Honda Civic (fourth generation)

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Honda Civic
Fourth generation
1988-1991 Honda Civic sedan -- 03-21-2012.JPG
Manufacturer Honda
Production 1987–1991
1987–1996 (Civic Shuttle)
Assembly Suzuka, Japan
Swindon, England (HUKM)
East Liberty, Ohio, USA (Marysville Auto Plant)
Alliston, Ontario, Canada (HCM)
Hsinchu, Taiwan
East London, South Africa
Nelson, New Zealand (Honda New Zealand)
Johor Bahru, Malaysia (OASB) [1]
Body and chassis
Body style 3-door hatchback
3-door coupe (CRX)
4-door sedan
5-door station wagon (Shuttle)
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
Related Acura Integra
Honda CR-X
Honda Ballade
Honda Concerto
Honda Integra
Rover 200 (R8)
Rover 400 (R8)
Engine 1.3 L D13B I4
1.4 L D14A I4
1.5 L D15B1 I4
1.5 L D15B2 I4
1.6 L D16A6 I4
1.6 L ZC SOHC I4
1.6 L B16A DOHC I4
1.6 L D16A9 I4
Transmission 4-speed manual
5-speed manual
6-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 98.4 in (2,499 mm)
Length 156.1 in (3,965 mm) (hatchback)
166.5 in (4,229 mm) (sedan)
161.7 in (4,107 mm) (wagon)
Width 65.6 in (1,666 mm) (hatchback)
65.9 in (1,674 mm) (sedan)
66.1 in (1,679 mm)
Height 52.4 in (1,331 mm) (hatchback)
53.5 in (1,359 mm) (sedan)
56.1 in (1,425 mm) (FWD Wagon)
56.9 in (1,445 mm) (4WD Wagon)
Predecessor Honda Civic (third generation)
Successor Honda Civic (fifth generation)
Main article: Honda Civic

In 1987, the Honda Civic was significantly redesigned for model year 1988. The suspension had a radical re-configuration with what Honda called "double-wishbone suspension" on all four corners, wheelbase was increased to 98.4 inches (250 cm), and the body was redesigned with a lower hood line and more glass, giving less drag. Rear suspension however is more accurately described as multi-link trailing arm suspension since the upper control arm only has a single anchor and there is toe control used on the main trailing arm.


Honda Civic 25XT badge

The base model of the fourth generation Civic had a 1.2 L SOHC, this single carbureted engine was not available for the Japanese and American markets. In Japan the base version received a 1.3 L SOHC single carbureted engine, thus equipped it was called either 23L or 23U.

The 1.5 L SOHC engine came in a wide variety of models, dual-point injection, single carbureted and dual carbureted. Those engines were available in the Japanese-market 25X and 25XT. The Japanese version of the sporting Si, initially the top version, featured a (ZC) D16A8/A9 1.6 L 16V DOHC engine.

But there was more to come, and in late 1989 the new top model of the hatchback was the new SiR, fitted with the 1.6-litre, 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp) at 7,600 rpm "B16A" DOHC VTEC engine. This, the first B engine, marked the introduction of Honda's variable valve timing and electronic lift control technology, or VTEC. By providing two different camshaft profiles—one for fuel economy, one for performance—the VTEC engines set a high-revving, naturally aspirated precedent for future performance variants of the Honda Civic.[2] With its light weight, independent suspension and powerful engine, the car was well-received globally, receiving “Golden Steering Wheel Award” from the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, and ranking first in France’s l’Automobile magazine 1989 survey on car quality and reliability.[3] The European model, badged as a "1.6i-VT", used a slightly less powerful B16A1 engine, which had an 8,200 rpm redline and made 150 hp (112 kW), although it made the same 111 lbf·ft (150 N·m) of torque as the Japanese market B16. In Japan, automatic-equipped SiR Civics also received the lower-powered engine.

The wagon, known in Japan as the Civic Shuttle, continued but the commercial-use "Shuttle Pro" was replaced by a dedicated commercial delivery van called the Honda Partner starting with model year 1996.

North America[edit]

All United States vehicles were fuel injected.

In 1989 the Civic had a light facelift. Some things that changed were the front bumper design, the front corner lights no longer had the two screws on the outside, the gauge cluster cover shape slightly changed, tail light units design changed, side moldings became thinner, and most American Civics received automatic seat belts due to changes in federal highway safety law. The sedan and wagon featured powered automatic shoulder belts that retracted from the b-pillar to a position halfway down the a-pillar when the door was open, while the hatchback received a standard style shoulder and lap belt mechanism that was attached to the door and was intended to remain buckled at all times. While this setup did satisfy the federal regulations, the front doors had to be opened very wide to allow access between the belt and the seat. Many Civic owners used the door mounted belts just as they would pillar mounted belts, buckling and unbuckling as necessary.

Models Available[edit]


1989 Civic STD 3-door

The base model with the lowest price and lowest standard (vinyl seats) interior, instrumentation, engine output and transmission. It was only available as a Hatchback. Engine was D15B1 16V SOHC, with dual port throttle body injection, 70 hp (52.2 kW) with restrictor on the tandem valve, and catalytic converter integrated into the exhaust manifold. Manual transmissions were 4-speed with cable operated clutch (5-speed in Canada). Automatic 4-speed transmission was also available.


1990 Civic DX 4-door; including automatic seat belts

Available as Hatchback, Sedan and Wagon, this had cloth seats, optional power steering, optional rear wash/wiper, optional clock, optional passenger door mirror and optional wheel covers. Engines were D15B2 16V SOHC with slightly higher output 92 hp (68.6 kW) due to an improved profile on the inlet side of the Single Overhead Cam and unrestricted tandem valve. Manual transmissions came as 5-speed with cable operated clutch. Automatic transmission was available as an option.


Available only as a Sedan, this had a higher level interior with tachometer instrumentation, electric windows, electric door locks, electric door mirrors, clock and wheel covers as standard. Engines were D15B2 16V SOHC, same as the DX, with 5-speed cable clutch transmission. 4- speed automatic transmission was optional.


Available only as a Sedan for 1990 and 1991 model years, this was the top of the Civic line with all LX standard features, and the D16A6 16V SOHC engine with 4-point injection, making 105 hp and 100 ft-lbs. It also had upgraded brakes on the front with 10.3" disks vs. the 9.5" on the STD, DX, LX and SI models. The 1991 had a higher geared steering rack - 3.1 turns lock to lock vs 4 for other and prior models.


1991 Honda Civic Si

Initially, the Civic Si hatchback was absent from the lineup, with only the CRX Si offered for the 1988 model year. That changed, however, for 1989, and the Civic Si hatchback was reintroduced, along with a 3-hp upgrade for the D16 engine across all Si trims (making 108 hp, 1988 CR-X Si 105 hp). This was the sportiest US market Civic, only available as a hatchback. The engine fitted was the D16A6 16-valve SOHC with 4-point injection and output of 108 hp (81 kW). It weighed in at 2,286 lb (1,037 kg), achieving a factory 0–60 mph of 8.1 seconds; and a quarter-mile time of 16.2 at 82 mph (132 km/h).[4]

The main standard features of the Si trim were the power sun roof/moon roof, tachometer, passenger door mirror, color matched bumpers, dash clock, larger exhaust, front and rear anti-roll bars, 14" steel wheels with covers, and slightly deeper bucket sport seats. There was no power steering and no automatic transmission available (except in Canada). Additional options were air conditioning and fog lights, as well as the different Honda Genuine Accessory alloy wheels.[5] In other markets, more powerful D16A7 and D16A9 engines were used instead, which made 122 hp (91 kW) and 132 hp (98 kW) respectively.

Compared to the previous generation, the Civic Si saw an improvement in handling, in part due to the double-wishbone suspension at all four corners and lower wind drag due to the sleeker body shape. As with all other trims, the Civic Si received a slight visual upgrade in late 1989, featuring revised bumpers and tail lights.

Due to the difference in engine output and modification potential between the American and JDM models, the second-generation Si sparked a popular trend of engine swapping, where tuners would replace the D-series power plant with a more powerful B-series motor.[6]


Honda Civic Shuttle Beagle
1989 Honda Civic Shuttle

This was available as FWD and RealTime4WD. The RT4WD versions featured the MPFI D16A6 engine paired with either a 6-speed manual (with a super-low gear left of first) or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The FWD versions featured the DPFI D15B2 engine paired with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. RT4WD wagons had white steel wheels with matching center caps. This bodystyle remained in production until February 21, 1996, when it was replaced by the Honda Orthia and professional use Honda Partner, sold only in Japan.

USDM Weights[edit]

Standard Hatch DX Hatch Si Hatch DX Sedan LX Sedan EX Sedan
Auto Manual Auto Manual Manual Auto Manual Auto Manual Auto Manual
1988  ? 1933  ? 1933 -  ? 2039  ? 2138 - -
1989 n/a 2013 2138 2088 2161 2209 2147 2249 2211 n/a n/a
1990-1991 1996 2127  ? 2165 2291 2252 2262  ? 2322  ? 2374

All weights listed in this table are in lbs. Air Conditioning added 49 lb (22 kg). Cargo capacity was an additional 100 lb (45 kg) hatchback, 75 lb (34 kg) sedan.


For Europe the base model was the 1.3 L model, which was not available in the USA and Japan.[citation needed]. Next was a 1.4 L SOHC straight-four dual carbureted engine that was available only in 1988 and 1989; 1.5i GL and GLX models followed in 1990.

The European 1.6i GT and 1.6i-16 (depends on country) had a ZC like 1.6 L DOHC engine and produced 124 hp (D16Z5) or 130 hp (D16A9). In Europe the SiR was called 1.6i-VT and had a similar B16A1 engine. These top models were equipped with the VTEC system.

South Africa[edit]

In South Africa, it was sold under the Honda Ballade branding.


1990 Autocross Civic Si Hatchback

Despite its image as an economical vehicle, the fourth-generation hatchback became popular in near stock SCCA autocross competition. The ED chassis dominated the Street touring category, competing against the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Fourth-generation Civic hatchbacks became famous among Honda Civic enthusiasts due to their lightweight design and formidable suspension layout which outperformed later generations[citation needed].

References and notes[edit]

External links[edit]