2013 Honda Civic refresh revealed

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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What you're witnessing here doesn't happen very often, but nevertheless Honda feels it is necessary to significantly refresh its compact Civic sedan only a year after a completely redesigned 2012 sedan and coupe debuted to harsh criticism. What's the problem? Boring styling, a downgraded interior, not enough features for the price, and lackluster performance, say some critics.

The 2012 Civic was such a letdown that revered buyers' advocate magazine Consumer Reports dropped the new model from its "Recommended" list, an honour that it held since 2007.

"The new Civic feels insubstantial with a cheap interior," said Consumer Reports in an August 1, 2011 news release. "You don't get much feature content for the $19,405 [USD] that our Civic LX automatic costs, either. That's a problem given the high bar set in this class by the new-to-market Chevrolet Cruze, the redesigned-for-2012 Ford Focus, and the redesigned-for-2011 Hyundai Elantra."

Strong competition and a fear of falling behind is the real motivation behind the improvements for 2013, especially in areas where Civic has long been a market leader, performance and drivability.

"The problems that really hurt the Civic's score run deeper and they showed up at our test track," added the Consumer Reports release. "Stopping distances are long. The steering is lightly weighted and comes up short on feedback. Body lean appears early in the corners. The ride is marred by frequent short pitches. And road noise still remains an annoying companion."

Of course, Consumer Reports wasn't the only critic of the reworked Civic, as many automotive journalists and their publications voiced similar complaints. An emergency refresh was necessary, and Honda should be commended for immediately seeing the light and putting together this much revised 2013 model. And just how extensive is Honda's redo?

"The refined styling of the 2013 Civic Sedan, which goes on sale at Honda dealerships [in the U.S.] on November 29, will encompass a host of safety, feature, comfort, chassis and interior styling enhancements that will further define the top-selling Civic as the best car in the compact class," says the press release.

Honda not only felt it necessary to modify the elements criticized in Consumer Reports' review, but also addressed complaints that the car's styling didn't deviate enough from the previous model's design, and where it was changed it wasn't necessarily better, but merely different. While this can be said of a lot of vehicles, Honda gave its 2013 Civic sedan a new "open-mouth lower bumper with a horizontal chrome accent and a sportier, black honeycomb mesh grille, anchored by new integrated fog lights on upper trims," continued the press release. In addition, new clear-lens corner lights offer a "more premium look." Honda also cites a "new, more deeply faceted hood," as well as new wheel designs.

Changes to the Civic sedan's rear styling includes a new rear trunk lid featuring a "clean, horizontal chrome trim piece," while "the all-new design of the jewel-like taillights now carries into the trunk face," for what Honda calls a "more finished and upscale look." The rear bumper gets integrated reflectors too, while a new lower rear diffuser panel gets accented with a honeycomb mesh vent. Most should find the 2013 Civic sedan a more appealing design.

"The 2013 Honda Civic exterior refinements infuse Civic with a more youthful, premium style," said Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of product planning for American Honda. "Coupling these with additional changes beneath will ensure that Civic maintains its top-ranked status."

Poponi nor her Honda colleagues are sharing exactly what they've done to improve the Civic sedan's "safety, feature, comfort, chassis and interior styling," all elements the press release states will be addressed with this new 2013 model, but this news will no doubt be divulged when the car debuts in the metal at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 29.

Just what will happen to the values of 2012 model year Civics is anyone's guess. They've been selling well despite negative critiques, which only goes to make Honda's choice to address the problems all the more laudable.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

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

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