Ever think you’d see that headline? That’s one I’d place right up there with, “U.S. Nearly Defaults” and “Obama Wins Re-Election.”
But these are crazy times we live in, and you just never know what’s going to dominate the headlines.
The Honda Civic has been one of Consumer Reports’ darlings since, oh, I don’t know, the Jefferson administration. It’s a car that has gotten progressively better since its inception in 1972.
For its latest test, CR drove the $19,405 2012 Honda Civic LX. For comparison, the 2011 version of the car scored a 78 on the magazine’s scale, which meant a rating of “Very Good.” The 2012 version dropped a shocking 17 points to a mediocre 61. That’s lower than the Kia Forte and Ford Focus. In fact, it’s lower than everything except the redesigned Volkswagen Jetta.
So what happened?
This is what happened:
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, CR noted the Civic’s 30-mpg overall test result and “decent” rear-seat room. Consumer Reports isn’t known for its scathing reports and controversial journalism, but that’s about as close as it will ever get. Ouch.
Naturally, Honda took issue with this and released its own statement:
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.
Yes, the Civic will always be reliable and return good gas mileage. But if Honda starts using inferior interior treatments and doesn’t keep up with competition in terms of ride comfort and performance, it’ll just get harder and harder to recommend it.
Has the Honda Civic lost its reputation as the best small car on the market?