Well, the good news is there’s a new Honda Civic. The bad news is the reason behind a new model for 2013 is because the all-new 2012 Civic took such a beating from the press, with many feeling that it didn’t live up to its reputation and much of its competition. Well, Honda’s not used to getting too many bad reviews, so they’ve wasted no time in making significant changes to the Civic. Let’s see how they went!
The 2013 Honda Civic is indeed a re-fresh of a one year old re-design. And, we give Honda credit for admitting that something needed to be done, and not waiting years till a “mid-cycle” freshening to make changes. Not that Civic sales have been bad. But the big boost in sales from a redesign so typical for a Honda product didn’t materialize until well after launch.
The biggest gripes seemed to revolve around it’s a lack luster interior that looked “pieced together”, and that’s where the new Civic, both sedan and coupe, sees its biggest updates. And as if to further drive home that point, Honda sent us a fairly sparsely equipped EX sedan to check out.
And it was very obvious to us that there’s a huge improvement of interior material quality. The dash looks more cohesive and feels better, as do the door panels. Even the seats felt more comfortable, but maybe we’re just getting giddy.
There’s also more standard equipment to be had, including an updated i-Mid that includes USB interface, back-up camera, and text messaging support. Unfortunately, all controls are the same and we’re still not fans of the radio interface. Nor is the two-tier, double cluster IP loved by some of our staff, but it is highly functional and most appreciate all the information it provides.
Our Civic sedan’s exterior got a makeover as well, and a very nice one at that. The front end wears a wider and more expressive face thanks to a large lower grille opening and new chrome trim, and the hood sits a little higher. The profile remains the same, but the back end is broadened with a new rear bumper, jewel-like tail lights, and a simulated lower diffuser. The end result is one fine looking compact four-door that presents itself as a more expensive car than before, looking even better than the new Accord.
While many found fault with the latest Civic’s ride and handling, we judged it to be just fine and we still love it. The suspension has been re-calibrated with stiffer springs and thicker stabilizer bars. The Electronic Power Steering has also been quickened.
And how did all of this translate at our test track? Well, the quicker steering was noticed immediately and much appreciated. Understeer seems dialed down a bit as well, and tires offered good grip through the slalom…and for braking as well, helping the 4-wheel discs with ABS on our EX bring things to a halt in a short 123-feet. Base LX models make do with rear drums.
Civic is still not that impressive off the line however, where a slow climb to red-line will get you to 60 in 9.5-seconds. There’s too much engine noise, as the car seems to strain to get to the end of the quarter mile, taking 17.3-seconds and 82 miles-per-hour to do it. But not too many people buy a standard Civic for the performance numbers; for most, the 140-horsepower and 128 lb-ft. of torque from the 1.8-liter I4 is more than adequate.
Fuel economy stats are likely of more importance and whether you opt for the 5-speed automatic or stick with the base trim’s 5-speed manual, you’ll do just fine. The automatic actually does a bit better however, with Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 28-City, 39-Highway, and 32-Combined. We averaged a good 33.8 miles-per-gallon of Regular in mixed driving. The Energy Impact Score is much better than average, burning just 10.3-barrels of oil yearly while emitting 4.6-tons of CO2.
Honda has also lowered highway noise emissions; that is noise heard inside the cabin, by adding thicker glass and additional sound deadening materials.
Upgrades are rarely free, and therefore prices have increased a little, but mostly due to the elimination of the de-contented DX trim. The more logically equipped LX is now the base model and it’s up just $160 to $18,955. EX models start at $21,605, EX-L’s for $23,055; and of course Si and Hybrid models are still available as well.
Obviously it was not an inexpensive endeavor for Honda to remodel this high volume compact after only a year on the market. But, to us it was money well spent. The 2013 Honda Civic is now much more in line with what we expect from Honda. So, what looked like a flaw in Honda’s thinking has been repaired. That’s bad news for the competition, as the Civic is back on track.
Engine: 1.8-liter I4
Torque: 128 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 9.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 17.3 seconds @ 82 mph
EPA: 28 mpg city/ 39 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 10.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 4.6 tons/yr