Honda Cancels Its Subscription To Consumer Reports, May Start Reading Motor Trend Instead

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

As far as manufacturer PR reps are concerned, there’s nothing worse than an automotive media outlet that’s willing to criticize a car. But when the unthinkable does happen and, say… I don’t know, Consumer Reports fails to recommend a new Civic, at least there will always be another publication that backs up your opinion. And, in the midst of unprecedented C-segment competition, Honda’s Executive VP for sales John Mendel trotted out this very approach recently. In an email to dealers that was obtained by the LA Times, Mendel wrote

Sometimes you disagree even with those for whom you have the greatest respect. And it seems as if that is what has occurred with the Consumer Reports review of the 2012 Honda Civic LX. We fundamentally disagree with their suggestion that Civic doesn’t rank among their recommended small cars…

Among many other very positive reviews of the Civic lineup, Motor Trend magazine recently tested eight compact cars, including Civic. The respected auto enthusiast magazine -– which knows a thing or two about ride and handling –- ranked Civic second among eight compact cars in the comparison drive. Many would be thrilled with this result. However, we disagree with Motor Trend as well –- we think there is no better compact car than Civic.

Luckily Motor Trend’s staff empathizes… they wish they could have given all the cars first place! And what about Car & Driver giving the Civic second place in its comparison… of two? In all seriousness though, Honda needs to check itself for signs of bunker mentality. Yes, Mendel’s responsibility is sales not product development, but creating an insular world where critical opinions are ignored and feedback is cherry-picked for the rosiest possible picture is bad for the long-term culture of an automaker.

Compare this approach to that taken by Honda Europe. It’s previous generation of Europe-only Civic (FK/FN) was widely criticized in the press for its poor-riding torsion beam rear suspension, lack of refinement and dynamic failings. With a new Civic coming to Frankfurt, Honda Europe is making it clear (by releasing the video shown above) that it is addressing those criticisms head-on, promising a “two-generation improvement” in ride quality. That’s the Honda that became a global player: responding to criticism, not burying its head in the sand.

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  • Civwave Civwave on Dec 28, 2011

    I agree with some others here. This will blow up in Consumer Report's face. Time will tell and I can hardly wait to see that I will be right. The used car data will tell all in a few years. I for one really never used Consumer Reports, the magazine was just enterainment reading... now I know I never will actually rely on this mag. Their credibility just isn't there for me.

    • See 1 previous
    • Civwave Civwave on Dec 29, 2011

      @Bytor Yes, and VERY glad I did. Thanks for your (silly) reply. I am already over you. Two can play your game. Consumer Reports did so to avoid a backlash, but too little, too late. This will blow up in CR's face. Quite comical and so are you. I just can't wait to see your next reply... Next....

  • Civwave Civwave on Dec 29, 2011

    For all you Honda Civic fans, what have you... Some good reading by a RELIABLE, reputible mag. And there's even some good comments here, by both Civci lovers and haters... And for all you Civic haters out there, you can even log in and post silly replies, but it won't do you any good.

  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
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