For decades, the Honda Civic has ranked as one of the great do-anything cars. Aside from maybe the Volkswagen Golf, no other model has historically offered the affordability, reliability, comfort, spaciousness, and even a performance quite like Honda’s compact. The handsome 10th-generation model arrived for 2016 to positive reviews (including ours), and sales are up over 15% compared to last year. Everything seemed fine until Consumer Reports’ Annual Reliability Survey dropped last week, and the automotive world was shocked to see the mighty Civic as the only Honda left off the list.
The brand itself slid from the eighth to 10th spot in the reliability rankings, but the big news here is the disappearance of the Civic, a longtime stalwart of the survey. According to Jake Fisher, CR’s head of auto testing, this is the first time the car has been dropped for reliability issues, a Civic hallmark since its introduction 44 years ago. But Honda has been in this uncomfortable position before; the ninth-generation model failed to make the list when it debuted in 2012 due to quality issues.
That Civic was Honda’s attempt to move the car back into the entry-level segment, and it proved to be a disaster. CR couldn’t recommend the 2012 car because of its “lower interior quality” compared to the previous model, and it was also described as having “a choppy ride, long-stopping distances and pronounced road noise.” This, along with declining sales and a host of other bad reviews led to an “emergency redesign” of the car. By 2013, the Civic was selling well and recommended again. It’ll be interesting to see how Honda responds to this latest setback.
In its review, CR dinged the Civic for uncomfortable seats, a frustrating center touchscreen, a lack of a blind-spot monitoring system, and a shortage of cars available with Honda’s Sensing safety suite. New buyers also complained about a host of electronics issues, from glitches to entire system failures, some severe enough to require entire dashboard console replacements.
And it’s a shame too, because we were impressed in our time with the Civic. Our Micah Wright called it the compact that consistently wins over “the hearts of first time drivers, critics, and aftermarket enthusiasts alike.” We praised it for its bold styling, good power and handling, and quiet, high-quality interior. And yes, we recommended that the Sensing package is a must. In all, we concluded that the 2016 Civic is “more on point than ever before.” Now, however, it’s clear that Honda still has some work to do.
The Civic wasn’t the only car to lose the important CR stamp of approval either. The Ford F-150, Subaru WRX/STI, and Volkswagen Jetta and GTI also lost the nod. But for a model — and a brand — that’s built its reputation on reliability, this is a black eye for the Civic, and for Honda in general. After years of playing it overly-conservative, Honda has gone on the offensive lately with bold redesigns. The new Pilot is innovative and family-friendly, the Ridgeline has matured into the light-duty truck buyers have been asking for, and the Accord is as good as ever. All these models got the nod from Consumer Reports. Hopefully, the Civic’s issues are just a case of first-year growing pains, and by 2017, the Civic will join its stablemates back on the list.