When Honda rolled a revised version of the Honda Civic in 2012, it went over pretty well and sold in strong numbers. But some people wanted more – even better ride/handling, sharper styling, and nice interior trim. Honda took it seriously and rolled out a refreshed 2013 model at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The biggest issue for Honda has been passing the tough new small overlap frontal crash test developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It didn’t do so well in the first test, and needed a series of front-end modifications on the Civic. Only Volvo and the Acura TL received Good ratings on the tested 2012 models. There was another incentive for Honda, as the automaker was producing a Civic derivative for Acura, the ILX, doubling the incentive.
In the small barrier test, a simulation takes place replicating hitting a tree or pole oat 40 miles per hour, but so that the impact makes contact only with 25% of the front end on one side. Front-end crash management systems, for the most part, have yet to take in the small barrier factor, and new models need to be engineered for it. Honda uses what it calls its ACE – Advanced Compatibility Engineering – process to design a front-end structure for safe distribution of crash energy. The 2013 Civic gets the second-generation version – ACE II – uses Honda’s highest-strength steel to produce a complex network for energy management. The front and rear suspensions for all Civics were stiffened to reduce roll and improve handling and were combined with a quicker steering ratio.