Honda has long been respected — hell, loved — by car enthusiasts for being one of the few mainstream automakers that seeks to bring fun to the masses. Not just in the form of democratized sports cars like the Civic Type R, NSX and S2000, either; even their family sedans have always possessed a little extra joie de conduire, a little bit of playfulness and involvement, that few of their competitors can match.
So it's a little bit shocking to hear that Honda is axing not one but three of the more involving cars currently found in its American lineup for the 2021 model year: the Honda Fit, the Honda Civic Si and the manual transmission-equipped Honda Accord.
Of these three, it's the last that hurts the most. Honda has been one of the last to offer a manual gearbox in the family sedan market, and the current 10th-generation Accord has been a delightful partner for it, serving up playful handling that belies its expansive interior. The six-speed stick — restricted to the Sport model that occupies a Goldilocks spot in the lineup between the bare-bones LX and the well-equipped EX — was available on both the 192-hp 1.5-liter turbo four base engine and the 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo four.
Even more unsettling, perhaps, is the fact that, as Car and Driver discovered, Honda actually stopped making stick-shift Accords eight months ago. As it turns out, Honda says manual gearbox Accords accounted for just 1–2 percent of sales here, which presumably made keeping it around an unsustainable fiscal proposition. (If you want to grab one before they're all gone, act fast; Cars.com shows just 14 new manual Accords on sale across America right now, out of more than 15,000 on dealer lots overall.)
The loss of the Civic Si for the 2021 model year also hurts, but it doesn't cut quite so deep. See, 2021 is the last model year for the current Civic, with an all-new one set to debut next year; Automobile reports that the Civic Si name will return with that new 11th-generation version of the iconic compact car, so we won't be deprived of its delightful blend of performance and usability for long. What won't be returning with the next-generation Civic, though, is the Si coupe; it and all other Civic coupes are being permanently put out to pasture after the 2020 model year, victims of declining sales.
But while the loss of the Fit may not be quite as heartbreaking on a visceral level as the loss of the other cars, there is something deeply painful about seeing it go. The Fit has long been, almost inarguably, the best cheap new car you can buy in America: fuel-efficient yet playful, compact on the outside yet shockingly roomy inside, and available well-equipped for less than $20,000 even in this day and age. An all-new version with an adorable face and standard hybrid powertrain is going on sale in other parts of the world, but it seems America's lust for crossovers means the end of the line for the teeny hatchback in the States; Honda, according to C/D, plans to boost production of the pricier Fit-based HR-V SUV to make up for the loss of the subcompact.
And with both the Civic Si and the Fit being two of the other models that still carried stick shifts, the list of Hondas you can buy with manual transmissions has dropped to just two for the 2021 model year: the Civic Type R and the Civic Hatchback Sport.