Sedan or Coupe
In 2011, the latest-generation Civic hit the road as a 2012 model year vehicle with numerous updates and enhancements. Canadian-built and highly recognized as one of the smartest choices in its segment, the 2012 Civic carried forward with an award-winning reputation for reliability, durability, residual values, fuel efficiency and safety.
As the latest version of one of the most reliable cars on the road, there’s not a lot of worry-factor in buying a used copy of a Honda Civic this new.
Available feature content includes the colour-changing ECO display in the instrument cluster, Bluetooth, a sunroof, navigation with voice command, heated leather seating, automatic climate control and a full array of standard safety systems. A premium audio system can also be specified. Elsewhere, Civic is noted for generous at-hand storage facilities, a flat rear-seat floor for enhanced comfort, and a generous trunk.
Look for sedan or coupe models, with the sporty Civic Si topping the model range, and the LX or EX trim grades coming in as basic or mid-line, respectively. A Civic Hybrid was also available.
Standard four-cylinder engines make 140 hp and come with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox for most of this generation’s life. The high-performance Civic Si, available in coupe or sedan, gets a 200 hp, high-revving 2.4L engine and six-speed manual transmission backed by various chassis and cosmetic tweaks.
Civic Hybrid (sedan only) packs 110 ultra-clean horsepower and achieves mileage as low as 4.3 L/100 km. All Honda Civic engines are fitted with the automakers Valve Timing Electronic Control (VTEC) system for maximum performance and efficiency.
If you’re shopping for a near-new model, look for a 2014 or 2015 to take advantage of a slightly updated interior, new fuel-saving Continually Variable Transmission (CVT), and new technology like a display audio screen, LaneWatch camera system and HondaLink connected-car technology with Smartphone integration and in-dash apps.
What Owners Like
Owners say Civic is maneuverable, comfortable and relatively solid to drive, though the driving experience isn’t the primary reason most shoppers pick a Civic. Reliability and purchase confidence is highly rated, as is Civic’s generous-for-its-size roominess. Owners note generous trunk space, and cargo space, with the rear seats folded. Fuel efficiency and performance are both rated well, too. Many owners, having previous experience owning an older Civic model, purchase newer ones having enjoyed a no-fuss ownership experience.
What Owners Dislike
Common gripe points include some plasticky and low-budget interior bits, excessive road noise on some models, and an interior design that’s highly functional, albeit boring to look at. Some owners report that the CVT transmission on newer models takes some getting used to, thanks to sometimes-jerky operation, or what’s been called the yo-yo effect, referencing a slight delay between throttle application and acceleration. Finally, note that some owners report dissatisfaction with the seat comfort in this generation Civic, so be sure to confirm you can achieve a comfortable driving position on your test-drive.
Here’s a look some owner reviews.
The Test Drive
As the latest version of one of the most reliable cars on the road, there’s not a lot of worry-factor in buying a used copy of a Honda Civic this new. Still, shoppers are advised to make several key checks and inspections for maximum peace of mind.
First, remember that many cars have a timing belt, which needs to be changed preemptively ahead of failure at pre-set intervals, usually with a fairly hefty associated bill. This generation Civic doesn’t have a timing belt like older ones did – and the timing chain used instead should last the life of the vehicle without incurring any expenses, providing the engine oil schedule is adhered to. Check service records where possible to ensure that’s been the case for the model you’re considering.
If considering the sporty Civic Si, note that the model may have been driven hard on a regular basis. This isn’t an issue provided maintenance was kept up to date, with all fluid changes performed at or before factory service intervals. Again, checking service records can reveal how well the unit you’re considering was cared for in this regard. As a sports model, the brakes and tires on the Civic Si should be scrutinized for signs of excessive wear, which can be called into pricing negotiations. Check the condition of the clutch as well, noting any slipping, rejected gearshifts or notchy engagement from the clutch pedal, which could be signs of excessive wear. Putting the car into a high gear at a low speed (for instance, 3rd gear at 50 km/h) and applying full throttle where appropriate can coax slippage from a badly worn clutch.
In any model, be sure to check the level and condition of the engine oil. Though largely inconclusive, some owners have reported oil consumption in this generation Civic, and the owners community suggests it might come from some redesign to engine internals and the use of a thinner engine oil for fuel economy. This issue is inconclusive and likely poses no cause for worry, though shoppers should keep an eye on oil levels and any oil loss between oil changes to be safe. If any oil consumption is noted between oil changes, talk to your Honda dealer and ensure they document it, in case you need to file a warranty claim.
Run the climate control blower motor on any model through all of its speed settings, listening for an excessive buzzing sound. If present, the culprit is likely a warped blend door located near the fan motor, causing a vibration. This should be a warranty-related issue, if detected.
If you’re considering a Civic Hybrid, note that the hybrid battery and powertrain components are covered by a lengthy warranty, though a Honda dealer should still do a full inspection of the components, and an electronics system scan, to confirm that no issues are present. Earlier models had issues with failed drive batteries which seem to have been remedied for this generation, though a full check over by a hybrid-trained Honda technician is strongly advised.
One final note: note that many used Civics will have been modified in some form or another by past owners. This is especially true on the sportier Civic Si, which is typically bought by a more enthusiast driver who’s keen on aftermarket upgrades. Though light modifications are typically no cause for alarm (intake systems, exhaust, wheels), shoppers are advised to confirm that all parts, and their installation, are of high quality. Also, for the average shopper, avoiding a model with modified suspension, re-programmed engine management or other more major modifications is a good idea.
The latest generation of one of the most reliable cars on the road seems to be largely free of worrisome or troubling issues. Problems will likely be easy to identify and fix during a pre-purchase inspection, and finding a healthy used Civic from this generation is largely a function of tracking down a model that’s been well maintained and has all service records up to date. If the Civic you’re considering meets these criteria, buy confidently.
A list of recalls.
Crash Test Ratings
IIHS: Top Safety Pick + (2013)
NHTSA: 5-star (sedan), 4-star (coupe) (2014)