The New Honda Civic's Toughest Competition Is The Crossover

Illustration for article titled The New Honda Civic's Toughest Competition Is The Crossover
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1st Gear: Ubiquitous Civic

Get used to what you’re seeing above because that car is going to be everywhere—or so Honda hopes, at least.


They’re launching the brand new 2016 Civic, one of their bread-and-butter cars that’s now larger, more high-tech and more efficient, into a buying climate that’s great for crossovers and pretty unkind to small cars. Via Automotive News:

A little pessimism would seem to be in order. Through September, the compact car segment is up just 1.6 percent, and the overall car market is down 2.1 percent. Meanwhile, compact crossovers are up 10 percent, and the overall light-truck market is up 11 percent. Last year, U.S. sales of Honda’s CR-V compact crossover surpassed the Civic’s for the first time, and through the first three quarters of this year, CR-V sales are running about 4 percent ahead of Civic sales.

But as that story notes, Honda’s pretty optimistic anyway:

Honda also is riding a wave of confidence because it’s broadening the Civic’s reach. Not only will a Type R and hatchback join the lineup in the U.S. market, but a turbo engine is being offered for the first time.

“We think with the new car that we have, we’ll take a larger share of that compact market, plus we’ll get more sales because of these added variants,” Jeff Conrad, general manager of Honda Division, told Automotive News at the Civic press launch in Malibu, Calif. “We think we can take a lot of conquest sales, frankly.”


2nd Gear: Toyota Says Their Crazy Plan Is Do-Able

Last week you read about Toyota’s plan to all but eliminate gasoline engines by 2050, except on a handful of models and in developing markets. They say the plan can be done, but it involves getting suppliers ready now—and it could have wide-ranging effects for other automakers. From Automotive News:

The shift will reverberate far down the supply chain for companies tied to traditional engine components ranging from piston rings to valve springs.

Meanwhile, Toyota wants to root out carbon dioxide from not only the energy powering its factories but also the production of the raw materials used by Toyota and its suppliers.

The company will start by issuing new guidelines to Toyota group suppliers in January, said Managing Officer Tatsuro Takami, the company’s chief officer for environmental affairs.

“We will be creating supplier green guidelines for carbon dioxide reduction and coexistence with nature,” Takami said. “The entire group is going to come together for this kickoff.”


3rd Gear: The New GM Ignition Switch Recall

Apparently it’s 2014 again, because here’s some news on a General Motors ignition switch recall from the AP. (Kidding! It’s a new one.)

The carmaker is recalling about 3,300 big pickup trucks and SUVs mostly in North America to correct the issue that causes engines to turn off and also disables power steering, power brakes and possibly air bags, the AP reported.

The problem was discovered by an employee who owned one of the trucks and informed higher-ups. GM quickly moved to recall the trucks, keeping the number relatively small, a spokesman for GM told AP.

[...] The recall involves some 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duty pickups, 2015 heavy-duty pickups and 2015 Chevy Suburban and Tahoe SUVs, AP said.


4th Gear: VW Reportedly Had Multiple Cheat Systems

Volkswagen’s diesel cheating was apparently like those potato chips: bet you can’t have just one! That’s according to sources who spoke to Reuters, claiming the company had several cheat systems in place:

During seven years of self-confessed cheating, Volkswagen altered its illegal software for four engine types, said the sources, who include a VW manager with knowledge of the matter and a U.S. official close to an investigation into the company.


It’s now been a month since VW came clean (pardon the pun) on the diesel cheating, but there is still much we don’t know about what happened and who exactly was responsible.

5th Gear: Takata Recalls Affect GM

Hey, news from Takata! Haven’t heard much from those guys in a while. Well, they’re still a clusterfuck, thanks for asking!, and now some of their potentially explosive airbags have spread to 2015 model year GM cars too. Via the AP:

The deadly problem with exploding Takata air bag inflators continues to spread to newer vehicles, this time hitting a small number of 2015 General Motors cars and SUVs.

GM is recalling more than 400 vehicles because the side air bag inflators could rupture and send shrapnel into drivers and passengers, according to the company and documents posted Saturday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


The vehicles involved, the AP reports, are the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu and Camaro and the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS and GMC Terrain.


Reverse: That Whole Thing


Neutral: Will The Civic Still Be A Hit?

I’m not nuts about the looks, but the new car seems to be an improvement over the old one. Plus, people just buy Civics as a matter of course. Honda probably doesn’t need to worry much. Or do they?


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Justin Hughes

The Civic sedan bears a striking resemblance to the Accord Crosstour.

I can’t help but think the family resemblance was intentional, maybe to help position the Civic sedan as more of a smaller swoopy crossover (think BMW X4) than a traditional sedan. The only problem is that Crosstour was discontinued earlier this year due to low sales. I appreciate what Honda is trying to do here, but I think they linked the Civic sedan to the wrong car. Not that they can undo the mistake this late in the development cycle.