Automotive critics, it seems, are a hard bunch to please. We look at things in a different light than most consumers, paying careful attention to details like the material used to cover a dashboard, or the quality of plastic used throughout the interior.

While we’re quick to pan a car that’s taken a step backward in terms of perceived quality, the public is infinitely more forgiving. If you need proof, look no further than the recent remakes of the Volkswagen Jetta or the 2012 Honda Civic; while auto journalists slammed both for being cheap compared to previous models, the public loved them.

Nonetheless, Honda has decided to give its best-selling Civic an extreme makeover for the 2013 model year, disguised as a mid-cycle refresh. Outside, sedan models wear revised front and rear styling, but the big news comes inside and underneath the car.

In the cabin, soft-touch materials now cover the dash and upper doors, and fit and finish has been stepped up to match. There’s a new tricot headliner, higher-quality seat fabric and silver trim to give the car more of a premium feel that the 2012 model carried off.

Standard equipment now falls into the “class-leading” category, and includes Bluetooth phone integration, Bluetooth audio streaming, a rearview camera, color infotainment display, Pandora interface, USB in, SMS text message function, steering wheel audio controls, exterior temperature gauge and a sliding center armrest.

We can name numerous luxury cars that don’t come with that level of standard equipment, but the Civic also makes gains in improving noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Both windshield and front door glass are thickened to reduce sound, and the car further benefits from additional noise-deadening material.

There’s a stiffer front subframe, too, which helps with both NVH and handling. The front suspension gets stiffer springs, a thicker stabilizer bar and Teflon-lined bushings, while the rear gets the exact same upgrades plus revised suspension bushings. Wheels are stiffer, too, and the electronic power steering now benefits from a quicker ratio.

2013 Honda Civic sedan range live photos, 2012 L.A. Auto Show

2013 Honda Civic sedan range live photos, 2012 L.A. Auto Show

Engine and transmission offerings remain the same across the model range. Civic Si versions get an all-aluminum 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine, rated at 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque and mated only to a six-speed manual transmission. Most other Civics carry a 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine good for 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque.

Transmission options here include either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. Opt for the Civic Hybrid, however, and you’ll get a 1.5-liter engine paired with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist hybrid drivetrain, mated to a continuously variable transmission.

The 2013 Honda Civic Sedan should hit dealers this week, priced from $18,955, while the 2013 Civic Coupe arrives next week, priced at $18,755. The Civic Natural Gas ($27,255) and the Civic Si Coupe ($23,305) follow the week after, while the Civic Hybrid ($25,150), Civic Si Sedan ($23,505) and Civic HF ($20,555) will appear by early February. All prices include the $790 destination fee.

For a more complete look at the range of 2013 Honda Civics, see our complete review on The Car Connection.