Honda, still bristling from criticism that its 2012 Civic was bland, took the wraps off a complete makeover of its compact on Thursday to show off a new grille, hood, headlights and rear.
The interior has new colors, textures and higher-quality materials and more features.
Honda officials have said that the 2012 model had been stripped down for cost reasons as the new sedan, hatchback and wagon were being developed during a global recession.
But the lukewarm reaction to the car led management to order engineers to add more features and better-quality materials.
Still, the 2012 Civic's sales have jumped 39% from last year for the first 10 months of the year. It is the best-selling car in California, tied with the Honda Accord. The Civic is also the best-selling car in Canada so far this year.
Peter Nesvold, auto analyst for Jefferies, said Civic's facelift puts further pressure on competitors' offerings in the compact segment, including the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Dodge Dart.
The new Honda, which is arriving at dealerships, also hits the market as Hyundai and Kia are forced to retrench after overstating mileage claims on 900,000 vehicles. The Korean automakers are adjusting their mileage figures and reimbursing customers with a tab that could be in the tens of millions of dollars.
In addition to a livelier design, the 2013 Civic has a stiffer suspension and improved handling inside a safer body structure.
The powertrain is unchanged: a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that comes with a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. The sportier Si has a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission.
All 2013 models will cost $160 more than the 2012 lineup. With the sedan now on sale, the coupe will follow Dec. 5, then the natural gas Civic Dec. 10 and the Si coupe Dec. 12. In the new year, the hybrid and the Si sedan go on sale Jan. 23 followed by the HF on Feb. 6.
All Civics sold in the U.S. will be built in Greensburg, Ind., or Alliston, Ontario.
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