While the current Civic has sold well, it’s been a bit of a disappointment for the most discerning (or demanding) small-car shoppers. That’s because while the market moved toward more refinement, sophistication, and features, the Civic kept it basic—perhaps too basic. But based on the more sophisticated look, upgraded materials, much-improved feature set, better technology, and improved refinement, that looks set to change—quite dramatically—in the 2013 Honda Civic.
Although the 2013
Civic is really just a mid-cycle refresh, it’s one of the most substantial we’ve seen, and it looks like it may completely change the look and feel of the vehicle. That’s what Honda’s hoping, at least, and we can report that the new Accord-influenced exterior does indeed cast the Civic in a new light from the outside. With a front-end look that clearly follows the Accord’s face, as well as a new ‘open-mouth’ lower bumper, horizontal chrome accent, and black honeycomb mesh grille—as well as integrated fog lamps for the upper trims and new clear-lens cornering lamps (plus a chrome finishing bar in back and new Accord-like rear bumper design), the Civic looks more sophisticated from the outside. Inside, Honda hasn’t completely redesigned the funky contours of the instrument panel, but it’s redone pretty much all of the materials and surfaces, subbing in requisite soft-touch dash materials.
Performance is one area where we expect the 2013 Civic to be essentially unchanged. Expect base models to continue with the 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Si models will return with a more muscly 201-hp, 2.4-liter four, and Civic Hybrid models will be back with their IMA mild-hybrid system that, for 2012, provided EPA ratings of 44 mpg, city and highway. Handling performance should be up, too, thanks to a retuned suspension aimed at increasing handling linearity. Front brake rotors also get an upgrade in size.
Outside of the cabin materials themselves, Honda has made major gains in refinement that should translate to a far more pleasant cabin experience. Its body has been stiffened with more high-strength steel, side pillars have been upgraded, and thicker windshield and front door glass have been applied—as well as more soundproofing for the dash, floor, doors, and rear tray.
Since the 2013 Honda Civic hasn’t changed structurally, we expect its excellent safety scores—as an IIHS Top Safety pick and a five-star federal NCAP performer—to carry over to 2013, although we can’t yet say for sure at the time of writing. But safety-feature content has been bolstered, too, with the introduction of a new SmartVent airbag design—like what’s been introduced in the 2013 Accord—and the Civic Hybrid will get standard Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) systems.
Features are the other area where the Civic has most changed for 2013. Honda has in the past saved some of its best, most useful features only for its top models, but all Civics will get Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity and audio streaming, text-message functionality, Pandora integration, and a rearview camera system. In addition, navigation systems have been upgraded with more points of interest and a new FM-based (subscription-free) traffic service).
Honda has dropped the base Civic DX, which used to constitute seven percent or less of sales, and opted instead for well-equipped base cars that cost just a little bit more. Pricing for the 2013 Civic ranges from $17,965 for the Civic Coupe or $18,165 for the Civic Sedan—including all of those features. Top Si Sedans cost $22,715, while the Civic Hybrid now costs $24,360.
Stay tuned, as we expect to soon drive the 2013 Honda Civic, which reaches dealerships in late November.