Exactly 20 years after Long Beach, California, longshoremen took delivery of the very first, North-American-bound Honda Civics, with little fanfare, the once Japanese motorcycle company released what is arguably the most iconic of the subcompact's near 40-year lifespan. Its fifth-generation adaptation, manufactured and sold during the brand's '92-'95 model years, Honda's coupe, hatchback, and sedan trio, arguably helped peak and later carry Honda performance on its shoulders. The then-revolutionary, all-new unibody with its rounded, egg-shaped lines and timeless looks remains beloved by true Hondaphiles, even today.
With a heritage and fanbase that runs as deep as Ford's Model T, Volkswagen's Beetle, even Porsche's 911, the Honda Civic nameplate has stood time's test-longer, in fact, than nearly any other, second only to the Toyota Corolla, which, for all intents and purposes, has no such following. Such staying power and model recognition has made the Civic the go-to chassis for a number of sport-compact-specific aftermarket parts manufacturers-the fifth-generation historically lending its simplistic self as the first to receive support and various performance upgrades. To be sure, manufacturers looked to Honda's fifth-generation coupes, hatchbacks, and sedans when developing the industry's first adjustable coilover suspensions, bolt-on turbocharger and supercharger kits, and cat-back exhaust systems before all else. Indeed, the list of companies that exist today because of Honda's golden child generation of Civics is not an abbreviated one.
But the success of Honda's mid-'90s rendition of its Civic lies beyond production quantities and its universal, mass appeal. The trio of unibodies was the first to lend themselves to bolt-in engine swaps courtesy of more expensive Acura B-series engines and transmissions. Like many OEMs, Honda began cross-pollenating parts among its lineup in an effort to cut production costs as well as to simplify manufacturing. Although earlier Civics and Integras shared commonalities, 1992 marked the year where later Integra drivetrains, suspension and electrical components, interiors, and more could be transferred over with little effort. Engine mounts and brackets, electrical connectors, gauge clusters, cables, brakes, and more were all compatible. It's true, by the time Honda's fifth-generation Civic was launched, engine swapping experimentation had already begun on earlier chassis, but the compatibility between the '92-'95 Civic and later '94-'01 Integra proved to be the catalyst that launched an engine swap phenomenon. And when the 170hp Integra GS-R engine was first swapped into the sub-2,100lb CX hatchback, well, the performance world was all but forced to take the Honda name seriously. The '92-'95 Civic later even went on to be the first bearer of H-series and K-series engine swaps. Whether Honda knew it or not (and they likely didn't), the fifth-generation Civic's mechanical candor and no-nonsense parts interchangeability with other chassis was enough to spark a new generation of otherwise timid tuners and enthusiasts.
Honda didn't just revolutionize the auto industry with the most recognizable subcompact of all time, it revolutionized the world. Its two-decade-old technology continues to rattle modern-day performance Goliaths like Mitsubishi's and Subaru's AWD, turbocharged Evo and WRX-even clods like the newest Mustangs and Camaros-while its 19-year-old CX and VX hatchbacks continue to reap better mpgs than most any of today's mass-produced hybrids, including Honda's own CR-Z.
Trims and U.S. Chassis codes
'92-'95 Civic Hatchback: CX, VX, DX, (EH2) and Si (EH3)
'92-'95 Civic Sedan: DX, LX, (EG8), and EX (EH9)
'93-'95 Civic Coupe: DX (EJ2), and EX (EJ1)
D15B7: DX, LX chassis, 102hp, 16-valve, SOHC
D15B8: CX chassis, 70hp, 8-valve, SOHC
D15Z1: VX chassis, 90hp, 16-valve, SOHC VTEC-E
D16Z6: EX, Si chassis, 114hp, 16-valve, SOHC VTEC
CX Hatchback ('92-'93 / '94-'95): 2,094 / 2,108 lbs
VX Hatchback: 2,094 lbs
DX Hatchback: 2,178 lbs
Si Hatchback ('92-'93 / '94-'95): 2,326 / 2,390 lbs
DX Sedan ('92-'93 / '94-'95): 2,275 / 2,313 lbs
LX Sedan ('92-'93 / '94-'95): 2,319 / 2,403 lbs
EX Sedan ('92-'93 / '94-'95): 2,480 / 2,502 lbs
DX Coupe ('92-'93 / '94-'95): 2,224 / 2,231 lbs
EX Coupe ('92-'93 / '94-'95): 2,390 / 2,552 lbs