By on August 1, 2011

My 2012 Honda Civic review concluded that “the design is clunky, the materials are cut-rate, and the driving experience is so dreadfully dull that even a Toyota Prius is a blast in comparison.” Could this car have inspired the owner evangelism that made Honda a major industry player? Highly unlikely. Though most commenters shared my severe disappointment with the car, at least one found the “bashing” to be “amusing.” Perhaps Honda similarly shrugged off my critique. Some of the big car mags have ranked the new Civic fairly high in recent comparos, so by picking and choosing who they pay attention to Honda’s leaders might maintain the illusion that they aren’t hopelessly off course.

Well, if a TTAC review didn’t provide them with a strong enough dose of reality, perhaps this will: as recounted in the September 2011 issue, the new Civic tested so low in Consumer Report’s road test that they won’t recommend it. Among other things, they note that the redesigned car’s interior is cheap, the steering is devoid of feedback, and the ride feels unsettled. They also note that “the Civic’s sporty character is gone.”

A Civic that Consumer Reports cannot recommend? If this doesn’t provide Honda with a clue, I don’t know what will.

[UPDATE: Hit the jump for CR's press release]

YONKERS, NY —The highly anticipated redesigned Honda Civic LX, whose predecessors have often been Consumer Reports’ highest rated small sedans as well as Top Picks in five of the last 10 years, now scores too low to be Recommended by the leading automotive testing organization.

The redesigned Civic LX’s score dropped a whopping 17 points to a mediocre 61 from the previous generation’s very good 78. It scored second-to-last in CR’s ratings of 12 small sedans, followed only by the recently redesigned Volkwagen Jetta. Consumer Reports’ testers found the 2012 Civic to be less agile and with lower interior quality than its predecessor. It also suffers from a choppy ride, long stopping distances, and pronounced road noise. On the positive side, the Civic provides decent rear-seat room, and it achieved 30 mpg overall, which gives it the second-best fuel economy in its class—behind only the Toyota Corolla’s 32 mpg.

“While other models like the Hyundai Elantra have gotten better after being redesigned, the Civic has dropped so much that now it ranks near the bottom of its category,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT

The test group also included sedan and hatchback versions of the redesigned-for-2012 Ford Focus and the hatchback version of the Kia Forte, which both scored Very Good. The Focus was fun to drive and more polished than its predecessor, with the type of agile handling, supple ride, and solid feel expected from a compact sports sedan. But a snug rear seat, complicated controls, and annoying behavior by the automatic transmission took a toll on its score. The 5-Door hatchback is Kia’s latest addition to the Forte line, and is well-equipped, relatively roomy, and offers a lot for the money. But its noise isolation, ride, and interior quality are middling.

The issue also features tests of two versions of the Ford F-150 pickup, perennially the best-selling model in the U.S. Freshened for 2011, it’s quieter and more refined than earlier versions, with an improved ride, and better acceleration.

Competition in the small sedan segment is intense with many new or redesigned entries this year. The redesigned-for-2011 Hyundai Elantra tops CR’s ratings with its impressive fuel economy, roomy interior, and strong value. The new-for-2011 Chevrolet Cruze is much more refined than previous General Motors small cars but fuel economy suffers from its heavy weight. Redesigned for 2011, the Volkswagen Jetta, like the Civic, dramatically dropped in overall score in CR’s Ratings. Some older-design small sedans, like the highly-efficient Toyota Corolla, the roomy and quiet Nissan Sentra, and the sporty Mazda3 remain competitive.

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101 Comments on “Did You Ever Imagine Consumer Reports Would Not Recommend A Honda Civic?...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    I was driving behind one the other day and couldn’t get over how cheap it looked compared to a Golf, Focus, Elantra or even a Cruze.

    I get the feeling Honda is resting on its laurels a little too much.

    • 0 avatar
      ecooley8

      I just bought my 17 yr old daughter a 2012 EX L Civic for graduation and she loves it. I also have driven it and it drives and rides like a much more expensive car. Get over 40mpg on Hwy most of the time and 31 city, My wife has driven Honda Accord EX ‘s since 1981 so very familiar with Honda’s.
      My daughter had a Jetta before I bought her the 2012 EX L and it was always in the shop $$$$$$$

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      And what, 2010 Civic was a good one? Sorry, but besides good looks, the interior and double dash monster simply suck

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Honda’s been resting on its laurels since the 1996-2000 Civics in my opinion.

      While the 2001-2005 and 2006-2011 Civics were improvements over those cars in terms of safety, interior room, and power, they weren’t as far ahead of everything else on the market as the 1996-2000 Civics – which were by far the best small cars of their time.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        Indeed, the Gen 6s were great, but IMHO, the Gen 5s (92-95) were the apogee of small cars. Whenever I pass a Civic from those model years, I can’t help but think how perfectly styled and engineered those cars, particularly the hatches are. Still hold up 20 years later.

        Ever since 2000, the design/engineering of the Civic has been a slow-moving train wreck.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Nah, the boys back in Japan will just think all’s gonna be well. They don’t seem to understand (or care) what’s going on at the grassroot level. Look how long it takes for them to reverse Acura’s dreadful styling, and then not by much. Fixing grilles are the easiest thing to do! Don’t cost much either. Honda executives seem to have morphed into GM executives in the 1970s and 1980s, it seems. They’ll drove the company to the ground, just like GM. It’ll take some time, because of the momentum that a car company had from all of its past successes, again, just like GM, but the direction seem clear to me, unless something drastic is taken to turn the company around. Soichiro is rolling in his grave, for sure.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    Hondas haven’t been on my car shopping list since I drove a Civic in 2004. Cheap feeling, tinny sounding when I slammed the door, and not fun to drive at all. My Accent is a much better car in all those respects.

    By The Way, sell your Mazda and Mitsubishi stock. I think both will be gone from the US market in 10 years max.

    • 0 avatar

      Since Mitsubishi’s not dead yet, I’m not sure anything can kill it.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sorry MarcKyle, I’m familiar with both Civics and Accents, and I fan of Hyundai, and although I know Accents are solid reliable transportation, there is just no way it is a “better car in all those respects.” The last gen Civic is a pretty solid cruiser (for the class), and I’ve heard the sounds those doors make. It is a solid, pleasing “thunk” like most Honda’s of the mid/later-2000s. Plus, the last gen still retained much of its sporty character and has a nice, smooth engine that will easily outdo and out refine yours. Not to mention an excellent 5 speed. I’m not saying that Honda is better, I’m saying I think you are exaggerating unfairly. The differences aren’t surprising either, considering the Civic is in a different class.

      By all reports though the new Accent is great, and the new Civic is subpar…so I could see that being more truthful now.

      And by the way, as has been stated: there are more markets than just the US in the world. Just because a company doesn’t do well here, does not mean it will die completely.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Styling, road feel, ergonomics etc are subjective by nature but reliability and purchase price are not. If Honda fails the TCO test Hyundai and Kia will eat them alive.

    If you can’t get rock solid reliability and economy from a Civic then what reason is left to buy one?

    • 0 avatar

      These things might be subjective, but subjective doesn’t necessarily mean that opinions will vary widely. Just about anyone will notice the difference between how a new Civic and a new Focus look and feel–and care. CR doesn’t tend to diss a car for subjective reasons unless these impressions are likely to be widely shared.

      Fuel economy and reliability should be good with the new Civic. But competitors will do nearly as well, if not better, on these fronts. CR had high praise for the Focus, but cannot recommend it until it also has reliability data.

      TrueDelta could have reliability stats for the new Civic as soon as November. We will have reliability stats for the 2012 Focus in November. CR might have some reliability stats for the Focus at the same time, but if so they’ll be based on only a few weeks of ownership instead of several months. If not, then the soonest they’ll recommend the Focus will be the fall of 2012. And then only if the Focus is fairly problem-free.

      To help with the Car Reliability Survey, with just about any car:

      http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      Advo

      Because it’s dash appeals to many of the video game generation?

  • avatar
    Toad

    This should leave the Consumer Reports haters scratching their heads…

    While not perfect, the fact that CR was willing to move the Honda Civic to their “not recommended” list says a lot about their integrity.

    • 0 avatar

      Unlike many enthusiasts, I’ve always found CR’s road tests to be thorough and balanced. (And it does hurt that their review essentially paraphrases my own.) It’s their reliability survey, which is a separate operation with lower standards, that I have a problem with.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        Nice to see I’m not the only one that actually likes Consumer Reports. They’re not gospel but I think they’re much more balanced and consistent than enthusiast magazines, even if they can be rather antiseptic.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    It is very interesting that this car did so well in some of the comparison test. I think it has really gone down hill with the cheap materials, but it is still selling quite well. Hopefully this is a wake up call for Honda that it can’t keep on its current path.

    • 0 avatar

      When even CR disses the Civic, you’ve really got to wonder how it did well in some of those “enthusiast magazine” comparisons.

      I’ve been trying to give Honda a wake up call for a few years now. But they are stuck.

      At NAIAS a couple years ago I found myself in a vehicle with some Acura execs. I brought up the awful alphanumerics and the stupidity of killing the Legend and Integra model names. They said to tell them something they weren’t already painfully aware of. So obvious, so easy to fix, and yet they don’t fix it.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The Japanese are clueless and have really lost their way. Frumpy styling with technologically dull designs made with cheap materials will prove to be a recipe for disaster for Honda, Nissan and Toyota. The Koreans and even Americans (thank you Europe) are currently blowing them out of the water. Who would have thunk it? The new Civic and Nissan Versa look like throwbacks from the 90′s.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    As long as both the Civic and Corolla sell well, their parent companies are not gonna put a lot into them that would raise the price to well above the competition which would then make them look REALLY bad, as long as the reliability stays there, most buyers will overlook the cheap interiors. We’re becoming a complacent society.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The problem with that argument is that the Japanese cars have generally been more expensive than their American (and Korean) competitors, as the latter companies had been forced to use lower base prices and more generous incentives in order to help move cars and stay competitive (in sales). In order to make money, these means they have been using lower quality materials and workmanship Its only really with the release of the current gen. that the domestics have been more expensive than the Japanese.

      Honda and Toyota would be wise to avoid making their cars too cheap, or they will end up in the same position. Many people are willing to accept cheap if they feel it is reliable, but most of those people are also willing to spend a little extra money if they feel they can get a car that is both reliable and a better value (i.e. higher quality).

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The reliability gap has narrowed significantly. At the current rate, it will be rather minimal soon. I think Toyota and Honda have quite a fight on their hands, some from the domestics, but a lot from Korea.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    Honda seems to be going the way of Sony.

    There was a time you couldn’t beat a Sony product and people paid extra.

    Nowadays Samsung and LG are eating their lunch.

  • avatar
    lw

    Consumer reports regains a bit of credibility in my book.

    Btw.. the typo in the headline is making me queasy.

    “Every” vs. “Ever”

  • avatar
    Zackman

    SPELLCHECK!

    Back to the normally-scheduled program:

    It appears something is going on all over – everyone seems to be trying to cheapen-out their products at every turn, and Honda is no exception. That said, I believe they can coast quite a ways on their reliability history alone. For how long? Probably not very, as things move faster every day and people are more fickle than ever.

    Me? I’ll buy a Cruze if I need a small car, or a Focus.

    EDIT: My daughter bought a 2003 Civic new. She hated that car with a passion! She replaced it with a 2007 Chevy Trailblazer! In spite of 16 mpg, she loves it still, 5 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I would say that GM and Ford are not cheapening out their products right now, but adding nicer interiors where they can, and more features as well. Hyundai is doing it too, but with out the sound deadening materials.

      Toyota Honda and VW are getting cheaper materials though.

  • avatar
    musicalmcs8706

    I have seen several new Civics on the road lately as I live only about one-two miles from a Honda dealership. I have not been that impressed with how they look. A classmate of mine (we’re master’s students) was looking at a new car and I asked her what she was looking at. She said the Civic and listed the reasons why Honda used to be so revered. Good fuel economy, price, etc. I pointed her to Hyundais, especially the Accent. She now owns a brand new 2012 Accent and is MUCH happier than she was with just looking at the Civic.

  • avatar
    geeber

    This is not good news. Consumer Reports recommendations sold a fair number of Hondas in the past.

    Interestingly, I just purchased the September issue of Car and Driver, and the Pilot finished third in a three-vehicle comparison test – behind the new Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango (the winner).

    Somebody at Honda needs to wake up, and fast…

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      This is not good news. Consumer Reports recommendations sold a fair number of Hondas in the past.

      This is the sort of rebuke that may actually prompt a significant mid-cycle upgrade. CR is hard to ignore, and Honda gets more than 40% of its revenue from North America.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        You may be right but waiting 2-3 years for a mid-cycle upgrade is clutching at straws since they have to compete in the interim. Toyota is in the same place with the Corolla which will be replaced in 2014/2015 timeframe (from Automotive News). This gives time for consumers to move and perhaps decisively move to Hyundai/Kia, GM, Ford and VW.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Honda had better do something, and fast. I had my 2003 Accord in for regular service two weeks ago, and looked at the new Civic on the showroom floor. Very chintzy carpeting, and the exterior looked very plain. Compared to the new Focus, it’s a major disappointment.

        I’ve had excellent luck with my Hondas in the past, but we’ve also had good luck with our 2005 Focus SE (130,000 miles, and no major problems), so replacing my Accord with another Honda is not necessarily a given.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You may be right but waiting 2-3 years for a mid-cycle upgrade is clutching at straws since they have to compete in the interim.

        They can probably upgrade the interiors more quickly than that if they choose. Chrysler provides a good example of how quickly that this can be done if the policy is in place.

        But yes, if consumers care as much about this as CR does, then this could help the other makes, particularly the Koreans. My guess is that it won’t hurt sales much in the short run, but it would be wise for Honda to act quickly, regardless.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      Honda does make a wagon, the Acura TSX Wagon.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Nice to see a very mainstream publication like CR call out Honda for what many of us EX-Honda buyers have been saying for years now: they lost the plot. Funny thing is they messed up Acura first then copied the lack of success over the mother ship. Wife saw a CrossTour yesterday and nearly puked… no wonder why we have a Volvo C30 in the driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I guess I’m ex center on that one, but I find the Crosstour quite good looking. Perhaps not the most practical packaging of 200 inches worth of length, but I fail to see why that car in particular is considered so hideous.

      Another plus is that it’s length, soft springs, large circumference, narrow tires, muted noise levels and slightly elevated hip point makes it ride not too dissimilar to the Panther cars everyone loves; at least until you floor it and realize the wrong wheels are driven.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        I have to admit after seeing the CrossTour in person it was not as hideous as in pictures. Still, not the car for me and I don’t see why they can’t just sell a REAL Accord wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      “…muted noise levels…”

      You are talking about a Honda, aren’t you? Drive one from I-90 MP4 to MP40, roughly Bellevue to Snoqualmie WA. OSHA won’t allow it without hearing protection the road noise is so loud. I got an estimate to strip an Accord interior and install sound deadening for $750.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    As others have said, at least this gives Consumer Reports a touch of credibility outside of laundry pair reliability ratings.

    I think Honda will still sell a bunch to the general public who don’t know any better (look at the last couple generations of Corolla and Camry) but with how fast the world moves today, I don’t think they have the generations to turn it around like others had in the past before they start to hurt from this.

    I used to be a huge Honda fan (my first ever car was an 80s CRX,my first new car was a 99 Civic SiR coupe, my first motorcycle was a CBR600F4 etc with a few more of their products mixed in there) but other than the Accord my parents bought new in 2001 (which they still have and going strong) nobody in my extended family has a Honda product any more, other than a single lawn mower. I haven’t recommended one of their vehicles since that Accord.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I love my ’10 Accord – with one exception.

    The completely awful front seats. I’ve purchased some seat pads that help, but gads, I’ve got to trade the fine response, excellent interior, and great performance with seats that are awful.

    Google “Accord seat complaints” and see the plethora of things there.

    Underwhelming.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I think a lot of this has a lot to do with Honda’s cost structure. With the rise in the Yen, the Japanese have to take costs out of their product. While people will pay a small premium for a Honda, they are a mainstream manufacturer and have to be roughly cost competitive with other mainstream automakers.

    The Koreans have a lower cost structure, as do the Americans thanks to the devaluation of the dollar. GM and Chrysler have had their cost structure lowered even more due to the “cleansing effects of bankruptcy” wiping away a big chunk of their legacy costs.

    Honda also used to have a clear design philosophy – their elegant approach was almost what you would expect if Colin Chapman set out to build affordable, reliable, family cars. Monstrosities like the Pilot, Ridgeline, and Crosstour don’t seem to fit in well with Soichiro Honda’s way of doing things.

    These days Honda is just another mainstream automaker, with mediocre products and an uncompetitive cost structure.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Yes, but IIRC the Civic is one of the most American cars that you can buy. Upwards of 90% is domestic (US) content.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I remember the Detroit makers used to complain how they were stuck with what amounted to thousands of dollars in costs per vehicle in pension and health care costs for retired employees; which the Japanese makes, presumably because they were younger, were not burdened with. I don’t know how the Japanese keep their oldsters alive, but may the above kind of cost structure now be hurting them, vs. for example the Koreans?

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    That’s the best use of a picture to describe an article I’ve seen on this website. Brilliant!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Two things:

    The Civic was held up for a year in the design stage after the economy prolapsed its colon in 2008.

    The Civic is no longer sold in Japan.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I was wondering about the redesign holdup myself. My understanding was that it was done to get weight down (the new car was rumoured to be larger) but the actual result begs the question of whether or not cost was the target?

  • avatar
    jjf

    I’d love to see a side by side comparison review of say a 1991 Civic SI vs. a 2012 Civic SI. By this I mean a real in depth review with pictures of the two cars next to each other. It would be interesting to put some numbers and visualize the changes.

    Anyone have an early 90′s SI they could lend to Mr Karesh for a week?

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t need nearly a week. But good luck finding such a car in decent shape up here in Michigan.

      I’m old enough to actually remember being disappointed by the second-gen CRX (I don’t recall driving a Civic Si in that time period). With a more steeply raked windshield and greater emphasis on refinement, it lacked the extreme intimacy, tossability, and verve of the first-generation, mid-80s car.

      • 0 avatar
        CarPerson

        Thanks for the comment “steeply ranked windshield”. There are a few things I can spot a mile away that make me never consider the vehicle. A windshield raked that steep is one. An overly raked rear roof that kills interior space is another. If I close the door and it sounds like a car crash, Nope.

        Spend a billion on promotion if you want: I still ain’t buying.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      The Civic jumped the shark in 2001, when they switched out the double wishbone front suspension for MacPhearson struts (among a wave of other decontenting).

  • avatar
    steronz

    I remember reading an editorial recently about how auto journalists don’t know what they’re talking about because the down-market cut-rate joyless new Jetta is selling like hotcakes.

    If only I could remember where I read that. I think the guy’s name was something like John Maruth. Oh well.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    I think they might be on to something. They look to have swung for a spot about a yard past the shortstop on this one, but that might not be too big a deal with the customers they may get.

    Consider what this car doesn’t have:
    -Direct injection
    -Turbocharging
    -All-wheel-drive
    -Start/Stop
    -11:1 or higher compression
    -Dual clutch/automated manual/CVT gearbox
    and it might have been that Honda was betting on a car with predictable, low running costs, with gas mileage that’s not too far off the class leaders. It’s worked before. The previous-generation Civic was known to be pretty reliable, and a couple more years of debugging won’t hurt. Remember, the Civic was basically the same from ’88 to ’00. It also gives a few more years of amortizing the tooling, which could make the fleet sales profitable.

    Unfortunately, they appear to have built a penalty box in the process, so all of this might be for naught. If it’s the car that people try to avoid at the rental counter nobody will want their own either.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The 2012 Civic has returned the best fuel mileage of any gasoline powered compact in every comparison it has been in. No direct injection means lower operating costs and longer service life. Ditto for no turbo. All wheel drive is counter the purpose of cars in this class. The best fuel economy of any AWD car in the US is comparable to the worst FWD car in this size class. Engine start/stop is coming thanks to the totalitarians, but it adds complexity, weight, shortens service life, and decreases performance. I won’t buy it until there it no alternative. 11:1 compression ratio? Okay, so it is 10.6:1. The car still returns the best fuel economy, and it won’t be as sensitive to a bad tank of gas. As for the transmission, drive a Ford Powershift or a car with a belt variator CVT. I’ll take a conventional automatic over either on purely subjective preferences, and that is before you consider their service lives. You also might want to look into what regular maintenance costs for a VW DSG.

      The new Civic isn’t for everyone. Perhaps it will only appeal to people who understand engineering decisions and aren’t easily fooled.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        CJ:

        You completely got my point – none of this is essential equipment for this kind of car, and Honda may be taking a chance that the advanced machinery will blow up and they’ll have a clear shot at the “reliability and low cost” buyer.

        Trouble is, the driving experience sucks, and it shouldn’t. The same basic recipe, 140 hp/2800 lbs/clean-shifting-5-speed manual/110″ or so wheelbase, isn’t that far off from the DC Integra and CD Accord, which are two of the best economy cars ever made. Those cars are a lot of fun even stock and soft because Honda pretty much nailed the chassis setup, and this one isn’t even playing in the same ballpark.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I need some substantial wheel time in a 2012 to see if it there is any truth to the complaints. I’ve driven some of the celebrated competitors, and none of them have driven remotely as well as a 2005 Mazda 3 Touring or a 2007 Civic Si sedan. I’d consider another Mazda, but the 2005 had frequent CEL issues and then needed an engine at 80K miles. I’ll be sticking with Hondas until they give me a real reason to stop. If I needed a car right now, I’d get another Si. I’m shopping for a 2012 Civic EX-L for my mother. She’s replacing the BMW that did a poor job of replacing her Porsche. She won’t consider anything but a Honda this time because my father bought a TSX in 2004 and it has had as many problems in 7 years as the best of our seven German cars had in its best year. Maybe Hondas were better(at least better loved) decades ago, but we were a German car family from the mid ’80s to the mid 2000s, so new Hondas seem completely brilliant to us.

      • 0 avatar
        lzaffuto

        That may be why *you* prefer the Civic, but that is a clear departure from what built the company’s reputation here in the US. Honda built their reputation as an engineering company, gas mileage and reliability was always a big part of the equation, but what set them apart from Toyota was their added engineering prowess and spritely performance. The most power for the displacement, the newest and best engine technology, high build quality, and the most fun-to-drive in the segment. If you wanted those things you bought a Civic. If you wanted mediocre reliable transportation, you bought a Corolla. Now there is practically no difference. This is no longer the company that made the CVCC, VTEC, All-Wheel-Steering, and put double-wishbones front and rear in their base models. This is no longer Honda. This is an appliance maker.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        The new Civic will appeal to two kinds of people: badge fanatics, and those too lazy to cross shop basically any other car in the segment. All those Sonata buyers didn’t spring out of thin air. Your defense of Honda’s inability to be technology-forward is only going to hurt them in the long run. I’m pretty convinced that direct-injection denialists are the new version of those who said we don’t need those gosh-darned computers controlling our fuel injection.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “All those Sonata buyers didn’t spring out of thin air.”

        That’s where they’re going to disappear to. Read Car and Driver’s long term test of the Sonata Turbo. 5 unscheduled visits to the service bay in six months won’t fool many former Camry owners.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        A Car and Driver test is hardly indicative of a vehicle’s long-term reliability. Something like TrueDelta is a far better indicator of how vehicles perform in this area- and it records the Sonata as having excellent reliability over a number of years. The Sonata Turbo isn’t what the Camry and Civic drivers are flocking to anyway; they’re going for the base Sonata, the Chevrolet Cruze, the Focus, or any number of superior models. Your seeming confidence that Hyundai will vanish into thin air soon, despite years of increasing market share and widespread consumer satisfaction with their products, is utterly without merit and reminds me of a brown-suited GM executive scoffing at “those worthless Datsuns” around 1972. But I suppose that even if Hyundai doesn’t disappear, you can still go around with your nose in the air and scoff at those plebeians who don’t know about “engineering” or “reliability” because they’ve never basked in the rarefied air of Honda ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “it might have been that Honda was betting on a car with predictable, low running costs, with gas mileage that’s not too far off the class leaders. It’s worked before. The previous-generation Civic was known to be pretty reliable, and a couple more years of debugging won’t hurt. ”

      The Corolla has this market sewn up pretty well so if Honda is planning to compete in the US market by fighting for Corolla buyers…I guess that strategy makes sense.

      Otherwise, it just seems ridiculous. Especially since Honda’s traditionally been a leader in R&D and advanced technology. They had 8000 rpm twin-cam VTEC fours when most GM sedans had pushrod engines.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I suspect this is the same phenomenon that spawned the new VW Jetta. Commodity prices for oil (used for plastics and carpets) are rising along with steel, aluminium, copper – you name the material. Add in the requirements for government crash and EPA regulations and auto makers are under a lot of cost pressures. If the Civic was built to 1990′s Honda standards a DX would cost $30,000+. Decontenting is the only way out. Get ready for more of it from every manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Would a Civic built to the old standards really be $30K? Several manufacturers are able to build cars at a comparable or cheaper price than the new Civic with well regarded interior material quality. So it is possible.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      Toyota is going the other way, wait til the new camry is debuted in late Aug and then check out the interior.

  • avatar
    tnmansfield

    I can’t believe all of the negative press the new Civic has received. I am an enthusiast and chose a 2012 Civic Ex-L with nav for these reasons as I comparison shopped: I drove 2 focus’ (Foci?) and one had trouble with the parking assist on my test drive while the other’s MyFord touch system needed to be rebooted before I could operate it. The first Focus I drove had odd panel gaps where the a-pillar meets the dash, and finally the transmission in both samples was clunky. The Elantra is unproven, had a small rear seat, and while styled nicely it seemed totally disconnected in the way it drove. The Civic rides well, has a very generous back seat, has Honda’s proven drivetrain reliability record behind it, has comfortable seats and is well contented for the price I paid. I only wish it had Homelink and fog lights. My 104 mile per day commute at 42 mpg on regular fuel is great along with bluetooth and a great nav system …makes my drive a breeze! This is coming from one who has owned a BMW 3 series, an Audi A4, Volvo S60R and most recently an Infiniti G35 sport (in that order). I have owned 3 Jetta’s but shyed away from VW over reliability concerns.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      So you didn`t try the Cruze or the Mazda 3?

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Exactly how is the Elantra “unproven”? Outside of peeling clear coats and cheap interior bits the older models were pretty reliable. The Elantra is no more unproven than the new Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      I hope your Honda rear park assist worked great… Oh, wait, it doesn’t even have one as an option on the top of the line ‘fancy Honda’ (aka Acura)!!!

      “proven drivetrain”? If by proven you mean outdated, then Yes. As it comes with ancient 5-speed auto, where all others (except Corolla, that seems to be stuck in the XX century with 4-speed auto and reminds me of Neon 3-speed, when everyone else offered 4-speed auto) Elantra, Cruize and Focus offer you 6-speed automatic. No Direct Injection, no turbo and no dual clutch.

      Hatchback also not offered (unlike Elantra Touring and 2012 Focus).

      42mpg? Dunno where did you data is coming from, but according to: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm the highest rating for 2012 Civic on the hwy is 39mpg with auto and 36 with manual.

      And speaking of gaps, didn’t see any on a new Focus, but if you search car reviews here, check out Acura MDX review by Michael Karesh. As far as I know both Civic and MDX are made in Alliston plant in Ontario and MDX more premium then Civic.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “42mpg? Dunno where did you data is coming from, but according to: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm the highest rating for 2012 Civic on the hwy is 39mpg with auto and 36 with manual.”

        There is this magic trick that some of us are capable of where we read our trip odometer when we buy gasoline and then divide the number of miles by the number of gallons of gas that we buy. The EPA tests have little to do with the real world. They’re also adjusted downward by 22% in the case of the highway estimate. That means that the Honda Civic automatic returned 50 MPG in the EPA’s own test.

      • 0 avatar
        tnmansfield

        I didn’t want the park assist, but as I said on my test drive the dealer was anxious to show it to me…..and it froze. 42mpg? I got that from my own calcs with a good old calculator. I have put over 2000 miles on it and that is my average. I drive 85% highway and 15% city on my daily commute. I don’t care about the hatchback. And yes, I personally saw the gaps on the first 2 Fords I looked at in the location I mentioned. The 5 speed tranny works great….I don’t care if it has 6 or 5 as long as it shifts when it’s supposed to. These are all first hand experiences, which I value more that what others write about after a brief test. Bimmer, you seem to be regurgitating what you’ve read, not what you’ve experienced.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        The value of the EPA test is that they’re the same for each car so we don’t end up in an anecdote-laden personal measuring contest where one poster swears that his old CRX “totally got 60 miles to the gallon back in the day” and somebody else talks about that one trip from Colorado Springs to Denver where his Prius “didn’t use any gas.”

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        aristurtle,

        The problem is that the result of the EPA test is not consistently applicable to the real world. Cars set up to do well on the test do so by gearing and shift strategies that are counter to real world efficiency. The model is hopelessly flawed, so targeting a good score reduces performance. There was a Motor Trend comparison of V6 automatic coupes recently that illustrated it well. The car with the worst EPA numbers was by far the most efficient in the real world. It also had the least annoying shift calibration. Things only get worse when you factor in turbocharged cars that are set up to execute the EPA test without resorting to fuel flow rates that will be accessed in every day use. A good standardized test would be valuable, but the EPA test is anything but reflective of real world conditions. The EPA knows it too. That is why they lop 10% off the city result and 22% off their highway result. The problem is that no two cars need the same correction. The EPA would have gone to a better model, but the CAFE standards are based on their ridiculous and meaningless procedure.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        “The EPA would have gone to a better model, but the CAFE standards are based on their ridiculous and meaningless procedure.”

        Actually, they aren’t. CAFE has its own cycle that consistently shows gas mileage about twenty-odd percent higher than the EPA cycle that goes on the window sticker.

        Yes, this is absurd. I assume that this came about because some politicians wanted to cater to the enviro bloc by saying they’re going for an impressively high CAFE target and hoping nobody looks too closely under the hood, so to speak.

        edit: a quick look into this shows that CAFE and EPASticker used to be the same cycle and EPASticker changed in 2008 because the estimates were consistently too high. So, just regular ridiculousity rather than something specifically calculated.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        aristurtle,

        There is only one test. For CAFE calculations, the results of the test are used unaltered. For window stickers, the results of the test are multiplied by .9 for city, .78 for highway. It is still the same test, but the results are adjusted because the test is missing important factors like aerodynamic drag. Not much wind resistance on the dynometer. This results in cars geared to be driven in a vacuum. Driving in a vacuum would present its own problems, but I’ve never encountered one in my travels. Personally, I want gearing chosen so that shifts just past the power peak result in selecting the next gear at the engine’s torque peak. When you have gearing chosen for this purpose on the road, you get optimum performance and efficiency. But you don’t get the best results in the EPA’s dyno room while driving their prescribed regimen of accelerations.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      tnmansfield,

      I’ll take technology that works over technology for the sake of selling cars to ignoramuses any day. The new Civic is gimmick free, which means it will work for as long as you want it to while producing class competitive performance. Sure, the carpet is lighter weight. So is the car, by hundreds of pounds relative to the worst of the competition. That certainly plays a roll in returning the best observed fuel economy in every comparison test while avoiding problematic direct injection and service intensive transmission configurations. Don’t worry about people who criticize your choice. Dealer mechanics and service managers need to eat too.

  • avatar
    SV

    I thought Honda was floundering a little for a while, but I was very shocked to see the new Civic do so badly in Consumer Reports’ testing – they dropped it 17 points, from an overall score of 78 for the old model (quite good, best in class for a while) to just 61 (ahead of only the Jetta). Considering how important the Civic is and how in the past Toyotas and Hondas were almost ideal Consumer Reports performers, this is sure evidence that they’ve lost their way.

    The new Focus did pretty well but not amazingly in their testing. The hatchback scored a very good 74 – only a point behind the Audi A3, in fact. But the sedan scored a less impressive 68, which is only midpack in the small-car segment. Not bad, but not amazing either. In fact that’s right in between the two Chevy Cruzes they tested (the 1.8 scored a 67 and the 1.4T got a 69). They praised ride, handling, fuel economy, and interior materials, but docked it some serious points for the Powershift trans (which didn’t seem to be nearly as much of an issue for them in the Fiesta…hmm) and rear-seat room.

    Still, a much better performance than the Civic, and I wasn’t sure I’d see the day when the Focus outscored the Civic again.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    This could mean one thing – Honday wakes up and re-designs compact cars with great revving engines, excellent steering and good level of utility. Or they continue sucking more.
    Signed,
    Former MY2000 Civic Hatchback owner.

  • avatar
    Ion

    I still can’t believe this is the car Honda claimed the had to delay so they could revisit the drawing board. I can’t fanthom how bad their original design must have been.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    What all of the complaining about the cheapness of new cars (Hondas, VWs, etc.) is really about is cost. Before the BKs, Detroit had a lot of legacy costs, they de-contented their cars and soldiered on until the BK. Now, with radically lower costs of production, Detroit can afford to put in better materials.

    The shoe is on the other foot in Japan. Saddled with a high yen and materials costs, the only way out is the Detroit way: De-content. Unfortunately for Japan, Inc. this comes at a time where Detroit is resurgent, VW has seen the de-contenting light, and H-K is about to re-define “Asian Tiger” in the automotive world.

    I suspect that there will only be one strong survivor in all of this in Japan, it will be Toyota. They have the scale to go toe-to-toe with the others mentioned previously.

    As for the Civic, it’s a shame really. At one time (1984) it could have been it’s own car company, but now it’s gotten old and conservatives like it’s customers.

    Maybe Honda does know what it’s doing…

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I actually quite like the 2005-2011 Civic, but really can’t afford even a used one at this point. In the meantime, my 1998 DX hatchback is still an hoot to drive, even if for no other reason than I can see out of it and it’s very small and maneuverable…though whatever’s left of the 100 or so horsepower when new is not quite enough to keep up with highway traffic anymore. Also it only has an AM/FM radio, nothing else.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    ANY Civic beats what I currently drive, an ’08 Epsilon body ObamaMotors Malibu (that is by the way, materially and mechanically worthless). If I can even get 33mpg overall from a ’12 Civic it would be better than the 23mpg I currently get HIGHWAY from my archaic 4spd Saturn trans/2.4 Ecotec pile I humbly dubbed ‘Malishit’. Build quality? What build quality?

    I don’t care if the new Civic sounds like a crushing beer can opening and closing when getting into it, ill seriously consider one.

    @geozinger P.S. I love the ’73-’74 Javelin thumbnail! To retort; ‘As for the Civic, it’s a shame really. At one time (1984) it could have been it’s own car company, but now it’s gotten old and conservatives like it’s customers.’ I am conservative, but not OLD (27) :).

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Honda seemed to peak between the late ’90s and around 2003. Ever sine then the company has been drifting; when Soichiro Honda was alive the company was focused and built great products. Now it seems to be drifting with no clear focus; witness the Crosstour, the Pilot and the Ridgeline. Honda seems to be coming in the 21st century what GM was in the ’80s and ’90s. Honda needs to get focused and quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I agree that the Crosstour / Ridgeline are terrible execution but good ideas, the Pilot actually doesn’t look terrible compared to the rest of their lineup and actually sells well. The bad ideas though do cross over into Acura with the beak nosed drills, FWD luxury focus, no sports halo car, and the ZDX.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    The technology-denial defense of the new Civic is getting pretty threadbare. Any new technology will have kinks at first, but woe be to the manufacturer that falls behind the curve. It smacks of the early days of the anti-fuel injection or anti-seatbelt crowd. The market does not reward manufacturers who refuse to keep up with the innovations of others. Honda does not get a free pass because of the magic badge on the front. I admit that my admiration of CR has increased slightly, but this really ought to have come in five years ago. That was when Honda really started to fall behind.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Also, Honda’s traditionally (up to the early 2000′s anyway) been a leader in technology, even in its entry level cars.

      Remember VTEC? Honda had variable valve timing for years in its mainstream sedans before any of its competitors came out with similar systems.

      So Honda’s reversal on implementing advanced technology in their everyday doesn’t make sense. It sounds more like they’re cutting costs by deferring R&D spend where they think (and this is where they’re gambling) consumers don’t care.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    I read 50% of the comments and no one acknowledged that they are probably getting squeezed by the strong yen.

  • avatar
    jcmiami

    It comes down to perception – people view Hondas and Toyotas as very reliable “transportation” – machines that get people from point A to point B with no issues for years and years. People buy these cars for reliability purposes and most people are not car enthusiasts so they don’t care of cheapened interiors, downgraded suspensions, etc – its all about price and reliability. They view their cars as appliances. Toyota and Honda know this and are riding the “brand recognition reliability card” to the bank.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    No matter how good the Civic’s fuel mileage might have tested out to be, it can’t be ignored that it came at the price of 60-0 wet and dry braking distances that exceeded those for both F-150′s tested and a top emergency maneuver speed lower than the much larger Azera.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Actually, I like Consumer Reports very much. It’s a lot like TTAC – independent. CR buys their own test cars and are not beholden to the manufacturers. Similarly, TTAC begs, borrows, and steals — just kidding TTAC!… I should say rents — their test cars and are not beholden to the manufacturers.

    That said, CR and TTAC came to the same conclusion about the Honda Civic. And I have to agree with them, but with deep sadness and not with the glee some of the comments have shown.

    The Civic’s slide was gradual. One year, the double wish-bones go away. Another year, the Civic loses its split rear folding seats. Next year, the trunk liner will vanish. Handling gets softer, braking distances get longer, and now we can’t recognize the Civic.

    Most of the time, manufacturers should ignore enthusiasts and auto journalists. We’re an eccentric, eclectic, and demanding bunch. But in this case, we’re the “canary in the coal mine.” The average consumer will also cease to recognize the Civic.

  • avatar

    I don’t think I ever bought anything that CR recommended, and my cars provided generally excellent service (except the Galant, which was ok, but nothing amazing). I am pretty sure that CR’s opinion carries some weight, and I agree that Honda is in general trouble. But as far as my personal opinion is concerned, CR is even more overrated than Honda. I am glad Mr. Karesh felt the sweet smell of vindication though, cannot wait for him to find another hard plastic surface in some other car.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    I for one like the new Civic, though it’s virtues are out of step with mainstream America… fundamentally I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

    First of all, Audi, BMW and Mercedes have evolutionary designs. Nobody screams bloody murder about that… because the more understated something is, the high it’s social standing. It’s the difference between a big gold Rolex Submariner and a simple Patek Calatrava. That Honda went this way, betrays a little bit of their mindset… they were going for the high road.

    However, that isn’t the aesthetic fashion of the times. We’re still in the era of big and gaudy, big gaudy watches, big gaudy phones… ‘look at me’ automotive styling. However, the new Civic’s design takes an almost Warren Buffet-like approach to design… not following current fashion, but aesthetically pleasing in it’s own right.

    In real life, the new Civic sedan’s look good. The front fascia has more elegant look, and even though the rear triangular lights mimic a by-gone era for Mercedes, the cutlines of the new rear end take out some of the bulk of of the old civic.

    The interior isn’t winning any friends, but the way the space is laid out is still a Honda virtue. The front is less confined than the focus, and the back is more usable than the Elantra. The dash layout is contentious, but my only real beef is the quality of headliner and cloth upholstery. By comparison, the Hyundai looks great, but once you get a little closer, the quality of the switchgear is doesn’t live up to the billing.

    I asked my independent mechanic, who works across the street from a Hyundai/Kia dealership which we would recommend. Without hesitation, he still picked Honda over Hyundai from a repair standpoint. What I think that Honda has, but needs desperately to capitalize on, is the mythos of the Honda engineering team. I’m not talking about matching specs or introducing new technology, but something as elemental as reintroducing the public to the concept of a well made product by a company that is a little more engineering-lead than marketing-lead. For example, the weight reduction in the new generation of Civic is no small feat in this day and age, but it doesn’t get the same headlines as a few extra bhp.

  • avatar
    tnmansfield

    well said stuntmonkey. As far as day to day driving, I’ve grown quite used to the dash layout and like the airy feel the low cowl and distant upper dash offers. I don’t touch the dash on a daily basis so it being of a harder surface bears little on my impression. I like the graining on it…it hides dust and diffuses glare. The tactical feel of the switchgear is solid. CR mentions long braking distances and a single piece folding rear seat back. My EX has a split rear seat and rear disc brakes. I wonder if the LX CR tested had rear drums? Compared to my G35 Sport the brakes aren’t as grippy but they work fine. Besides, I haven’t driven the Civic like my G35….it’s a commuter car for me and a darn good one. CR also commented on the unlined trunk lid. My EX’s trunk lid is lined. Yes, I was put off by the fuzzy headliner at first because it reminded me of the mouse fur that GM used for years. However, it is tight, well applied and easy to brush grime out of (I have 2 boys who’ve put that to the test already). The panel fit inside is tight and consistent along both sides of the dash at the A-pillars, along the doors, and around the footwells. I am not sure where CR saw uneven panel fit…I can’t find it even after looking again last night. So, I think for some reason CR got caught up in all the negative hype this time and under scored the Civic. I actually find their areas of concern not sufficient to lower the score by over 20%. The car is not 20% less car than it was nor 20% less value. It is probably as good as or a little better than before.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, it does seem a little like an overreaction on CR’s part. I find it hard to believe that this car is worse than the ancient and thoroughly unimpressive Sentra.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Just checked. CR tested the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec and did not recommend it. But yes, the Nissan earned 66 points which beat out the Civic’s 61 points. Yikes.

        The reviews do point out that while the Civic did get a little worse, the competition — Mazda, Ford, Hyundai, etc — has gotten a whole lot better. By comparison, Honda is no longer the class leading premium small car it once was.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    All I really want to know is, did CR reports test a model with a fart can?

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    I think they caved to the pressure of having to come up with something provocative to say. I’m noticing the same issue that happened with the Nikon D7000 dSLR. When it came out last year, it was a pretty big jump over its predecessor, and it got covered fairly extensively by the online media right away. By the time that Popular Photography got around to publishing, they were so far behind the game that they would have had to say something provocative to remain relevant… which they aren’t.

    BTW, catch TSN’s Motoring for a no-nonsense review of the 2012 Civic and catch Fletcher’s brief dig at the coverage the car is getting.

    http://www.motoringtv.com/test-drive-s11562#Episode_17_-_2012_Honda_Civic

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Honda seems to have stolen GM’s playbook from the 90s… unfortunately they’re actually calling some of GM’s plays.

    The new Civic is the epitome of cost cutting and catering to a watered down least-common-denominator. They are chasing vehicle margin instead of selling a car that people will enjoy using or driving.


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