We recently spent some time in the updated 2013 Honda Civic. After a lackluster redesign for 2012, the Civic was revised for the new model year. Changes were aimed at addressing several complaints, many of which involved the compact car's interior.
Nearly all our testers thought the changes corrected many of the 2012 Civic's deficiencies. Our Civic, a top-level EX model, included new stitching on the dashboard -- a luxurious touch. We also appreciated the brightwork around the car's vents, which looked better than last year's hard plastic.
Beyond the new interior surfaces, the latest Civic's climate controls were redesigned. The result is less cryptic than last year's model thanks to a screen that clearly displays the temperature and direction of air. Overall, the improvements are a big step toward returning the sedan to the top of the compact car class.
A Good Value?
Our test car didn't suffer from interior issues but rather from a steep price. The 2013 Honda Civic we drove was a top-end EX-L model with Honda's optional navigation system. Including destination, its base price was more than $24,500.
Of course, it featured a long list of equipment. Leather upholstery was standard, for example, as were heated front seats. But we couldn't help thinking most drivers would be better served with a Honda Accord Sport. The redesigned Accord is larger and offers most of the same equipment for about the same price -- a testament to the sedan's tremendous value. And fuel economy hardly suffers: The 190-horsepower Accord returns 34 miles per gallon on the highway, compared with the 140-hp Civic's 39 mpg.
Many shoppers may still lean toward the Civic for its longer list of features. But most of our testers found the navigation system outdated and difficult to use -- especially compared to the systems in many rivals, or even a smartphone. And the reversing camera's screen was small and, at times, unclear. That isn't true in the Accord, where the high-quality backup camera boasts a large, sharp screen.
We understand that many buyers don't need a car as large as the Accord. For those shoppers, we have no qualms in recommending Civic trim levels with a more reasonable base price. But we think it's hard to fathom spending nearly $25,000 on a Civic -- especially since we've sampled the navigation system and reversing camera that help it reach that figure.
We suggest buyers on this budget shop around, particularly if it means looking at larger cars.