The 2013 Civic sedan is changed a bit, becoming what the 2012 should have been, with a pretty exterior, snazzy interior, satisfying suspension, and a cabin full of tricks from Bluetooth to Pandora.
The nose, hood, black honeycomb grille and angled headlamps are pleasing to the eye, with a humped hood and raked windshield that draw attention. The side sills are sculpted smartly, and with body-colored mirrors and door handles, the Civic looks classy, especially with the optional alloy wheels. The rear fenders flow nicely into a horizontal V over each side of the rear bumper.
In the cabin there’s a ton of standard content, such as Bluetooth phone and Bluetooth audio, Pandora internet radio interface and MP3, USB, iPod and SMS text message capability. There’s a nice color multi-information display (i-MID) with rearview camera.
The fabric upholstery is excellent, with seats that are well shaped, nicely bolstered and widely adjustable. The standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatback expands cargo capacity. We put a six-footer in the rear seat, and he didn’t complain about legroom or headroom.
Interior refinements include a new headliner and soft-touch materials on the instrument panel, center console, and door panels. Silver accents here and there, along with faux stitching on the dashboard and door panels, add a touch of upscale. Black carpeting is standard. The colorful instrument backlighting is soothing.
Significantly, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) has been improved over the 2012. More sound deadening material has been added to the firewall, wheel wells, flooring and trunk, while the windshield and front windows are thicker, all in the successful pursuit of silence. On the inside, the Civic neither feels nor sounds like a mere $20,000 car.
We found the i-VTEC 140-horsepower engine with its 128 foot-pounds of torque to be adequate. Acceleration performance is average but feels stronger because the engine is smooth and cabin quiet. The 5-speed automatic transmission is programmed to be invisible, while the ride is solid and comfortable. There’s an Econ mode that remaps the engine and transmission for fuel mileage over power. We easily ran 75 mph in Econ and impressively got 32.1 miles per gallon.
The suspension has been reworked for 2013 with thicker anti-roll bars front and rear, quicker steering, and firmer bushings. The front subframe body structure is stiffer.The overall level of dynamic competence is hard to fault, predictable with no false moves.
In the cabin there’s much new content to bring the 2013 Civic upscale to match its competitors. However, there’s some sleight of hand, because much of what’s now standard in all models got there by discontinuing the low-cost bare-bones DX. But back on the upside, the price increase is only about $300, so the buyer does get a lot more interior content and quality in 2013.
There’s standard Bluetooth phone and Bluetooth audio, along with Pandora internet radio interface and MP3, USB, iPod and SMS text message capability; the car reads your text messages to you, and allows you to respond with a default: ‘I’m driving.’ Nice color multi-information display (i-MID) with rearview camera. There’s a new and classy all-black interior color. Living with our EX for one week, the upgraded fabric upholstery suited us just fine, leather not missed. The seats are well shaped, nicely bolstered and widely adjustable. We did a couple of four-hour runs, and enjoyed every minute behind the wheel.
The two-tiered dashboard is unique, some would say funky. The most useful information is repeated at the top of the dash, allowing the driver to scan without taking his or her eyes much off the road. Forward sightlines, even over that cool humped hood, are excellent. We appreciated the thinner windshield pillars, and small window set in the angle where the pillar intersects the car’s hood. A lot of new cars have thick A-pillars that can obstruct the driver’s view of pedestrians and other vehicles, but not here.
The i-MID, or Intelligent Multi-Information Display, uses a toggle on the leather-wrapped steering wheel that enables the driver to scroll through a variety of vehicle info. The optional satellite navigation system includes voice recognition. The 160-watt audio system sounds good, using six speakers in our EX. As always, maybe what we appreciated the most, was the standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatback that expands cargo capacity. We put a six-footer in the rear seat, and he didn’t complain about legroom or headroom.
With no options, our EX had everything a car needs for safety and a driver needs for comfort and functionality, for $21,605 out the door (EPA-rated at 32 Combined city and highway miles per gallon). Actually, more than everything, most notably considering the power moonroof that’s standard on the EX. But also smaller things like height adjustment for the driver’s seat, and auto-off headlights.
The 2013 Civic interior feels premium, which couldn’t be said of the 2012, which Civic customers noticed. Refinements include a new headliner to replace what’s been called mouse fur, and soft-touch materials on the instrument panel, center console, and door panels. Silver accents here and there, along with faux stitching on the dashboard and door panels, add a touch of upscale. Black carpeting is standard. The colorful instrument backlighting is soothing. Radio and climate-control buttons on the center console are redesigned, no longer square, now trapezoidal and stylish. Symbolic of the attempt to change the image of the whole car, you might say.
Less visible but probably just as significant, NVH has been improved, so there is less noise, vibration and harshness. More sound deadening material has been added to the firewall, wheel wells, flooring and trunk, while the windshield and front windows are thicker, all in the successful pursuit of silence. On the inside, the Civic neither feels nor sounds like a mere $20,000 car.
We found the standard Civic 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine with its 140 horsepower and 128 foot-pounds of torque to be adequate. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is 9.2 seconds, about average for the class, meaning slow; but it felt stronger than that, maybe because the engine was smooth and the cabin quiet. We ran 75 mph from Portland to Seattle, with the flow of faster traffic, and the power was always available. The 5-speed automatic transmission didn’t struggle to keep up or kick down. Not only that, the ride was solid and comfortable.
There’s an Econ mode that remaps the engine and transmission for fuel mileage over power. We switched it on and kept driving hard. We felt the difference but not so much it made us grumble. We still kept up with the other cars going 75. We watched the fuel mileage climb. We got 32.1 miles per gallon, on Regular. We were impressed.
The suspension has been reworked, too, and it shows. Thicker anti-roll bars front and rear, slightly quicker steering (7 percent), and firmer bushings. The front subframe body structure is stiffer as well, and these things definitely make a difference; flatter cornering, for one. These tweaks are all upside, as there are no negative consequences to the ride or anything else. The overall level of dynamic competence is hard to fault, absolutely and totally predictable, no surprises, no false moves.
Don’t forget, we’re talking about a Civic sedan, here. The sedan’s primary goal is not to be fun to drive, so don’t go comparing it to the sporty compacts like the Dodge Dart or Mazda3. If you want sporty, there’s the Civic Si, and that one is hard to beat. It uses a high-revving 2.4-liter twin-cam four-cylinder making 201 horsepower and 170 foot-pounds of torque. We’ve had it on the track and the handling is marvelous. It’s yahoo fun. Huge bang for the buck.
But back to the boring. There are three high-mileage versions of the Civic. The Civic HF uses a specially tuned version of the same 1.8-liter engine that achieves a government-rated 29/41 mpg, compared to 28/39 mpg for the Civic LX and EX.
The Civic GX runs on natural gas. Its 1.8-liter SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder rated at 110 horsepower and 106 foot-pounds of torque, significantly less power than that produced by the standard engine. Civic GX gets 27/38 mpg on the cheaper fuel, but be prepared to spend thousands if you want your own natural gas tank.
The Civic Hybrid pairs a 1.5-liter SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine rated at 110 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque with a 23-hp electric motor assist. Fuel economy is rated at 44/44 mpg.
You can’t go wrong with the Civic. Styling, suspension, powertrain, interior, economy, safety, price. It’s got it all, including vastly different models to choose from, from Sedan to Coupe to hot Si. There are also alternative models: high-mileage HF, natural gas GX, and Hybrid.
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