedly stalled largely in cold weather. However, some buyers in warmer climates also reported similar issues.

Thankfully, fewer issues reported with the base 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine likely means it is the more reliable of the two. Regardless, buying a 2016-2018 Honda Civic could prove quite expensive.

It makes more sense to buy new

a gray 2016 Honda Civic three-quarter view from the rear
2016 Honda Civic | Honda

While the draw of buying a used Honda Civic to save money is certainly there, you may be better off buying a brand-new vehicle. This is because Consumer Reports found that the 2020 Civic suffers from little to no reliability issues. The only two areas where it didn’t get a perfect score were the power equipment and in-car electronics categories.

While you’ll certainly pay more upfront for a brand-new Civic, the small sedan currently starts at $21,050, making it reasonably affordable. When you consider the potential costs of maintaining an older model, you’re better off buying a newer model. Regardless, it seems Honda has made major improvements to the model, and the new models are as solid as we’ve come to expect from the model.