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Can the Honda Civic Compete in the Competitive Compact Class For ’16

What changes will make it different?

This enduring compact was refreshed for the 2014 model year, so it carries over largely unchanged into model-year ’15. Rumors have circulated that an all-new model is on deck, although Honda is staying tight-lipped on the matter. Many experts expect a complete redesign that would make the new model a truly global vehicle, as opposed to the current situation where there are U.S. and European versions. With the hatchback being the standard configuration in Europe, it might mean that the new car will come in both hatch and sedan versions for all markets. It’s possible, however, that the sedan format will be abandoned altogether and that all model-year 2016 Civics will be hatches. But we think this is unlikely given that few brands in North America do well in a purely hatchback format.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

This vehicle’s track record is mostly one of excellence. Even the quickly ditched ’12 model wasn’t as badly received by the public as it was by the auto press. Bottom line? The smart money says that the model-year ’16 offering will be worth the wait.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

If you’re in the market right now for a quality compact sedan or coupe, you won’t go wrong here. It’s almost impossible to imagine that an all-new model will be so good that it eclipses the value of this version. If you want to wait until more is revealed about model-year ’16, that’s fine—but don’t forget that this is already a quality car.

Will the styling be different?

An all-new model would likely come with a complete redesign. When the current generation was launched, it was a radical shift away from that past, especially regarding the European hatchback. While the model-year ’16 Civic may not be a complete departure from its predecessor, it’s bound to look significantly different, provided it’s an all-new version.

Any mechanical changes?

New engines and at least one new transmission are certainties for the next generation, but the whole platform could be new from the ground up. It’s rumored that the next Civic will be virtually the same car throughout the world, so Honda might logically develop a platform that would form the basis for other future models in this range.

Will fuel economy improve?

If the automaker comes to market with new engines, transmissions, and aerodynamics, fuel economy will almost certainly get better. There are also strong indications that a new hybrid version will be part of the offering, and a fuel cell version may eventually be added to the mix.

Will it have new features?

Honda has done a lot of work on driverless vehicles over the past few years, and although these are still in development, some of their systems could find their way into a car like the model-year ’16 Civic. While infotainment and connectivity are always candidates to be upgraded, the biggest advancements could be on the safety front.

How will 2016 prices be different?

Most mass-market automakers have kept prices virtually the same for a number of years, with rare increases of only a couple hundred dollars at the most. An all-new model will cost the manufacturer a lot of money to develop, but the Civic nameplate sells in such massive numbers worldwide that a significant price increase wouldn’t make much sense.

When will it come out?

If the ’16 Civic is completely new—especially if it is designed on a worldwide platform—we shouldn’t expect it to be rushed to market. This is, after all, probably the automaker’s most important nameplate globally. An all-new version would likely show up around the end of calendar-year 2015, with a European launch taking place slightly earlier.

Best competitors

Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra, Kia Forte

What changes would make it better?

We’d like to see a little more in the rear, but such a move would depend on the overall styling. Model-year ’15’s two-level dash is certainly an acquired taste, and something more conventional, user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing would be welcomed in the future. An entirely new hybrid system would be another plus, as the model-year 2015 offering is far from being among the best in its class, especially at lower speeds.

Quick hit

An all-new Civic is a very big deal for Honda and its dealers around the world. And after the near-disaster of the 2012 redesign, you can be sure the Japanese auto giant will have everything buttoned down before the launch. It’s extremely likely that the new Civic will be built in North America, as the automaker has often stated its intention to have all models that are sold in the United States built there as well. That means a new model would be good news both for American workers and consumers.

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About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]