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2012 Honda Civic EX Sedan
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There's no greater cardinal sin in the automotive world than completely replacing a highly successful model with an inferior machine. According to Consumer Reports, that's precisely what happened with the 2012 Honda Civic.

Says David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center: "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."

Just how far has the Civic fallen from CR's grace? The 2012 model's 61 points is a precipitous 17-point drop from the 2011 model's score of 78. That discrepancy is enough to force the Civic out of CR's Recommended list of automobiles. The only small sedan to score lower than the Civic is the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, which has also been widely accused of too-obvious cost cutting compared to its predecessor.

Many of the Honda Civic's fiercest competitors, on the other hand, scored very well in CR's latest round of compact car tests. The aforementioned and recently redesigned 2011 Hyundai Elantra earned the top spot overall, followed closely by the 2012 Ford Focus, 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and 2011 Kia Forte hatchback.

Also performing adequately but no longer considered class-leading are the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Mazda3.

*UPDATE: Honda has offered an official response to Consumer Reports' findings. See it after the break at the end of CR's press release.
Show full PR text
CONSUMER REPORTS: REDESIGNED HONDA CIVIC SCORES TOO LOW TO BE RECOMMENDED

Ford Focus and Kia Forte score Very Good in tests of small sedans and hatchbacks


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.

The full report on small sedans and hatchbacks is available in the September issue of the magazine, on newsstands August 2 and to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org. Updated daily, it's the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

None of the models tested in this month's issue are Recommended except the V8 version of the Ford F-150. The Focus, Forte hatchback, and EcoBoost V6 version of F-150 are too new for Consumer Reports to have adequate reliability data to Recommend. The Civic didn't score highly enough to be Recommended. Consumer Reports only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Prices for the tested vehicles ranged from $19,340 for Kia Forte hatchback to $40,410 for the Ford F-l50 with EcoBoost V6.

The Civic has slid backward with its redesign. It feels insubstantial against recently-redesigned competition.. Vague steering weakens its agility and robs it of its fun-to-drive feel. Stopping distances are long, the ride is choppy, and road noise is pronounced. The Honda Civic LX ($19,405 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 140-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that provides adequate acceleration and gets an impressive 30 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. The five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The interior feels cheap, a letdown from previous Civics. CR is currently testing a Civic hybrid and will report on it next month. Cargo space is Good.

With sporty handling, a supple ride, relatively low noise, and a solid feeling interior, the new Focus drives more like an upscale compact sports sedan. But several flaws keep it from being one of CR's top cars. The new PowerShift automated manual transmission stumbles at low speeds, the radio controls are confusing, and the rear seat is tight. The Ford Focus SE ($20,280 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 160-hp, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that provides adequate acceleration and gets 28 mpg overall. The higher-trim Focus SEL hatchback ($22,185 MSRP as tested,) adds a somewhat nicer interior and increased cargo flexibility from a hatchback. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished. Cargo space is Good.

Like the Kia Forte sedan and two-door Koup, the hatchback Forte is well equipped for its price and is a good value. Handling is responsive and secure, but the ride is stiff and jittery, and the cabin can get rather noisy. The ride is an unmistakable weak spot, as it is stiff, and characterized by frequent short pitches. The Kia Forte EX 5-Door ($19,240 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 156-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers average performance and gets 26 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-assembled but plain. . Rear seat room and cargo area are generous for this class.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union, the world's largest independent, not-for-profit, product-testing organization. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Website and owns and operates a 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The organization's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645 or visit www.ConsumerReports.org.


Statement from American Honda Motor Co., Inc. 8/1/2011:

In a broad sense, we disagree with Consumer Reports' findings. Without question, the small sedan segment is more competitive than ever. In virtually every way, the completely redesigned 2012 Civic is a step forward. The new Civic excels in areas that matter to small-car customers, including fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability. Among the Civic's greatest competitive strengths, is a smooth and efficient powertrain that, in Consumer Reports testing returned, "... an impressive 30 mpg overall on regular fuel and 47 mpg on the highway." Also noted in Consumer Reports findings, the Civic excels in the area of safety, with a long list of important features standard on all trim levels, and a class-leading 'Top Safety Pick' rating from IIHS. Lastly, the Civic has a stellar reliability history with Consumer Reports, and we are confident that the new Civic will be a reliability leader as well.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 176 Comments
      creamwobbly
      • 3 Years Ago
      Have to wonder how the Euro-spec Civic would rate in the US. I think the problem isn't necessarily Honda; it's Honda's US wing.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honda needs to wake up and realize that there is more to the driving experience than safety and mpg. They have turned one of the best all around cars in the market into just another boring drive. I really never thought I would see it happen, but Honda needs to go back to the drawing board and make the Civic fun again. I had a '90 Civic Si HB and, to this day, it was the best car I have ever owned. Go back to the formula that got you here, Honda: Fun + Practical + Inexpensive + Unshakeable reliability = WINNER!!!
      ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      wow consumer reports not favoring a jap car what!!!!!!!!
        emperor koku
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ryan
        Hey, try again without the racial slur.
          Casey Jensen
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          jap is short for japanese. Not really sure how that's a racial slur.
          pemk8
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          @Casey: I don't know what farm you grew up on, but that is a racial slur in most English speaking countries.
          diablo000
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          @Casey Jensen, "jap" is a term that the U.S. forces tended to use when speaking of their enemy during the Pacific campaign during World War II. If you're going to describe a vehicle manufactured in Japan, you could at least say "Japanese vehicle".
      ebonyblazer
      • 3 Years Ago
      When I read the first Autoblog test of the 2012 Civic, I commented that anyone who'd buy this higher-priced microwave reheat job over the outgoing 2011 Civic was 'a sucker'. I was rated down for that comment by some--and of all authorities to back me up, it was the alleged import-loving folks at Consumer Reports. I feel so vindicated.
        brgtlm
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ebonyblazer
        There are tons of Toyota and Honda fanbois on here who just downgrade people even though its the truth.
        Lightbulb101
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ebonyblazer
        I'm not sure what happened to the 2012 model of the Civic. The 2011 model just looks much better. I wonder whether they still have 2011 models left on lot.
      Jeff
      • 3 Years Ago
      2nd worst car in the segment....really!?! This just proves what a worthless source of information Consumer Reports is. No single comparison test by a *reputable* online source or traditional car magazine has placed this Civic lower than mid-pack. It may not be class-leading any longer, but it's not the turd CR makes it out to be. David Champio and his colleagues at CR need to really re-evaluate the scoring methodology his publication uses or remove their personal bias so good cars are more accurately scored. It's no matter for me, however, I proudly canceled my CR subscription years ago after realizing how ridiculously inaccurate their recommendations were. This is just further proof I made the right call.
        Blake
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jeff
        I don't think it proves that CR is worthless, it proves the competition has gotten worlds better, the segment has drastically changed, and Honda was caught by off-guard playing it safe with an inferior product. There was a time when dull and reliable won the day, but that time is over.
      Danny Eckel
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honda is picking a really bad time to try to profit on their reputation. Everyone else is investing heavily in quality redesigns.
      Rob
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who would have ever seen the day when a compact Chevorlet or Ford kicked the crap out of Honda with superior styling, quality, appeal, and technology. Go ahead fan boys..keep blaming it on the tsunami.
      ALafya
      • 3 Years Ago
      While I agree the Civic is only marginally changed, CR is still full of crap: Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra doing well? They are both inferior products.
        Mondrell
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ALafya
        Interesting point - Civic and Jetta are arguably diluted versions of superior predecessors, however, the current Corolla and Sentra were panned by numerous other publications as non-starters because they were lowest common denominator transporation from the get-go. If both were routinely routed in comparisons by the last-generation Civic and Jetta, how is it they're acceptable in the face of even newer, more refined competition like Cruze, Elantra, and Focus?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ALafya
        [blocked]
          autoplaybook
          • 3 Years Ago
          He has a 10 year-old Corolla, and you think that has any bearing on the current car, which is 2 whole generations newer? Toyota has fallen pretty far since 2001. So has Honda.
        ASR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ALafya
        The last great Sentra was the SE-R, and when that was in production, my daughter was still in diapers. She's ready to head off to college now. As for Honda, is this the same company that whenever they introduced a new Civic or Accord, GM and Chrysler would collectively soil themselves because the best they had were Cadavers, Loseimas, and the Cloud cars? Talk about losing your way.
      jonnybimmer
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sentra rated higher than the Civic? Ouch But hey, that's what Honda deserves for using their reputation to sell cars rather than producing a competitive car instead. Seriously, their strongest selling point is "Well, it's a Honda". That was good back when being a Honda meant it was well priced, the (one of) the most reliable cars available, and sporty/stylish to boot. Now, it's just an excuse to be lazy. People still want to buy a car with an "H" on it, but they want the italicized version instead.
      user164
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they put a Toyota logo on the front, will that get them their "recommended" rating back?
      Lunch
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honda still makes great cars, but the competition has made even better cars. This is what happens when u sit around patting yourself in the back and not continue to push forward. Someone else will and they will eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner and leave u with the crumbs. This is what happened to Honda.
        cashsixeight
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lunch
        Disagree. Go drive a 88-2000 Honda Civic. Note the steering, how light the car feels, how nimble and willing it seems. Now go drive a new one. COMPLETELY different. No longer fun, no joy whatsoever.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          [blocked]
          Adam
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          *6th GEN
        ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lunch
        i agree, espically with hyduai trying so hard with the elantra. there lots of money in small cars, and honda just assumed the civic would stand up to it. it didnt
      TahsinZ
      • 3 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports is gaining back some credibility.
    • Load More Comments
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