2013 Honda Civic was redesigned in response to poor reviews.
Catch-up is a
tough game, and nobody enjoys playing it. The 2013 Honda Civic is a
case in point. A crisis intervention by Honda’s purchasing
department and engineers make it much better than the disappointing
Civic that debuted two years ago, but that only gets it to the level
Honda should have attained from the start.
range of costly and effective improvements, the 2013 Civic is just
one good compact among many, not the leader it was for a generation.
Prices for the
2013 Honda Civic sedan start at $18,165. The Civic’s base engine
is a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder linked to a five-speed
I tested a
well-equipped EX-L with a navigation system. The car’s features
included leather seats, heated front seats, cruise control, a power
sunroof and backup camera. It cost $23,765, excluding destination
voice recognition and integration of hands-free phones aren’t as
good as what the best compacts offer. The car I tested also lacked
some features I’d like to see at this price, including some sort
of blind-spot alert and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
competes with compacts like the Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Ford
Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla and
top-of-the-line Civic sedan I tested is at the high end of the price
range for comparably equipped models.
The Civic is
one of the few compacts that have not upgraded to six-speed
transmissions. Its engine is one of the least-powerful in the
segment. The result is marginal acceleration and an engine that
labors when you put the pedal down.
fuel economy is excellent, however. Its EPA rating of 28 mpg in the
city, 39 in the highway and 32 combined beats the base models of all
the competitors but the Nissan Sentra — which has a continuously
variable transmission and even less power than the Civic.
Honda got the
Civic’s platform, steering and suspension right the first time.
The compact’s handling is sharp and responsive.
cushions bumpy surfaces reasonably well and keeps the car stable and
steady through enthusiastic maneuvers. The steering provides good
feedback and on-center feel. The brakes are firm and easy to
modulate, as usual for Honda.
design was also good from Day 1. The Civic’s understated and
refined shape features a subtle crease below the belt line and
mildly flared rear fenders. Big windows provide good visibility all
The 2011 Civic’s
greatest failings were poor interior materials and sound insulation.
The look and
feel of the 2013’s passenger compartment are a huge improvement.
The top of the dash and doors get high-quality, soft-touch covers.
and a leather-wrapped steering wheel complete the antidote to the
previous Civic’s cheapskate reputation. The gauges are big,
colorful and crystal-clear.
not sure why Honda has adopted a two-tier gauge package that puts an
analog tachometer several inches below, and several inches closer to
the driver, than the digital speedometer, trip computer and fuel
gauge. I prefer to have all the gauges close together.
falls roughly in the middle of the compact set, but the front seat
offers plenty of space and a nearly flat floor makes the Civic’s
rear seat particularly accommodating.
The rear door
openings are a bit narrow, which hampers accessibility. The trunk is
among the smallest in the segment. You might not think the materials
in a car’s trunk matter, but a fiber liner on the inside of the
lid is one of the many changes Honda made to reduce road noise.
If you have to
play catch-up, you might as well play it well. Honda did that with
the 2013 Civic.
It’s not the
leader it was for decades, but Honda’s remedial course addressed
the car’s glaring faults and made it competitive again.
type: Front-wheel drive five-passenger compact sedan.
1.8-liter DOHC variable-timing 16-valve four-cylinder.
horsepower at 6,500 rpm; 128 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 rpm
economy rating: 28 mpg city/39 highway/32 combined. Regular fuel.
weight: 2,855 pounds
Three out of four stars
buy: Fuel economy, handling, looks
Lack of common features, voice recognition, acceleration
exclude destination charge.