2012 Honda Civic Wins Mileage Challenge

We will publish the results of our latest Shootout of compact cars Monday. Experts from Cars.com and USA Today took five cars that seat five, cost under $20,000 and get over 35 mpg highway and pitted them against each other in a series of tests, including a mileage challenge.

Over the course of a 161-mile route of mixed city and highway driving, the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic won out with an average 36.8 mpg. This bested the 2011 Hyundai Elantra GLS by 2.3 mpg; the Elantra has a better EPA rating of 33 mpg combined city/highway versus the Civic’s 32 mpg.

The 2012 Ford Focus, 2011 Chevy Cruze and 2011 Kia Forte followed with observed mileage of 33.5, 33.2 and 30.6 mpg, respectively.

Come back to Cars.com and KickingTires on Monday to see which one of the five took the overall prize as the best high-mileage car for less than $20,000.

By David Thomas | June 9, 2011 | Comments (28)



the real-world fuel economy of these cars looks a lot closer than the epa ratings would suggest.


So long for EPA rating talk...

Derrick G

At $4/gal, someone driving 15,000 miles/year would save $1,087 over ten years choosing the Civic. Yet another reason the EPA needs to come up with a linear method, such as gallons/100 miles, to report fuel economy in.


I didn't double-check the actual numbers, but +1 to Derrick G for pointing out that differences in fuel economy make less of an impact on the wallet when comparing high-MPG cars.

Mark of Excellence

Sometimes it's not just about the money. Civic is the best and that counts for something too. Honda has never sold a bad car in this country.


Honda HAS sold a bad car in this country. Generation 7 Civic comes to mind:

-Interiors falling apart.
-Suspension bushings failing prematurely.
-Multiple TSBs and recalls.
-SRS light coming on like clockwork.
-Class action suit on their CVT transmission.

... That's just what comes to mind. Honda for the most part makes good and reliable cars, but not all the time.

Oh, and since you said Honda has never SOLD a bad car... I might as well say this: Honda Passport, Acura SLX.

Sorry to get off topic.

Derrick G

We'll wait to see how the test comes out Monday. But let's assume that there's a mythical car that gets 32.9 MPG, which would be the same spread better than the Forte as from the Elantra to the Civic. At $4/gal there, the difference for the extra 2.3 MPG there would be $1,370 over ten years. The current system distorts the differences way up and way down the range.

Kyle P

both the Honda Passport and the Acura SLX were made by Izuzu


In every test the elantra and forte have come up short of epa ratings by a significant margin. In motortrends test the elantra only 26mpg which was 3rd worst in spite of 2nd best epa rating. Forte was last in real world mileage.


Kyle P,

Thanks, that's why I emphasized on the word "SOLD" and not "BUILT".


It really isn't surprising to me, at least. Even a simple Google search shows the crazy amount of consumer complaints about that. I also feel like I'm the only person who remembers Hyundai having a lawsuit against them on falsifying their mileage ratings.

Derrick G

"In every test the elantra and forte have come up short of epa ratings by a significant margin."

Yet cars.com just said that the Elantra got 34.5 overall vs. an EPA estimated 33. How is that every test?


The mileage in this tests suggests this was a highway focused test and the elantra trailed the civic which has a lower rating. This test doesn't necessarily represent the mix of driving that makes up epa combined figure.


Let me rephrase for you derrick, elantra has consistently failed to top real world tests in mileage in spite of the epa ratings.

The full story on the mileage challenge will be out monday as well, but I state above it begins in downtown Chicago, which is one of the harshest mileage conditions you can find I assure you.

Just yesterday we posted that Hyundai has updated the 2012 Elantra to get better real world fuel economy while the EPA number didn't change.

Derrick G


I can find no reference to such a lawsuit anywhere. Are you sure it wasn't for horsepower figures? If it were for fuel economy figures, I'd think the EPA would fine them. Also, though the makers, not the EPA, run the certification tests, the EPA does do verification tests so while there are ways to make a car do better in ways that don't help much real world, everyone knows it's a big risk to outright falsify a test.

Mark of Excellence

Please take some care in reading my post before commenting. I said Honda has never sold a bad CAR in this country, and you turned around and brought up two truck based SUVs as examples. Do you want to start over? Also, you wrongly condemn the seventh generation Civic as a bad car, something I won't agree with. Because some drivers abused their civics or didn't know how to drive a CVT does not make the seventh generation Civic a bad car. There are millions of owners of the very car you criticized, including my brother, who haven't had one problem with the Civic you mention. Do you have some documentation concluding it's a "bad" car? Frankly I'm not buying what you're selling.


Derrick G,

You're correct, I'm wrong. Guess that's why I'm the only person who remembers :)


You don't have to believe me. I'm certainly not going to make this a repeat of a recent post you had with Derrick G. over the Civic. Clearly even the information he provided wasn't good enough, so why waste my time?

Mark of Excellence

Thanks for the response. I agree.


Mark of Excellence,
Honda has never sold a bad CAR in this country??? I guess either you don't get out much or you believe that the Shiny Happy Honda commercials are for real. OMG what a joke! I have friends who owned Hondas too and Hmmm, guess what? They're not repeat buyers.


The bottom line is vehicles with higher epa ratings should have the highest real world mileage. That isn't the case here and hasn't been in any comparo with the elantra. The forte is even worse. As for the test conditions, the fact that every car exceded epa combined tells you a considerable amount of highway cruising was involved.


Mark of Excellence,

between 1998 and 2005 so many Honda and Acura cars, trucks and minivans needed new transmission... But you right in a way. Honda didn't make those transmissions.

Otherwise, Honda sold and produced many unreliable vehicles.

Derrick G

Well vehicles not getting their EPA rating is nothing new. The Cruze should get 27 with the 1.8 and 28 with the turbo per the EPA. Yet CR got 26 for both, same as the Camry. IL has done worse, getting 25.2 with the 1.4T. CR also got 25 with the Jetta vs. a rated 27. Yet 13 Cruze 1.4T drivers reporting to the EPA say they get an average of 29.7. 13 Elantra drivers report 32.1. Yet the driver of the thirstiest Cruze managed just 23 MPG vs. 27 for the piggiest Elantra. The driver of the thriftiest Cruze claims 39 MPG, but 85% highway. The best Elantra result is 38, but with only 70% highway. Oh, and I'd mention that CR got 28 MPG overall with the Forte, with the old 4AT. So what does this all mean? It probably means that mileage varies a lot by how you drive, that the EPA tests are run at speeds too low, and that we'd be better served if the EPA would take all the cars for the model year to a track, put in a flow meter, and do tests over three days to make sure the numbers are realistic as possible.


If someone is saying something like "honda is the best" or "never sold a bad car", his credibility is in doubt. Only the Honda PR department would make such generalization.
Nevertheless, Honda really messed it up.


As a 2011 Elantra owner must say I luv the car but somewhat disappointed in the MPG. Much of our driving is rural yet I've never been close to the highway rating of 40. The average is consistently around 32, I had hoped for something closer to 35, silly of me I suppose.


Last weekend I drove from Pittsburgh back to Virginia, and then I drove back and forth to work 2 days, I filled up the tank (401 miles, 7.8 gallons, just over 50 mpg). The car, 1995 Honda Civic VX...why did honda stop making this engine?

A Clabby

The way the Civic's MPG has dropped every few years is still strange. I've started this petition to get them to manufacture the older models again. Pass it around; this is something that needs doing.


Driving my 2012 Civic LX I get 28.2 mpg in the city, and with the "econ" system activated 28.9 mpg in the city. However I feel the "econ" system makes the car uncomfortably sluggish, and to me the slight mpg increase isn't worth it.

On the highway it's nothing unusual at all to average 44+ mpg with the sedan.


I purchased a new 2012 Civic LX Sedan Automatic on 1/2/12. Now with about 9500 miles, my MPG is about 25. I was expecting at least 30 on average. Already had the car tested at the dealership twice and told twice all within specs. Only time I get good MPG (36) is about a 70 mile trip to see my sister. ECON button on or off makes no difference.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App