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#5

in Used Small Cars $14K and up

Avg. Price Paid: $15,293 - $21,244
Original MSRP: $17,965 - $27,965
MPG: 28 City / 39 Hwy
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2013 Honda Civic Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

While base and Si Honda Civic models have good acceleration, test drivers think the base model’s engine doesn’t seem as strong as its competitors’. Critics like the Civic’s balanced steering and comfortable ride.

  • "Model choices range from mileage misers to downright sporty, yet all are fun to drive and frugal with fuel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The trouble is, all the improvements keep the Civic in the game but don't pull it ahead. For example, a 1.8-liter, 140-horsepower, four-cylinder engine remains standard and the two available transmissions are a five-speed automatic and (on some versions) a five-speed stick shift." -- BusinessWeek (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The base Civic sedan and coupe have a four-cylinder engine that makes 140 horsepower and a standard five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional. The Civic Si also has a four-cylinder engine, but it makes 201 horsepower and only comes with a six-speed manual transmission. The Civic HF comes with a five-speed automatic transmission only. The Civic Hybrid is reviewed separately. The EPA hasn’t released fuel economy data for these models yet, but according to Honda, the Civic sedan with an automatic transmission should average 28/39 mpg city/highway, which matches last year’s EPA estimates.

Reviewers think power from the Civic’s 140-horsepower engine is adequate, but one critic thinks its acceleration is a bit pokey for a small car, though there’s enough power for passing and merging on the freeway. Test drivers report that the 201-horsepower engine makes the Civic Si lively. One reviewer likes both the manual and automatic transmissions, but prefers the manual because its shifter is precise and its clutch is smooth. Though the transmissions get positive reviews, many of the Civic’s competitors have six-speed transmissions.

See the full 2013 Honda Civic specs »

  • "With either transmission, 140-horsepower Civics accelerate leisurely away from a stop, but have adequate power around town and for highway merging and passing. The automatic is especially alert to throttle inputs. The manual has crisp shifter action and a smooth, easy-to-modulate clutch. Slick-shifting Si models offer snappy acceleration, particularly at high rpm." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the power side of the equation, the … Si’s around-town response seems a little more vigorous, delivering more thrust at lower rpm. And, although we miss the high-rpm scream of the 2.0, the 2.4-liter’s exhaust note has an authoritative tenor snarl." -- Car and Driver (2012)
  • "With 140 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque, acceleration is leisurely, even by compact sedan standards. …" -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "More disappointing, the engine comes hooked only to 5-speed transmissions - manual or automatic in the LX, automatic only in the EX. In contrast, the Hyundai Elantra's 1.8-liter 4, with direct injection, pumps out 148 horsepower and its manual and automatic transmissions each have 6 forward gears." -- The New York Times (2012)

Handling and Braking

For 2013, Honda tightened the Civic’s suspension, and some reviewers notice improvements in the Civic’s steering and ride quality. Two test drivers mention that the steering is responsive and that the ride is very stable. Few test drivers comment on the brakes, but one says they have good pedal feel.  

  • "… the new car does indeed feel fairly well tied down, and yet it's not punishing over bumps." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The recalibrated steering is a joy, avoiding the two common sins: so responsive it's twitchy, or so power-assisted that it's numb." -- USA Today
  • "Steering feel is linear and well-balanced. Agile Si models corner tenaciously, though they suffer slight torque steer -- pulling to one side under aggressive acceleration. All Civics have fine straight-line stability, plus effective stopping control with good brake-pedal modulation." -- Consumer Guide

Next Steps: 2013 Honda Civic

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