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Honda rushing substantial Civic refresh to remain competitive?

by Mark Kleis

Honda's latest Civic has been met with much criticism, prompting a more thorough mid-cycle refresh.

With Honda's all-new, ninth-generation Civic being met with mixed responses due to its matching of solid fuel economy and a cheap interior, the automaker is reportedly working on a fix - fast.

While attending a recent media event for the launch of the new Honda CR-V, Automotive News sat down with American Honda executive VP John Mendel, learning of plans to react to the negative feedback surrounding the 2012 Civic with a sooner and more substantial mid-cycle refresh that the automaker typically would issue.

"We take feedback seriously, regardless of who it's from, and we will act accordingly quickly," Mendel said, before adding that the mid-cycle refresh that would have previously taken place in the spring of 2014 may take place sometime in 2013 as a result of the real and perceived problems with the newest compact car from the Japanese automaker.

The "problems" with the 2012 Civic apparently stem from a decision made by Honda CEO (global) Takanobu Ito, who in 2009 decided to shorten the next Civic's wheelbase and reduce content in response to the global economic collapse. Ito apparently thought consumers would appreciate a more affordable 2012 Civic over one loaded with near-luxury content and cutting-edge features - a gamble that hasn't paid off as the CEO had hoped.

Normally a strong supporter of virtually anything Honda, Consumer Reports removed the latest Civic from the "Recommend" list. This change echoed feedback from many consumers and automotive journalists alike who found the interior of the latest Civic to be too cheap compared to the strong competition arriving in the form of an all-new crop of compact cars from the likes of Chevrolet, Ford, and Hyundai.

While it is unclear - even to Mendel - exactly how much of an overhaul can be completed with such a short available time-span, Honda will certainly feel the pressure of dropping global sales and reduced profits on all fronts as a form of motivation to make this upcoming mid-cycle refresh the most significant and successful in the automaker's history.

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