Fall from Grace: 2012 Honda Civic Stripped of Consumer Reports Recommendation

There’s blood in the metaphorical water today: after years of garnering praise from the editors of Consumer Reports, the 2012 Honda Civic was stripped of its “recommended” tag.

While CR praises the refreshed Civic for good fuel economy and great crash test ratings, it liked virtually nothing else. It criticizes the new model’s ride and handling, braking, road noise, and interior quality. CR drove another nail into the nameplate’s coffin by criticizing the car’s fit and finish -- something long considered to be a positive hallmark of Honda’s small cars.

CR says the Civic suffers from a “choppy ride, long stopping distances, and pronounced road noise,” ultimately leading the Senior Director of CR’s Connecticut Auto Test Center to say “the Civic has dropped so much that it now ranks near the bottom of its category.”

With competition in the compact sedan segment increasing, it would be fair to say that the sharks are circling. The segment’s leader, according to Consumer Reports ratings, is the Hyundai Elantra -- which, five years ago, trailed the Civic in quality and reliability scores. The Elantra now handily beats other established names, like the Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.

Of course, Honda begs to differ. A prepared response insists “in virtually every way, thecompletely redesigned 2012 Civic is a step forward,” and highlights the new model’s great fuel economy, safety, and reliability -- which, it so happens, are three attributes Consumer Reportsactually praised.

If Honda is worried about sales figures being impacted by this review, there is a measure of good news: the Civic does manage to best the all-new Volkswagen Jetta in CR’s report, which also received poor marks from Consumer Reports after a recent redesign. Interestingly, sales of the new, cheaper Jetta have been largely unaffected by the findings. Will the same hold true for the Civic? Time will tell, but we imagine buyers who enjoyed the previous generation model will find plenty to like in the 2012 model.

Source: Consumer Reports

I realize that Civic and Accord are in different classes, and yield different gas mileages. But my 2004 V6 Accord -my third one- is the best vehicle I have owned, all things considered, in 50 years. If Honda put an appropriately designed but powerful V6 in the lighter-weight Civic its gas mileage would suffer a bit, but the car would be a scorcher and even more fun (and safer?) to drive.
I know Honda is being hit for not having direct fuel injection and having only 5 speed automatic when the competition is 6 speed, but ultimately it is the fuel economy the really matters here. I am getting 30-32 mpg city and 39 - 45 mpg highway (I'd say averaging about 41-42 mpg highway) in my LX 2012 so I am really happy with the mileage and it is likely better than the real world mileage of the competition. My one issue is with AC on I feel a loss of responsiveness but it is not so bad. I forgot to mention earlier that the only other car I seriously considered along with Honda Fit and the Civic 2012 was the new Ford Fiesta. Really enjoyed driving it but Ford's spotty reliability record was an issue for me.
I have owned 13 Civics since 1975,my last being a 2005 Ex sedan which I love. I was therefore anxiously awaiting the "all new" 2012 Civic to see what new features and advancements it brought to the table. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in the "all new" 2012 Civic. I guess my definition of all new and Honda's are miles apart as I see the new model as just the previous design which has been with us since 2006 with a minor styling tweak here and there. How about the SAME engine and behind the times 5 speed automatic transmission thats been with us since 2006? The 2011 Hyundai Elantra has a direct injected engine and a class competent 6 speed automatic. Direct fuel injection isn't even in Honda's vocabulary yet. No Honda product has it. Even the cheapest Hyundai,the new 2012 Accent has it. If you like having a "new" 2006 model Civic the 2012 is for you. Reluctantly I am trading my beloved 2005 Ex for a new Hyundai Elantra Limited which looks new and is technologically more advanced than the 2012 Civic.I don't know what the thinking is at Honda with regard to their"all new" Civic but hopefully as they watch the new Hyundai Elantra sail by as the new class leader maybe they'll realize their all new design was too little of an effort and rethink their design quickly now that they've ceded leadership to thers.
I agree with the previous comments - I recently bought a 2012 Honda Civic EX-L after having seriously considered the Elantra, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion. In my opinion, the exterior was much more attractive than most of the other sedans, rivaled only by the Altima and Elantra. The interior of the Honda, felt much more modern and streamlined than in the Altima and it felt just as comfortable, if not roomier, than the Elantra. My positive history with Honda sales and, just as important, with their service departments, supported this decision. I disagree with road noise and a bumpy ride - so far, so good!
Dave Smith
My experience with my new 2012 Civic has been largely positive. Gas mileage is impressive and I disagree with the "noisy" and "bad handling" comments. One negative: I wish the car had more pep on the highway when the air conditioning is on.
i own a honda fit. i have owned several hondas in the past. they are indestructible.
Motorweek says the new Civic has a "stellar ride and fine handling" though it does agree with CR that stopping distance is long.
I bought my first Honda - the 2012 Civic - after test driving a number of different cars including the new Hyundai Elantra as well as the Honda Civic 2011 model. My previous car was a 2001 Hyundai Accent and its performance was satisfactory. All I can say is that I was overwhelmingly in favor of the new Civic 2012 compared to both the previous Civic 2011 as well as Elantra, Corolla, the old Ford Focus and also the Toyota Prius in general terms of ride satisfaction. So I am not quite sure how these tests in CR relate to average customer satisfaction. While the Elantra interior was better (and at a lesser cost), pickup and response in normal traffic was quite slow. The Civic was a much easier ride. The only serious competition for it was the Honda Fit. So this experience tells me the CR report is to be used only as a very broad reference and not to be taken too seriously or literally.

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