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2013 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan (Honda)
2013 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan (Honda)

Best of the lot: Should she buy a Civic, Camry or Accord? Add to ...

My hubby and I love your Car/Business show and we never miss you in the Globe and Mail, too! Love your senses of humour. You make it fun to watch a car show because of your bantering back and forth!

What would be the smoothest ride (I have pain issues) in a compact/mid-size like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic or even a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord? I’m curious though. Cato, you’re a Californian? How did you end up in Canada? And Vaughan, are you a Canadian? Where did you grow up? – Jan in Toronto

Vaughan: What have we got here Cato, a birther? Jan, I may be able to produce a tattered old birth certificate from Hawaii, not Kenya, if pressed.

Cato: Vaughan, behave yourself. This is a very complimentary letter and you’re treating Jan like she’s Donald Trump. But let me be clear: this letter, like all the letters we answer in this space, came from a real viewer/reader. A reader named Will, for instance, chastised us for having too much fun: “One guy says nothing remotely funny and the other giggles and then the reverse.” Norm damned us with the faintest of faint praise by suggesting we’re as good as some guy named “Jim Kenzie,” whoever that is. And so on. Not everyone thinks you’re funny and interesting, Vaughan.

Vaughan: Jan, I let Cato deal with the mail. He stays up late at night selecting any letter that says anything mildly positive about him and pastes them into his scrapbook. I just give car answers. So Cato, deal with the car.

Cato: Before I say anything else, I want to point out that the 2013 Honda Civic may now rank as the smoothest ride among compact cars. Honda did some much needed work to improve the ride quality versus the generally panned 2012 and it shows. Ditto the cabin. The plastic horror show has been upgraded, and by quite a margin.

Look, the Civic is going to finish 2012 as Canada’s best-selling car for the 15th straight year. It’s reliable, the resale value is outstanding, it’s a Top Safety Pick and, for you Jan, the seats are comfy and the ride just a little on the soft side.

2012 Toyota Camry LE - $23,700
 

Vaughan: Of course, if you want a little more size and a little more comfort, the Camry is a nice step up. No one will ever confuse a Camry ($23,700 base) with a sports car, yet at the same time, everyone in your neighbourhood will know why you bought one: it’s a safe choice.

Cato: Look, Toyota is shooting the lights out with this Camry, which is as it should be. The car got a big re-do for the 2012 model year. We’re talking about Canada’s ninth best-selling car now, from nowhere, really. Sales on the year are up nearly 40 per cent versus 2011.

Personally, I think the Camry Hybrid is the best buy of all. Fuel economy is stunning and to juice sales, Toyota Canada loads this gasoline-electric car with a long list of goodies. And yes, Jan, a very marshmallowy ride.

2013 Honda Accord LX $23,990
 

Vaughan: But hybrids only make sense in a lot of stop-and-go city driving. If Jan’s doing a little taxi business on the side, then hybrid is for her.

Otherwise she ought to think about the 2013 Honda Accord ($24,890 base). Fuel economy is near best-in-class from what Honda is touting as its new “Earth Dreams” direct-injection four-banger (185 horsepower). There’s a V-6, too: 278 hp, but stick with the four-banger. It is available with an all-new continuously variable transmission (CVT), though the base car gets a new six-speed manual.

Cato: You know, Honda used to sell as many as 23,000 or 24,000 Accords a year in Canada. But the last one, Gen 8, was a dud. Sales in 2011 slid to about 8,000. I like Gen 9, though; it’s a player. The sheet metal has a slight resemblance to the current BMW 7-Series, and the ride quality is just what Jan is looking for: gentle. The cabin is a homey place, too.

Vaughan: Here’s an off-the-wall suggestion, Jan, to take your mind off birth certificates: wait until next year and you can be the first kid on your block to have a three-cylinder car.

That would be the Ford Fiesta, it’s a sub-compact but extremely comfortable. You’ll love the seats and the smooth ride and the fantastic fuel economy of a 1.0-litre engine. I’ve driven it; it’s superb. They haven’t announced pricing, but it will be well below an Accord or Camry.

Cato: I think we could easily throw the re-done Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat into the mix here. Except the Altima might be too sporty for Jan – the same for the 2013 Ford Fusion – and the Passat a little too big. No, Jan, my first choice for you is the 2013 Civic.

Vaughan: No argument with that. And no further comment. Out.

*****

HOW THEY COMPARE

 

2013 Honda Civic sedan base2012 Toyota Camry LE2013 Honda Accord LX

Wheelbase (mm)

267027752775

Length (mm)

455648054862

Width (mm)

175218201849

Track, front (mm)

143514701465

Engine

1.8-litre four-cylinder2.5-litre four-cylinder2.4-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

140/128 lb-ft178/170 lb-ft185/181 lb-ft

Drive system

Front-wheel driveFront-wheel driveFront-wheel drive

Transmission

Five-speed manualSix-speed automaticSix-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

119014411466

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

7.2 city/5.4 highway8.2 city/5.6 highway8.7 city/5.7 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$15,440$23,700$23,990

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

*****

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