The Honda Civic is back! After being matched and even surpassed by strong competitors in recent years (even after last year's uninspiring revisions), this year's upgrades have taken on its previous weaknesses and added improvements that once again place it among the very best values available.
The 2013 model has taken on a sportier look while the interior has been upgraded with higher quality materials that give it a more upscale overall look and feel. The standard feature offerings have also been expanded to include some that are usually options on its rivals, such as a rearview camera, Bluetooth, an iPod interface, hands-free text messaging and Pandora functionality.
2013 Honda Civic SI
Beyond its looks and features, there have been significant mechanical revisions as well. Both the suspension and steering has been recalibrated for improved handling, while additional noise-insulation has provided a quieter ride.
But even while the new Civic may have a lot going for it, before making a final buying decision prospective owners should not only consider its appealing qualities, but measure the possible impact of its potential drawbacks as well.
Then, if one decides to proceed with a possible purchase, it's essential to also have a rock-solid plan for getting the best possible price (see the "How To Get The Lowest Price" link below).
Wide range of model and powertrain choices: The 2013 Civic has wide consumer appeal due to the availability of both coupe and sedan body styles, a performance-oriented Si model, a super-efficient hybrid version and even a natural-gas-powered model.
The standard engine powering the new Civic is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, with a choice of either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic (the HF and EX models come standard with the automatic). Those looking for more gusto may be better served with the Civic Si's engine, which pumps out 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet, and is coupled only with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Powering the Civic Hybrid is a 1.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which combined produce 110 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The Natural Gas model comes with a version of the same 1.8-liter engine and produces 110 horsepower and 106 pound-feet. It's mated with a 5-speed automatic.
Excellent fuel economy: With the automatic transmission, the 1.8-liter engine gets an impressive EPA-estimated 28 mpg city and 39 mpg on the highway. These numbers decrease slightly with the manual to 28 city and 36 highway, while the HF model comes in at 29 and 41, respectively.
Gas mileage for the more powerful Civic Si is an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 31 highway.
Fuel economy for the hybrid, not surprisingly, is the best among the models at 44 mpg city and highway, while the hydrogen model gets a gasoline equivalent of 27 city and 38 highway.
Comfortable and composed ride: The Civic has always been one of the nicer-driving cars in the segment and the upgrades to the suspension and steering this year make it even better. The overall ride quality is high, being both smooth and comfortable as most bumps are easily absorbed. It's also easy to drive and a confident handler.
It should be noted, however, that while not harsh, the Si's firmer suspension and 17-inch wheels subtract a bit from ride comfort.
But again on the positive side, the additional noise-insulation is an added plus as it addressed the wind noise problem in previous models.
Relatively spacious cabin: The sedan's front legroom and headroom is on par with other class leaders, while the rear quarters provide generous legroom, moreso than top competitors such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus.
2013 Honda Civic interior
A bit over-loaded dash with navigation: While most of the controls are properly-placed, and the steering wheel's menu buttons and keypads are user-friendly enough for those accustomed to a smartphone, there just can seem to be an overload of inputs and gauges. Just the steering wheel by itself sports as many as 14 directional commands and buttons, while models equipped with navigation are particularly busy-looking.
Adequate but uninspiring brakes: The braking system remains the same as last year's, which was found to be a bit ho-hum in independent performance tests. The Civic EX-L stopped from 60 mph in a somewhat long 131 feet. The Hybrid did a little better at 124 feet, while the Si did best at 120 feet ... all trailing other top rival compacts.
Small trunk in Hybrid and Natural Gas models: While the Civic sedan offers an adequate 12.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity and 11.7 in the coupe, the Hybrid's battery pack limits trunk space to a small 10.7 cubic feet. The Natural Gas model's trunk is smaller still due to its larger fuel tank.
High-tech features lag rivals a bit: While Honda has added popular tech features such as hands-free text messaging and Pandora Internet radio as standard, more serious techies may be attracted to the superior infotainment offerings of some rivals, although many are available as options only.
Lacks a versatile 5-door hatchback model: Unlike the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra, the new Civic lineup does not include a sporty and versatile 5-door hatchback.
The new and improved 2013 Honda Civic likely offers one of the best overall values in the automotive market thanks to its performance, reliability, relative affordability and outstanding resale values. But it's certainly no longer the slam dunk it once was due to the other excellent candidates now in this class, although one can hardly go wrong with the new Civic.
That said, it's always a good idea to check out the other top choices before making a final buying decision. Those worthy of consideration would include the Chevy Cruze, the Ford Focus, the Hyundai Elantra, the Mazda3, the all-wheel drive Subaru Impreza and the Volkswagen Jetta.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Open-To-The-Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.