2013 Honda Civic: Road Trip Report

Kansas-Chic_art

When I think "long trip," the words "compact sedan" aren't what come to mind. Many hours behind the wheel of an entry-level car crammed with three adults, one child and loads of luggage doesn't sound pleasant, but in our long-term Honda Civic it was actually pretty close.

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I recently took the sedan on a trip from our downtown Chicago headquarters to Kansas City, Kansas, and the Civic managed to get us and all of our stuff there without breaking the bank. During the 1,061.7-mile highway trip, I traveled an average speed of 55 mph and got an impressive 35.6 mpg; the sedan is EPA rated at 28/39/32 mpg city/highway/combined.

Fuel economy is great, but how comfortable could you be spending 17 hours in a Civic?

SAM_0621
During the first few hours, I had no complaints. The seats in our LX trim level were adequately comfy, visibility good and the only thing missing was satellite radio. Streaming Pandora internet radio from an app on my phone worked, but only some of the time; I frequently lost the connection driving through rural areas.

Connecting devices was a breeze; the Civic offers lots of connection options, and they're all in handy places. There's an auxiliary input port and a 12-volt power outlet under the instrument panel and a USB port in the center console; we put all to use with our phones, a tablet and an iPod.

Surprisingly, cargo room wasn't a problem either. We were headed to a wedding, and I was worried that all of our extra gear wouldn't quite fit in the compact sedan's trunk. I was wrong. In terms of space, it trails the competition, however, with just 12.5 cubic feet of room in the trunk. The Nissan Sentra (15.1), Ford Focus (13.2) and Kia Forte (14.7) [JLB1]all offer more.

SAM_0627
What got on my nerves after a couple hundred miles was the ride quality. Though I've always felt it's on the hard side, it wasn't that big of a deal during my shorter drives. After several hours, the firmness started getting tiresome. It's not a deal breaker, but one definite shortcoming of an otherwise pleasant sedan.

The worst part of the drive was making it through an evening thunderstorm. Though I normally like the gauge cluster setup (large, colorful info screens directly in front of the driver), they create a distracting glare on the windshield at night. Add in driving rain and visibility quickly became very poor. It could've been worse, however.

Long-term fleet editor Joe Bruzek took care of one important maintenance issue right before I left on the trip: The standard wipers were completely shot after just six months of use. "The streaky wipers left sightlines blurred and important things like road lines and pedestrians in a fog. The Civic does sit outside overnight, though, so maybe being exposed to the elements destroyed the wipers quicker. I even wiped the blades before replacing them to make sure it wasn't just a dirty blade. Nope. They were trashed," Bruzek said. He replaced the faulty blades with Rain X wipers for $32.45, and they were well worth it.

SAM_0618
Firm ride and averted wiper crisis aside, the Civic was overall an agreeable traveling partner. Two important things that make for a successful road trip are comfort and fuel economy. During my trip, the Civic did a pretty good job of delivering both.

Related
Research the 2013 Honda Civic
2013 Honda Civic Review 
We Bought a Honda Civic, And It Wasn't Easy

Comments 

Edward Melendez

You can always dim the dashboard lights. That is why that option is available for adverse weather conditions. Please read the manual for other items that can be adjusted for different driving conditions. Also, wiper blades should be changed at a minimum once a year. The prefered interval is twice a year once in the spring before heavy summer rains and once in the fall before snow storms.
As for the trunk space I agree and believe that could be a little bigger based on competition. The ride quality has been firm since the 2006 8th gen models appeared. This is especialy true in the Si models where it is expected. However Honda makes better suspension parts for their Acura line that could be used here.

J

Jennifer,

The wiper blades are supposed to be lasting for 6 months. What is the issue?
A new set of inserts should only set you back for about 10 bucks per.
Regarding the dimness switch for the dash...I can find it by Honda's interior pictures on their official site, yet you have the user manual and could not figure this out?

http://automobiles.honda.com/civic-sedan/interior-photos.aspx

The one that shows the tach clearly showed the adjustment knob.

Steve

Wipers are awful on my 2013 Civic also. It makes this loud screeching noise everytime I use it. Luckily its only rained a couple of days in the past 6 months.

As for comfort I often go on 500 mile trips and never had any discomfort. In my previous car I would have back pains and tail bone would be sore and bruised.

Patrick

Also, tires have a lot to do with ride quality. Unfortunately, the Civic LX sedan comes with not so good Firestone Infinity Fuel Saver tires. These tires have a harder tread which can compromise ride quality. Otherwise this is a very fine car.

LEROOOY

Was this an EX or an LX? I have a 2008 LX manual, on long trips my only complaints are (1) wind noise,(2) no lumbar adjustment, and (3) even though Honda engines can sing at 4000 rpm for decades, I still want a sixth gear.

I wonder if Honda has made improvements in those departments in the intervening 5 years.

J

Leroooy,

Really? Why do we need the 6th gear when the 5th is already at about 0.5:1?

I am kind of concerned about how the engine can actually run that low RPM at such speed and load.

Chris

Only 35 mpg? I think you must have a lead foot. On several long highway exclusive trips I have gotten over 40 mpg. I do use the econ button and try to avoid jackrabbit starts.

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