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STYLING | 7 out of 10
Although its dimensions remain the same, the new sedan looks lower and wider and its profile appears more fluid, thanks in part to new five-spoke wheel design.
The bilevel instrument cluster seems less like the bridge of a spaceship now that we've had a few years to acclimate
A redesigned front and rear, and new wheels, move the Civic a bit along the continuum from plain to fancy.
It looks more Accord-ish, but it still has too much ninth-generation Civic in this gen-9½ model
New York Times
maintains its familiar two-tier dash display
Last year the Honda Civic was completely redesigned; and while the styling changes were merely evolutionary, many cried foul over the new Civic's apparent cost-cutting throughout, as well as a a lack of overall detailing that left the newer model looking quite bland.
That's all changed for 2013, as Honda rushed changes to market. More than your typical mid-cycle refresh, they altogether change the look and feel of this model, and make it feel more upscale once again.
The more sharply styled front end, with the more chiseled, squared-off lower air dam adds up to a more charming 'cleft' chin, as you're walking up, while the Accord-like blacked-out grille, chrome framing, and more open-intake look box it all out as sportier—albeit with some obvious VW influences to our eyes.
In back the new lights and rear fascia serve to widen the look just a bit, although we're not big fans of is the wide chrome bar that runs across the edge of the trunklid, connecting the taillamps. It's just too played-out of a styling cue and looks tired on arrival.
Otherwise, while the Civic's flanks have carried over. In this generation, they're a little more sculpted—including a raked-upward character line—yet the roofline looks remarkably familiar, and the Civic's footprint hasn't changed much in many years.
As before, Civic Si models get a host of trim and appearance upgrades—including new wheels, a blacked-out eggcrate grille, chrome-tipped exhausts, and a noticeable rear spoiler—that are bound to draw a little more attention. As well, Si models get a sportier theme inside, with darker trim, sport seats, and details like a leather-wrapped steering wheel. On the other hand, the Civic Hybrid blends in even more so with the rest of the line; it gets different wheels and front fascia, plus a small spoiler on the trunk lid, but you'd have to read the badges to know that it's the Hybrid—making it the antithesis of the Toyota Prius identity.
Inside, the new Civic isn't all that different by design, but new materials have been subbed in—in ways that affect sight, sound, and touch. Perhaps most obviously, the vast spans of gray all-too-subtly grained hard plastic are gone, replaced by a dark look. The upper tier of the dash is now covered with a softer padded surface that extends around to the upper door trims (to the front doors, at least). Upholsteries are also new, and while the faux-stitching that pops up here and there throughout isn't that impressive up close, but it all helps contribute to a far better first impression.
One thing hasn't changed, and that's the downright odd, Dali-esque contours of the instrument panel; if you like a dash that feels aligned, or symmetric in some way, this is not the car for you.
Honda has added a lot of personality to the 2013 Honda Civic with some careful nips and tucks where it counts—as well as upgraded materials inside.