Newly standard features include a backup camera, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity and numerous smartphone integrations, including Bluetooth streaming audio, text message functions and Pandora internet radio. Let me reiterate: That's all standard equipment on the base Civic. (Compare the 2012 Civic with the 2013 Civic, Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze here, and see the results of our 2012 compact car comparison here.)
Additionally, the interior shows off higher-quality materials, while the exterior has significantly more character. The driving experience has improved as well. The enhancements come on the now-base LX trim level for just $160 more than the 2012 LX. The 2013 starts at $18,955, including destination charge, with a manual transmission. The bottom-dollar DX trim is gone, and HF, EX, EX-L and performance-oriented Si trims sit above the LX. A Civic Hybrid is detailed separately in our Research section here.
The 2013 Honda Civic LX that I drove for this evaluation is a long-term test car that Cars.com purchased to evaluate over a year of ownership. You can read about our purchase process here.
Boring Surgically Removed
The front and rear used to be plain and unexciting. This still ain't a Ferrari, but compared with the 2012, the new styling is a huge step forward. The 2013's hood is more bulbous, while the grille and lower styling feature more chrome accents and a look that's more thought-out and stylized than the 2012's dull rectangular shapes.
In back, the Civic sports borderline false advertising in a rear that has the appearance of more-expensive cars, like the Accord midsize sedan. Its taillights now extend onto the trunk lid, and a chrome bar connects those higher-quality taillights that feature additional depth and quality.
The 2013 Civic improves in every area over the 2012 — except for one pesky gripe that's easily remedied: the wheel covers. Standard steel wheels with plastic wheel covers are the norm for this car class, but the Civic's wheel-cover design is hideous and ruins the progress made by the exterior's other upscale appointments. I'm looking for a set of 2012 wheel covers to replace our 2013's — ones that actually cover the wheels instead of show off the ugly steel.
It doesn't take more than a glance to realize the 2013's cabin has much nicer materials. Two easily identifiable differences include chrome trim surrounding the buttons and a soft-touch dash pad above the glove box that has high-quality stitching, like a premium or luxury car. The overall interior design hasn't changed much, and it's the same generous size as 2012.