Honda Motor unveiled the tenth generation of its Civic small car Wednesday, aiming to reinvigorate its best-selling model at a time when many consumers are bypassing small sedans for sport utility vehicles.
The 2016 Civic, which will be sold worldwide, will have a sportier exterior design, a revamped interior and offer as either optional or standard equipment features such as automatic emergency braking and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity systems.
The new Civic is designed to deliver more than 40 miles (64 km) per gallon in highway driving, John Mendel, executive vice president of Honda's U.S. sales arm said in Detroit Wednesday. The 2015 Civic is rated at 29 miles (47 km) per gallon in city driving and 38 miles mpg (61 kmpg) in highway driving by U.S. regulators. Honda said it will disclose prices for the new Civic later, but Mendel said they will be in line with the current model, which starts at about $18,490.
The Civic is a pillar of Honda's global business, selling more than 800,000 cars annually. In the 1980s, Civics drove Honda's breakthrough in the United States market. Durable, thoughtfully designed and highly efficient, the Civic upstaged Detroit's poorly built gas guzzlers of the time.
The outgoing Civic, however, was criticized for drab styling and mediocre driving performance. The new car has a more refined interior, sporty creases on its sides and front fenders that rise above the center of the hood like a sports car.
The Civic is the ninth best-selling model line in the American market this year, but rivals, including the Detroit Three and Korea's Hyundai Motor, now have highly competitive cars in the Civic's class.
The new Civic arrives as cheap gasoline and a flood of compact sport utility vehicles are luring consumers out of smaller sedans. In the United States, Civic sales are down 4 percent for the year through Aug. 31, while the overall car and light truck market is up nearly 4 percent.
The new Civic will compete at Honda dealerships with the CR-V and HR-V small sport utility vehicles. Small SUVs such as the CR-V, Toyota Motor's RAV4, Ford Motor's Escape and General Motors' Chevrolet Trax are gaining in popularity in China and Europe as well.
Mendel said Honda is confident the Civic will maintain worldwide sales at their current level.