Honda jumps on the value-for-money bandwagon
All Civics now include a backup camera (seriously, wow), as well as built in Bluetooth, text-message functionality, and Pandora integration, while EX and EX-L models now come with automatic climate control (seriously, wow) and a host of other features; and the seats you get are really quite good. One thing that doesn't change is the fundamental cabin layout of the Civic. And that includes a back bench that we think is too high and hard (or at least oddly contoured), not really leaving enough space for adult headroom.
Not much has changed under the hood. Yet the way the powertrain sounds from inside the cabin—and the amount of road noise—is very different. Credit a very significant amount of noise insulation, along with body-structure reinforcements and an acoustic windshield—even Teflon-coated stabilizer-bar bushings in back—which add up to a more refined driving feel.
When you pull up to a stoplight, it's no longer apparent that the engine is even idling until you look down at the front-and-center tachometer. That definitely wasn't the case before. And the tickly accelerator-pedal vibration we noticed in a short drive of a 2012 Civic EX-L—which stickered way above this 2013 Civic EX, we should add—was completely absent from this 2013 model.
The engine is carryover, a 1.8-liter four making 140 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque. In short, this is a powertrain that feels perfectly adequate for most needs; it's neither an engine worth working into its high rev ranges, nor one that's all that torquey in the low revs, but it does well with the five-speed automatic transmission in keeping up seemingly effortlessly with traffic.
Step on the accelerator from a stop, and the engine sounds a little more muffled, a little more baritone. Shift quality in this generation is better than the last-generation Civic prior to last year, with more of a decisive, firm-yet-damped feel to the upshifts in the lower gears especially (probably just a different torque-converter programming, but it works)—as well as a less indecision with downshifts.
A little more responsive, a lot more refined...
All in hopes of making the Civic feel a little more sprightly, Honda has firmed the springs just a bit, thickened the stabilizer bars, and made the steering ratio about seven percent quicker for 2013. We're still not fans of how the Civic's steering feels on-center (it's too light, especially on the highway), however, and whatever suspension and tuning changes were made for 2013 don't help it on that point. But otherwise to its credit, the revised Civic feels crisper and more responsive going into corners—and perhaps projects a little more road feel back to the driver. And, perhaps in part the consequence of adding a little weight as well, it goes down the road in a more buttoned-down way; it's noticeably less busy than before.