Nearly a half-century after it made its debut in the U.S., the Honda Civic is the second-most popular passenger car in the country.
But despite its success over the decades – more than 12 million have sold – the stalwart compact sedan is immersed in a crisis: Americans are losing interest in passenger cars.
Honda is hoping to reverse the tide with the introduction of a completely redesigned Civic for the first time in six years, marking the 11th generation of a vehicle known for its reliability and family appeal. The car is slightly larger than its predecessor but has better fuel economy.
Trailing only the Toyota Camry for the title of best-selling passenger car in the U.S. in 2020, the Civic remains a centerpiece of Honda’s American lineup despite the decline in sales of passenger cars in recent years as Americans flock to SUVs and pickups.
“The biggest thing going against the new Honda Civic is that it is a car. Cars continue to lose favor with consumers,” Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs said in an email. “That said, there remains a place in the market for cars, particularly for young, possibly first-time new car buyers who are on a budget. Honda – along with Toyota – dominate in in that regard.”
Sales of the Civic fell to 261,225 in 2020, a nearly 18% decline from 317,909 in 2015, the last year the vehicle was redesigned. During that same time, several of the Civic’s direct competitors have been discontinued, including the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze, due to low sales.
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Despite the downward trend, the Civic was the eighth-best-selling vehicle in the U.S. last year, according to Cox Automotive, which owns Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. It trailed, in order, the Ford F-series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram pickup, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Equinox.
With fuel efficiency gains and a simplified interior, Honda is aiming to regenerate interest in a nameplate that debuted to Americans in 1973. The new Civic goes on sale this summer.
“Civic has been the go-to choice for compact car buyers for almost 50 years and the all-new 11th-generation Honda Civic builds on that leadership with simple and sporty styling inside and out, best-in-class features and class-leading performance,” said Dave Gardner, executive vice president of national operations for American Honda Motor, in a statement.
The new Civic has two 4-cylinder powertrain options: the standard 2-liter, 158-horsepower naturally aspirated engine and an optional 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, both paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Fuel economy on the base 2022 model is 31 miles per gallon in the city, 40 on the highway and 35 combined. That marks an improvement of 1, 2 and 2 mpg, respectively, over the previous version.
The company did not reveal pricing, but it’s not expected to change much from the 2021 version, which started at $22,000.
Design changes include a lower hood and front fenders; a 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase; and the movement of the bottom of the windshield pillars backward by nearly 2 inches to elongate the hood.
The vehicle’s features include:
• Rear-seat airbags for the first time.
• A standard seven-inch touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, or an optional nine-inch touchscreen upgrade with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The nine-inch screen is the largest ever for a Honda, continuing a trend of vehicles getting bigger screens.
• An 0.8-inch finger rest at the base of the touchscreen, “making it easier to use the touchscreen by providing a stable surface to rest your hand,” Honda said.
• A 12-speaker Bose sound system and Qi-compatible wireless charging system, both available in the Civic Touring trim line.
• A safety system that includes a new front wide-view camera.
• LED lights.
• Eight colors, including three new ones: Meteorite Gray Metallic, Sonic Gray Pearl and all-new Civic-exclusive Morning Mist Blue Metallic.
• Driver-side and passenger airbags designed to reduce severe brain trauma by integrating a donut-shaped design to cradle the head and reduce its motion in a crash. It draws from technology first deployed in the automaker’s 2021 Acura TLX and 2022 Acura MDX.
• An improved pedestrian detection system and a new front bumper designed to decrease leg injuries “and a hood with an embossed inner structure designed to improve head protection performance,” Honda said.
The Civic sedan will be made in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, while the hatchback version will be made in Greensburg, Indiana.
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