It’s not often that an established car company, such as Honda, flops on one of its most important new models. It’s even more surprising when that model, despite being panned by the press, proves to be a hit with the customers.
As you may be aware by now, that’s exactly what happened just 18 months ago when the Japanese carmaker revealed the ninth generation of the Civic: it got panned by Consumer Reports, which denied it a “recommended” rating and dropped it to the bottom of its list. As a result, CEO Takanobu Ito apologized in public and the company rushed in a facelift.
In spite of the 2012 Civic sales being up 40 percent, to 234,029 units, through September, making Honda’s compact model the sixth best-selling car in the U.S., its replacement was unveiled at the LA Auto Show.
The 2013 Civic has received a host of changes that seek to address criticism aimed at the 2012 model. The Coupe remains unchanged, save for new wheels, but the sedan features a black honeycomb mesh grille, new clear-lens corner lights and a taller, more sculpted hood up front and a new trunk lid, taillights and restyled bumper at the rear.
The chassis has received a recalibrated steering set-up with a quicker ratio, stiffer wheels, stiffer front spring rates and thicker front and rear anti-roll bars for sportier handling. Front-discs diameter on automatic gearbox-equipped LX, EX and EX-L Sedan and Coupe modes are 20 mm larger, to 282 mm, for improved braking.
A stiffer front subframe, thicker windshield and front-door glass along with additional soundproofing material in key areas like the dash and doors help improve NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels for driver and passengers.
The interior of the 2012 model had been criticized for being inferior to its predecessor. For the 2013 Civic, Honda introduced new soft-touch materials on the instrument and upper-door panels, a new headliner and black carpeting and a trunk lid finisher while, for the first time, buyers can order an all-black interior in both cloth and leather upholstery.
In the safety department, the facelifted Civic features a re-engineered body structure with changes to the front floor, A-pillar, upper wheel housing and bumper extension and added front elements that disperse energy in barrow overlap frontal collisions.
There are also SmartVent front-seat side airbags that mitigate the risk of excessive airbag employment that were recently introduced in the 2013 Accord and, along with ABS, VSA stability and traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system, it offers a Forward Collision Warning and a Lane Departure Warning system.
The GPS-linked navigation system with voice recognition now comes with a multi-view rearview camera, a 16GB-flash memory for faster route calculations and guidance to more than seven million points of interest in the U.S. Other features include Bluetooth, Pandora and USB/iPod connectivity and a color i-MID display.
The 2013 Civic Sedan and Coupe will be available in LX, EX, EX-L and Si models, while the entry-level DX trim has been discontinued.
The 140HP, 1.8-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder remains unchanged and is mated to either a manual or automatic five-speed transmission. The Natural Gas version of the same engine produces 110HP and is rated by the EPA at 27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined, while the Hybrid combines a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with Honda’s proprietary IMA system and is EPA-rated at 44 mpg in city, highway and combined.
The Si versions of the Civic Sedan and Coupe are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 201HP and 170 lb-ft of torque, which are routed to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
Pricing for the 2013 Civic has increased by US$160 across the range, starting from US$18,165 for the LX Sedan.