Entry Price: $18,165

Price as tested: $21,605

This week, we're driving Honda's new 2013 Civic EX, a popular four-door sedan available in seven distinct trims. Ranging from the entry LX with manual that starts at just $18,165 to the top line EX-L for $23,765, Civic continues to carve a legacy in affordable small cars, which dates back to 1972 when a "cute" little sub-compact Civic arrived on American shores.

Completely revamped for 2013, the Civic EX Sedan is an exercise in modern technology and return on investment (ROI), as even a base price Civic LE affords consumers maximum benefits, including a standard rear safety back-up camera. (Kudos Honda!)

Additionally, although Civic is still classified as a compact by EPA standards, when you sit inside and then drive a Civic you'll swear you're in a finely tuned mid-size that delivers excellent EPA fuel mileage and a comfortable ride.

Test Drive, thus, gives an upfront "pat on the back" to Honda for bringing the new generation Civic Sedan to market. Civic's new generation actually began in 2012, but consumers wanted more refinement and Civic engineers responded immediately, going to work on this 2013 refresh.

Also important was Consumer Reports Magazine, where the 2012 Civic received a "non recommendation." grade. Following the 2013 "freshening," Consumer Reports reversed the rating to a sought after "recommendation," noting that Honda made the 2013 Civic much better in ride comfort, handling, quietness and interior.

I agree.

Inside, where plastic is still predominant yet improved in aesthetics, there's a good amount of room for all passengers, including those in the rear seat. Honda also ads way more sound deadening insulation, resulting in a much quieter ride.

Civic's powertrain still features the 140-horse 1.8-liter four-cylinder hooked to a five-speed automatic transmission with grade control. Although the engine is not one of the company's more technologically advanced offerings, the i-Vtech four still produces an impressive 28 city and 39 highway EPA ratings, making it an economically road worthy car. I'd still like to see Honda experiment with a six-speed automatic, as the extra gear could allow for some more ponies under the hood without hurting economy.

If you desire more MPG, Civic's hybrid delivers 44 MPG, and if you want to eliminate gasoline altogether from your car's daily diet, Honda Civic Natural Gas is available at your dealer and is still the only car available in this format. I look forward to testing one soon.

Outside, Civic reveals a more inviting re-style with a family tree Accord resemblence. There's a new bumper design, black mesh grille,integrated foglamps and an Accord style sweptback roofline and rear treatment. The end result in the more refined look today's consumers demand.

Suspension components consist of front MacPherson struts and a rear multi-link setup. Add four-wheel disc ABS brakes, 16-inch all season tires on nice alloys, electronic brake distribution, vehicle stability assist, daytime running lamps and all the airbags and you're driving a car that will keep passengers safer in the event of impact.

Noteworthy standard features include 160-watt six speaker stereo with Bluetooth, 60/40 fold down rear seats, XM Satellite w/three months free, leather appointments, the rear camera, MP3/WMA playback, keyless entry, steering wheel controls, air conditioning, cruise, leather trim, heated front seats, "Eco assist" for better fuel mileage, rear defrost and more.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1 inches, 2,851 lb. curb weight, 12.5 cu. ft. of cargo space and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.

In summary, the improved 2013 Civic is still a great buy in $18 to 20K range (Coupe starts at $17,965). However, once you start spending over $21K on a Civic, there may be better choices in "Hondaland" as the Accord Sedan starts at $21,680.

The choice is yours.

Likes: New looks, interior quietness, fuel mileage, reliability.

Dislikes: Price can move quickly to Accord consideration.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist)