Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic

Despite harsh critique from usually-reliable source, Civic remains a satisfying family compact

by James M. Flammang

2012 Honda Civic EX-L sedan

This past spring, when Tirekicking Today was unable to attend a Preview Drive event for the 2012 Honda Civic, our colleague Bruno Bornino provided an on-the-scene report on that redesigned family compact sedan. Since the publication of that favorable review, Consumer Reports issued a scathing critique of the Civic, branding it mediocre overall.

Now that we've finally had an opportunity to give the Civic a week-long trial, our personal assessment differs sharply from that of the renowned consumer publication. While the Civic isn't the most stimulating car on the market, and certainly falls short of sporty, no one should expect it to meet such criteria. Though not a vast improvement over the previous generation, the 2012 Civic is a capable and satisfying common-sense automobile, just right for most of its intended audience.

Yes, the ride can be a little stiffer than some compacts, on certain road surfaces. But the Civic's steering is sufficiently responsive and accurate, in keeping with its class. Brakes perform adequately. Acceleration is wholly appropriate, with nicely-behaved automatic-transmission shifts. Most of the time, too, the ride is just fine.

Except for the tiniest trace of looseness on an upper door panel of our test Civic, the 2012 model appears to be competently assembled and solidly built. Though hardly a "fun" car (a quality that doesn't apply to many of its competitors, either), the Civic is surprisingly enjoyable to drive.

Gauges are excellent. A big, bright, easy-to-read digital speedometer sits high up, near the windshield. Farther down, closer to the driver, is a comparably sizable tachometer. This positioning appear to acknowledge the basic but seldom-mentioned fact that a tachometer in a compact family sedan with an automatic transmission is largely superfluous.

Unlike some manual seat-height adjusters, the one in the Civic could hardly be easier to operate. Front-seat space is ample, though headroom could be a tad limited for tall folks. Seats themselves are ordinary, but comfortable enough. Out back, on the other hand, the rear seat is cramped - especially if the front seat has been moved rearward to accommodate a longer-legged driver. Legroom in that case is scant, and headroom ranks as marginal. Forget the center rear position - a flaw on nearly every car these days, it seems, turning alleged five-passengers into realistic four-seaters.

Attention Editors: Both reviews of the 2012 Honda Civic review are available now for your publication. Please contact us at JF@tirekick.com for details.
Click here to see the initial Preview Drive report.

© All contents copyright 2011 by Tirekicking Today
Text and photos by James M. Flammang