"We get about 50% inflow from previous Civic buyers. They keep coming back, they love the car," said Dan Calhoun, product planning manager at American Honda Motor Company.
The first Civic - downright tiny by today's standards - arrived in the U.S. in 1973 with perfect timing. The fuel crisis of the 1970s made it a hot commodity. And it was off and running for the ensuing decades.
But this latest one for 2022 arrives into a different world. A world where almost everyone you know seems to be driving some sort of SUV. But lots of Honda buyers still like cars.
"Actually, we sell a lot of passenger cars. We probably sell about half a million passenger cars in the U.S. alone. Civic is over 250,000 of those," Calhoun noted.
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Staying on top of things means adding fresh styling. The new Civic sedan is sharp, even if it won't exactly stand out in a parking lot. But the interior gets some driver-friendly things in terms of functionality, like optional wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto capability. The top Touring model even goes upmarket with an all-digital instrument display. And there's a clever honeycomb mesh across the width of the dash to conceal the air conditioning vents.
How important is the Civic to Honda? Last year, even with the COVID-19 pandemic slowing down overall auto sales, they sold over 260,000 of them. And since the Civic first came out in 1973, over 12 million have been sold. And that's just in the United States.
So, Honda really doesn't want to mess this car up, with good reason. It's still a hallmark of their product lineup.
The sedan goes on sale this summer, with both regular and turbo engines. A hatchback will follow later. And the way the industry is going, some sort of hybrid or otherwise electrified powertrain has to be part of the long-term plan. But Honda is being tight-lipped about that for now.
What they are saying loud and clear is that lots of people still put the Civic on their car shopping list, especially younger buyers.
"Twenty-five percent of our Civic buyers come as first-time buyers. That's first-time new," Calhoun said.
You'll start seeing the new Civic on the road in a couple of months, joining the millions of other Civics already there.