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Honda revamps Civic with lightning speed

Published: December 4, 2012 | 7:33 am
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A new 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid is unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week. Honda has made several improvements to the Civic for 2013, at a cost of about $500 per vehicle. Photograph by: Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images , The Associated Press

Honda has made a quick U-turn. Just 19 months after its Civic compact hit showrooms and was slammed by critics, the company has revamped the car, giving it a sportier look and upgrading the interior.

It’s an unusual and costly do-over. But Honda – among the auto industry’s most highly regarded brands – was worried the car’s flaws would hurt sales and market share, analysts say.

The 2013 version goes on sale Thursday, and Honda has given it a sportier profile, replaced its chintzy dashboard and made the ride quieter. The revamp comes to market in about half the time it normally takes and shows just how concerned Honda is about falling behind rivals.

“The new consumer coming to the marketplace looking for a compact car doesn’t think the Civic is a slam-dunk anymore,” says Jesse Toprak, vice-president of market intelligence for the TrueCar.com auto pricing website.

Honda did something startling with the 2013 model. Instead of making a few cosmetic changes that normally come in the middle of a car’s life, the company did an overhaul.

Toprak says the new Civic looks like an expensive luxury car, especially when compared with its predecessor.

The revamp is costing about $500 per car, Honda estimates.

The quick do-over puts the Civic back among the top cars in its segment, says IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lind-land. But it doesn’t mean all automakers will upgrade their cars every 19 months.

“It’s expensive to do these,” she says. “I wouldn’t say this is a trend – yet.”

The Associated Press

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