Honda unveils the 2012 Civic. Is it good enough?

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Honda
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Posted below is the press release from Honda followed by a few pictures of the all-new, late to market, 2012 Civic.  I’d say this is an evolution, not a revolution.  Honda needs the Civic to be a big hit. These days, it’s not enough to just stay fresh, a manufacturer needs to take some bold steps, either with styling, technology or both.

I like the driver-oriented cockpit (see pictures below) and the overall look of the interior. In the past, I haven’t been able to find a comfortable position in the Civic because I’m tall with long legs and the seats just don’t have enough adjustments for my frame.  I’ll be curious to see if the new Civic is more accommodating.

Just looking at the statistics, I don’t see any great leaps over the current Civic. Honda is bringing back the “HF” badge for a high fuel economy version of the Civic.  Wow.  Honda says it will get a whopping 41 mpg highway. That’s good, but it’s not a standout in the current crowd of excellent small cars on the US market.

The new Hyundai Elantra is a very nice package and it touts its own 40 mpg.  The Chevy Cruze Eco boasts 42 mpg.   Ford’s Fiesta also has a variant that squeaks by at 40 mpg.  Even the new 2012 Focus with the “Super Fuel Economy” package gets 40 mpg.

Honda boasts that the 2012 Civic Hybrid, with lithium-ion batteries, improved its city/highway combined fuel economy by 4 mpg to 45 mpg.   However, the current (2011) Toyota Prius still trumps that with EPA estimates of 48 city/51 highway.  I predict consumers will continue to shun the poor Civic Hybrid in favor of the more flashy, hybrid-only Prius.

I’m also disappointed that Honda is still using a 5-speed automatic transmission. Isn’t it time for a 6-speed automatic? Come on Honda, step things up!

All-New 2012 Honda Civic Emphasizes Style, Fuel Economy and Performance
Two models offer 40+ mpg

02/17/2011 – TORRANCE, Calif.

Featuring the widest array of engine choices available in its class, the 2012 Civic is designed to even better meet the diverse needs of the compact-vehicle buyer when it launches this spring. The entire redesigned ninth-generation Civic lineup will become more fuel efficient with two models – the all-new Civic HF and the Civic Hybrid – each delivering fuel economy estimates of more than 40 mpg on the highway.

Built on the tradition of Honda fuel efficiency, the economical Civic HF model will be the most fuel-efficient gasoline-only powered Civic in the lineup when it launches this spring. Equipped with a 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine, the Civic HF is targeted to earn EPA-estimated fuel economy1 of 41 mpg on the highway. The 2012 Civic Hybrid, which will be outfitted for the first time with a lithium-ion battery and a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine, is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated city/highway combined fuel economy1 of 45 mpg, an improvement of 4 mpg compared to the current Civic Hybrid. Both the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models will be equipped with aerodynamic components for improved efficiency and Honda ECO Assist™ technology, an innovation that can enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback to promote more efficient individual driving styles.

“The Civic is the only model in the industry that can deliver on all fronts – fuel economy, sporty performance, smart packaging, alternative fuel and long-term value,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co.,Inc. “For the ninth-generation Civic, we are emphasizing improved fuel economy across the board, from the hybrid sedan to the sporty Si model.”

In addition to the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models, the Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic GX Natural Gas models are also estimated to achieve improved fuel economy compared to the current models. The Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy2 of 39 mpg on the highway, an improvement of 3 mpg when compared to the current model. The Civic Natural Gas vehicle is anticipated to earn a 7 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to the current model. The Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic Natural Gas models will all be equipped with the Honda ECO Assist technology.

Along with improved fuel economy, the new Civic lineup also delivers more performance, particularly with the Civic Si. The Civic Si sedan and coupe models will be equipped with a larger, more powerful 2.4-liter engine as well as a new 6-speed manual transmission. The new engine is anticipated to deliver 200 horsepower with 170 ft-lb of torque. Even with the larger engine and a 22 percent increase in torque, Civic Si is targeted to achieve an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy1 of 31 mpg; an increase of 2 mpg when compared to the current model.

The 2012 Civic lineup includes a sedan and a coupe with conventional gasoline models, a new “HF” high fuel economy version, two sporty “Si” performance versions, along with one hybrid and a natural gas alternative-fuel variant.
Additional information on the new 2012 Civic will be announced closer to the on-sale date. For more information on the current Civic and other Honda models, please visit

Civic HF, Sedan, Coupe and Natural Gas Specifications

* 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 5-speed automatic transmission
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic HF highway fuel economy: 41 mpg
* EPA-estimated Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe highway fuel economy: 39 mpg

Civic Hybrid Specifications

* 110 horsepower, 1.5-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine (combined gasoline + electric)
* Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
* Lithium-ion battery
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic Hybrid city/highway combined fuel economy: 45 mpg

Civic Si Specifications

* 200 horsepower and 170 lb-ft, 2.4-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 6-speed manual transmission
* EPA-estimated Civic Si highway fuel economy: 31 mpg

1Preliminary EPA mileage estimates determined by Honda. Final EPA mileage estimates not available at the time of printing. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

2Based on 2012 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

2012 Honda Civic Sedan

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Sedan

2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe

2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe

2012 Honda Civic Si Sedan. I'm sorry to say that it reminds me of the much-maligned Dodge Neon.

A 2000 Dodge Neon. Look Familiar?

A 2002 Dodge Neon. I see similarities!

2012 Honda Civic HF badge. Is it me or does this rear look generic?

Honda Civic EX-L Sedan with Navigation

  1. Tom says:

    Is it good enough?

    In a word “No”.

    These days everyone has cars out there that are more stylish, have better gas mileage, are more luxurious and/or are cheaper. Honda rep for bullet-proof reliability isn’t enough these days when everyone’s making reliable cars. I look at this and think that I’d far rather have a Ford Focus.

  2. Todd Bianco says:

    I’m with you, Tom. The Focus, with its dazzling array of luxury features at a budget price, is looking pretty good. As soon as those hit showrooms, I’m going to kick the tires and take it for a spin.

    It’s as if Honda was blind to the coming competition. Now, the vaunted Civic, finds itself with real, credible rivals offering more aggressive styling, loads of features and high-tech drivetrains. The game has changed.

    Toyota may be the one really left out in the cold. The Corolla is looking pretty pathetic these days and a new one should have been here yesterday.

  3. […] Todd Bianco on Todd Bianco’s Blog posted last week and entitled Honda unveils the 2012 Civic. Is it good enough? « Todd Bianco's … which is also definitely worth reading!   I’d say this is an evolution, not a […]

  4. disappointed hondafan says:

    I agree with your comments as with the exception of the SI the powertrain is just a carry over and Honda is still using its dated 5 speed automatic and the same engine. Although we have to wait for the test drives and reviews–sure looks like the Elantra will remain the segment leader (note the all of Elantra models get 40 mpg which only the Civic HF model can beat, also the Elantra has a superior navigation system while I suspect Honda will continue to use its dated navigation system (furthermore the Elantra Navigation system has a back up camera something the CIvic does not even offer). I think Honda did not do enough and when the Elantra adds direct injection to its engine it will surpass the gas mileage of the 2012 Civic to point where Honda will be forced to finally develop new engine/transmission technology to remain competitive. Apparently, Honda engineering did very little with the extra year it had the delay of this so-called new Civic (I guess Hyundai and Ford won’t lose too much sleep over the Civic redesign or should I say refresh as it really does not raise the bar at all).

  5. Todd Bianco says:

    It seems like the captain of Honda was asleep at the helm while Honda was developing the new Civic. Hyundai’s Elantra is fun to drive, offers fantastic fuel economy and is bristling with electronic and safety features – all in a package that is fresh, attractive and very affordable. I really liked it and I recommend to people looking for a small, affordable car that still pampers them with luxury features.

    I just tested the new Focus and it is the best Ford small car in, well, forever. The Focus is a larger car, but not by much, and it offers features and fit/finish that lead the industry in almost all measures. Where Volkswagen took a bad stumble with the new Jetta, Ford nails them for value, content, fit and finish, driving dynamics and styling.

    Honda, instead, played it safe with the styling – too safe if you ask me. The new Civic looks too much like the outgoing model. And Honda, maker of very sweet engines, didn’t take any significant step forward with its drivetrain. What happened to that super-clean, high-mileage diesel they bragged about a few years ago? Where is a more fuel efficient Civic Hybrid that would trump the Prius?

    Now with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I wonder if it will affect US plans even though the Civic is made here.

    Product is king and if Honda can’t deliver fresh, fuel efficient, desirable products, it will squander its decades of brand equity and customer loyalty. My first car was a 1976 Honda Civic CVCC and it was fantastic. What happened to the Prelude as Honda’s sporty halo car? The S2000 is gone too. I hope Honda can pull out of its funk, but with the lead time needed to produce new vehicles, it’s falling fast behind.

    Thanks for your great comment and insights!

  6. Mike H says:

    Having owned Civics since 1975 I was eagerly waiting to see what Honda’s delayed launch of the 2012 would bring.

    If it’s really true that the powertrains are essentially carryover and the old 5 speed automatic is still with us for another iteration it looks like I will be parting allegience to the Civic in favor of a new Hyundai Elantra Limited.

    The Elantra looks like a minature Sonata(no bad thing!) and features a much more modern “with it” powertrain including a 6 speed automatic for greater overall efficiency. Bye Civic!

    • Todd Bianco says:

      Thanks for your comments, Mike. The Civic is due in showrooms this month (April) and there hasn’t been much pre-press about it. I used to really admire Honda for its great engines and fun little cars that were a cut above the fray. I hear Hyundai calling…

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