Honda's newest version of the Civic, a model that's been a foundation of the automaker's U.S. sales for decades, flopped in tests by Consumer Reports, failing to win the magazine's coveted "Recommended" status.

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Honda’s newest version of the Civic, a model that’s been a foundation of the automaker’s U.S. sales for decades, flopped in tests by Consumer Reports, failing to win the magazine’s coveted “Recommended” status.

The 2012 Civic scored 61 in Consumer Report’s evaluation, down from 78 for the previous Civic, according to a review in the September issue published Monday.

The car, on sale since late April, scored poorly because of a decline in agility and interior quality, choppier ride, longer stopping distances, and more road noise compared with the last Civic, the magazine said.

“While other models like the Hyundai Elantra have gotten better after being redesigned, the Civic has dropped so much that now it ranks near the bottom of its category,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto-test center in East Haddam, Conn.

“We disagree with Consumer Reports’ findings,” Honda said in a statement. “In virtually every way, the completely redesigned 2012 Civic is a step forward.”

Honda models since the 1980s have consistently ranked among the most frequently recommended by the magazine published by Consumers Union, a nonprofit group. Carmakers seek favorable evaluations from the magazine as its reviews are considered the most objective because of policies of accepting no advertising and buying every vehicle it tests.

Civic is Honda’s second-biggest selling model in the U.S., after the midsize Accord sedan. The poor ranking for Civic, sold in the U.S. since 1973, compounds problems for Honda.

Honda announced Monday that quarterly profit plunged nearly 90 percent after the quake and tsunami in March in northeastern Japan hammered production and sales. But the automaker raised full-year forecasts as its confidence in a recovery mounts.

Honda said its April-June profit tumbled to $406 million. Japan’s No. 3 automaker said it managed to remain in the black thanks to its growing motorcycle business.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, reports earnings Tuesday.

Mitsubishi, which also released results Monday, said it sprang back into the black for the first quarter as growth in emerging markets offset quake damage. It posted a $55 million profit for the April-June period.

Last week, Nissan, Japan’s No. 2 automaker, reported a smaller-than-expected 20 percent drop in quarterly profit at $1 billion.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.