The all-new 2012 Honda Civic remains a strong contender in the compact car category, but other new models now effectively match the Civic and threaten its traditional dominance in the marketplace.
For a new compact car to stand out in an increasingly competitive category, you'd think it should offer more than just a few subtle improvements. So we find ourselves in a rather unfamiliar position with the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic.
For years, the lineup of Civic models has been so much better than the competition that it has been a no-brainer to recommend one of these cars. But in the last few years, competing automakers have introduced some very impressive small cars. So while the ninth-generation Honda Civic is a very good and likable automobile, we have to wonder if the subtle changes to its design and engineering features will be enough to sustain its class supremacy. These days, even the least expensive models from competitive brands offer reliable powertrains, advanced safety features, top-quality interior materials and high-tech options.
To Honda's credit, the changes to the new Civic are welcome, even if they don't exactly leap out at you. Fuel economy remains pretty much the same as before for most Civic models, but there's a new Civic HF variant that's rated for 41 mpg highway. Fuel efficiency and power are improved for the Civic hybrid model as well, while the Civic Natural Gas remains the only factory-made car to be so fueled. As for the sporty Civic Si, it gets a new 2.4-liter engine that produces a welcome boost in torque compared to last year's 2.0-liter.
In terms of features, stability control is now standard throughout the model lineup. Other upgrades for 2012 include more interior room (3 inches of additional shoulder room up front and another 1.6 inches of rear legroom), and a few new technology features such as a 5-inch information display, the increased availability of iPod connectivity and an economy mode designed to help deliver maximum mpg.
Considering these improvements, the 2012 Honda Civic is still a solid pick with which buyers of compact cars will be pleased. But it's no longer the only game in town. We'd recommend test-driving this new Civic back to back with new competing models like the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, 2012 Ford Focus