Nevertheless, the redesigned Civic LX’s score dropped a whopping 17 points to a mediocre 61 from the previous generation’s very good 78. It scored second-to-last in CR’s ratings of 12 small sedans, followed only by the recently redesigned Volkwagen Jetta. CR's testers found the 2012 Civic to be less agile and with lower interior quality than its predecessor. It also suffers from a choppy ride, long stopping distances, and pronounced road noise. On the positive side, the Civic provides decent rear-seat room, and it achieved 30 mpg overall, which gives it the second-best fuel economy in its class—behind only the Toyota Corolla’s 32 mpg.
“While other models like the Hyundai Elantra have gotten better after being redesigned, the Civic has dropped so much that now it ranks near the bottom of its category,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT
The test group also included sedan and hatchback versions of the redesigned-for-2012 Ford Focus and the hatchback version of the Kia Forte, which both scored Very Good. The Focus was fun to drive and more polished than its predecessor, with the type of agile handling, supple ride, and solid feel expected from a compact sports sedan. But a snug rear seat, complicated controls, and annoying behavior by the automatic transmission took a toll on its score. The 5-Door hatchback is Kia’s latest addition to the Forte line, and is well-equipped, relatively roomy, and offers a lot for the money. But its noise isolation, ride, and interior quality are middling.
The issue also features tests of two versions of the Ford F-150 pickup, perennially the best-selling model in the U.S. Freshened for 2011, it’s quieter and more refined than earlier versions, with an improved ride, and better acceleration.
Competition in the small sedan segment is intense with many new or redesigned entries this year. The redesigned-for-2011 Hyundai Elantra tops CR’s ratings with its impressive fuel economy, roomy interior, and strong value. The new-for-2011 Chevrolet Cruze is much more refined than previous General Motors small cars but fuel economy suffers from its heavy weight. Redesigned for 2011, the Volkswagen Jetta, like the Civic, dramatically dropped in overall score in CR’s Ratings. Some older-design small sedans, like the highly-efficient Toyota Corolla, the roomy and quiet Nissan Sentra, and the sporty Mazda3 remain competitive.
The full report on small sedans and hatchbacks is available in the September issue of the magazine, on newsstands August 2 and to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org. Updated daily, it’s the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR’s ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.