Friday, December 14, 2012

First Impressions: 2013 Honda Civic

Let’s start out by saying I’ve always liked the Civic, in particular in its last generation as it sported a unique look that made it stand out from the rest of the econo-boxes. The problem began when those other econo-boxes started to build much more interested designs. On top of that, they’ve filled those designs with fantastic new features that you would only find on only top tier luxury barges. Then when it came time to redesign the Civic for the 2012 model year, more than a few journalists were unimpressed with the result, myself included.

As others were striving forward with new unique designs and technology, Honda chose to take a more mainstream direction, leaving a car that needed a sharp eye to catch what work had actually been done. Likewise, the interior treatment seemed even more cheap and plastic than before, but what’s worse, Honda finally succumbed to pressure for more torque, putting a big lazy 2.4L engine into the Si rather than the high-strung 2.0L I have loved for well over a decade. The result was disappointing to say the least, yet sales did not waver as the Civics golden name and price kept the car on top of the sales sheets.

However, you can only fall upon your laurels for so long and after only one short year, Honda is already showing a mid-cycle refresh of the Civic for 2013. So what’s new? Well, the 2013 model receives all-new front and rear exterior styling, new wheels and extensive interior styling upgrades on all models. The devil is in the details and the new exterior looks do go a long way in improving the styling while the new soft touch materials on the dash and doors also bring the Civic up to par with the rest of the top end of the compact segment. Mechanically, retuned steering and firmer suspension sharpen the Civics’ handling, and actually made the car feel much more refined and sharper while on a short test drive, something lacking last year.  Also, extensive body and chassis upgrades further improve the ride comfort and interior quietness. Honda has also packed Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, Bluetooth Audio,  colour i-MID display, USB/iPod connection, heated front seats, text messaging feature, easy to use steering wheel audio controls standard equipment on Civic LX, the highest sold model.

The result is a much higher quality vehicle from the 2012 model year, everything the Civic should have been in the first place, it’s good to see Honda is getting back on track after a few very trying years. However, I’m still not happy with the move to a torqueier but lazier 2.4L powering the Si, although I seem to be a minority. Regardless, Civic fans have a much better, more competitive vehicle to take on the likes of Ford, Hyundai, Chevy and Mazda. And maybe I’ll have my screaming 2.0L in the hot hatch rumoured to be coming our way soon. More on that later.

Price: $15,440 - $26,190
Engine: 1.8L I-4, 2.4L I-4
Power: 140hp-128lb.ft. (1.8L) - 201hp-170lb.ft. (2.4L)
Layout: Front Engine – Front Wheel Drive
Weight: NA – Slightly heavier than 2012
Fuel Efficiency (City/Hwy/Com) L/100Km: 7.1/5.0/6.2 (1.8L) - 10.0/6.4/8.4 (2.4L)