Acura RSX vs Honda Civic - Driving Impressions

revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
edited March 2014 in Acura
Sorry about the bad spelling on the title. I missed it while typing and can't change it now. A host could probably fix it though!

I know every other car has been compared to the RSX on Edmunds but what about the car that shares the most blood-line relation.

They ride on the same platform, sell for nearly the same price and have basically the same engine. When comparing the base RSX with the new Si which is the better drive or better buy?


  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    I've seen this subject debated on a number of occasions in other discussions here, so it's a good idea to create a new discussion for the RSX vs. Civic Si. Thanks. ;-)

    Hatchbacks & Station Wagons Boards
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Member Posts: 776
    The RSX is less ugly.
  • revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
    Ok, but aside from the looks. Does either car perform better than the other or is more fun to drive? Has anyone driven both of these models?
  • rewardreward Member Posts: 11
    I was unable to drive a base model RSX with standard transmission. Did drive S type and base type with automatic. Decided on Si because ride was very similar to s-type particularly at lower revs; most importantly, bargained with Honda dealer for 17,800 on Si (with window tinting floor mats and mudflaps) Accura would not budge from 20400. So price was a major issue. After three weeks in Si I do notice a couple of things re: the ride. It sits higher than any civic I have owned previously. In fact I found myself nearly level with an Odessy the other day which came as a bit of a surprise. There is a little more lean with this car as a result, but nothing like the Jetta I also test drove. Still enjoying the experience and would recommend it if one can get it at under 18,000.
  • verozahlverozahl Member Posts: 574
    Sits as high as an Ody? That's too dang high!
  • pozzopozzo Member Posts: 8
    It's not as high as an Ody. It is higher than my 924S but no higher than the MINI. I too chose the SI over the RSX, thought it was a better ride, with close ratio gearbox matched to the engine torque curve and Euro tuned suspension. I would agree that the ride is similar to the Type S and it has far less body lean than the GTI 1.8T I drove. Actually while everyone seems to be interested in the body lean thing, its really not noticeable unless your really cranking around turns, and then its well behaved and takes a set well. There's a very good video clip of SI on both autocross and open road at

    If you don't drive highway alot, I doubt you'd get the Type S into 6th. I drive 50 miles daily on winding country roads (what a problem!) and the SI handles them beautifully! Besides, my bike fits in the car, so I can take it to work and ride at lunch.
  • autojiveautojive Member Posts: 1
    Like the others that I am reading about here, I tested and RSX, RSX-S, and an SI. I could not see any severely noticeable difference between the SI and RSX performance-wise, they were pretty much on par. What affected my purchase decision, however, was the fact that my local Acura dealer would not haggle and would only give peanuts for a trade. My Honda dealer (incidentally, right across the street from the Acura dealer :-) offered much more for trade and worked the price for me and the deal was made. I'm very happy with my purchase.

    P.S. The seats, in my opinion, are much better in the SI, way better support.
  • bookman1906bookman1906 Member Posts: 5
    Hi All,

    I test drove an SI out of curiosity today and could barely contain myself. I am looking for a 2nd car for my highway commute and had left Honda since 97 to go for Volvo wagons - the turbo sport ones. Never regretted it.

    I've had a '95 GSR, a '96 Prelude VTEC and '93 and '95 accords. Loved the Prelude and missed it up until I dove this Civic. Wow! And the seats are perfect. I was actually lvg in disgust when I happened to sit in an SI in the showroom. Currently haggling on a black one. The dealer has 3 of each color for 2002. Another dealer is advertising at $16,250. If anyone is looking, send a msg.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    When I first bought my Si, I kind of felt like I was compromising. But the longer I've driven it, the more I enjoyed my choice.

    Considering that going prices are almost $5,000 less than base RSX's, I can't imagine somebody getting one after driving the Si. (unless they are aesthetically displeased with it)
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    I love my SI. I looked at a base RSX but I didn't like the seats or the dash as much as the SI. I also like not seeing that many SI's around. I like the car so much that even after I wrecked the first 02 SI in August that I had just bought in July I bought another one. Paid $16,900 including fog lights, splash guards, mats, and some paint protectant that I didn't want but was already on the car. Can't beat this car for the price.
  • preludexlpreludexl Member Posts: 33
    It looks you guys are getting it for below invoice. Also, did you get the SI model with side airbags or no? The SI looks funky in pictures but I didnt think it look too bad in person. I wasnt very impressed with the RSX base either. You had to rev high to move it and plus I didnt think the interior was that great ( I drove a 1.8t Passat before). It seems most of you guys chose the SI and saved some money over the RSX which looks nicer, but I can live with the SI as well, it's prob roomier in the back as well.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    I didn't get side airbags, but I came to many of the same conclusions you did. I just can't see the RSX being worth an extra $2500.
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    This was at a dealership in metro Detroit. I guess to be fair, the 02 SI are heavily discounted as we know it. The 03 SI are about $1k more. I been talking to a local dealership and for the 02 SI, I was offered $15,900 (plus tax/title/dest). The 03 SI, I was told will be $1k more.

    I'm not sure how much the regular RSX goes for. But your figure of $2.5k more suggest it is at $18,400. Maybe that's accurate, I'm not sure.

    But what I see the $2.5k over the SI is

    1) Automatic Climate control
    2) 4y/50k warranty + road side assistance
    3) 16" rims
    4) Standard side airbags (a $250 option on the SI)
    5) Front and rear floor mats (~ $60 on the SI)
    6) *Nicer* interior
    7) Presumably *better* service

    I like auto climate control. When I had a 97 Civic EX, I hate the sliding tempt. mechanism. I can never get it to the right tempt.

    Longer warranty is always good.

    W/ 16" rims already, I could buy snow tires and swap using existing rim (though I'm sure it'll get scratched up by the tire place). W/ the SI, I plan on using the 15" as dedicated snow tire/rim and buying 17" for summer. It'll cost me more getting 2 sets. But at least swapping is easier and gentler on the rims and tires. So, it is a toss.

    Side airbags cost more on the SI. But not too much.

    6) and 7) are just MHO.

    Lastly, there's a stigma towards 2 door hatches in US. Most people see them as cheap. Thus the popularit of coupes. Personally, I like the SI looks. I also like the looks of wagons, esp. Audi wagons.

    Floor mats should be included in every car purchase by now! Just make it as part of the purchase price.
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    I couldn't get comfortable in the RSX though. The seating position is lower or something. Plus with a RSX base I would hate to see a better version of my car sold. Instead of people saying "Wow, what a nice RSX" they would say "Is it a Type S" "Oh it's not .. why didn't you buy the Type S"
  • preludexlpreludexl Member Posts: 33
    I drove the matrix today...the xrs with the 180hp engine. The seats are better than both the RSX and Civic by a wide margin, it felt like it was gel based almost. The look inside is comparable to the RSX IMHO, although I liked the RSX's layout more. Nothing can beat the Matrix's versatility. I loved the extra space after you fold down the seats. The ride was not too bad, it handles pretty well, same as the RSX, it seemed to be torquier also. The Matrix revs pretty high as well, I didnt redline it but had no trouble with pickup. I really cannot compare completely with the RSX's drive because those guys wouldnt let me take it on the freeway where I do most of my driving. However, the RSX is still classier. Still havent actually taken the SI for a spin, so dont know how it drives yet. I go see my gf every weekend and I'd like to have a fast car but above all it has to be comfortable and not annoyingly noisy without having to bump up the radio to mask the road noise. Anyone drive a lot of miles and are happy with their RSX or SI for this purpose? What was your old car?
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    a high seating position, we'll opt for *gasp* an SUV. I haven't sat in the RSX before. But if it is lower, it's definitely good for me then. I can get comfortable in any car. Colleagues of mine used to complain when I was driving the 97 Civic EX and the 01 Audi A4. They say the seats are not as comfortable as American cars (not sure which car they mean but I'm guessing Tauruses and Sables). Well, all I can say is I don't have a big [non-permissible content removed] like them ;) So, I can pretty much get comfortable on any type of seat.

    I'm not too worried about people asking me why I didn't get a *higher* level car. Maybe coz' I'm just don't care what they think. If they want to spend more money to get something they don't really need, go ahead.

    With the
    01 A4 1.8T, I paid $28k. To get the (at that time)
    A4 2.8 would cost me $32k.
    S4 2.7T would cost me $40k.
    RS4 (if it ever comes) will be $50k.

    I'm sure when I get to RS4, someone is going to ask me why didn't you get an A6 instead.

    Then, I'm going to have to get the A6 2.8, A6 2.7T, A6 4.2, RS6. When I hit that, someone will say, why not get an A8. Before I know it, I'll end up w/ a Ferrari.

    So, if you are worried about people asking you why didn't you get a higher trim level RSX-S, just steal the RSX-S badge and slap it on!
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    Matrix cost a little more and the 02 Si. Keep in mind 03 Si will be at least $1k more than 02 Si (at least for the time being). Also, it looks too tall for my liking though the interior space is great. Not to mention the plastic rear cargo floors and 115V outlets.

    I think it's great car for women. Definitely not good for men IMO.
  • revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
    "I think it's great car for women. Definitely not good for men IMO."

    Oh give me a break. How would this car be good for one and not the other?

    The Matrix doesn't have an independent rear suspension does it? I haven't driven one, but I imagine this would cause it to not ride nearly as well as the Honda or Acura.
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    You are entitled to your own opinion. It has nothing to do w/ suspension or engine etc. It is just the looks.

    Let me ask you this. Do you think the Celica is a guy or girl's car?? Research seem to point out that it is more a girl's car.

    Integras buyers are mainly women too. I know it is surprising. A lot of discussions you may have read seem to imply that Integra buyers are mainly male, but that's not the case.

    It is just MHO (my humble opinion). Ok, if you want one from me, Matrix could be had w/ an auto or stick. Si is only stick. Though I'm sure there are plenty of women stick drivers, I believe the majority are men.
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    I wouldn't like having a base RSX because I would hate to know that there was a much better performing RSX out there for only a few thousand dollars more. I'll probably be mad when the SI gets the 200HP engine but at least it wasn't out as an option when I bought mine because then I woulda had to pay $19,000 instead of $16,000.

    I don't believe it ham but I actually agree with your last paragraph. Most women do drive automatics. In not offering a automatic SI Honda severely limited it's demographic. Most Americans don't even recognize a manual transmission now much less want to drive one.
  • jfigueroa1jfigueroa1 Member Posts: 209
    That was the reason why I did not buy the si. Like the car inside and out but, been only shift I was there with the $$ but no a/t so, with no option but to buy another car with a/t.(02 civic lx a/t) really nice car. Now if either car have to go for service my wife can drive and do her thing.
    Greetings from sunny Miami.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    "The seats are better than both the RSX and Civic by a wide margin, it felt like it was gel based almost"

    By a wide margin! I haven't sat in that car, but I have trouble believing you. You say you haven't driven an Si, but have you sat in one?
  • tampajoe3tampajoe3 Member Posts: 1
    I found the Si much nicer to drive than the Matrix. The clutch and the shifter feels better in the Si. The Si for me was more enjoyable behind the wheel. I found it was harder to keep the XRS in the power band. For me, the Matrix was more practical, and the Si had that fun factor. I was driving my Si 90 miles each way to and from work. I had a '97 Civic EX coupe prior that had 160K miles. The Si has all of the feature I liked on the coupe but with more power.
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    The seats in the new SI are just amazing. I was bored at work tonight and we weren't selling any cars so I spent about 30 minutes "playing" in various cars to kill time. I sat in a 94 Celica, 03 Altima, 01 IS300, 99 Golf 4 door, 99 ES300, 03 Corolla, 01 I30, and a 01 Volvo S60. Out of all of those the only ones that I liked were the Golf, the Celica, and the ES300.

    The Altima just reeks of cheapness even with the 03 "upgrades", the IS300 had cheap materials on the dash and felt busy, the Corolla was a base model so it just felt cheap and the driving position wasn't comfortable, the Volvo was OK but the one I sat in had a funny smell so I didn't spend alot of time in it.

    Immediately thereafter I made a food run in the SI and remembered why I bought it. It has a great driving position, great seats, great shifter, great ergonomics, and a cool steering wheel. Out of the cars I liked I would rank the Celica 1st, the Golf 2nd, and the ES300 3rd. Usually I am not a fan of ES300's but this one was black with a black interior .. nice.

    The Matrix is out of the picture because you can't get the good engine with the good suspension. Only AWD Matrix have IRS and the AWD version is only available with the 130HP (isn't it 125 in the AWD) engine. Kinda sucks because I like the interior with the exception of the Pontiac buttons on the stereo.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    The Si is an outstanding package. And I love those seats!
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    and with what TYPE of company?
  • revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
    I didn't realize the AWD matrix only came with the 130hp engine. Seems kind of dumb, the powertrain that needs the most power can't get it.

    I hear a factory built AWD Turbo Matrix is in the works though. Might be an interesting alternative to a WRX wagon.
  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    I realize prefludexl brought the Matrix into this discussion, but some of you are veering off topic a little too much.... For further clarification on this matter, please refer to your Town Hall Membership agreement, (Member Conduct section).

    To those concerned: The good news is you are free to start up a new discussion, on this board, to include the Matrix/Vibe and other vehicles you'd like to discuss.... Okay? Thanks for your participation.


    Hatchbacks & Wagons Host
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    We have a 02 RSX-S with 8,000 miles for sale at $21,000. It's a VERY nice car but it doesn't move me as much as the SI. Can't really explain why other than I don't like the driving position. But the SI would definitely be my choice between the 2 unless I just had to have 200HP. 160HP does me just fine since I mainly use it for commuting.
  • preludexlpreludexl Member Posts: 33
    Is that your primary car? 160 horses is more than enough especially for a hatchback. However I saw a RSX-S for 18,500 with 12,000 miles. I might just buy that one. RSX looks better and the insurance is only $200 more than the base model. I do like the Matrix XRS seats to the RSX though. Havent driven the SI to know how the seats ride. Will have to take your word and muffinman's at face value.
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    The SI is my daily driver. I tried to love the RSX but like I said the driving position is deeper than the SI. That might be preferable to some people .. but not to me. Otherwise it's hard to fault the car ... I just wouldn't buy one. But I can see why others would.
  • radktdradktd Member Posts: 1
    Glad Honda brought back the hatchback; the SI is a bonus. Just bought a 2002 with side air bags for what appears others are now paying plus the cost of the bags; these SIs were in scarce supply. Not concerned about the second place finish in all the comparison tests. Tests confirmed I didn't want a street racer anyway. Definitely don't fit the demographic for the SI, but it is a blast for my wife and I to drive.
  • bluong1bluong1 Member Posts: 1,927
    "160 horses is more than enough especially for a hatchback"


  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    160HP is more than enough for a hatchback. Think about it, 12 years ago the Camry 4 cylinder had 115HP and that was a family sedan, 10 years ago the top Accord had 140HP, 9 years ago, the Acura Vigor only had 174HP, etc. The automotive world is turning into a HP war even when most of us don't need more than a Civic/Accord LX to get around comfortably.
  • beowulf7beowulf7 Member Posts: 290
    Just b/c you have a subpar requirement when it comes to engine performance doesn't mean the rest of us should have restrict ourselves to it. :)

    As long as fuel efficiency (gas mileage) is not being sacrificed too much, there's no such thing as too much HP. Once your gas mileage suffers beyond what you desire, then you've discovered your performance bounds.
  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    Off topic comments about any of our Town Hall hosts are not appropriate in these discussions, and are subject to automatic deletion. Feel free to email me if you have any questions regarding this matter. Thanks!

    And now back to the subject of the Acura RSX vs. Honda Civic Si - driving impression.


    Hatchbacks & Wagons Host
  • bluong1bluong1 Member Posts: 1,927
    why "especially for hatchback" when power is though to be enough?
  • gsgman69gsgman69 Member Posts: 75
    I think what preludexl was trying to say is that for the size/weight of the car, traffic congestion, speed limits, insurance and all those other real world factors 160 hp is sufficient for this type of car. I think front wheel drive cars all suffer some amount of torque steer so there are engineering limitations also. Other automotive icons like the Miata get by with even less horsepower and are considered true sports cars. The reason for this being that the literal hp rating is not the equivalent of the subjective "fun" rating.

    One more point is that one of the greatest attributes of "hot hatches" is that they are as practical as they are fun. This means that you should me able to store your stuff while not going broke at the gas pump.
  • bluong1bluong1 Member Posts: 1,927
    Thanks for the clarification.

    There are also RWD Hatchback cars: Audi sales them in europe and also the BMW 3 exists widely there in its hatchback configuration. Torque steer effect depends more on the low-end torque than hp. The sport version of the engine of the Matrix for instant produced respectable hp without giving any substantial torque, and it's not fun to drive at all.

  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    Most people don't need more than 160HP or the Accord LX wouldn't be the highest selling version of the Accord, the LE wouldn't be the most popular Camry, and the LX wouldn't be the most popular Civic. 5 years ago the most HP you could get in a Civic was 127 and they sold like hotcakes. I generally have a heavy foot and I've never felt that the SI "needed" more power. Sure I always "want" more power but the power I have is sufficient. You can go after the car with the most HP and you would end up with a new Neon SRT or a WRX. But does the HP really matter when all you do is drive it to and from the dealer or does HP really matter when you have a car that's interior is worse than a Neon's?
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    coz' the average buyers of those cars are financially sensible. The top priorities for them are 1)Reliability 2)Comfort. Horsepower comes last coz' for most parents, they are not racing. Even a 127HP Civic can go 80mph. on the highway w/o any problems. They do not see the need to spend a few thousand more just to get more power. These are the same people who don't mind buying a Highlander over an RX300 or a Pilot over MDX. The very same people who buy an SI over RSX and a base RSX over the RSX-S. They do not care what people think of them.

    If HP doesn't matter, we should all be driving eco-friendly hybrid cars instead of buying an SI or RSX. Be truthful to yourself. 160HP is barely enough when most car makers are selling cars bet. 170-210HP. It won't be long before the SI gets more power.
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    I never said HP wasn't important. My only statement was that 160HP is more than enough for the Civic to get out of it's own way. Considering that people buying regular Civics get a max of 127HP, Corollas get 130HP (even the S), etc.
  • newcar31newcar31 Member Posts: 3,711
    Check out the December issue. They do a test of both of these cars, back to back.
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    are other manuf. other than Honda and Toyota that I know of. Maybe I caught in a time portal. I wonder what happened to the Neons, Proteges, Focuses, Tiburons, Sentras, Cavaliers, Saturns etc.

    By saying 160 is enough when compared to 127 or 130 is just plain.. err you know....
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    "someone". Someone seem to think that 160HP is enough for "most people" just coz' it is enough for her.

    "fb reh eb ot etah dluow i"
  • kevin111kevin111 Member Posts: 991
    Everyone should find a Toyota Echo fine. Inexpensive, reliable, and can also get to 80 on the freeway.

    I guess that is the debate that goes on between people who think of their cars as strictly utility and people who consider their cars an extension of themselves.

    For me, the more power the better. It is great when you can step on the pedal and feel the thrust of machinery and the precision of pin-point steering. That is why I enjoy more power and a sports-type machinery.

    As just a transportation device, I would agree with anonymousposts, and that is why Camrys, Civics, and Accords are so popular (that and they offer creature comforts, reliability, and room for a relatively small price when compared to other automobiles).
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 3,802
    So what kind of car are you driving this week hammie? First it was an Escort, then a SI, then a A4 .. I guess by now you have probably graduated to a BMW 540 huh?

    Yb het ayw ym fb si eryv appyh.
  • hamproofhamproof Member Posts: 241
    No.. it is still an A4 :) I never had an Escort. I made that up. I still have the A4. It will be sold tomorrow. My gf. and I are car pooling now. So, I'm driving her 00 3.2TL. If you had paid attention to my postings, you'll know I hate Bummer drivers. So full of themselfs. At least those that I know. I'll never drive a Bummer for that reason.

    "em dlot eh tahw ton si taht"
  • beowulf7beowulf7 Member Posts: 290
    ?siht ekil gnipyt ew era yhW
  • 204meca204meca Member Posts: 369
    wow, at that rate, I suspect you have racked up more miles on an 02 Si than most. Is yours consuming any oil? What kind of mpg are you getting on your commnute?
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