2013 Honda Civic Sedan Touring Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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It's been almost four months since I drove Honda's totally revised 2013 Civic Sedan at the new model launch program, although for that test I was only allotted a small moment on a rainy winter's afternoon whereas this time around I had an entire week to live with the car, and that week was filled with radical climate shifts from bucketing rain to beaming sunshine and even a day that included the latter two as well as sleety snow. Any new revelations? Yes, I can honestly say I like it even more.

I'm not going to go on at length regarding any reasoning behind its styling update. Honda felt a need to give the Civic Sedan a thorough once-over after only a year on the market and the result is a much more appealing car from the outside in. In top-tier Touring trim, as my tester was fitted, it's a small scale luxury sedan with lots of exterior chrome and big 17-inch alloy rims in a sporty twin five-spoke pattern, while inside it leaves little to improve on thanks to new soft-touch front door uppers, an equally pliable passenger-side dash insert, satin aluminum accents, leather upholstery with stylish contrast stitching, and impressive infotainment. The only thing missing that's offered by other cars in the class is proximity sensing entry with pushbutton ignition, and while I think Honda should offer it in order to keep up with the Joneses I got along just fine without it.

What I liked was an interior that's now near the top of the class in design and execution. For starters I've always appreciated the Civic's two-tiered digital dash. Now it's redesigned, the binnacle on top dominated by a digital speedometer surrounded by graphics that change from blue to green if you're driving economically, while the one below gets a digital tachometer that's ultra-colourful and larger than life. The revised Civic's centre stack is now a thing of beauty, too. It's nicely detailed with a rich buffed black surface and ideally canted towards the driver for optimal visibility and reach, while in my tester it was stuffed to the gills with a large full-colour display integrating voice activated navigation, a back-up camera and an impressive sounding upgraded audio system. Likewise, the HVAC system is automatic and features a gorgeous set of knobs with black glass surfaces integrated backlit displays. Very upscale stuff for the compact class.

With respect to on-road performance I never had a problem with the outgoing 2012 Civic, but improvements made to the 2013 model give it the best combination of comfort and performance yet. Its suspension, which continues to be fully independent unlike many in this class, soaks up bumps, potholes and other pavement irregularities without upsetting handling, the latter long being a Civic strong suit. My Touring model's 17-inch alloy rims and 215/45 all-season tires help no doubt, giving the little Civic good grip through corners and superb stability at highway speeds.

In my last review of this car I mentioned some of Honda's number-by-number improvements, and rather than direct you to that review (although it's more detailed covering all trim levels instead of just the Touring) I'll go over some of them here. The new 2013 Civic's variable-assist steering responds seven-percent faster than the 2012 model's steering, while body-roll has been reduced by 37-percent up front and 25-percent at the rear due to higher spring rates, thicker stabilizer bars, and less friction overall. This also upped bump motion stiffness by 24-percent front and three-percent rear. And just like before, my more recent Civic Sedan Touring showed very low noise, vibration and harshness levels.

As mentioned back in December, such good NVH levels didn't come by accident. Honda added a new laminated windshield and thicker side glass, plus more insulation in the firewall behind the dash, under the floor, inside the doors and within the trunk. The engineers improved the subframe dampers, too. All round this is one of the most refined compact sedans in its segment.

A significant portion of the new Civic's low NVH levels can be attributed to the engine of course. It's carryover from the 2012 model, but that's no bad thing as the updated 1.8-litre is 12-percent more efficient than the 2011 Civic's mill for a claimed rating of 7.2 L/100km city and 5.4 highway with the five-speed manual and an even better 7.2 and 5.0 with the five-speed automatic. I'd love to see how much more efficient it would be with a pair of six-speed gearboxes, but I suppose we'll have to wait for another update before experiencing this. Until then, the little 1.8-litre four-cylinder is a decent performer with 140-horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque on tap. On most grades it pulls the Civic along with reasonable prowess, although I learned that if trying to stay at an 80-km/h speed limit while driving up really steep and long inclines it can hunt around for the right gear. Then again, speed up to 90 and it's happy as a clam.

Clams in mind, the new Civic's upgraded ACE II body structure might make you feel as secure as a bivalve mollusk. Its safety ratings are amongst the best in the compact segment, having achieved best possible 'Good' ratings in the new small overlap frontal test, plus it's now an IIHS Top Safety Pick "Plus" rated vehicle. It's also earned top-level five-star results from the NHTSA.

Despite all the improvements the 2013 Honda Civic Sedan remains a good value, with the base DX model starting at only $16,935 including freight and pre-delivery prep. My luxuriously appointed Touring model was quite a bit pricier at $26,335, but worth every penny as it comes very close to entry-level Acura ILX fit and finish yet costs thousands less.

For me, the Honda Civic Sedan is one of the best small cars available and fully deserving of its best-selling status. If you're in the market for a compact sedan you should probably take a closer look. I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Honda, 2013, Civic, $10,000 - $19,999, $20,000 - $29,999, Compact,

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