2012 Honda Civic Review
The automotive industry isn’t excited about the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic’s lackadaisical exterior and interior updates. Rivals are priced lower and outshines the Civic in almost every way.
In December 2010, Honda released a sketch of the 2012 Honda Civic and nothing else. Now that Honda has released pricing information and available features and test drivers have had a chance to drive the 2012 Civic, there’s a lot more information to share.
The first thing most shoppers will notice is the Civic’s slightly refreshed exterior. “Honda opted for the safe route, which could prove unsafe if the Civic doesn't meet expectations,” says Motor Trend. “Gen 9's exterior design, which is meant to be distinctive, clean, and energetic, per Honda, looks decidedly similar to that of Gen 8, retaining the so-called ‘mono-form body.’ Why? Honda wanted the new model to be instantly recognizable as a Civic.” Other critics agree that the Civic is undoubtedly a Civic, but say its exterior is bland.
The 2012 Honda Civic will be available in seven models: a sedan, a coupe, Si sedan, Si coupe, hybrid, high fuel-efficiency (HF) and a natural gas model. With so many models, the trim levels can start to get confusing. To keep things simple, the base DX coupe and sedan, which start at $15,605, offer next to nothing in terms of standard interior features. There’s no air conditioning and no radio. The 2012 DX gains Eco Assist, a new feature this year, which helps you drive more efficiently. Meanwhile, the $14,495 Hyundai Elantra, which is a rival that reviewers recommend, comes with a six-speaker audio system, a USB input jack and XM Satellite radio. Like the Civic, Bluetooth and air conditioning are optional on the Elantra, but are less expensive to add.
The next step up, the $17,885 LX coupe and sedan models, have an AM/FM radio with four speakers, manual air conditioning and power door locks. This year, these models get steering wheel mounted controls, a USB audio interface and a color i-MID system, which integrates entertainment information and fuel economy data into the dash. If you want Bluetooth, you’ll have to upgrade to the EX trim, which starts at about $20,500.
When looking at the 2012 Civic as a complete package, the automotive press thinks the Honda Civic is a good option, but the competition has gotten better. Car and Driver prefers the Civic Si’s 2.0-liter 197 horsepower engine over the base model’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 140 horsepower. Performance aside, the industry is pleased with the Civic’s improved fuel economy ratings. According to the EPA, the HF model gets 29/41 mpg city/highway, and the base model get up to 28/39 mpg city/highway with an automatic transmission. These enhancements are great, but reviewers worry that they’re not enough to help the Civic hang with the competition, which offers good fuel economy for less cash.
“With an automatic transmission, both the Civic sedan and two-door coupe are rated to get 28 mpg in the city, 39 on the highway, for an average of 32 (up from 29 before),” writes Business Week. “However, that still leaves the Honda a tiny bit behind the 2011 Elantra sedan, which is rated at 29/40/33 whether with an automatic or a stick shift, and versions of the 2012 Ford Focus that are rated at 28/40/33 with an automatic. (The 2011 Toyota Corolla trails behind at 26/34/29.)”
Business Week isn’t the only publication to share this concern. “What the 2012 Civic hasn't done is vault its competitors to exceed them in any respect, and full redesigns are an automaker's best opportunity to do so,” says Cars.com. “Unlike the new Volkswagen Jetta, which we believe has slipped in terms of both interior quality and its driving experience, the Civic remains a very good car. The question is whether it will stay competitive in the coming years as other models evolve.”
Other Cars to Consider
If you’re disappointed with the base Honda Civic but want to stick with Honda, try the Honda Fit. The Fit is less expensive than the base Civic and has more cargo space. The Fit also has Honda’s Magic Seat, which allows you to adjust the front passenger seat and rear seats to accommodate a bicycle, surfboard and other large items.
There aren’t many affordable small hybrids to compete with the 2011 Civic Hybrid. The Honda Insight is the Civic Hybrid’s only competitor, and it has lower fuel economy ratings of 40/43 mpg city/highway. If you’re after something super fuel-efficient, try the Toyota Prius. It’s a midsize car, but costs about $23,000, which is about $1,000 less than the Civic Hybrid. It also has much better fuel economy ratings of 51/48 mpg city/highway and according to reviewers, has better performance.
Then there’s the Honda Civic Si, which will appeal to shoppers looking for something practical but fun to drive. If you fall into this category, check out the Volkswagen Golf or Mazda3, two of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class. You’ll have to sacrifice fuel economy for performance, though. The Golf gets up to 24/31 mpg city/highway, and the Mazda3 averages 25/33 mpg city/highway. The Golf is available as a two- or four-door hatchback, and the Mazda3 comes as a sedan or five-door hatchback. For better fuel economy, consider the Golf TDI Clean Diesel, which starts at about $23,300 and gets 30/42 mpg city/highway.
Details: 2012 Honda Civic
Honda redesigned the Honda Civic for the 2012 model year, and now there are a total of seven models available: sedan, coupe, Si sedan, Si coupe, hybrid, high fuel-efficiency (HF) and a natural gas model. The sedan, coupe, HF and natural gas models have a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower. The Si is the most powerful option. It gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 170 pound feet of torque.
Fuel economy for all models has improved. Honda says ratings will range from 31 mpg for the Civic Si to 44 mpg for the hybrid. The Civic starts at about $15,800 for the base model with a five-speed manual transmission.
- "Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Civic is that despite shunning all of the fuel-saving advancements employed by its competition, the vehicle still manages to come out as a solid player on this field." -- Autoblog
- "The new Civic is slightly better in every dimension, but if you[r] soul is at rest, it lacks sufficient force to put it in motion." -- Jalopnik
- "With the latest Civic, Honda has gambled that moving away from sportiness and towards quiet comfort will suit its buyers. Honda hasn’t hedged its bets into the boring realm of the Toyota Corolla, but it’s certainly an unadventurous effort. Aside from being quieter and more efficient, the new Civic doesn’t represent improvement as we define it. The Civic lacks the passion, soul, and entertaining driving dynamics of its predecessor. Mainstream buyers may not care, but enthusiasts surely will." -- Car and Driver
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