• Dec 21st 2011 at 3:28PM
  • 77
Consumer Reports and the 2012 Honda Civic haven't had the best of relationships. The model failed to earn the publication's coveted "recommended" designation for the first time in the vehicle's history after an extensive redesign, but CR has found space in its heart for the 2012 Civic SI.

The more sporting version of the venerable compact managed to pickup a recommended rating thanks to additional torque from its revised 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine as well as a quality transmission and good fuel economy. Unfortunately, CR still docked the vehicle for many of the same problems it had with the base Civic, including vague steering, cheap plastics inside and a noisy cabin.

Those faults helped the Volkswagen Jetta GLI beat out the Honda Civic SI in a recent head-to-head competition. Evaluators specifically cited the precise steering of the GLI as well as suspension tuning that yields little body lean as benefits, though at 27 miles per gallon, the model averaged 2 mpg less than the Honda. It's worth noting that the Jetta GLI is still to new to have earned a recommended rating. Click past the jump for the full press release.
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SPORTY HONDA CIVIC SI VERSION EARNS CONSUMER REPORTS' RECOMMENDATION

Volkswagen Jetta GLI outscores Civic Si in head-to-head comparison


YONKERS, NY- While earlier tests of the more-popular basic versions of the Honda Civic scored too low to be Recommended, the sportier Si version has earned a notably higher rating from Consumer Reports.

As a result of these latest tests, Consumer Reports now Recommends the Si version of the Civic because it scores high enough and its reliability rating is likely to be above average.

While the Si performed better than more basic versions of the Civic, the car still suffers from many of the same drawbacks as other Civics: vague steering, cheap plastics, a jittery ride, and lots of noise. The Civic currently ranks 9 out of 11 of tested cars in Consumer Reports' sporty car category.

Consumer Reports found the Civic Si' 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivers terrific acceleration at high revs. Compared with the frenetic previous Civic Si, the now larger engine has more torque and is more relaxed in everyday driving. The Si returns a very good 29 mpg overall. A slick-shifting six-speed manual is the only transmission offered on the Si.

"The Civic Si has a great powertrain, but it needs a better car wrapped around it," said David Champion, sr. director of Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center

Consumer Reports' tests also found the Volkswagen Jetta GLI contains several important upgrades over the basic Jetta SE- which like more basic versions of the Civic, scored too low to be Recommended. The GLI's 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-charged four-cylinder is powerful and pulls willingly in any gear, even at low engine speeds. It delivered a very good 27 mpg overall, 2 mpg shy of the Si. The GLI is nimble and tackles corners with little body lean. Its steering is quick and more communicative than the Civic Si's. That agility helped the GLI thread quickly through CR's avoidance maneuver.

The full report on Consumer Reports' tests of the Civic Si and Jetta GLI is available on www.ConsumerReports.org and in the February issue of the magazine-on newsstands January 3. Updated daily, Consumer Reports.org is 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.A4.

Although it scored higher than the Civic Si in Consumer Reports' tests, the Jetta GLI is too new for Consumer Reports to have enough reliability data to make a Recommendation. The Jetta GLI currently ranks 6 out of 11 sporty cars in Consumer Reports' comprehensive Ratings, a category that is led by the Volkswagen GTI, Subaru Impreza WRX, and Mazdaspeed3.

Consumer Reports found the Jetta GLI's cabin is more user-friendly. Some drivers didn't like the Civic Si's dual-tiered dashboard, with the tachometer mounted below the digital speedometer. And having a single knob to control radio tuning and volume is tedious. The Jetta's dashboard is much more conventional, with clear analog gauges and a touch-screen radio with a separate tuning knob. But some of its radio menus are complex.

The Civic Si's interior is airy and open. It has low sills and lots of glass. Drivers sit low to the floor and have good head and knee room. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, but the console encroaches on right-leg room. The Jetta offers generous seat travel along with a tilt-and-telescopic wheel. But the long clutch pedal travel still made many drivers sit closer to the wheel than they'd like. Some also found that the wide center console pressed into their right leg.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit annually rates thousands of products and services. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


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  • 77 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
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        AnthonyL
        • 3 Years Ago
        Agree on CR....they suck (compared to what they used to be) I can play devil's advocate though: The GLI is a much better car. It has way more torque, a better gearbox, is roomier, is quieter, better interior (regular jetta sucks), looks better, maintenance free warranty, a more liveable engine, and wont be the same brand geriatrics drive. "It will also probably be more fun to drive." :)
          • 3 Years Ago
          @AnthonyL
          [blocked]
          Justin Campanale
          • 3 Years Ago
          @AnthonyL
          Brian/Friedrice/columbianricer, what are you basing this reliability nonsense over? VW's nowadays are just as reliable as any other car. I have owned 4 VW products, and none of them have ever had any problems. I've taken 2 of them over 200k miles.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @AnthonyL
          [blocked]
          Alex Rodriguez MacFa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @AnthonyL
          @Cpt. not so Obvious: "The Civic is clean and handsome." OK, you are correct, this is why Honda is rushing a redesign for the 2013 model.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @AnthonyL
          [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          @AnthonyL
          [blocked]
        Mobis21
        • 3 Years Ago
        Pure conjecture on your part. Where is your proof? Cite it!
        Quen47
        • 3 Years Ago
        No Fried Rice, it's just more proof that Honda is in the dumps. I once again put the challenge to you- Find any reputable publication that has given the Civic a good review. Any. Send us a link. There are none, because the new Civic is a steaming hunk of mediocre.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Quen47
          [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Quen47
          [blocked]
          Mobis21
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Quen47
          Well put.
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        More fun to drive? What are you basing this on I drove the Civic Si and GLI a while back. The Civic Si was a huge disspaintment. The steering felt numb and disconnected from the road. The GLI was more fun around the corners.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          [blocked]
          ravenosa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          You're splitting hairs with slightly sporty econocars. Who really cares? Since I don't ovulate, if I had to buy a wanna be FWD performance car, I guess I'd take the Civic. If I had to... And if it was free...
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          [blocked]
        krische
        • 3 Years Ago
        Just different strokes for different folks. Some prefer the low end torque of a turbo charged engine compared to the high reving VTEC engines.
        tipdrip215
        • 3 Years Ago
        CR never was a trusted source. Well, yeah, of course they were to you though because, like you, they worshipped anything Japanese and hated everything American or European for years.
      Jay
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just make sure that you lease the VW so that in 2-3 years when it starts falling apart you can return it and it will be someone else's headache.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      I simply don't get all the hate for the Jetta GLI. It is a fantastic small sedan and a perfect balance between luxury and performance.
      SooooRight
      • 3 Years Ago
      Simple, Honda has problems but it's nothing like the horror of a german car. German cars have great driving dynamics, looks, panel gaps, and generally the interiors. Just dump it before the warranty is over.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SooooRight
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      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      clutchrider7
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well glad I purchased a GLI. I actually never even drove the Si in old or new form. I had a 02 Civic EX Coupe with an oil burn problem, then a Matrix XR AWD. I'm familiar with high revving NA 4 cylinder motors and fairly tired of having to wind my engines out to get their full potential. I ordered the GLI back in September and picked it up just about a month ago. Got it in 6-speed manual Autobahn trim with the Appearance Package and have loved every second with it. The interior is comfortable and firm, the backseat is huge for upcoming child seats and current adults at times. The controls are where they should be and not tossed on multiple screens or on funky dials, it's neat and clean the way I want it. The exterior some may call bland and old or whatever; but I'll disagree and say it's again clean, upscale, and will age very well. It really looks Audi-esque in profile which was a big turn on. I have never driven a turbo 4 before this and must say having full torque available at 2500 RPM right up through 5k is an amazing feeling. Not having to go to redline in each gear to get my power is a treat. For pretty much 100% of my daily driving and occasional aggressive needs it more than accomplishes it's goal of putting me back in my seat. I'm not doing stoplight races, not concerned with 0-60, and the like. I'd rather care about the 6 to 4 downshift to really blow by people on the highway or being able to leave it in 5 or 6 and easily press the gas slightly and easily roll by someone while passing with little effort. I also care more about say the 15-20 to 65-70 jumps (2nd gear up to 5/6) when getting on a highway entrance ramp straightaway. Say what you will about the GLI vs. Si but I'd take this car hands down again without even thinking about it. The Civic looks cheap, feels cheap, the two-tiered dash is awkward, and the controls and placement of some components just leaves too much to be desired. I am finally getting this whole German car thing, granted the car was assembled in Mexico, but the drivetrain/engine was built in Germany and shipped for final bolt up. GLI > Si It's not all about the power/performance numbers.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @clutchrider7
        [blocked]
          clutchrider7
          • 3 Years Ago
          Not sure where the funny is in that. As an owner of one of the models talked about I gave my opinion and reasons for my decision. I sat in the last generation Si at the auto show and for me my 2002 EX Coupe had a nicer interior. I couldn't get over the two-tiered dash and shifter placement. After seeing the 2012 I wondered what changed other than what appeared to be some mid-model refreshes of the 8th gen. The Jetta was all new as of 2011 and the GLI is new for a 2012 model. It also looks nothing like the MKV which again by my own opinion (as an owner) is a big improvement over the MKV GLI. The last Jetta looked to tall and reminded me too much of a Corolla with it's bug eyed headlamps, a long toothed grille down the front, and taillamps that didn't help to finish the car off. The MKVI looks lower, and more finessed. It's all personal choice and based on what I looked into the Si didn't deserve a dealership visit. Honda and their stylings have done very little to excite me as of late. All based on personal preference since I don't run out and buy cars very often and when I do, I don't read the numbers and run to the dealer for that car. I looked into the MS3, WRX, CPO Audi A4 and BMW 3-series when making my decision and the GLI filled all my wants.
      You guy
      • 3 Years Ago
      I love how people arguing over an ugly, generally reliable car (The Civic) or a mediocre *slightly better* looking car. An ex-girlfriend of mine had a 2001 Jetta. ALWAYS had something wrong with electrical or power train things. If her grandmother hadn't been stupid wealthy, she'd have gone bankrupt keeping it on the road. Another very good friend had a Beetle from 2004. Same types of problems, but since her ex-father in law was the partial owner of a VW dealer, she got hooked up pretty good on labor costs. After about 75k miles, ditch your German.
      g2k
      • 3 Years Ago
      Consumer reports doesn't factor in long term reliability which is why the jetta came out on top
      pngrant54
      • 3 Years Ago
      The GLI has nicer materials in it's interior then base Jetta and Any Civic. While not quite as sporty to drive at a GTI it still offers the feel of a Euro sedan for not a lot of money. It has very good room, an enormous trunk,decent handling,and better acceleration and mid range acceleration then a Civic Si sedan. I'm sure that the Civic got downgraded for it's cheap interior and numb steering. This applys to base Civics as well. Honda has simply dropped the ball. It's not that the new GLI is any better to drive then the last one but the new Civic is worse and CR has called Honda on it.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @pngrant54
        [blocked]
      brgtlm
      • 3 Years Ago
      If you have to pick one of the mediocre new Civic models, the Civic Si would be my choice; however, I'd rather choose a Mazdaspeed3 or GTI. Unless you need a trunk, there is zero reasons to choose the Jetta GLI over a 5DR GTI. The interior and drivetrain/suspension tweaking is so much better.
        scott o.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        GLI also has 3 inched more leg room for rear seats and comes in about $3k less for a similar trim in the GTI. Those can be good reasons.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @scott o.
          [blocked]
        ravenosa
        • 3 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        Test drive some FWD cars back to back with AWD/RWD cars. I don't you'd be choosing any of the above...
      johnb
      • 3 Years Ago
      wow, I agree with CR! How about that. definitely would take the VW over the Civic.
      Ethelred the Unready
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honda has lost way. The GLI is a fine car, better than most. And CR is not advertiser supported in way shape or fashion, that is what is so awesome about the rag - they just tell the truth as they see it, and as their data shows it. If anything, the may have some issues with data collection and survey design, but in the 'pockets' of anybody? Please, it's just not true, it is a laughable falsehood. They are one of the last remaining unmolested (by the industry) consumer testing mags left. C & D, R & T, winding road, automobile mag, Edmunds, nope, all bought off by advertisers. Can't trust them.
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