- Competes with: Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra
- Looks like: Honda took criticism of its Civic to heart and worked to improve the car
- Drivetrain: 140-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder; 110-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid; and 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or 110-hp, 1.8-liter natural-gas four-cylinder with five-speed manual, six-speed manual (Si) or five-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
- Hits dealerships: Civic sedan is on sale now, with full lineup available by February 2013
- MSRP: $18,755 to $27,255, including destination
It was only one model year ago that Honda launched a redesigned version of its popular Civic compact car, but the 2012 model was criticized in some circles for not being a big-enough leap forward and, where interior materials were concerned, taking a step back.
That criticism appears to have been overblown — the Civic remains one of the best-selling cars in the country — but Honda has put together an extensive list of appearance and content changes for the 2013 Civic. It begins arriving at dealerships today with a starting price of $18,955 (including a $790 destination charge) for the LX sedan. That represents a $160 price increase, which all 2013 Civics see. The value-oriented DX trim level has been discontinued.
The Civic sedan gets some of the biggest design changes, with updated front and rear styling. Chome accents adorn the new grille and lower front bumper, making the car look more distinctive in a class that’s gained a lot of style in recent years — just take a look at the new versions of the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra. The hood is also new. There's more chrome in back, with a strip of it running the width of the trunk lid, which gains sections of the car's new taillights. Even though these changes are limited to the front and rear of the car, they significantly affect the sedan's appearance. The Civic coupe's exterior styling carries over unchanged, but all models get restyled wheels.
The revisions are more than skin deep, though. The 2013 Civic gets the latest version of Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, dubbed ACE II. It features additional structures designed to disperse crash energy in small-overlap front-end collisions, something the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently begun evaluating. Honda expects the 2013 Civic will get the top rating in this new IIHS crash test. Other safety features include side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, and forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems go in the Civic Hybrid.
Honda has also updated the car's steering and suspension. The electronically assisted power-steering system has a quicker ratio, while the springs are stiffer and the stabilizer bars are thicker to reduce body roll in corners.
The cabin is quieter, with a thicker windshield and front side windows, Honda says. It also added soundproofing material in the dashboard, floor, doors and rear tray. Changes to the Civic's interior are designed to give it a more premium feel, according to Honda. They include new headliner material, soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard and upper portion of the doors, and new trim textures. Honda says the seat fabric has been improved, and an all-black color scheme is newly available.
Standard features across the 2013 Civic range include Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, a backup camera, Honda's i-MID display screen, iPod connectivity, Pandora compatibility, steering-wheel audio controls, an outside temperature gauge and a sliding center armrest.
It's practically unheard of for a car to get so many changes the year after a redesign. These kinds of large-scale changes typically occur three or four years later as part of a midcycle refresh. Value-minded buyers might be miffed the DX trim is no longer offered, as its departure effectively raises the Civic's base price by about $2,000. But shoppers considering one of the higher trims get many new features for that $160 price bump.