By on August 29, 2016

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

Not since the sixth-generation Honda Civic of 1996-2000 has American Honda made a hatchback available as a conventional part of the Civic lineup.

Yes, there was the British-built Civic hatchback of 2002-2005, but it was an Si-only model with limited appeal and little connection to the broader Civic lineup.

The new 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback that’s now reaching North American shores — it’s built at the same Swindon, England, plant as the aforementioned Civic Si — is another thing altogether. It’s not merely a two-door hatchback entry into the Civic fold, as the Civic hatch so often was in the distant past. Nor is the new Civic Hatchback exclusively meant to be a performance-oriented hot hatch, though it will form the foundation of North America’s first-ever Civic Type R.

No, the new, turbo-only, four-door Civic Hatchback closely mirrors the upper-trim levels of the established tenth-generation Civic lineup. Presumably, then, the new Civic Hatchback, with all of its flexibility and practicality and tailgate possibilities, will steal sales from the regular Honda Civic sedan and coupe?

Honda says no.

In consumer clinics conducted by American Honda, says spokesperson James Jenkins, “We found customers were specific in wanting a sedan, a coupe, or a hatchback.”

Not only were the potential Civic clients largely convinced by their bodystyle of choice, their desires to have a particular bodystyle crossed out the possibility of considering the other bodystyles.

“A very small percentage were willing to switch over to a different body style when their intention may have been a sedan, for example,” Jenkins told TTAC via email.

On the one hand, Honda’s consequent lack of concern regarding the possibility of cannibalization isn’t surprising. A potential Honda Civic Coupe buyer isn’t going to be enticed by easier rear seat ingress — style is the priority, rear seat occupants won’t frequent the Civic Coupe owner’s car. Similarly, the Honda Civic Hatchback buyer won’t find the allure of a stylish roofline nearly so fetching once he realizes the hatch’s yawning cargo aperture is gone.Civic hatchback/Civic sedan 2017 comparisonAs for the Civic Hatchback vs. Civic Sedan conundrum, Honda’s clinic-based belief that the Civic Hatchback won’t simply find its demand from the vast network of Civic Sedan owners is curious if only because the cars share such similar exterior profiles. The Civic Hatchback clearly offers a measure of flexibility missing in the trunked Civic — total interior volume is 12 percent greater in the hatch — but the hatch by no means advertises its distinguishing characteristics. After all, the four-door Civic-with-a-trunk already has a very liftback look.

Put another way, if potential Civic customers are turned off by hatchbackesque styling, wouldn’t they have already been turned off by the sedan’s hatchback styling? And since tens of thousands of buyers every month are willing to accept hatchbackesque styling in the sedan, why wouldn’t they buy the actual hatchback?

Assuming American Honda is correct and the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback will only add to the Civic lineup’s appeal; that the Civic Hatchback will take a bite out of a market currently held by the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, Volkswagen Golf, and Scion iM; then we’re soon to see tremendously healthy Honda Civic sales figures climb even higher.

The Honda Civic is America’s second-best-selling car through the first seven months of 2016. At the current rate of growth, Honda is on track to sell more than 380,000 Civics in calendar year 2016 without help from a hatchback bodystyle. Over the last decade, Honda averaged 304,000 annual Civic sales.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

53 Comments on “American Honda Believes Civic Hatchback Will Not Cannibalize Civic Sedan Sales...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Bah… barely a liftback. Because the back has barely any lift.

    At least with the original liftbacks you got a lot of glass back there so backing-up wasn’t video dependent.

    Practical people won’t want this. If boy racers are the raison d’etre for at all bothering to reintroduce such a miserably cramped hatch, why isn’t it balls-out from the get-go?

  • avatar
    gasser

    Let’s see comparative photo of the back ends with the trunk/lift gate open.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The idea for a modern Civic hatch is good. The execution here is not.

    Does Honda realize they have no Soul competitor, and people love the Element – so a boxy Honda Active Wagon (HAW HAW) would sell?!

    Have they considered this!?

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Worst case is you take a sale away form the sedan. When the day is over you still sold a Honda. Are the profits the same or higher for the hatch?

    It’s also an image builder to. Honda sells cool cars, if mine isn’t one of the cool ones, I still own a car form a cool car company. Honda in the ’90’s was a cool company. The hatch will help maintain this or get some of it back.

    ’65 Corvair
    ’14 Honda Accord six speed manual!

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Ya, but not really. I agree in the 90s, maybe even the early 2000s. Right now they are seen as a good reliable sedan and cuv company, plus some reliable transportation for young people.

      Cars like the s2000 and the original CRX were great editions. The latest cr-z was meh. The element was funky and eccentric. The NSX isn’t a good halo car, too large of a gap and philosophy between that and everything else.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Since the hatchback is a true import, limited/fixed supply will dictate that it does not cannibalize sales of the coupe and sedan. If it turns out to be more popular than expected (which I think it will), dealers will simply jack up the prices to keep the supply/demand in equilibrium. Most buyers in this segment are price sensitive enough that if there is a several thousand dollar difference between the hatch and sedan, they will buy the cheaper option.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Thing is Americans haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttteeeeeee hatchbacks, so the sedan is definitely safe. Especially if it’s cheaper (which it will be with the 2.0L).

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      That Americans strongly “hate hatchbacks” is arguable, these days, but if Honda thinks they do, that would explain their making the hatch’s appearance more sedan- (instead of wagon-) like. ‘Seems like a smart compromise.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    In Canada the hatchback will definitely steal sales from the sedan. Given the choice folks here prefer the utility of a hatchback over a sedan. For instance we see many more Impreza 5-door models than sedans.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      See a lot more Mazda3, Elantra, and especially Forte sedans than hatches though in Ontario. I think Imprezas are the outlier, along with the Focus which also seems to sell a lot better as a hatch. I’m a hatch person myself though, a small sedan seems like a compromise to me for the mostly older and Asian people who refuse to have their cargo in the passenger compartment/out in the open.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    So a hatchback cannibalizes sales ………. either way Honda gets the sale. Problem solved.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, aren’t these made in Canada?

    And unless I’m wrong, don’t Canadians buy a lot more hatchbacks than Americans do?

    And there you have it.

    (Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this design, but like the hatch version of this car better.)

  • avatar
    StarAZ

    When I first saw the 2016 Civic coupe/sedan, I thought “damn I never imagined Civic could be so sexy.” Now that I’ve seen these, I’m seriously considering ditching my 2014 BMW M235i and get a Type R.
    That said, I’m also the only person I know who would prefer a hatchback to a sedan.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I don’t get it. They both look like hatches. What is the point of the letter-slot trunk opening so they can call it a “sedan”? How about a low floor high roof square back tall wagon like Honda used to do so well in the ’80s and ’90s? The closest I ever came to buying a Honda product.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I agree, people who want a hatch won’t get a sedan. My wife, a longtime Honda loyalist, was looking forward to buying one of these. Unfortunately, the neighbor’s 16-year old son got his license before learning how to avoid parked cars… totaled my wife’s old car with his brand-new Cruze, so she couldn’t wait for the hatch to reach dealers. She ended up buying a 2014 BMW X1 – still close enough to carlike for her. She hated the way the CR-V drove.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    Yo, Honda, people accept shorter overhangs on the rear of hatchbacks because the taller vertical area makes up for it. There’s like, no vertical storage space on this thing. The sedan is already similar in profile to this liftback.

    If I was a Honda fan I’d be upset.

  • avatar
    benders

    Any word if the Si will be available as a hatch or coupe/sedan only? I like the idea of a hot Honda hatch but I don’t want the Type R (as has been rumored).

  • avatar
    Mackie

    It looks better than the sedan—which I think is hideous.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Pretty sure Honda wanted to experiment with a hatchback just to expand their market reach.

    Honda has a huge market for the Civic sedan, and I don’t think a hatchback is going to sway too many buyers away from it.

    If the HB catches on, perhaps Honda would tool up a North American plant to build them.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the hate. If BMW can offer the 4-series “grande coupe” (aka, hatchback) alongside the usual 3-series sedan, with startlingly similar looks between them, it makes perfect sense for Honda to do exactly the same.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    The hideous rear bumper on the hatch will keep the sedan safe.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Have to see one in person before I rule it out. Pretty sure it’s ugly based on th he pictures. It has enough space, practicality, and grunt. Looks and road feel will decide if it’s a contender for the ICE category in my house.

  • avatar
    brettc

    It looks weird, but maybe it might be a suitable replacement for my car. Seems like it would be less useful in terms of cargo capacity than a Golf or any of the other hatches that have squarer rear ends.

    Will have to check one out in person before making final judgement. The 1.5 turbo seems to have adequate power going by the published specs.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    So Honda believes the hatchback won’t cannibalize sales of the sedan. Here’s a question: why does it matter? A sale of a Civic is a sale of a Civic.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    It looks like the hatchback has a less fast roofline than the sedan? Rear door opening looks more practical.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • tankinbeans: Thinking and planning ahead further than the next quarter is declasse. Short term gains in the stock...
  • highdesertcat: Agree, GM was a failed automaker that died….. and should have stayed dead instead of being...
  • MRF 95 T-Bird: As you must know by the 1975 model year International got out of the light duty Pickup and Travelall...
  • tankinbeans: They will, in three years, when the car maker will give less than 2 shakes about their preferences....
  • highdesertcat: Brought a smile to my face since Americans will continue to buy Ford because it is the only American...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber