Usually new or redesigned models fare better in car reviews than their predecessors. Technology moves on during the lifespan of a model, automakers learn from their mistakes and improve their production methods, while the competition gets better forcing everyone else to improve etc.
However, that’s not the case with the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic LX, or at least that's what Consumer Reports states in its latest test of the Japanese model.
According to Consumer Reports (CR), the highest ranking small sedan for many years and a Top Pick in five of the last 10 years has in its latest iteration dropped too low to even earn a “Recommended” tag!
“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,” wrote senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, David Champion.
The Civic LX’s score dropped from the previous model 78 to an abysmal 61, placing it in the second-to-last place just above the (also recently redesigned) VW Jetta, which finished last.
Consumer Reports’ testers found the new Honda Civic to feature a lower quality interior, high road noise, less agile handling, inferior brakes and a choppy ride compared to the car it replaced.
Decent space for rear passengers and second-best fuel economy in the category just weren’t enough to make up for its other shortcomings.
Here's a snippet from CR's test:
"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."
Honda's reaction was almost immediate as the Japanese company's U.S. arm issued a statement saying it "disagrees" with CR's findings. Honda's reply follows below:
"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."
Story sources: Consumers Report & Honda