Honda Hustling Out Civic Refresh

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

After decades of offering some of the best C-segment products available, Honda made the mistake of phoning in its latest generation of Civic just as the entire competition stepped up its game. Compared to the previous generation of Cobalts, Corollas, Elantras and Focii, the current Civic might be a fine car… but compared to the new crop of compacts, its barely competitive. In his TTAC review, Michael Karesh called the new Civic “a low point” and “dreadfully dull,” while Consumer Reports struck the body blow by failing to recommend the Civic for the first time in memory. And though Honda’s initial reaction showed signs of a potentially fatal bunker mentality, lashing out at CR and pointing to a second place Motor Trend showing (because that’s proof of an absence of mediocrity), it seems the company is coming around.

Automotive News [sub] reports that a mid-cycle refresh planned for Spring of 2014 has been pulled forward to 2013, as Honda’s John Mendel says

We take feedback seriously, regardless of who it’s from, and we will act accordingly quickly. I don’t know how much we can do, and how quickly. But the comments of Consumer Reports and our customers have not gone unnoticed. We are appropriately energized.

If the late-2013 refresh date is right, Honda should have a few months before Hyundai’s new Elantra (which is on a four-year development cycle) hits the market, and the Civic refresh should coincide with the Cruze’s mid-cycle update as well. Behind the eight-ball in this segment for the first time ever, Honda is going to have to dig deep and work wonders to return the Civic to its previous greatness.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
5 of 100 comments
  • Trucky McTruckface Trucky McTruckface on Oct 31, 2011

    Eh, I have mixed emotions here. I don't buy the hype about all the new "class leaders." At the same time, the new Civic is dreadfully unappealing - and I say this as the owner of a dumpy 7th-gen model. All the fanboy gibberish about carryover power trains and no more double wishbones really doesn't mean anything to me. As I understand it, the steering's less twitchy, the rides more compliant and the MPG's better on the new car. And it has to be quieter than my two-generation old car. To someone who drives 50 miles a day on crappy pothole-ridden highways, that's all a relief. But the car's so freaking ugly. And that stupid dashboard, ugh. Big windshields and quarter-lights are a pet peeve of mine, too - I don't want to feel like I'm driving a 1990 Pontiac Trans Sport. I wouldn't be automatically opposed to one of the new Detroit compacts. Or the Elantra. But my mediocre experience with the Mustang and its questionable transmission really put me off buying another Ford (with another questionable transmission). And 1.4L turbo in a 3100 pound car (from GM, no less) just sounds like a recipe for trouble. Strip away the hype (and the Honda's goofy dash) and the Hyundai really isn't any prettier and more exciting. All of these cars are pretty depressing in the lower trim levels - Chevy, Ford and Hyundai are just doing a better job that promoting the feature-bloated $25,000 top-end cars. And I think you're a total sucker if you pay more than about $20k for a new compact, regardless of who sells it. You can get a decently-equipped midsize with similar mileage for the same money.

    • Seminole 95 Seminole 95 on Oct 31, 2011

      Yes about paying about paying too much for a compact. I don't why you'd spend $20K on a Civic. Pre-tsunami, I bought my son's manual 06 Accord VP new for $16.6K, $17.2K on the road. Great car and handles pretty sporty. Also never makes sense to buy a Honda used because they don't depreciate.

  • Tallnikita Tallnikita on Oct 31, 2011

    The key to success is in front of them - every single prior generation had a hatchback, especially the one straight in the middle, that's when Honda really squished things down for that go-cart feeling.

  • Dwight Dwight on Oct 31, 2011

    Give us the European Honda Civic. It looks awesome and the dash is top rate. It is like Honda likes Europe better than North America. Their Civic (from what I've seen in pics) looks more high-end. As much as I like the eighth gen, I like the back end of the 9th gen better than the blunt cut-off back end of the eighth gen. It never looked right. I prefer the coupe of the 8th gen, so I bought one. Great car. Honda makes great, free-revving, very economical engines. Even with 5-speed, they still get great gas mileage. I would like to challenge the true, real world mpgs on any of Honda's competition. Honda is the lightest in the compact category -- Cruz and Elantra are fat pigs. In a recent test of several compact cars (a shopping excursion with my nephew) my best bets were between the new Focus and the Honda Civic. I simply don't like the Elantra (boring dynamics) and the Cruz needs more refinement and a fun-to-drive quotient and some comfortable seats. And while something like the Kia Forte was fun to drive, the gas mileage sucked. And the Jetta shouldn't be offered with the base 8-valve engine. Felt like a tank and gas mileage sucks. Yes, the new gen civic could use a nicer dash (but it is currently very user friendly) and some swoopier lines, but it is a great solid value that you'll be buying off the lot 10 years from now, while passing on the Elantra with the mushy suspension bits.

  • Wmba Wmba on Nov 01, 2011

    Funny how a few problems can change your mind about a manufacturer. A coworker has a 2007 Civic. Had leased both previous models of Civics for four years apiece with zero problems. One day at work, he asked me to come out and take a look at his car, because it was making loud clunking noises from the front end. Driver's side brake caliper was loose and flailing about. Very nice. Then that summer after a trip to Ontario, the car returned with the rear tires ruined. Turns out that there was some rear suspension design issues that caused the ridiculous wear on his and many other Civics. Another acquaintance had the engine block on his 2006 Civic crack and fail. Honda fixed that without much fuss, almost on the q.t. Weird. Tell me again why I should consider a Honda? The statistics say none of this will ever happen to an individual car, but it kind of worries me. I drive a lot harder than most folks I know, and the thought of the brake caliper falling off is not reassuring. My brother's 2005 Element left a large pool of pinkish liquid in his driveway right after he drove it home brand new. Power steering rack kaput. Right on Honda.