Last year, the series of upgrades that Honda made on the Civic lineup had its most significant impact here--where shoppers consider comfort, convenience, and overall cabin ambiance.
While the improvements are all relatively minor, they add up to major gains that lift the Civic up from its previously drab state.
Overall, passenger space is adequate in the four-door, but definitely tight in the coupes. The seats among the better ones in this class now; although they are somewhat short and flat. The Civic's steeply angled windshield won't be to everyone's liking from a functionality standpoint either, as there's a sense that the dash extends considerably into the cabin. Getting in and out of the back seat is pretty easy, but the seating position itself feels oddly contoured for adults and lacks headroom (despite the Civic's larger outside, we'd rather be in the back seat of the subcompact Fit hatchback, actually).
Trunk space is impressive in the Civic, and in the Civic Hybrid it's no longer significantly compromised. It's the first Honda hybrid fitted with a more compact lithium-ion battery pack, which takes only about 6 or 8 inches out of the trunk depth. Although Hybrid and Natural Gas models do still forgo the folding rear seatbacks.What's really changed for 2013 is cabin noise. When you pull up to a stoplight-- until you look down at the front-and-center tachometer--it's no longer apparent that the engine is even idling.
You'll find one of the quietest, most refined rides in the compact-sedan class here in the Civic. The body has been stiffened with more high-strength steel, side pillars have been upgraded, and thicker windshield and front door glass have been applied. There's also more soundproofing for the dash, floor, doors, and rear tray. Softer interior materials help damp harsh sounds in the cabin, too, and you barely hear the engine when it's idling. We only wish that Honda had extended the soft door trim you get in front to the back-seat positions as well; it's an odd omission, considering they made the effort with rear-seat ducts and a center armrest.
The oddly contoured, dual-level dash is something that some Civic buyers will have trouble warming up to. Honda has placed the tachometer close, just inside the steering wheel, while the speedometer and other displays are up above, and ahead--so it does make sense from a functionality standpoint, even if it's strange. A multi-directional button on the steering wheel lets the Civic driver navigate through various menus.
As for the layout, skip the still-fussy navigation upgrade; it's at its best with the base audio setup, which has large buttons, an intuitive layout that you can be comfortable with almost right away. Although we would have liked to have seen the main audio controls pushed above the seldom-used (in many cases) CD slot.