Honda is unaccustomed to fumbling the ball, but has handled a botched redesign of the 2012 Civic with impressive speed and grace. The new-and-improved 2013 Civic is the car that should have debuted last year, and its arrival renders the 2012 version an orphan within Civic history.
Not that consumers took any notice. Despite its lackluster redesign, one clearly reflecting budget cuts made during the new model’s gestation during global economic difficulties, the Civic remained the most popular compact car in the country, the third best-selling model of 2012 after the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Nearly 310,000 new Civics found homes in American driveways last year, despite near universal criticism for the new model. That’s the power of a good reputation in action.
Nevertheless, Honda didn’t want critics to spend the next half-decade bashing the Civic for its cheap interior materials, loud cabin, and uncharacteristically dull driving dynamics, so it performed the equivalent of emergency surgery on one of the most important cars it manufactures, fixing what was wrong and transforming the car into something that bolsters the company’s reputation rather than damages it.