How to Choose a Family Car – Why I Chose the Honda Civic Turbo

This article will share why I think the Honda Civic Turbo is the best all-rounder value for money car for the average Malaysian small family.

A little backstory:

Because I work from home, my wife & I decided to sell her car & only maintain 1 car as our primary family transportation.

With this arrangement, if I need to use a car while my wife is at work, I either have to wait for my wife to return home or get a GrabCar or rent a Socar.

So whichever car we choose as our only car must fulfill several criteria to fit our lifestyle as a young couple and possibly a growing family in the future.

The 3 Family Car Contenders

Based on the best family car under RM130k article, the 3 contenders are:

Honda Civic
Proton X70
Mazda CX-5

If you’d ask me which car out of these 3 I like the most, hands down it’ll be the Mazda CX-5. It looks great and feels the most expensive.

But as a young couple, we wanted to get a better value all-rounder, and that title has fallen to the Honda Civic 1.5L Turbo.

In the following sections, I’ll explain why this car is super practical for our family & hopefully for other people in a similar situation as us:

8 Reasons Why the Honda Civic is the Best Value Family Car

#1: Good Reliability Record

As the primary vehicle to transport the entire family around in safety, the car needs rock-steady reliability. 

There’s nothing more annoying than having a car that keeps breaking down and needs overnight stays at the workshop.

Every time your car is out of service, a family plan will be ruined. Think about it. Kids will be late to school, you’re going to be late to work, and you might also have to postpone a family trip 🙁

But how can you know if a car brand is reliable or not? Which website to trust? 

Beware of ‘Top 10 Reliable Car Brands’ articles on automotive websites as car companies pay these websites to have their brand on that list.

A smart way to research whether a car is reliable or not is to look at the used car market.

If a brand or particular car model has a high resale value, that’s a good indication that it’s desirable as a used car. Indirectly, this implies that the car is somewhat reliable.

As you can see, the Honda Civic Turbo is has a high resale value. We’ve also been using it for the past 5 years and have no major issues with the car.

#2: Vehicle type – SUV vs Car?

A trend nowadays is that people prefer SUVs to sedans. 

Unless you have a superiority complex and want to sit high to look down on other motorists, I think sedans make better family cars. 

Here are my reasonings:

SUVs are not safer. No thanks to its high center of gravity, an SUV is prone to flipping over in an accident.

SUVs cost more to run & maintain: Due to it’s larger size & weight, they’ll use more petrol, cost you more to replace their larger tires & also cost more to clean at the carwash.

The illusion of space: You would think that a big SUV will have more interior cabin & trunk space. But if you hit the showrooms, the Honda Civic surpisingly has more legroom & trunk capacity than the Mazda CX-5. 

#3: Affordable Purchase Price When New

For our primary family car, we feel the safest to purchase a brand new car where it’s under the manufacturer’s warranty & we’d know the car’s history.

The Honda Civic Turbo costs RM 125k brand new, and it has all it needs to be one of the best value family cars as I’ll explain next:

#4: Safety Features

For a car that will bring your family around, I’d want it to be as safe as possible.

Here’s where the Honda’s safety features impress me:

  1. Low center of gravity makes the car feel planted around the corners
  2. 6 airbags as standard
  3. Reverse camera as standard
  4. Hill Start Assist (prevents the car from rolling back at a hill)
  5. Honda Sensing (Ability to auto brake in an emergency)*
  6. Honda Lane Watch (camera for the blind spot)*

*These features are reserved for higher-spec models.

Honda Civic - Standard reverse camera
Honda Civic – Standard reverse camera

Before I purchase a car, I also look at their crash test video to see how strong the car’s body is to protect its occupants in an inevitable accident.

Here, you can see that the Honda Civic scored a solid 5 stars in the EURO NCAP crash test safety rating:

#5: Low Running Cost

As a family man, you’ll have many financial responsibilities for your family. The last thing I want to do is to be a fortune maintaining a car.

If you get a Mazda, you’ll spend RM0 servicing it for 5 years as all Mazda cars come with a free service package. In my opinion, this is a pretty sweet deal.

There is no free service package for Hondas, but you can expect an average service cost of around RM350 every 10,000 km.

As for fuel, the Honda is the most fuel-efficient from my list at an average real-world consumption of 16 km/l.

#6: Power & Handling for Safety

The other thing that I look for in a car is power & handling. But not because I want it to feel good, but for safety purposes.

If you’ve ever driven expensive cars like a BMW or a Mercedes, a powerful engine & precise handling will give you confidence during overtaking and in an emergency maneuver. 

The Honda Civic is no luxury car, but it handles pretty well thanks to its:

  1. Low center of gravity
  2. Grippy sporty tires

Most people want a powerful car. But that often means you need to get a car with a large engine, which is often thirsty & will cost you more in road taxes.

That’s where the smaller capacity 1.5-liter turbocharged engine makes a lot of sense for the modern commuter.

Honda 1.5L Turbo engine
Honda 1.5L Turbo engine

90% of the time, you don’t need that much power as you’re stuck in city traffic & cruising at the highway. A small-capacity engine is usually enough & won’t use much fuel in these scenarios.

For the remaining 5% where you do need the power during overtaking, that’s when the turbo kicks in to give you the power only when you need it.

There’s no special maintenance required for a turbocharged car. You only need to make sure you bring it in for scheduled servicing when it’s due. 

#7: Family friendly features

A good family car needs to make everyone in your family happy. Here are some creature comforts that make our ownership of the Honda Civic a joy:

Remote Start Stop

Remote Start
Remote Start

Severely underrated feature! You can remote start the engine with a push of a button. What a time to be alive!

Imagine having lunch at a restaurant with your family. Unfortunately, you’ve parked nearby under the scorching sun. Entering that car will be uncomfortable for everyone.

But with the remote start feature, you can start the car remotely & the car will turn on its AC on full blast. By the time your family walks over, the car’s cabin is all cool and comfortable.

This feature alone can sway me to get the Civic over the Mazda. I can’t say this enough; UNDERRATED feature.

Auto Brake Hold

With Malaysia’s horrible traffic, I’m not even considering a car without this feature. 

With the Auto Brake Hold button activated, the car will automatically hold on to the breaks when you come to a stop.

This reduces foot fatigue from constantly having to press on the brake pedal in traffic jams.

Another UNDERRATED feature. So much so that if I were the ministry of transportation in this country, I’d make this feature compulsory for all cars to reduce traffic jam stress for all Malaysians.

Walk Away Auto Lock

When you’ve arrived at your destination and exit your vehicle, there’s no need to press any button to lock your car.

Simply walk away, and the car will automatically lock itself. You won’t believe how useful this feature is until you have to haul in your groceries and luggage from a long trip.

Rear AC Vents

Rear AC vents
Rear AC vents

This is a compulsory feature to have in a family car in Malaysia. With our hot weather, how can the rear passengers be comfortable without rear AC vents?

USB Ports

USB ports for at front
USB ports for at front
USB port for the rear
USB port for the rear

Everyone has smart devices nowadays. Having enough charging ports for the front & rear passengers is crucial to make everyone happy, especially on long trips.

Android & Apple Car Play

Android Auto & Apple Car Play as standard
Android Auto & Apple Car Play as standard

Plug in your Android or Apple phone into the HDMI port in front & it’ll enable you to see navigation on the infotainment screen. 

This will eliminate you from having to buy an ugly phone holder & make you look like a GrabCar driver.

#8: Decent Trade-in Value

Regardless of the brand, no car will last forever. After the manufacturer’s warranty ends is when cars usually start acting up.

After a certain age, let’s say 10 years, the cost to repair your car to functioning order might not make financial sense anymore.

At that point, buying a new reliable car might be the best decision for the safety of your family.

If your current car is a popular model (like the Civic), you’ll be happy to know that when the time comes to sell your car, you can get a decent trade-in value, where you’ll be able to roll that money into the downpayment of your next car.

But if you purchased a car that’s not that popular, let’s say a Peugeot, your trade-in value will be comically low. It might not even be enough to offset your car loan, let alone roll over to your new ride!

Honda Civic Turbo: My Pick for the Best Family Car

Sure, the Honda Civic might not be the prettiest, most exciting, nor the best performing car, but it hits all the right boxes to be crowned the best value family car in my opinion.

My heart will pick the Mazda CX-5, but my rational head will pick the Honda Civic Turbo.

I hope my views have helped some of you pick out a family car that is right for your needs.

Comment below and share what you think!

Helmi Hasan

Content Marketer for Balkoni Hijau. I share practical money tips & review value for money products & experiences in Malaysia. 200,000 views on YouTube & blog readers.

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