Riches-to-Rags and Back Again | the Saga of the 2015 Honda Civic

honda civic 2015On August 1, 2011, Consumer Reports sounded the death knell for the Honda Civic. “The redesigned-for-2012 Honda Civic LX scored too low in Consumer Reports testing to be recommended,” read the judgment, thereby yanking the tarnished halo off the head of the Civic, a compact sedan and coupe that had previously ranked, everywhere from Consumer Reports to, as one of the most desirable small cars in the world.

Honda, red in the ears, made a volte-face. Out came the 2013 model with fresh bodywork, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera and upgraded suspension. Out came the 2014 model with the LaneWatch blind-spot monitor, a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, CVT transmission and Hollywood makeover. For 2015, the Honda Civic continues its epic resurgence.

Not counting the Civic Hybrid, Natural Gas, HF and Si models, the car comes in two body styles and five feature trims: LX, SE (sedan only), EX, EX-L and EX-L Navi. All models share a rearview camera, folding rear seat, touchscreen interface, Bluetooth connectivity and a cabin audio system with CD/USB/iPod/Pandora/auxiliary audio input.

As buyers move up the trim ladder, Honda volunteers more and more features, each trim building upon the last: HondaLink smartphone integration for the SE, rear disc brakes and keyless ignition/entry for the EX, leather upholstery and heated front seats for the EX-L, a navigation system and HD radio for the EX-L Navi.

All Civics are powered by a dutiful 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Models choose between a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT. Average EPA-estimated fuel economy is 31-33 mpg. Acceleration from 0-60 mph takes about nine seconds and a Hail Mary.

More numbers pour forth: trunk size, rear legroom, MSRP, rim size, braking distance, etc. Every number is competitive .None is startling. What the current Honda Civic lacks is sex appeal. It is sort of the car designed by a committee: functional, marketable, but not daring.

To be daring is the final chapter in the Honda Civic resurgence. At the 2015 New York Auto Show, without any teasers or leaks, Honda unveiled its dashing, lime green production preview of the 10th-generation Civic, due in autumn 2015.

The chiseled, beveled body hides either a six-speed manual transmission or CVT, either a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine or a 1.5-liter Earth Dreams turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. From Europe, Honda will import its spacious five-door hatchback and, to the delight of Si fans, the raucous Type-R. The new year will bring “near-luxury levels of cabin quietness and ride refinement,” promises Honda.

In 2014, Honda sold more than 325,000 Civics in the United States. That’s an increase of more than 100,000 over 2011. Here’s hoping the resurgence continues.