Civic in the Market

Honda's game isn't as sharp as it once was. The Accord lacks its predecessor's exceptional cabin and driving poise, landing the 2010 sedan in fifth place in our recent eight-car $25,000 Family Sedan Shootout. The redesigned Pilot misses the mark, and the automaker's latest hybrids left us scratching our heads. In a sense, the Civic represents Honda's good old days: high quality, fun to drive, reliable and fuel efficient.

Honda caught a break in archrival Toyota's latest Corolla, which is a dud. Other competitors, though, from the Mazda3 to the Kia Forte, seem destined for greater success. A new wave of small cars from Chevy, Ford and Volkswagen will only make the competitive landscape even more challenging. While the current Civic should be popular into its final days, Honda's continued dominance requires a repeat of its '06 success when it next redesigns this car, in 2011 or 2012.

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