First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
2013 Honda Civic. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
Honda Canada

autoTRADER.ca
Honda Civic Owner Reviews

Originally published November 29, 2012

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2013 Honda Civic

Richmond Hill, ON – When Honda redesigned the Civic for 2012 it was not a home run. Their fans did not go wild and the automotive press was not impressed. Questions began to be raised: “Has Honda lost their way?”; “Can the Civic hold on to the title of bestselling car in Canada for a 15th straight year?”, “What will the top selling car be in 2012?” Well, the answer to that last question is still the Civic. In fact, the Civic currently has the largest sales lead heading into November that it has had in the past eight years. Suffice to say the Civic will remain #1 for a 15th consecutive year and reports of its demise were premature to say the least.

But Honda is not resting on its laurels. During the press presentation for the 2013 Civic, Honda stated they listened to dealers, customers, and reviewers. They recognized that improvements were needed for the Honda Civic and so they did just that: improve it—all within a single model year, too, almost unheard of. Basically, Honda is owning up to a lackluster 2012 Civic design and good on Honda for fixing things immediately. Honda isn’t dumb. They know that the Canadian-built Civic means big business for them. In its 40-year history, 3.6 million Civics have been built in Canada and 1.7 million have been sold in our country alone. So to ensure continued success and to continue ruling the sales charts in Canada for at least 16 or 17 years, Honda went back to the drawing board.

First up was the exterior. After the incredibly edgy 2006 Civic redesign, the 2012 effort felt lackluster. The overall look of the Civic seemed more dated than the outgoing model and the blocky slab-sided front and rear bumpers looked especially out of place. For 2013 the Civic addresses all these issues with what Honda calls a new open-mouth front bumper design. In Touring trim this includes integrated fog lights that are accented by a lower grille with a chrome accent. Honda claims the front fascia takes cues from 2013 Accord and I can definitely see it.

Out back, the redesign isn’t quite as successful as an otherwise tastefully applied styling exercise is ruined by a chrome strip that connects the two taillights along the lower trunk lid. It all seems too busy to me, which is a shame as the new taillights, which look like inverted Toyota Camry taillights, are a huge improvement over the old lamps. The integrated reflectors in the bottom of the rear bumper help offset the slab-like appearance of the old bumper as well.

First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
2013 Honda Civic. Click image to enlarge

Not wanting to leave any styling untouched, Honda even went as far as to make the wheels look more dramatic. The 15-inch wheel covers as well as the 16-inch and 17-inch alloys have all been restyled to look more aggressive and modern, again, with success. In addition, the 2013 Civic is now available in 10 colours, including the first ever application of pearl white for a Civic.

Although the outside desperately required attention, it was on the inside where the 2012 Civic needed the most help. In short, Honda has completely overhauled nearly every aspect of the interior. They added a new instrument panel and centre console, new leather-trimmed doors (in select models), new audio and A/C knobs, chrome accents on vents and cupholders on upper trims, a new seat fabric pattern, and new optional black cloth and leather. If that isn’t enough, content is also increased across most model ranges. A rear-view camera and automatic climate control are added to EX and higher trims while heated front seats are standard in LX trims and above.

This is all fine and dandy, but how well does it all work together? Well, the majority of the dash material is still hard plastic, but the deeper grain in the plastic does make it look like soft touch materials and it nicely matches the soft-touch insert positioned above the glove box. The tops of the front doors are now soft-touch as is the middle portion of the door; rear doors are only soft-touch in the middle insert as the tops remain hard plastic. The HVAC controls and radio are where the biggest improvements were made, though. The improved design and new colours completely transform the centre stack. Honda actually points out how they improved colour coordination—basically admitting the old multiple shades of gray inside did not work. Yes, no more is the dashboard awash in multiple hues but now, just one hue of black adorns the well-integrated HVAC and radio surrounds.

To say the interior has moved upscale would be an understatement. It went from Corolla levels of boring inside to somewhere between that of an Elantra or a Focus; the two main targeted vehicles by Honda. In fact, the centre stack now looks like it belongs more in an Accord than a Civic. As for the rest of the interior, everything remains basically the same: same steering wheel, same bi-level dash layout, similar 353 L trunk.

These changes alone would have been enough and Honda could have easily stopped there, but they didn’t. Instead, they went about improving the driving dynamics as well. The suspension bits have been heavily revised to improve cornering response as well as reduce NVH; all without hampering ride comfort. The bump motion stiffness is up 24 percent in front and 3 percent in rear. Body-roll has been reduced 37 percent up front and 25 percent in rear while steering response is now 7 percent quicker.

First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
2013 Honda Civic. Click image to enlarge

On the road, I didn’t notice a huge difference in handling despite the touted suspension changes. Then again, the last 2012 Civic I drove was the Si HFP Coupe. I did notice a good reduction in body roll through the corners and the steering definitely feels quicker. Other than that, the car drives the same as always, even with the 215/45R17 tires that are now standard on the Canadian-exclusive Touring model.

As mentioned earlier, Honda really focused on NVH in the 2013 restyle and it shows. The engine still makes its usual louder-than-average noises, but road, tire, and wind noise have been greatly reduced. And they still had one more parting piece for the redesign: safety. On top of the current safety gear found in the 2012 Civic, all 2013 models will come equipped with a sensor allowing deployment of side curtain airbags in the event of a rollover and have a next generation ACE body structure to help increase occupant protection. Honda hopes this is enough for class leading safety by being the first compact to receive an IIHS Top Safety Pick ‘Plus’ rating.

Mechanically, the 2013 Civic’s drivetrain is unchanged. All non-Si models are powered by a 1.8 L four-cylinder engine producing 140 hp and 128 lb-ft, and send power to the front wheels via a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Si editions of the Civic retain the 201-hp 2.4L engine and six-speed manual transmission. Although I only spent 20 minutes behind the wheel of the 2013 Civic Touring Sedan, I averaged around 7.0 L/100 km driving mostly country roads, so efficiency should be just as good as before.

In this day and age it is rare for an automobile company to update a vehicle as quickly and so extensively merely to be the best. I mean, it is not like the Civic was a poor seller here or south of the border. But, with these improvements Honda has definitely gotten a lot closer to their goal of not only having the bestselling vehicle, but also the best vehicle in segment.

Second Opinion:
By Greg Wilson

First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
2013 Honda Civic. Click image to enlarge

As Mike pointed out, despite the fact that the redesigned 2012 Civic remains the bestselling compact car in the country, Honda chose to make substantial upgrades to the 2013 model; a tacit admission that the 2012 model was lacking in some respects when compared with competitors like the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte. As the sales leader this year, Honda could have sat on their hands and done nothing, relying on their loyal Civic customer base until the next-generation Civic was introduced; but instead they chose to spend the extra time and money to bring it up to, and beyond, the level of many of its competitors in only a year. That’s a good indication of just how competitive the compact car segment is in this country.

Changes to the 2013 Civic sedan start with the exterior styling, which looks sportier and more aggressive to my eyes. Though it has the same dimensions as the 2012 sedan, the 2013 model appears wider and a bit lower simply due to wider bumpers, a descending upper grille, and a much wider lower grille. Additional chrome strips in the upper and lower grilles add a touch of class too. At the rear are wider L-shaped tail lights that resemble BMW’s. Top trim EX and EX-L models also get larger 17-inch tires instead of 16-inchers with sportier alloys. Note that the exterior styling of the Civic Coupe has not changed for 2013 (except for new fog lights and alloy wheels) but its interior styling has been upgraded.

The Civic’s new cabin is a big improvement. Instead of hard, flat plastic surfaces, there’s a new textured surface with soft-touch material on the front dash, plus attractive chrome trim around the vents, cupholders, and shift lever. The cloth seats have a new texture fabric pattern, audio and climate controls are easier to see, there’s a new text messaging feature, and the instrument panel is angled towards the driver for easier reach. Heated seats (cushion and back) are now available with cloth upholstery as well as leather, and a rear-view camera is now available in upper trim levels. Apparently, heated seats were the number one requested feature in Honda’s focus groups. There’s no increase in interior room, though.

First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
2013 Honda Civic. Click image to enlarge

Out on the road, the 2013 Civic manages to combine a comfortable ride with sharp handling thanks to higher spring rates, thicker stabilizer bars, and reduced friction. You can really toss this car around if you want to, but if you don’t want to, you won’t feel like you’re riding in a go-kart. It’s a good balance. The variable-assist steering ratio is 7 percent quicker, but I felt that low-speed steering effort in the 2013 model is considerably lighter than before, making tasks like parallel parking less of a chore, but reducing the driver’s connection with the road.

First Drive: 2013 Honda Civic Sedan reviews honda first drives
2013 Honda Civic. Click image to enlarge

The 2013 Civic’s cabin is definitely quieter thanks to a new laminated windshield, thicker side glass, subframe dampers, and more sound insulation in the dashboard, floor, doors and trunk. In particular, I noticed less road and tire noise making its way into the cabin, and the engine is quieter under acceleration.

Upgrades to the 2013 Civic sedan’s body structure are also expected to improve its crashworthiness, and Honda expects to receive the IIHS Top Safety Pick ‘Plus’ rating, which now includes an additional “Small Overlap” offset crash test that mimics a vehicle striking another car or a pole at 40 mph with only 25 percent of its frontal surface area.

All of these changes will cost the 2013 Civic buyer between $200 and $450 dollars more, a good deal, yes, but still a risky move for Honda in a price-sensitive vehicle category. The popular LX model for example will rise from $17,740 to $18,190, a $450 increase.

2013 Civic sedans and coupes go on sale December 10th, 2012. 2013 Civic Si Coupes hit dealers in January, 2013; Si Sedans in February, 2013, and Hybrid Sedans in April, 2013.

2013 Honda Civic Pricing
$15,440 – Honda Civic DX Sedan 5MT
$18,190 – Honda Civic LX Sedan 5MT
$19,390 – Honda Civic LX Sedan 5AT
$20,190 – Honda Civic EX Sedan 5MT
$21,390 – Honda Civic EX Sedan 5AT
$24,840 – Honda Civic Touring Sedan 5AT
$26,190 – Honda Civic Si Sedan 6MT

$18,590 – Honda Civic LX Coupe 5MT
$19,790 – Honda Civic LX Coupe 5AT
$20,590 – Honda Civic EX Coupe 5MT
$21,790 – Honda Civic EX Coupe 5AT
$25,240 – Honda Civic EX-L Coupe 5AT
$26,190 – Honda Civic Si Coupe 6MT




About Mike

Mike Schlee is the former Social Editor at Autos.ca and autoTRADER.ca. He began his professional automotive writing career in 2011 and has always had a passion for all things automotive, working in the industry since 2000.