The first car. It is something every gearhead looks forward to. It is also something that everyone has an opinion on for which makes the perfect one. Some believe that buying the cheapest thing that still moves is best because the teen will destroy it anyway. Others choose brand new since they are safer and more reliable. I wanted a former but ended up with a latter: a 2013 Honda Civic LX sedan with an auto.
This wasn't my choice. I wanted this 1991 Volvo 240 down the street with 150,000+ miles on it (I think the odometer was broken) for only $1500. My grandma, the one who I'd be sharing my car with, told me it was too slow. So, she ended up deciding that leasing was our best bet. I would pay half of the lease, insurance, and anything else it needed.
(Full disclaimer: Honda wanted me to get a 2013 Civic so badly, they first built a new Honda dealership about 5 miles from my house. They then gave me a deal I couldn't refuse. After all taxes, registration, and dealer fees, she would be mine for $199 a month for 36 months. To make sure I'd get it, the dealer made sure to have the exact model I wanted: an LX in Polished Metal Metallic with the light interior.)
All in all it is a very good car. She does everything I want and more. You could stop here with the review. I won't. Here is the full thing.
The 2012 Civic was a bust. Reviewers were not impressed. Honda decided to drastically update it, giving us the 2013. The exterior is much more aggressive. The front bumper is sporty and has cool flairs. The 15" wheels; although quite small, have an interesting design; one that I personally am not a huge fan of. The best part however is the rear. The new taillights make the car look much more classy and expensive. They fill up the back but are not too busy.
All in all, the exterior is one of the more classy looking ones in its class (I'm looking at you Elantra and Corolla with your curvy and ugly bodies). The paint color looks really nice and shines in the sun.
The interior is a mix of both good and bad qualities. It is huge inside. The backseat seems to have just as much if not more rear legroom than in my dad's 2012 Volvo S60. The finish is really nice. There is not a lot of cheap hard plastic anymore. The passenger side of the dashboard is covered in this nice pleather substance. It is also nice and bright. Everything fits together nicely without any major gaps.
Everything is within easy reach, all of the controls turned towards the driver. In the driver's seat, you get a feeling of being a pilot in a cockpit; everything wraps around you nicely.
However, there are still a few flaws. On the left side of the steering wheel for instance, there is a big green button. This enables the ECON mode. There is no need for such a big button. It could've just as easily been buried under some settings in the screen.
Also, the dashboard, although bright and full of information, is a bit busy. There are these green and blue LED lights that judge your driving. There is an instant fuel gauge which is never standing still. The digital speedometer is in the middle of these. It is a nice touch because you don't ever need to guess your exact speed. However, I can see it being an issue during a driving license test since they can always monitor your speed exactly (not that I speed or anything.) Below this, where most cars have all their gauges, is a giant tachometer. To me, it is pointless because I have an automatic. It is way bigger than it should be. I never have to watch my RPMs so it is really useless.
The seats are also kind of narrow and lack a lot of support. I couldn't see spending multiple hours in these seats without stopping. The passenger seat also has no height adjustment, so it seems too high up there.
The big windows do allow for a lot of visibility though, which is always helpful. And the windows in front of the mirrors are also helpful, despite what some say. I end up using them a lot, and it sucks when you start driving a car without them.
Let's be honest here. It is a Honda Civic. This thing is a sub $20,000 small car. The inline-4 makes 140 horsepower. It isn't a rocket ship off the line. It is also a VTEC. So, you must wait until around 4,000 RPM before power is made. However, once it does, it does move. It's like driving a car with horrible turbo lag. What this means is that you will not win any races against a Yaris off the line. Or an Aveo. Or anything really. But, it does get up to speed and hold it. So, it deserves some points there.
Being an LX, the brakes are not perfect. It still has drum brakes in the rear, and they are not the best. The pedal is soft. The brakes take a bit of time to stop the car when nicely, smoothly braking. If you need to do an emergency stop though, they do work well when you slam on them.
For a small, cheap car, the ride is actually really nice. The sound deadening is very nice and not a lot of noise enters the cabin. You do not feel a lot of bumps either. The suspension absorbs bumps a lot more than one would expect. I've driven a Ford Focus, Toyota Yaris, and Nissan Sentra. Honestly, this has the best ride out of all of them.
This care is fun to drive. Sure, it is FWD. Sure it is underpowered. But the handling is really nice. It is tight and there is not a lot of play in the wheel. You can quickly turn the wheel and it responds instantly. The wheel has a nice feel too; although it is a little small.
It's an automatic. 5 speed to be exact. To many of you, it should have a zero here. But it isn't an awful gearbox. The gear changes are really smooth and it shifts at a really good time. It never has moments where it is seeking a gear and always seems to be in the perfect gear; not too low or high.
This is a four cylinder. It moans a bit when you step on it. It isn't a great noise; but it isn't awful either. You kind of get hooked on hearing it; I know I am. However, being underpowered, going uphill requires you to push the gas a bit harder. This makes the engine have too high of an RPM and it moans loudly. This sound is just sad. It proves how weak it is.
Again, it's an LX. The audio is very weak. It only has four speakers. The sound is clear; but not very loud or powerful. The bass is quite low too. But, it does have a system. And it is better than the base Insight's one speaker system.
For $18,965, you get a lot of goodies. This includes Bluetooth, Pandora, the ability to read text messages, an automatic transmission, and a backup camera. It also has power windows, cruise control, TPMS system, a color LCD screen, power mirrors, ABS, traction control, daytime running lights, a ton of airbags, and more things that I am forgetting here. It really is a good value and is much more loaded than many similar cars.
For the lease of $199 per month you really cannot beat it. It has a warranty for the life of my lease, gap insurance, $1000 wear and tear, and more goodies too. It is a great value for a first car.
The vase price for a Civic LX coupe with a manual is $17,965. My LX sedan with an automatic is $19,190. A fully loaded EX-L sedan with navigation will run you $24,240. For everything that is included (as stated above) as well as Honda reliability, it is a great value. The newer Civics are becoming more classy; less econo-box and more small family sedan. Whereas competitors are going with crazy hip ads (Toyota Corolla) or strange designs full of creases (Hyundai Elantra) the Civic remains a simple classy way to get around with a dash of fun thrown in. It does have even more competition though from the likes of the Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza, Ford Focus, Nissan Versa, Chevy Cruze, Dodge Dart, Kia Forte and VW Jetta, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. I do believe though that for the lease I have, the reliability of Honda, and other key factors, the Civic is easily in the top of its class.
If however, you have a choice, spring for a coupe with a manual. Heck, even a coupe with an automatic is better. I wasn't allowed to have either.
Total Score: 62/100
2013 Honda Civic LX Sedan 5AT
Engine: 1.8 liter inline 4 SOHC
Power: 140 HP @6500 RPM/ 128 LB-FT @ 4,300 RPM
Transmission: 5 speed automatic
0-60: 9.7 seconds
Top Speed: Not Specified
Curb Weight: 2815 lbs
MPG: (MT) 28/36 / (AT) 28/39 mpg
MSRP: $19,790 (as tested (dealer pin striping, trunk cargo liner, full tank of gas, etc)
(Top photo is myself with my car; others from Google images)