All-new? We take a quick spin in this "mid-cycle refreshed" favourite.
Today marks the North American launch of the “all-new” 2013 Honda Civic at the Los Angeles Auto Show. I was given the opportunity by Honda Canada to drive the new 2013 Honda Civic Sedan Touring prior to the launch, and came out both surprised and slightly underwhelmed.
Honda has been on a dramatic upward slope, both in sales numbers as well as product quality. In my opinion, Honda makes some of the best cars on the road today. Each and every time I have to pick up a new Honda product for testing, I already know that while there aren’t very many surprises, the vehicle will always be pleasant and an overall wonderful product. The past couple months have been great for Honda Canada sales (up 25% YTD); the all-new CR-V and Accord are at an all-time high. The Accord has also won “Best New Family Car under $30,000″ at AJAC’s annual award ceremony.
Produced in Alliston, Ontario, the Civic has been one of my favourite economy/small cars since its redesign in 2006. While there is certainly a slight price premium, you definitely get what you pay for. The Civic has always been a little bit more fun and involving to drive than its competitors. Fuel economy is on par and generally the same throughout the class, but even without i-VTEC, the Honda is peppy and feels like it wants to go at any given time. I personally did feel that save for the superb Si model, the 2011-2012 models were a bit underwhelming. Evidently Honda realized the same, as this mid-cycle refresh is being marketed as an all-new product.
For 2013, the Civic Sedan has a number of significant changes. Firstly, it has been given a fresh, much sportier grille, hood, and front fascia. According to Honda, this strengthens the feel of forward advancement and a lower stance. The back end of the car takes styling cues from the very attractive new Accord, using combination lamps that span onto the trunklid. The interior is refreshed as well, including the addition of Honda’s new i-MID multimedia information display. Scrolling through playlists of hundreds and thousands of songs on your iPod has never been so simple or intuitive.
The new interior is far more driver-oriented and more dynamic. In typical Honda fashion, it’s very ergonomic. It’s almost reminiscent of my beloved final-generation Toyota Supra of the 1990s in the sense that all of the controls are aimed right at the driver and almost everything is right where you’d want it to be, including the buttons for climate and stereo. The steering wheel and shifter are perfectly positioned.
I only drove the automatic “Touring”-trim level sedan. The car is, to no surprise, brilliant to drive. It provides a level of balance and comfort almost equal (if not slightly superior) to that available in entry-level luxury cars from Germany. Dare I say I’d rather drive a new loaded-up Honda Civic with a manual than a front-wheel-drive base model Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C250? It’s not particularly quick to boot, but this Civic matches the cookie-cutter Corolla in smoothness.
Where the Civic truly excels though, is in its soul. No, I haven’t lost my mind and yes, it has a soul. This little car brings out more driver engagement and fun than anything else in the class. Where the Corolla is targeted more towards those looking for a brilliant, comfortable point A to point B appliance, the Civic does the same while making day-to-day commutes pleasurable. Oh, and to add, this new one adds a rear-view camera, heated front seats, and text messaging support. Two of the three I personally find pointless and disengaging from the point of the Civic, but sure, why not…
I’m sorry, I just can’t consider the 2013 Honda Civic Sedan Touring an all-new car. It’s an excellent car, and it was fantastic to drive, and I truly can’t wait for my full road test, but it literally is Honda launching what should have been the 2011-2012 Civic. The last couple years of Civics were forgettable; now it’s back, better than ever.