Honda has made major revisions to its Civic compact, launched just 19 months ago.
The 2013, to be unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show on Nov. 29, is "unmasked" in official Honda photos of the exterior. The car goes on sale the same day the wraps come off at the show.
It has a new hood and trunk lid, which require new factory stampings. That's in addition to the headlight/taillight/grille tweaks that are typical of midcycle updates.
Honda and most automakers save updates for halfway through a model's life cycle, about three or four years after launch. They're seldom significant enough to require the sorts of changes to the factory machinery that the Civic does.
It's reasonable to expect major updates inside, too, though Honda's saving that for the Los Angeles show.
The car was criticized at launch in 2011 by reviewers, including influential Consumer Reports, for a subpar interior. But Honda says it had begun the changes before the bad press, knowing how fast other automakers were putting new and more sophisticated compacts into showrooms.
More women driving
More women than men now have driver's licenses, reversing a long gender gap behind the wheel that transportation researchers say will have safety and economic effects.
The share of teens and young adults of both sexes with driver's licenses is declining, but the decline is greater for young men, says a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The study looked at gender trends in driver's licenses from 1995 to 2010.
Women are more likely than men to purchase smaller, safer and more fuel-efficient cars; to drive less; and to have a lower fatality rate per distance driven, says Michael Sivak, co-author of the study.
Over the 15 years the study covered, the share of men 25 to 29 years old with driver's licenses dropped 10.6%. The share of women the same age with driver's licenses declined less, 4.7%.
Male drivers outnumbered women drivers since the first Ford Model T in 1908. The pattern's held through most of the last century.
In the 1950s, when only about half of adult women had driver's licenses, jokes about women drivers were a staple of comedians.
But by 1995, men with driver's licenses barely outnumbered women, 89.2 million to 87.4 million. By 2010, 105.7 million women had licenses, compared with 104.3 million men.
By 2010, women outnumbered men among drivers 45 and older, and 25 to 29. The share of older women hanging onto their driver's licenses also has increased.
"I want to be in my own car for as long as possible. I want to be independent for as long as I can," says Diane Spitaliere, 58, a retired government worker in Alexandria, Va.
There now are 105 boys born each year for every 100 girls in the U.S. But women outnumber men later in life because they live longer -- an average 80 years, vs. about 75 years for men.
Other researchers theorize that driving is becoming less appealing than public transportation because texting is safe and legal on a bus, but not so while driving.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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