Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: 2013 Honda Civic EX

2013 Honda Civic EX front shot
Photo by Curtis Reesor
The Honda Civic was completely redesigned for MY2012. However, the redesign wasn’t a big hit with either the automotive press or the buying public. Although Honda still sold more than 221,000 units in’12, a lot of people found the Civic’s interior and exterior underwhelming.We were underwhelmed in our review from October, 2011.

Honda could’ve simply moved on and figured people would get used to the Civic's new look. However, in an seemingly unprecedented move for a modern-day automaker, Honda listened to the feedback from its customers (and the automotive press) and announced an emergency redesign for the 2013 model.

Front comparison of the 2012 and 2013 Honda Civic
The '13 Civic EX is on the left; "Ducati Scotty's" own '12 Civic LX is on the right. Note the difference in front fascias.
Honda has refreshed both the front and rear fascias. At the front, the upper and lower grilles have been redone: The '13 now features a mesh grille with chrome surround and a chrome bar in the lower grille along with a new black plastic insert. The '13 hood has some slightly different character lines, too; there are mild changes to the headlights, as well.

Rear comparison of the 2012 and 2013 Honda Civic
The '13 Civic EX is on the right, the '12 Civic EX is on the left. Note the taillights and bumper changes.
Out back, the taillights are different than the ’12 model; they've become wider with a dark line. There's also a chrome strip above the license plate area, and the rear bumper has red reflectors. Our '13 EX also gets some new 15-inch wheels, although most people found them unattractive, with one person remarking, “The 1980s called, and wanted its wheels back.” 

Nearly everyone I showed the ’13 Civic to still thought it wasn’t much of a looker. In fact, several people said it was downright ugly. When I told one co-worker that this was Honda’s emergency redesign, he remarked that it looked like there was still an emergency. While I personally wouldn’t go that far, I don’t find the restyled Civic EX to be terribly attractive, and agree that the alloy wheels are not appealing at all. So while it may be a rework, I don’t think it looks that much better than the ’12 model.

2013 Honda Civic EX interior

The good news is the interior is quite a bit nicer than the ’12 model we drove. Gone is the “rice paper” dashboard texture, which reminded me of unfinished fiberglass. In its place is a much more attractive looking black and tan soft-touch dash. The door panels no longer feel inexpensive; rather, they feel substantial and solid. While much of the layout is the same, it just feels—and looks—like it should’ve in the first place. You can argue about whether or not you like the double-decker gauge stack with the tachometer on the bottom center and the digital speedometer above. I find it easy to read and functional. The ’13 model also retains the useful and easy-to-use multi-function trip computer. Like the ’12 model, the interior is still comfortable and controls are simple and intuitive.

2013 Honda Civci EX front
Photo by Curtis Reesor
Driving the 140 horsepower Civic EX still isn’t the epitome of excitement (the Si model is a much more fun ride). However, the ’13 adds a few things to make the driving experience a bit more comfortable than the ’12. We noticed the ’13 was quieter. Honda says this is because of additional sound deadening and a thicker front windshield. In addition, we thought there was less road noise and a more compliant ride. This is probably due to the revised suspension tuning. I didn’t notice much of a difference in handling, and acceleration felt the same as the last EX we drove, as it should, since it uses the same engine and five-speed automatic transmission from ’12. A few more changes: Larger front brake rotors and a redesigned crash structure. In fact, Honda says it's anticipating the ’13 Civic to earn an IIHS Top Saftey “Pick Plus” crash test rating for the overlap test, which would make it the first compact car to earn the extra-good rating.

By the way, the ’13 Civic is rated at 28 city and 32 highway—below some of the competition, such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Dodge Dart, that offer highway mileage in the upper 30s. The 2013 Civic EX with an automatic is rated at 28 city and 39 highway, which is on par with the rest of the compact market. We got a disappointing 25.3 in mostly city driving.

2013 Honda Civic EX rear
Photo by Curtis Reesor
Our ’13 Civic EX review sample stickered at $21,605. For that you get the newly refreshed styling, a very solid, rattle-free vehicle with great build quality, and a comfortable, compliant ride. We still don’t think the new Civic is a great looking car, redesign or not. However, the interior is quite an improvement, and we certainly can’t fault Honda for listening to its customers’ concerns, whether we like the changes or not.


Ducati Scotty said...

While I agree with Andy that the changes may not make it any better it is good to see that Honda heard the outcry and did something. The exterior changes do make it look a bit more contemporary, whethern or not it's any better. While I'm happy with the car the interior changes (quieter, soft touch dash, absence of 'rice paper' dash) would have been nice.

Foxtrot685 said...

Umm, the 2013 Honda Civic EX Sedan is rated at 28 city, 39 highway. Not sure where you got that 32MPG highway figure from...

Andy Lilienthal said...

You're totally right Foxtrot685. I was looking at Honda's website under the specs, and read 28/39/32 as city/combined/highway. My mistake; good catch, too.

Foxtrot685 said...

No problem. Keep up the great work on this great site! When can we look for a 2013 Si review??

Andy Lilienthal said...

I know they have one in the media fleet out here. I was offered up either this or the Si but figured I'd start with the EX. Stay tuned, and thanks for the compliment.

Ducati Scotty said...

Just another note, my wife is getting about 30mpg combined with the 12 Civic. And she doesn't have the lightest foot.

JohnsnowNW said...

Andy, I believe you have the city and hwy miles reversed.

Andy Lilienthal said...

Yes, you're right. I'll fix it. Thanks for noticing. I'll get the fuel economy right on this review, if it's the last thing I do!