The New Honda Civic 2013 – A Detailed Review

The new Honda Civic 2013 is out now in the U.S, Europe and Australia, and has undergone somewhat of a facelift, designed to appeal to the more upmarket car buyer. We look at the styling and technical details of the latest Honda offering, and offer an informed opinion on whether this car is worth your money.

Price: From $20,990 to $35,990

The Civic is in many ways the flagship of modern Honda, an automaker once revered for their high-end luxury performance models such as the Acura NSX, but who have since realigned their corporate vision to focus their production on small to mid-size, efficient and technologically advanced mid-range passenger cars. The Honda Civic, then, is a prime example of Honda’s refocused attention on smaller cars, and who can blame them? The Civic is one of the highest selling vehicles in history, and the small car market is only getting bigger across the world.

The new Honda Civic 2013, then, has recently been released, and while the Coupe version remains largely unchanged visually, in the sedan edition your eyes are immediately drawn to the aesthetic differences – the new Civic has gone through a facelift of sorts and sports a redesigned grille and tail lights with a slightly revamped interior and dash.

Available Models

The Honda Civic 2013 comes in a number of variants and trims – ranging from the most common model you’ll see, the sedan LX model, to the sportier-looking coupe EX model, to the sportier variation on the EX, the Civic Si, which comes with a gruntier engine and performance-tuned suspension. Each of these models comes in a couple of different ‘trims’ all with slightly different features and specifications, but they remain largely the same – you should check out the official Honda site for the grittier details.

For the environmentally or fiscally conscious, there’s the more frugal Hybrid PZEV or Hybrid model, which achieves 44 mpg on the highway and comes with additional safety features such as lane departure warning systems and collision warning system.

The new Honda Civic also comes with Honda’s patented ‘Eco Assist’ technology, which is an information system designed to help you drive more fuel-efficiently – a difficult task for some, no doubt – tests have shown that if followed, it can actually improve fuel economy by up to 10%. The caveat to this is that you really do have to change your driving style – no more mashing of the accelerator every time the light turns green – to get noticeable fuel economy savings, you have to soften your acceleration to the point where it feels like you’re driving a 1994 Daewoo Cielo on 3 cylinders.

Looks

We feel the updated looks of the new Civic are a definite improvement; it looks more upmarket now, and slightly less aggressive and bulky, with comparable styling to its competitors such as the Golf and Jetta. As an example of how Honda have re-styled the Civic to appear more organic and streamlined, compare the taillights on the 2012 model (sedan version) with the new model, and note the differences, particularly the new integrated fog lamps and clear-lens cornering lamps, and the more bulbous appearance of the rear in general. The changes aren’t too drastic, but they’re enough to warrant a mention, and they will probably split opinion – either they will pique your interest or make you turn away in haste if you prefer the old appearance.

Here’s a side-on view of the new Honda Civic 2013 sedan.

The area where you’ll notice probably the best aesthetic improvement, however, lies in the interior. The cabin now has soft-touch glossy black inserts, replete with touchscreen GPS system and trademark futuristic looking dash controls.

The improvements to the interior are so marked that it really takes the Honda Civic above the other competitors into a class above, and even luxury buyers who normally stick to BMW and Mercedes will be impressed with the sleekness and high quality feel of the interior.

Performance

Performance in the new Honda Civic isn’t remarkably different from the previous model, with the engine remaining largely unchanged, still offering a solid yet hardly racetrack worthy 140hp/67kW, in the form of a 1.8 litre, 4 cylinder petrol engine, with either a 5-speed manual transmission or the 5-speed automatic offering. Honda suggest that fuel economy, however, has increased in the new model, and have touted a ratings increase of 40 mpg on the highway in the standard LX model over 39 mpg highway from the year before.

The engine has decent mid to high rev power output but it feels like it has sacrificed some low end torque and power in doing so.

Look at the torque output figures for the new Civic to get a better idea of its potential shortcomings in achieving low-end power: it outputs 174nm at 4300 rpm, which means at typical highway driving you won’t come anywhere near the peak torque figure. So the Civic 2013 is probably not an ideal choice if you are a frequent highway driver and/or expect very responsive acceleration on the highway.

Whilst you shouldn’t have any trouble doing a quick take-off from the lights, reaching highway speeds quickly or overtaking on the highway, the Honda Civic 2013 is not exactly a ball buster in performance terms, although, to be fair, you wouldn’t expect anything different from this range of vehicle.

In line with Honda’s new business ethos of providing economical, reliable and environmentally-friendly cars, the new Civic’s primary task is to provide you with safe transport in relative comfort and style from one place to another, no more than that. Make no bones about it, the Civic is very specificially a commuter car tweaked for maximum economy and urban driving. If you are really seeking something more performance oriented in this genre of car, you might be better off looking at something like the 2.0L Focus turbo.

There are also some minor suspension changes such as stronger springs, a stiffer anti-roll bar and a speedier steering ratio, which helps slightly with achieving a feeling of perkiness and zip driving around the city, but doesn’t make a huge difference to the overall feel of the car.

As far as the other models go in the Civic range; the more performance-oriented Si models get a 201-hp, 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, and the Civic Hybrid model gets a 67kW 1.5 litre engine with 132 Nm of torque.

Safety

The Honda Civic 2013 has received good-to-excellent safety reviews across the board, in no small part due to its extensive list of safety features such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, front-impact and side-impact airbags, overhead airbags, seatbeat pretensioners, a security system, and Honda’s design methodology known as ACE, an acronym for advanced compatibility engineering. The ACE design ensures the car is surrounded by smart crumple zones, improving occupant protection in the event of a frontal collision. In Australia, for example, the new Civic scored full-marks, achieving a five-star ANCAP rating, whilst in Europe the car achieved a five-star rating as well, from Euro NCAP.

Overall

The new Honda Civic feels more upmarket than its predecessors, with its jazzed-up and more expensive-feeling interior and revamped exterior. The changes to the interior are where the action is at, with its extremely sexy blue light-up dials, logical and functional button placement, reverse camera and climate control, and comfortable seats. You can genuinely tell that Honda have put a significant amount of work into redesigning the appearance and general feel of the car, and it really has paid off.

The 1.8 litre engine of course isn’t going to win you any drag races anytime soon, nor is it going to give you that unadulterated thrill of speed deep in the pit of your stomach, but it’s a Honda – it’s almost guaranteed to be well-made and reliable well beyond the time you’ll probably own it.

At the end of the day, the 2013 Civic is exactly what you’d expect – a nicely styled, smart, modern, stylish, comfortable, economical and reliable Japanese designed car. It will undoubtedly provide years of pleasurable, trouble free motoring with decent resale value.


photo credit: MSVG via photopin cc
photo credit: Gonmi via photopin cc
photo credit: Gonmi via photopin cc
photo credit: NRMA New Cars via photopin cc
photo credit: MSVG via photopin cc
photo credit: HondasAcuras.com

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