LA: 2013 Honda Civic

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When Consumer Reports doesn’t give a Honda its “recommended” rating you know something is wrong. Hondas have long been the publication’s favorite due to things like reliability and re-sale value.

These are things that have propelled the Civic and Accord to top spots in their respective segments. But something happened – the competition got a lot fiercer, while Honda got complacent. The result was a 2012 Civic, a car that looked too much like its predecessor and failed to move the ball forward.

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The car was developed during the depths of the economic crisis, and not much was devoted to research and development. This stands in stark contrast to the large efforts put into the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra, all of which are very well-regarded. Given all of the negative press, Honda decided it had to do something. It rushed out a freshening just one year into the new Civic’s model cycle.

On the exterior, there isn’t radical change – they only had about one year to rush this out. After years of design misses, most agree that Honda turned out its best design in a while with the 2013 Accord. The Civic takes cues from that car, with a new grille and lower front fascia that features Honda’s new chrome-insert design. It helps the car look more up-to-date, as the 2012 is pretty tired looking. There are bigger changes to the rear of the 2013 Civic, which gets new taillights in a horizontal orientation. This ties it in with the new look debuted on the 2013 Accord. One of the biggest offenses of the 2012 Civic was the fact that its interior actually seemed to move backward.

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The 2012 gets updates to some of the displays and switchgear as well as materials. Honda says it went through everything and added soft-touch plastics and higher-quality materials. This is much welcomed. Anyone familiar with the 2012 Civic knows it had other flaws as well. The driving experience was lifeless in comparison to previous Civics, and the car suffered from a lack of noise vibration and harshness control. Poor NVH is a typical Honda problem. Both areas have been addressed.

The suspension has been retuned with stiffer springs and thicker stabilizer bars have been added front and back. The Civic’s Electronic Power Steering system has also been recalibrated to offer a quicker steering ratio. As far as NVH, Honda has added sound-proofing material in the dash, floor, doors, and rear tray. There is also a stiffer front sub-frame and thicker glass on the windshield and the front doors. These changes are very comprehensive and are hopeful indication that Honda isn’t content to rest on its laurels. As for sales, we only expect them to increase for the 2013 calendar year. After all, criticism hasn’t dampened sales of the 2012.