Responding to critics who said the car was insubstantial and had a cheap interior, Honda announced today it's releasing a refreshed Honda Civic at the Los Angeles auto show later this month. The car will go on sale the same day it's shown at the auto show.

That criticism, which came from Consumer Reports last August when the magazine said the Civic scored too low in its testing to gain a recommended rating, hasn't hurt sales. Honda has sold 254,000 Civics so far this year, up 38.8 percent compared with a year ago.

But the criticism hurt Honda's image, and reinforced critics who have been complaining that the brand has become dull. Last year, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito told reporters at the Tokyo Motor Show in December that he took ultimate responsibility for the vehicle and was exploring how to change the vehicle.

The model refresh, which makes the Civic look a lot more like the sculpted Honda Accord, is meant to make the car feel more youthful and yet upscale. It gets a lower, open-mouth bumper with a honeycomb grille, lights that wrap around the corners and a more sculpted hood. Buyers will get to choose from a selection of newly designed wheel options.

Honda pulled off the refresh in a remarkable timeframe, just a year and a half after the first Civic arrived on dealer lots. It will go on sale during the L.A. auto show on November 29.

The fact Honda was coming out with a new Civic at some point was one of the worst-kept secrets in the auto business, especially after the automaker sent a letter to dealers urging them to sell down their 2012 models because a new one was coming soon.

"The changes made to the 2013 model will make the outgoing 2012 Civic a difficult model [to] sell when they are side to side," wrote David Hendley, assistant vice president of Honda National Sales in a letter to dealers.


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