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Consumer Reports dings new Honda Civic

August 1, 2011 |  1:22 pm

For years, the Honda Civic has been one of the best selling and best reviewed compact sedans in America.  Now a redesigned 2012 model year Civic is rolling into Honda showrooms, and Consumer Reports, one of the car’s biggest fans, doesn’t like the new version.

The negative review by the influential consumer magazine could really shake up the compact car market, which has seen competition ratchet up with new entrants by the domestic automakers and South Korean Hyundai.  2012 Honda Civic

Noting that it has previously named the Civic its highest-rated small sedan as well as a “Top Picks” in five of the last 10 years, Consumer Reports says the new version scores too low to be a recommended car.

“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 Volkswagen 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,” the magazine said.

 “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, who headed the magazine’s test center.

Consumer Reports likes the Elantra and the sedan and hatchback versions of the redesigned-for-2012 Ford Focus and the hatchback version of the Kia Forte, and scoring them “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.... 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,” the magazine said.

Another solid entrant in this category is the Chevrolet Cruze, which has quietly become one of the best selling cars in America. Although Consumer Reports noted that the gas mileage on the Cruze isn’t as impressive as that of some of the other cars in this segment, including the new Civic, it generally liked the car.

“The Cruze replaced, and greatly improved on, the Cobalt as Chevrolet's mainstream small car. It feels solid and substantial, handles nicely, and has a firm but steady and controlled ride,” Consumer Reports said.


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-- Jerry Hirsch

Photo: 2012 Honda Civic. Credit: Honda