A sleeker and more powerful Civic lineup debuted in 1988. All Civics (except the CRX) rode on a longer 98.4-inch wheelbase. The CRX's wheelbase was increased to 90.6 inches.
A lower hoodline, increased glass area and lower wind drag were functional advantages of the sleeker body styles. A family of new engines complemented the stylish Civics. Power for the DX hatchback/sedan, new LX sedan and the wagon came from a 1.5-liter 16-valve engine that produced 92 horsepower. The base hatchback had a less powerful 70-horsepower version of that engine. The fuel-economy champ CRX HF had an eight-valve 62-horse version of the 1.5 that could go up to 56 miles on a gallon of gas. The standard CRX had the 92-horse engine. A high-performance 1.6-liter 16-valve engine that kicked out 105 horsepower was installed in the CRX Si and Civic 4WD wagon. All Civic engines were now fuel injected. Previously, only the "Si" models had the injection.
A double-wishbone suspension system was used at all four wheels. Inspired by Formula One race cars, this design promoted agile handling and a comfortable ride by precisely controlling wheel travel and keeping the tire's contact patch square to the road surface.
One model departed (the Civic Si hatchback), as a new one, the Civic LX sedan, was introduced. The LX loaded up a Civic sedan with features such as power windows, locks and mirrors; a tachometer; and intermittent wipers. U.S. production for the Civic began this year in Ohio, making it easier for Honda to satisfy
The Civic Si hatchback returned for 1989, now with a power moonroof and once again with the same potent engine (increased to 108 horsepower for this year) installed in the CRX Si and the 4WD wagon.
Revised bumpers and taillights identified the 1990 Civic. Hatchbacks received larger reverse (white) lights, and sedans adopted a horizontal taillight theme. An EX sedan joined the Civic family and took its place at the top of the sedan lineup. The EX had the Si's engine, 14-inch wheels and all the features of the LX (which now included cruise control). Four-wheel disc brakes appeared on the CRX as did a slightly revised dash-board (with softer corners and larger instruments) for all Civic models.
The 1991 Civics were virtually unchanged, and this was the last year for the spunky CRX.
Along with acquiring a more aerodynamic wedge-shaped body, the Civic was expanded in dimensions and trim levels for 1992. Wheelbases now measured in at 101.3 inches for the two-door hatchback and 103.2 inches for the four-door sedan. The wagon was dropped.
Trim levels for the hatchback included the CX, DX, VX and Si. The CX was fitted with a 1.5-liter 70-horsepower engine; the DX with a 1.5-liter 102-horsepower engine; the VX with a 92-horsepower 1.5-liter with variable valve timing tuned for economy (VTEC-E); and the Si with a 125-horsepower VTEC engine. The VX, which also came with lightweight alloy wheels, managed fuel economy figures of 48 in the city and 55 on the highway — nearly the same as the old CRX HF in spite of 30 more horsepower and five-passenger capability. Sedans came in the same trim levels as before: DX, LX and EX (which added a power moonroof to its list of standard luxuries). The DX and LX had the 1.5-liter 102-horsepower engine, and the EX sported the 125-horse 1.6 from the Si. A five-speed manual was standard across the board, and a four-speed automatic was optional on the DX hatchback and all sedan models.
The level of safety increased with the new Civic via a standard driver-side airbag for all models and standard antilock (ABS) brakes on the EX sedan.
A two-door notchback coupe, which shared its 103.2-inch wheelbase with the sedan, debuted for 1993 and was offered in DX and EX trim levels. The DX was outfitted the same as the DX hatchback, and the EX coupe had the same features as the EX sedan, including the 125-horse engine and power moonroof. An option package for the EX coupe added a passenger airbag and high-power stereo with cassette player. The EX sedan had a few more items added to its already generous standard features list, including air conditioning and the high-power sound system with cassette player.
Also this year, the del Sol debuted as a belated replacement for the CRX. Built on a wheelbase 8 inches shorter than a Civic hatchback's, the del Sol featured a removable targa-style top, a snug two-seat cockpit and one of two engines, either the 1.5-liter unit with 102 horsepower or the 1.6 sporting 125 ponies, depending on whether one chose the base S or more sporting Si version.
1994 brought safety advances and an LX version of the Civic sedan. A passenger-side airbag became standard on all Civics, and antilock brakes were now optional on the EX coupe, Si hatchback and LX sedan. The new LX sedan filled the gap between the basic DX sedan and loaded-to-the-gills EX. Power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; a tachometer; a stereo with cassette player; and 14-inch (versus the DX's 13-inch) tires were all standard on the LX.
On the del Sol front, a new model debuted called the VTEC. Named after its 1.6-liter DOHC engine that boasted a sizzling 160 horsepower, this del Sol came with bigger brakes, a firmer suspension and high-performance (195/60VR14) rubber. Apart from the addition of a passenger airbag, the rest of the del Sol line continued as before.
There were no changes for the 1995 Civics except on the del Sol models, which got a few improvements. Upgrades included standard antilock brakes for the VTEC, power locks for the Si and VTEC, and a remote trunk release for all trim lines.