• 2013 Civic sedan was nearly perfect in both government and independent crash tests
  • Honda's compact sedan beats out Mercedes-Benz C-Class in new frontal impact test
  • Crash-test scores complement the 2013 Civic's numerous refinements in other areas

Fan favorite Honda just added another feather to its cap, and this time the category is small-car safety. The recently redesigned 2013 Honda Civic sedan has more or less aced every crash test, garnering both a perfect 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the highest possible Top Safety Pick+ rating from the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

This is a particularly big deal because the previous Civic, which was sold from model years 2006 to 2011, didn't fare nearly as well. Although IIHS gave the old Civic good marks across the board, NHTSA rated the 2011 Civic sedan a mediocre three stars out of five overall, including just two stars for side impacts.

Honda clearly took that criticism to heart, because the redesigned Civic sedan is one of the safest small cars you can buy. Although its rating in NHTSA's frontal impact test is still four stars -- the same as the 2011 model -- the side-impact rating has skyrocketed from two stars to a flawless five, boosting the 4-door Civic to that 5-star overall score. Note that the Civic coupe drops to four stars overall due to a slightly lower side-impact score for rear passengers, but its crashworthiness is otherwise comparable.

There's news on the IIHS front, too. In the new front small overlap test [http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr081412.html], which simulates a hard front-corner collision, the 2013 Civic received the top score of Good. We can't compare that to the previous Civic's performance, as the test wasn't around then, but we can look at how other 2013 models have performed -- and it's not always pretty. The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta, for example, was deemed Marginal (second-worst) in the new test, as was the 2013 Hyundai Sonata. The 2013 Toyota Camry and even the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class were slapped with the lowest rating of Poor. These scores will inevitably improve as automakers adjust their designs, but the 2013 Civic is evidently well ahead of the curve.

The Civic is also a pleasure to drive, thanks in large part to a slew of updates for the 2013 model year. We weren't the only publication to feel that the 2012 Civic -- the first year of the latest redesign -- seemed a bit lackluster [http://www.autotrader.com/research/article/car-new-reviews/82275/2012-honda-civic---new-car-review.jsp], but significant refinements in the ride, handling and interior materials have changed our opinion for the better. Now that all the crash-test results are in, we can confidently call the 2013 Civic one of the most well-rounded small cars on the market.

What it means to you: The 2013 Honda Civic's excellent safety scores give you one more reason to put this perennial best-seller on your shopping list.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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