Honda’s newest version of the Civic, a model that has been a foundation of the automaker’s U.S. sales for decades, flopped in tests by Consumer Reports, failing to win the magazine’s coveted “Recommended” status.
The 2012 Civic scored 61 in Consumer Reports’ evaluation, down from 78 for the previous Civic, according to a review in the September issue published Monday. The car, on sale since late April, scored poorly because of a decline in agility and interior quality, choppier ride, longer stopping distances, and more road noise compared with the last Civic, the magazine said.
“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,” David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto test center in East Haddam, Conn., said in a statement.
Honda models since the 1980s have consistently ranked among the most frequently recommended by the magazine published by Consumers Union, a nonprofit group based in New York. Carmakers seek favorable evaluations from the magazine because its reviews are considered the most objective. It accepts no advertising and buys every vehicle it tests.
“We disagree with Consumer Reports’ findings,” Honda said in a statement. “In virtually every way, the completely redesigned 2012 Civic is a step forward.”
Civic is Honda’s second-biggest selling model in the U.S., after the midsize Accord sedan. Sales of the car this year through June dropped 14% from a year ago, to 127,102. In the same period, Hyundai’s rival Elantra compact had a 79% jump in U.S. deliveries, to 103,301.
The poor ranking for the Civic, sold in the U.S. since 1973, compounds problems for Honda.
Japan’s third-largest automaker has had limited inventory of its new Civic line since the March earthquake in Japan, which limited supplies of electronics and other components needed for the new model. Production of the car at Honda plants in the U.S. and Canada remains at about half of normal volume because of parts shortages.
Honda’s quarterly profit plunged nearly 90% after the quake hammered production and sales, but the automaker raised full-year forecasts as its confidence in a recovery mounts.
Honda said Monday that its April-June profit tumbled to 31.7 billion yen ($406 million) from 272.4 billion yen a year earlier. It also said it managed to remain in the black because of its growing motorcycle business.
Tokyo-based Honda, which makes the Odyssey minivan and Fit subcompact, now expects a 230-billion yen ($2.9-billion) profit for the fiscal year ending March 2012.
That is less than half of Honda’s 534-billion yen profit in the previous fiscal year, but is better than the 195 billion yen ($2.5 billion) it forecast in June.
Honda also raised its annual sales projection to 8.7 trillion yen ($112 billion), down 3% from the previous year, but better than the 8.3 trillion yen ($106 billion) it expected in June.
The manufacturer expects to sell 3.435 million vehicles worldwide, about 135,000 more than it had given as its forecast in June. It sold 3.512 million vehicles the previous fiscal year.
Honda’s motorcycle business is booming, and the automaker expects to sell 12.7 million motorcycles for the fiscal year through March 2012, up from 11.45 million the previous year.
That’s better than its earlier forecast to sell 12.645 million motorcycles this fiscal year.
Glenbrook Hyundai, Drive Happy