By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
The 2012 Honda Civic is the all-new, ninth-generation version of the country's best-selling compact car and third-best-selling car overall. Offering a unique combination of affordability, reliability and refinement, the Honda Civic has long been a gold standard not just for the category, but for personal transportation in general. Its dominance is in decline, though, as evidenced by our most recent compact sedan comparison test in which the 2012 Honda Civic tied for first place with the ultra-stylish new Hyundai Elantra. The Honda Civic does remain the clear leader in variety, with a wide-ranging lineup that includes sedan and coupe body styles, a 201-horsepower sporty Civic Si version, a 45-mpg Civic hybrid variant, and a limited-availability natural-gas-powered version.
If you appreciate mechanical refinement similar to what you might find in a commercial airliner, the 2012 Honda Civic is the clear choice in the category. And even if you don't easily discern such qualities, just-right steering and pedal feel are the kinds of qualities that quietly contribute to long-term driving satisfaction.
The 2012 Honda Civic is neither as sporty nor as stylish as the Mazda3 or Ford Focus, the interior design isn't as interesting as the Hyundai Elantra's, and it isn't the smoothest or quietest car in the class.
The all-new-for-2012 Honda Civic is instantly familiar inside and out, with key changes comprising increased fuel economy, more refined driving dynamics and enhanced infotainment abilities. The Civic hybrid is now more fuel efficient, the Civic Si is more powerful and there's the new mileage-maxing 2012 Civic HF that delivers 41 highway mpg.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Honda Civic is not the smoothest or quietest car in the category. Nor is it the most fun to drive. Curious, then, that we'd rate it tops in...driving dynamics in our shootout of the four newest cars in the category. How does it do it? With the help of steering and pedal response that other automakers could only dream of delivering. It's easy to overlook excellence in these areas, but just as driving feel is a big part of the magic in a Porsche, the way the Civic gracefully listens and responds to a driver's input is a key reason we consider the 2012 Honda Civic the connoisseur's compact sedan.
We like being able to listen to the music on our iPhone without having to plug it in, and the Civic's Bluetooth Audio system is notable for how quickly it connects and begins playing.
Standard in all but the base Civic DX trim is a new five-inch LCD monitor that provides music and mileage info, plus Bluetooth and navigation info when equipped.
If the 2012 Honda Civic has an Achilles' heel, it's the interior styling. Everything works wonderfully, but the design, textures and materials put its visual appeal in the bottom half of the segment, behind new and newly relevant nameplates like Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevy Cruze.
Just when observers thought Honda might unleash the most expressive Civic yet - as an answer to the bold new Hyundai Elantra attracting so much attention – the even-keeled automaker instead delivered the most evolutionary Civic redesign ever. It's hard to argue against sticking to a styling strategy that's helped keep the Civic at or near the top of the sales charts for many years running.
The 2012 Honda Civic starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $16,555 (including destination) for a Civic DX, but that's with no radio, no air conditioning and no power mirrors or door locks. Stepping up to the Civic LX remedies those shortcomings and nets a few other goodies for an extra $2,000, but an automatic transmission will set you back another $800. The Honda Civic's myriad active and passive safety technologies are included as standard equipment across the line. The EX and EX-L models sit at the top of the 2012 Civic's non-hybrid, non-natural-gas pyramid, with the Si coupe and sedan covering performance side of the street.
A 2012 Honda Civic EX-L with Navigation has an MSRP at $24,225 and includes leather seats (heated front), a moonroof, Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity, a full-function i-MID display and a six-speaker AM/FM/SAT/MP3/ Bluetooth audio system with USB and auxiliary ports (which offers plenty of functionality but just-okay sound).
With no direct injection or turbocharging, 140 horsepower, and five speeds not six in the manual and automatic transmissions, the 2012 Honda Civic has the simplest powertrain of the newest compact sedans. Nevertheless, it delivers exceptional fuel economy and plenty of power. The mileage-maxing HF trim features the same powertrain, but adds two highway miles per gallon with a lower ride height, aerodynamic adds and tires with lower rolling resistance. The Civic Si, in sedan and coupe form, comes with 201 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission.
Civic DX, LX, EX, EX-L and HF
1.8-liter in-line four cylinder
140 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
128 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/36 (manual), 28/39 (automatic), 29/41 (Civic HF automatic)
2.4-liter in-line four cylinder
201 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 (manual)
1.5-liter in-line four cylinder + electric motor
110 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
127 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,000-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 44/44 (Continuously Variable Transmission)
Civic Natural Gas
1.8-liter in-line four cylinder
110 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
106 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
By Connor on Thursday, March 13, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Pros: "Idled nicely."
Cons: "Expensive to fix, unreliable."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Had the car in the shop about 10 times. Thank God it was leased because it probably would've been about six grand in out-of-pocket expenses. We have had several newly installed boots rip and 2 broken front axles. The car had a quick peppy engine but that was about it. I would not recommend model year to anybody."
By lucky on Tuesday, March 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good price and fun to drive"
Cons: "hate the road noise deafing inside car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love the car but the noise inside is so loud can't hear the person in rear seat talking at all! other than that it is the best!"
By Jessica on Monday, March 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 400overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "style, reliability"
Cons: "traction control"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Drove an Acura for years then finally went to a Ford Fusion for a change, trading in the Ford just after 3 months to a 2014 Civic. Great car for the price. How can you expect top-end trims when you are paying around 20k for a vehicle? Runs great, great gas mileage, and has alot of features I wasn't expecting. Although, doesn't seem to grip too well with the snow. Nothing a new pair of snow tires wont fix though."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By luke on Saturday, March 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, efficient, good looks"
Cons: "no euro type r version availible"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had mazdas for a number of years, this was the best purchase i've made for a vehicle in terms of value. Great performance - mixed with efficiency, not the fastest car ever but it keeps it fun to drive and have had absolutely zero issues so far. Between this car and my work vehicles i drive over 70k a year, wish my employer would buy me one of these for over the road sales!"
By Edub on Saturday, March 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price, great standard features"
Cons: "Shoddy quality interior materials, uncomfortable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I wish that I had researched consumer reviews before purchasing my 2012 Civic because in hindsight, many of the reviews that I have since read relay issues that I have faced since purchasing this vehicle. My biggest complaint from the beginning (and it is my own fault for not putting more emphasis on this during my car search)has been the sub-par quality of the interior materials in the car. The floor carpet and seating is a cheap material. I have since observed better quality in both a Kia model and a Hyundai model. The best feature of the Civic is undoubtedly the technology: the standard blue tooth access and ease of use of the technological features. The cons outnumber the pros for me though. Two years into ownership, I have had to replace the battery. After reading other reviews, it seems that the battery issue is a common problem with other owners of this model, although the dealership doesn't acknowledge a manufacturer's problem. The driving and front passenger seating is uncomfortable. The exterior paint started chipping at 12,00 miles. Many of these issues are probably to be expected from this price-point; but I expected Honda to be step above other manufacturers of economic sedans. Overall, I sadly say this will be my last Honda; and I will not recommend the Civic (the 2nd one I've owned) to others."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Alex on Sunday, March 02, 2014
I own this caroverall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Honda engineering still at top of game"
Cons: "need to make the car quieter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought this car new for a long commute and comfortable seats. During the first 20,000 miles I kept accurate records for miles driven and gas consumed and averaged about 39 miles per gallon overall which was very impressive. Then the mileage started to drop to around 37 when I drove straight highway and around 29 in town. Now, at 43K it is getting 30 on the highway and 25 in town... there is no check engine light on but I am going to take it to the shop and have them do a diagnostic. I really have only a few issues with the car, otherwise it is a typically great Civic. I don't like the feel of the electric power steering and it has a lot road and wind noise. I recently went to the 2014 auto show in Portland and sat in every small car out there and nothing has the quality interior of a civic in my opinion. Our last civic, a 1991, was super reliable and this one is the same, except for the mileage issue which I hope is fixable."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful