Honda Civic Sales Suffered a Major Hit in Early 2021 but Are Seeing a Big Turnaround

If you Google the phrase “top 10 best-selling cars in the U.S.,” you’re guaranteed to see the Honda Civic on several lists. We’re not talking about just any lists — we’re talking U.S. News, Car and Driver, Edmunds, and the best in the business, MotorBiscuit. But, seriously, the Civic made Honda a household name.

This compact car succeeded in appealing to a broad market by offering various body styles and engine types, allowing the Honda Civic to make best-seller lists for decades. But in the first quarter of this year, the Civic’s sales numbers didn’t look so hot.

The 2021 Honda Civic’s poor sales earlier this year were surprising

A grayish-blue 2021 Honda Civic Hatchback at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March 2021
2021 Honda Civic Hatchback | Guillaume Payen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sales for the 2021 Honda Civic were down over 13% in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020, GoodCarBadCar shows. Of course, most automakers didn’t begin experiencing significant losses until Q2 2020, after the pandemic took hold. Either way, the 2021 Civic’s sales numbers stand in contrast to other Q1 2021 auto sales data. We reported in mid-April that, despite a pandemic, Q1 2021 auto sales were strong, if not downright impressive.

Honda is among a group of automakers, including Mitsubishi, Infiniti, Dodge, and Fiat, facing a steady drop in sales beginning back in Q1 2019. At the bottom of the barrel, you have Chevrolet and Dodge (again) seemingly getting something wrong, and it definitely shows in their unimpressive sales figures. And considering these trends started way before the pandemic, it’s safe to say some brand introspection is in tall order.

Don’t count this compact car out of the fight yet

Short of an extinction-level event, the Honda Civic is designed to bounce back. It has a proven track record that rivals competitors in the same class. Though it only sold 15,475 units in January and 15,906 in February, March numbers jumped to 24,522. Sales figures further increased to 28,414 units in April but skyrocketed to 35,962 in May. In June, numbers slightly decreased to 32,677.

Compared to Q1 2021, the Honda Civic averaged 23,038 units sold between Q1 2916 and Q1 2020. That means the 2021 Civic suffered a 29% drop in units sold in Q1 2021 compared to the annual Q1 average. However, the sales data for Q2 2016 through 2020 compared to Q2 2021 shows an 8% increase. In other words, the 2021 Civic outsold the previous years.

The 2021 Honda Civic at a glance

No matter how many new compact cars enter the market each year, none has successfully dethroned the Honda Civic. It has remained the darling of reviewers since it entered the U.S. market in 1973. You read that right — the Civic has been around since disco music and bell-bottom jeans. And in those nearly five decades, it has matured but is still one of the most enjoyable compacts to drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it a perfect five-star overall safety rating, and Car and Driver rated it 9.5 out of 10.

The 2021 Honda Civic is at the tail end of its 10th generation, with the 11th generation set to make its much-awaited debut in 2022. So Honda didn’t change much on the 2021 model, which is pretty much how the Civic has rolled year over year. Nonetheless, you can expect a thrilling blend of performance, practicality, and comfort for a price that leaves you no other choice but to say, “Why not?” Honda prices the base-model LX at $21,700 to start.

There are three other trims after the LX, including the Sport ($23,100), EX ($24,700), and Touring ($28,300). The LX and Sport pack an inline-four engine that produces 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. The top two trims have the same engine but with a turbocharger, making 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque.

They all pair with continuously variable transmissions, with the Sport and Touring equipped with paddle shifters. EPA-estimated ratings vary, but the LX and EX get the best fuel economy with 31/30 mpg in the city and 33/42 mpg on the highway.

Each model comes standard with Honda Sensing’s comprehensive suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are also standard. So overall, the 2021 Honda Civic comes loaded with features at an affordable price.

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