The refreshed 2014 Honda Civic HF was revealed yesterday at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, featuring both an upgraded powertrain and improved fuel economy.

More on that in a minute. Like all 2014 Civic sedans, the HF gets a new continuously-variable transmission (CVT), which replaces the 2013 model's five-speed automatic.

Its 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine also gets a slight bump in power. It now produces 143 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque, compared to last year's 140 hp and 128 lb-ft.

With the new CVT, the 2014 Civic HF is EPA-rated at 35 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 41 mpg highway), an improvement over the 2013 HF's 33 mpg combined (29 mpg city, 41 mpg highway).

Honda says that 35 mpg combined rating is best-in-class, so how does the Civic HF stack up against its competitors?

In the combined category, the Civic HF bests the combined 33 mpg achieved by the 2014 Ford Focus SFE and 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Eco (with the optional six-speed manual), two other compact sedans optimized for fuel economy.

2012 Honda Civic HF - Driven

2012 Honda Civic HF - Driven

City and highway numbers are 28 mpg and 40 mpg for the Ford, and 28 mpg and 42 mpg for the Chevy.

The Civic HF also bests the 2014 Mazda 3 sedan with the 2.5-liter engine and optional i-ELOOP regenerative braking package, which is rated at 32 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway), as well as the base 3 sedan with the smaller 2.0-liter engine, which is rated at 34 mpg combined (30 mpg city, 41 mpg highway).

Even the 2014 Chevy Cruise Turbo Diesel's 33 mpg (27 mpg city, 46 mpg highway) and 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI's 34 mpg (30 mpg city, 42 mpg highway) can't quite match the Civic HF in the combined category.

Other changes for the 2014 model year are relatively minor. Styling is unchanged, but the HF gets the same improved seats and interior trim as other Civic sedans. Equipment level is equivalent to the base Civic LX.

The 2014 Honda Civic HF goes on sale in the United States December 4.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.