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Honda speeds up major changes to the Civic

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0800

Honda will bring out a significant mid-cycle change to its embattled Civic compact this fall, just 18 months after it launched, a high-ranking executive told dealers here.

The move is a rush to improve the Civic in time for the 2013 model year. The Civic's cheapened interior and other reductions in content got a critical reviews from The Wall Street Journal, and Consumer Reports removed the model from its recommended list.

John Mendel, executive vice president at American Honda Motor Co., previously had said Honda hoped to get a midcycle freshening for the Civic sometime in 2013. More recently, Honda executives said they hoped a change could come by the end of 2012.

Even that would have been a feat, since most automakers wait three years into a five-year cycle for a midcycle change.

Most midcycle changes involve minor changes to the front and rear fascias and some minor interior updates. A dealer source said changes to the 2013 model year version would be more significant than that.

This latest announcement confirms that the substantially revised Civic will arrive at about the same time as a redesigned Accord. The Civic still is in the fight for the title of best-selling compact car, despite the bad reviews and inventory shortages related to the Japan earthquake in March and then floods in Thailand.

In 2011 Honda sold 221,235 Civics, far from its traditional 300,000-plus rate. But in January, Honda sold 21,883 Civics, easily tops in the segment.

By Mark Rechtin- Automotive News