It was only one model year ago that Honda redesigned its compact Civic, but the 2012 model was criticized for not being a big-enough leap forward and, where interior materials were concerned, for taking a step back. Though the Civic remained a top-seller, Honda heard the chorus loud and clear and performed a rare immediate update for 2013. The sedan has received the most changes.
Far beyond a light tweaking, the 2013 Civic sedan has new sheet metal, chassis tuning, interior upgrades and many more standard features. The underlying front-end structure was redesigned to address future crash-test methods.
The Civic comes in coupe and sedan body styles; regular gas, hybrid and compressed-natural-gas versions; and a performance-oriented variant, the Civic Si. The Civic’s many competitors include the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra.
The Civic sedan gets a redesigned, chrome-accented grille and lower front bumper and a taller, sculpted hood. There’s more chrome in back, with a strip of it running the width of the trunk lid. The taillights now extend onto the trunk lid. The bumper is revised and now has a diffuser panel.
The Civic coupe’s exterior styling carries over unchanged, but all Civic models across the line get restyled wheels.
Interior upgrades include new headliner material, soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard and upper portion of the doors, and new trim textures. In response to complaints about the hodgepodge of textures in the 2012, Honda has unified the materials and graining. The seat fabric has been improved, and an all-black color scheme is newly available. Now the underside of the trunk lid is covered — rather than exposed sheet metal — in all versions.
Honda took steps to quiet the cabin, with a thicker windshield and front side windows, and soundproofing material in the dashboard, floor, doors and rear deck.
Honda has eliminated the base Civic DX sedan, making the LX the lowest trim level. All Civics now have a standard backup camera, a claim other compacts can’t make. Other standards across the 2013 Civic range include Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, Honda’s i-MID display screen, iPod connectivity, Pandora internet radio compatibility, steering-wheel audio controls, an outside temperature gauge and a sliding center armrest.
The changes for 2013 aren’t under the hood so much as the body. Extensive front and rear suspension changes, from bushings to spring and stabilizer bar firmness, aim to reduce body roll and improve ride quality. The electric power steering has a quicker ratio and less friction. The front brake discs are larger on automatic-equipped LX, EX and EX-L trim levels.
As in the 2012, the 2013 model employs a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Civic Hybrid employs a 1.5-liter four-cylinder and electric motor with a continuously variable automatic transmission for 110 hp total. The sporty Civic Si has a 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed manual. The Civic Natural Gas, which is now available in 37 states, has a modified version of the 1.8-liter four-cylinder and five-speed automatic. All Civics are front-wheel drive.
The most extensive engineering changes for 2013 include a redesigned front-end structure to comply with new small-overlap frontal crash tests being phased in by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Civic was already a top scorer before this test.
The Civic’s new SmartVent front-seat side-impact airbags are designed to prevent excessive force. Also standard are side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. The Civic now also offers forward collision warning and lane departure warning as options — or standard on the Civic Hybrid.