By on November 12, 2012

Everybody’s favorite schadenfreude victim got a minor refresh intended to stave off the critics and ensure its continued dominance in the best-seller ranks. Did it work?

The changes to the 2013 Honda Civic aren’t exactly earth-shattering, and to be honest, we’re hoping that the interior gets the brunt of the cosmetic work, since it needed it the most. Powertrain and other mechanical details weren’t revealed either. We’ll have to wait for the L.A. Auto Show in a couple weeks time to get those sorted out. The 2012 Civic, even with its supposedly crappy interior, boring styling and forgettable driving dynamics, is still the 4th best selling car in America. The critics may not have liked it, but my Grandma sure did. And it’s her, not them, who are handing over the money.

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61 Comments on “2013 Honda Civic Revealed...”


  • avatar

    You hit a point that I’ve been trying to make for so long, Mister Kreindler. Often certain reviewers and magazines (*cough, cough* Motor Trend, Car & Driver, Automobile) get carried away and start reviewing their cars based on criteria that only matters to enthusiasts, like European-handling or the ability to toss the tail-end around. For instance, in the December 2012 issue of Motor Trend, the reviewers rated the Passat over the new Accord because “it’s just too bad you’ll never have any fun in [the 2013 Accord.]” The average midsized-car buyer doesn’t care about having fun, especially in the CVT-equipped I-4! If he really wants fun, he’ll get a V-6 Accord coupe…with a manual transmission. Or an Acura. And as far as the 2012 Civic goes, most buyers don’t religiously follow the critics’ every word like we car enthusiasts do. They’ll do a bit of research to make sure a car doesn’t have glaring mechanical defects or failures, and then they’ll go test-drive it. If they like it and they like the price, they’ll buy it…and recommend it to their friends. And I know plenty of people who are quite pleased with the new (outgoing) Civic…

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      I have bought a few real bad cars based on reviews.

    • 0 avatar
      d524zoom-zoom

      +1 Kyree I agree with your post completely !!

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I’ve been trying to make that same point in defense of the Toyota Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      Just b/c a car sells well doesn’t mean it is a good car. GM was making a lot of bad cars that sold extremely well before people stopped buying them.

      The Civic right now is too cheap when you compare it to the competition. Look at the Elantra, Cruze, and Focus. They are all better in terms of interior design. We will have to wait to see if the engines are better, but they certainly aren’t terrible.

      Honda is smart to redo this. If not, they would be having dipping sales in the US for years to come.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that Honda is making a wise choice, if only to keep up with the ooh-look-at-all-the-snazzy-tech-toys-on-this-2012-Focus crowd. Now that most of the competitors’ compact cars aren’t plastic penalty-boxes and can be loaded to the gills with luxurious features, Honda will no longer be able to rely on its relatively-purist background, and its products will have to get a little bit flashier. Moreover I’m proud of Honda for having the decency to do this, since GM or Toyota would have said, “Screw you all.” The one issue I have with the 2012 Civic, having driven one a few times, was the 5-speed automatic, so I’m holding out on a 6-speed replacement.

        My point, however, is that even if Honda decided to wait until the usual mid-cycle refresh or to do nothing at all, it wouldn’t be a crisis. Unlike so many of those GM cars, the new Civic is still a very good choice that meets most buyers’ wants and needs.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…most buyers don’t religiously follow the critics’ every word like we car enthusiasts do.”

      I don’t agree with that statement. Most gearheads I know, myself included, could care less what a buff book has to say about a particular car. We like cars so its entertaining reading *but* I can make up my own mind about what I like and don’t like about a car.

      @daviel

      WTF man? I can see a review being a piece of the puzzle but purchasing solely based on a review…that’s crazy talk… especially for an enthusiast.

      Dear ones, lets try to avoid the beta male moments.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        hubcap,

        Everyone’s education starts somewhere. I know enough now to buy cars that end up meeting or exceeding my expectations, but I was influenced by what I read in the past, as were people who influenced my opinions before I owned cars.

        A friend of mine traded her Mazda 3 for a 2012 Civic EX-L. Her only complaint is that the car’s controls don’t give her as much control over her ipod as she’d like. My only grief is the odd dashboard texture and the lack of manual options in desirable trim levels. The car rides brilliantly on the broken roads of Pacific Beach and has a more comfortable back seat than any other compact sedan I’ve ridden in, including ones that cost more than twice as much. Another friend’s girlfriend traded in her older Civic for a 2012 EX-L coupe. He likes it so much that he bought himself a new 5-speed stick Fit. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from people who bought the acclaimed competition. X-cars were acclaimed when they were new too.

      • 0 avatar

        “…most buyers don’t religiously follow the critics’ every word like we car enthusiasts do.”

        That was (poorly-executed) sarcasm for you, mate. No one puts any weight on the critics’ reviews, especially in mainstream magazines. I just find it an interesting read when they try to cram three years’ worth of pop-culture references into one review. I did not expect this month’s Motor Trend issue to mention “Honey Boo Boo”…lol

    • 0 avatar
      toomanycrayons

      “…If they like it and they like the price, they’ll buy it…and recommend it to their friends.”- Kyree S. Williams

      The consensus argument doesn’t make fast food/obesity a recommendable choice. Why should it work for cars?

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    I’m more curious on what the inside will look like. That was the greatest disappointment.

    • 0 avatar
      silverkris

      Agreed. Even so, it didn’t stop my wife from getting a 2012 model. She is happy with her car so far.

    • 0 avatar

      I have seen the inside of the ’13 Civic, which is indeed where most of the reworking was concentrated. The dashboard was reshaped and appears to use higher-end materials. And things like the instrument panel have become a little more demure. I’m not sure if it was offered on the ’12 Civic, but you can now get automatic HVAC controls. Elements like the steering wheel and the satnav unit, however, remain essentially the same.

  • avatar
    photog02

    “we’re hoping that the interior gets the brunt of the cosmetic work, since it needed it the most.”

    Talk about an understatement. We are shopping around to replace the wife’s car and wound up looking at Honda Accords. While there, I had her peek inside the Civic. The dual-IP dash looks like something the 1980s Japanese designers would have imagined interiors from the year 2000 (not 2010s, mind you, but 2000) looking like.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      Heyyy don’t hate on the amazingness that is 1980s Japanese car interior design. Ackk if Mitsubishi or Subaru went back to their 80s interiors, amazing digital graphics and all, I think I would just faint in joy.

  • avatar
    ant

    When shopping for new cars this last spring, me and my wife took a 2012 civic out for a test drive. It was a 4 door, in SI trim.

    I remember being alarmed at how quickly I acclimated to that village idiot jacked up split dash board. It was very much functional, and I didn’t mind it at all after about 3rd gear.

    However the radio interface was a let down. The volume button was really small, and when I tried to adjust the bass and trebble, I couldn’t figure out how to do it whilst driving. Being good with such things, the wife managed it rather quickly. But she had to go through a sub touch screen to do so, (car was equipped with nav IIRC) and the adjustments yielded no audible improvement to the crappy speakers and sound system.

    Fail.

    The wife wanted heated seats, so this car was in all honesty doomed from the start, so we didn’t end up getting it.

    It shifted and drove well enough, but seemed loud compared to the verano that we drove right after, and compared to the 04 tsx that we were looking to trade in.

    We ended up getting another new 2012 tsx. We like it well enough, but build quality is sub par to the older one.

    I think this refreshed civic looks better than the 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      You know, you can add heated seats at Future Shop or Best Buy for like $250, right?!

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Personally, aftermarket heated seats is not something I would recommend. The factory-installed option is relatively trouble-prone, whether its FoMoCo, Acura, or VW. I’ve had no trouble with the ’87 and ’00 BMW heated seats in my family cars, but the other car makers do see defective heating elements and switches. I wouldn’t want to take a four or five year installation back to Best Buy, as you can’t be sure that they carry or service the same aftermarket manufacture they used years ago. My hesitation is due to the fact that aftermarket suppliers come and go, and even factory-installed heated seats are trouble-prone, I don’t know if aftermarket is any more reliable.

        One thing I am glad to see is that VW Golfs and Subaru Impreza are good about mixing cloth upholstery and the heated seat option, you don’t have to spring for leather first.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @snakebit

        I’ve put aftermarket seat heaters in a number of my cars, can’t live without them here in Maine. They are BETTER than what the OEMs did in the ’80s and ’90s. Carbon fiber heating elements that you can cut holes in and still have them work, instead of the awful old heating grid wires that eventually broke. Or those stupid Volvo seat thermostats that always went bad. Good stuff, and bulletproof. I hope the OEMs are using the same technology these days. I have never had a switch or wiring issue with any of them, it’s a 12V on/off switch, how hard can it be to get right?

        What I need now is a heated shift knob for the BMW – taking a hand off the heated steering wheel to shift and grabbing that cold knob sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Sorry to hear about the newer TSX. I worked for an Acura dealer, and by far my favorite was the 2004-2006 TSX, loved driving them, reminded me of the 3 Series models.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I wasn’t aware TSX was still being sold, wasn’t it being dropped for ILX?

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Dropping the TSX for the ILX? Don’t even think that. A 2012 Civic for an Acura price? Hopefully, neither Acura nor its customers would let that happen.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I may have been mistaken, but I seem to recall a number of Cimmaron jokes on TTAC when the ILX was announced and something about it replacing TSX.

        Seems redundant to me to keep TSX when ILX becomes the entry level and RL (to be RLX) is kept in the lineup as a ‘flagship’. Had RL been dropped, then I could see TSX as the ‘middle’ model under TL and above ILX.

        EDIT: Checked Acura.com, RL has been removed, and ILX was added… but check out ZDX, 50K MSRP, its the most expensive one!

        So not only do you have to drive ugly, they expect you to pay a pretty penny to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      krhodes1,

      I’m up to speed with the desire to have heated seats in Maine, as I spend a lot of time in Boston, not significantly warmer.
      The cars I’m referring to with faulty factory heated seats are the 2002-2003 Acura TL’s and CL’s( I don’t have enough knowledge about the newer model TL, as I left Acura in 2004), the 2002-2005 VW Passats, and a host of FoMoCo cars(i.e. relatively current cars). As far as aftermarket, the nature of the design of heated seat elements is such that they need to be flexible and still use strong element material. That seems to have eluded OEM seat manufacturers across the board. And I’m still trying to wrap my mind around carbon fiber(generally very hard and inflexible) used as something on the actual seating surface(generally needing to be soft and compliant). As far as being “bulletproof”, I really won’t believe that without more research. If a manufacture found out that an aftermarket company had more reliable elements they would negotiate with them to make them for the car maker.

  • avatar
    OhioPilot09

    The interior will be getting some refreshments for sure. I know the door linings will be getting more soft touch as well as a few decorative features. But, at the end of the day, a Civic is a Civic and as was stated earlier people buy these base on friend’s reccomendations, past history and the big H on front so it probably won’t make much of a difference in the sales, just the reviews.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Just because people buy certain cars in large volumes doesn’t mean the cars are not crap. Remember Vega, Chevette and Citation?

    I’ve been in a newer Civic and compared to ’00 Integra I owned back then it was utter junk inside. Acres of cheap pathetic plastic, average controls, etc. Older Civics were far better made and designed too.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Agreed. Same goes with food (Big Mac, I’m looking at you)!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I don’t recall what people said about Chevettes when they first came out, but I’ve read all the articles greeting the Vega and Citation in the same manner lavished on the Focus, Elantra, and Fusion today. The Vega and Citation are notorious because the people who bought them got shafted, not because the press received them badly. People that buy new Civics aren’t unhappy with them. They don’t get stranded. The fenders don’t rust through in a year. The engines don’t shake apart. They don’t spin out when they put on the brakes. They have nothing in common with the cars that woke up GM’s customers.

  • avatar
    nikita

    Same basic greenhouse and Camry tail lights. Its past time for a revolutionary instead of evolutionary change in styling. Honda has become Toyota it seems. Not necessarily a bad thing if you just want sales volume. VW has apparently blandified its mainstream US models with sales success.

    It seems the innovation baton has passed to the Koreans.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The only interesting thing about Hyundai’s entry in this class is that they got caught falsifying its fuel economy numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Someone needs to introduce a car with square lines, a low beltline, and big windows.

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        “Someone needs to introduce a car with square lines, a low beltline, and big windows.”

        Yeah, that would be nice. But then consumers will realize that the majority of “light” truck’s bumpers are aimed squarely at the windows and the vehicle will be perceived as unsafe in a crash.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        They have that one, its called a Panther.

        @SunnyvaleCA

        Wait… the ugly beltlines are because of the giant pickup trucks? Seriously?

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        And while they’re at it, lower the beltlines of half-ton pickups to realistic, usable levels so that something with the greenhouse of a Volvo 240 won’t scare off new-car buyers. I’d feel pretty confident getting T-boned in my old brick by a 25-year-old 2wd F-150 or Silverado… not so much a new model. Obviously front and rear crumple zones have come a long way since my car was built, though.

        Ridiculously high, visibility-impeding beltlines aren’t just for safety, though – they’re for looks. It’s an easy way to make a small car look larger or sportier, at the expense of active safety and the ability to rest one’s arm on the sill.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        What, a ’92 Corolla?

  • avatar
    omer333

    I think the 2013 is a good looking car. I applaud Honda for making some revisions and fixing some problems for what is essentially their “flagship” car since their competitors in America and Korea actually made better Hondas than Honda.

  • avatar
    missinginvlissingen

    I agree with Honda. When a new car design is universally panned, the solution is to put a strip of chrome across the trunk lid.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    It’s okay… the spy shots made the rear look a lot worse, but inverted ILX lights work okay. The chrome strip is silly, but they put it a the right height on the trunk lid to divide the section into almost the golden ratio.

    Not sure about the front. The picture exaggerates the proportions, so it’s hard to judge. Like the 2013 Accord radiator inlet, but overall, it looks a bit chunky, like they had to raise the hood again for pedestrian impact regs. It looks like the marketing guys picked this photo angle because the vtec.net crowd likes long penis enhancing front proportions, but to me, the ultra-short engine bay of the modern Civic’s (and most modern cars) is a thing of (practical) beauty)

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Forget ILX taillights. The L-shape lights are really a BMW signature detail, as much as the Hofmeister kink, dating back to the E32 7-series (designed by Claus Luthe) launched in 1986.

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    Appearance wise, the ’13 resembles my ’07 Si more than it resembles the current generation, which is a good thing. I’ve had a ’91 base (great handling, design, and quality), a ’98 ex (great handling and quality, boring design), ’02 Si (boring handling and design, great quality), and an ’07 Si (great design and handling, poor quality).

  • avatar

    In my not-exactly-extensive experience, when you can get a Civic (or Corolla) loyalist to actually go test drive something that seems nicer to us car nerds (like an Elantra or Focus), they often end up buying one. It’s overcoming the brand-loyalty inertia that’s the hard part, and it’s fiendishly hard.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    I’ve owned seven cars in my life. Two Hondas, Three GM products, a Toyota and a Lexus.

    By spades and spades, my favorite car was the 1985 Accord I drove for three years. Sure it could barely top out at 85 mph, but it was easy and fun to drive, the seats were really comfortable (even at 150K miles when I bought the car, and close to 200K when I upgraded to a 1991 Accord.

    The 91 was nice, but suffered from a terrible clutch that had about 1mm of activation, yet miles of pedal travel. That car was sold in less than a year and half. (A 1993 I drove several years later had the same terrible feel).

    My friends 94 CRX was a blast with the five speed, and a great clutch.

    If the Honda Fit were not so weird looking (in my opinion) I may have at least sat in it at the dealer when I test drove the CRZ.

    Back in the day, I would have loved to have had an 86 to 89 Accord Hatchback. Still would.

    If Honda could bring back a car like that to the market, similar size and quality, good styling, same fun to drive, more sound deadening though, my Lexus would be gone in a heartbeat.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I had an ’84 Accord, not sure what the top speed was, but it could to 80 mph all day long. I had the tickets to prove it. Totally agree about the 86-89 hatch. There’s one frequently parked where I work, great looking car.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Both Civic and Corolla get critically panned while the new-fangled direct injection stuff from H/K as well as Focus and Cruze get all the praise, but for sound, dependable engineering that will survive the 5 and 6 yr loans of today, my money is still on those 2 boring, Japanese entries.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Agreed. A BMW owner may not mind paying $500 plus to get the carbon cleaned out of his baby’s motor, but Hyundai’s a different story. Not saying they’ll have the same issues, but I wouldn’t take the chance for a couple more mpg.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Honda giveth (the Honda Jet).

    Honda taketh away (S2000, CRX, Prelude, various motorcycles).

    I understand consumer tastes shift but I’d be nice if Honda could find that magic dust hidden somewhere in the bowels of Minato City and apply liberally to product planners, engineers, designers, and last, but certainly not least, the suits.

    My Honda wishlist is short.

    An S2000 successor- both coupe and roadster.

    Put the NAS concept motorcycle into production. It’s an aging design that still looks great.

    Produce and bring the proposed V4 SuperSport to the U.S.

    Let Acura be Acura. I’ve always envisioned the marque as the Japanese Audi. Sadly, Acura seems to be lost in the woods and the RLX is leading them deeper into the wilds.

    That’s all I got.

    Z-95 Headhunters forever!
    .

  • avatar
    redav

    I remember that horrible ad campaign that was “a Civic for everyone.”

    I want a hatch/wagon. There is no hatch/wagon Civic. So I guess there is no Civic for me.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Looks sharp. But I agree Derek, without revamping the CHEAP interior (especially the Starship Enterprise gauge cluster, yuck) we will see little improvement regarding design.

  • avatar
    otaku

    So, do any of these exterior/interior “upgrades” extend to the coupe model?

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Looks the same. Is it one of those nearly identical drawings where you’re supposed to spot subtle differences?

    Also, why no hatch? Impreza, Mazda 3, Focus, Corolla, Yaris all come as hatches.

    We all know Honda makes them for other markets.

    And, no, the clown car tiny Fit doesn’t count as a hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      One, you’re calling the Fit a clown car and holding up the (smaller) Yaris as an example?

      Two, I’m three inches off seven feet, own a Fit, and find it perfectly adequate. But then, I’m not overcompensating.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    What did I miss with this article? The headline reads “2013 Honda Civic Revealed,” yet there are no interior pics or mechanical details. Is there a link somewhere that I overlooked?

  • avatar
    snakebit

    28-Cars-Later,

    You realize that the Civic 4door/ILX and the TSX are two completely different cars, different platforms, one’s US-built and one’s Japanese-built. The TSX and the European Accord are the only ones that share that same platform. In the States, the TSX is one of the most popular Acuras, and it would make no sense to stop importing it. That and the TL are what are keeping Acura afloat, as far as passenger car sales.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Yes, I do realize they are different models. I mistakenly read TSX was going to be dropped in favor of ILX. However that being said, it seems redundant to me to keep TSX when ILX becomes the entry level and RL (to be RLX) is kept in the lineup as a ‘flagship’. I have driven TSX and the 06+ gen Civic and while they do feel differently and are different models, they are in fact both small four cylinder sedans.

      It would be akin to Chevrolet introducing a model in between Cruze and Malibu, with Impala being the ‘flagship’.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      It makes perfect sense… the weak dollar means that Honda is taking a punch for each TSX sold. The America-built ILX is euro/yen-proof so each sale will be more profitable, even at a lower price. Note that TSX year on year sales have halved since the ILX release. Honda wants the ILX to cannibalize enough TSX sales that they can justify dropping it. I would be shocked if there’s a 2014 TSX.


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