Consumer Reports: New Honda Civic is a loser

August 1, 2011: 5:38 PM ET
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The redesigned 2012 Honda Civic takes a beating in the latest issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Honda recently rolled out a new, redesigned version of its ultra-popular Civic compact car, but according to Consumer Reports magazine it's actually worse than the old one. In fact, it's the first Civic ever to score too low to earn the magazine's recommendation.

"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, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center.

The magazine criticized the new Civic sedan's ride quality and driving dynamics

"It's a lot more dumbed down to drive," said Champion.

Champion called the Civic's steering too numb and said the car's body leans too far in turns.

The car's interior quality and noisiness also come under fire. The interior looks and feels cheap, Champion said, and pronounced road noise is a major annoyance.

Fuel economy was the one bright spot in the magazine's assessment of the car. In Consumer Reports' tests, the Civic's mileage was second only to the Toyota (TM) Corolla.

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"We disagree with Consumer Reports' findings," Honda said in a statement. "In virtually every way, the completely redesigned 2012 Civic is a step forward."

Consumer Reports is generally viewed as the single most influential publication among car shoppers, and as such its recommendations are highly sought after by automakers.

Since 1995, the Honda Civic has been the best-selling compact car in America every year but one, according to Edmunds.com. And it has been Consumer Reports' "Top Pick" in its class six times since 1997.

The previous version of the Civic had an overall score of 78 out of 100 in the magazine's various performance tests, placing it among the best in its class.

The 2012 Civic's score of 61 places it near the bottom of the compact car category, according to the magazine. The only car to do worse was the Volkswagen Jetta, which also scored much lower after it was recently redesigned.

The compact car category has become highly competitive with many recently improved models.

Both the redesigned Ford (F, Fortune 500) Focus and General Motors' (GM, Fortune 500) new Chevrolet Cruze earned higher ratings than the models they replaced and, more importantly, higher ratings than the new Civic. (Those two models still aren't recommended because the magazine hasn't yet gathered enough reliability data on them.)

The new Hyundai Elantra earned Consumer Reports' highest score in its category -- 80 points -- and it has the magazine's recommendation based in part on positive reports of its reliability.

Not all auto critics have been so harsh on the new Civic. When Motor Trend magazine recently tested eight compact cars, the Civic ranked second to the Elantra and far ahead of the Focus and Cruze.

Unlike most magazines, Consumer Reports anonymously purchases the cars it tests from auto dealer rather than using cars supplied free by manufacturers. The magazine accepts no advertising. To top of page

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