2012 Honda Civic Hybrid
Eager, responsive driving feel; roomy interior in the sedan; good ride quality; reputation for reliability and strong resale value
The new 2012 Honda Civic remains offered in Sedan and Coupe versions. And with several trim levels (DX, LX, EX and EX-L) to suit needs ranging from basic commuter car to compact family tourer-along with the high-performance Civic Si-there's a Civic for nearly every potential small-car need. Meanwhile, those looking for a greener car have plenty of options: the high-mileage Civic HF, which has the same engine as the base car but a host of fuel-saving measures; the Civic Hybrid, with an updated version of Honda's mild-hybrid system; and the Civic Natural Gas, a special version that's powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). The 140-horsepower, 1.8L i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine that powers most of the Civic lineup provides perky performance with either the standard 5-speed manual gearbox or 5-speed automatic. All models now have electric power steering that's responsive in feel yet saves fuel. And overall, the Civic is significantly lighter than the outgoing version, thanks mainly to the use of lightweight high-strength steel. Hybrid models come with Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system, this year pairing a somewhat larger 1.5L 4-cylinder engine with an upgraded 23-hp electric motor and new lithium-ion battery pack; altogether, EPA mileage figures are up to 44 mpg city, 44 highway. Civic GX models, now badged Civic Natural Gas, come with a 110-hp version of the 1.8L.
Civic Si models appeal to performance enthusiasts with a stronger, 2.4L 4-cylinder engine making 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. While still a high-revving engine, this new one makes more torque and accessible power at lower revs. As before, it's offered exclusively with a 6-speed manual gearbox and comes with a limited-slip front differential and sport-tuned suspension, among many appearance and feature extras. Front side airbags, full-length side-curtain bags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are now included on all 2012 Civic models. There's also a new Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering system that helps nudge the driver back toward stability, if the computer finds the vehicle in a skid or on the verge of one.
Despite a shorter wheelbase, the new Civic has expanded interior space; cloth upholstery is featured throughout most of the Civic lineup and feels of high quality. Front seats have been completely redesigned for better support-especially the side bolsters. Sedans have a 12-cubic-foot trunk that's more than ample for a long weekend for two or a large load of groceries, while Civic Coupes sacrifice some trunk and rear-seat space for their sportier profile. In most Civic models, the rear seatbacks fold forward for expanded trunk capacity. Both the Hybrid and Natural Gas models have a fixed rear seatback, because of their different packaging needs. The Hybrid, along with all Civic models but the Si, gets an ECON mode that changes powertrain parameters and is more sparing with the air-conditioning compressor, for better fuel economy. The Civic Si models come with a Power Monitor, for real-time info about engine output. Hybrids now include a more sophisticated i-MID display that helps coach the driver toward more fuel-efficient driving.
All Civic models except the DX now include power windows and an auto up/down driver's window. A keyfob-based remote entry system, with a range of up to 50 feet, is now also included on all but the DX. The LX, EX and Si models also include a power moonroof with sliding sunshade. LX models and better include standard air conditioning, while the Civic Hybrid comes with automatic climate control. New audio systems now include USB interfaces in all but the base DX model, and Bluetooth comes in EX models and above. Finally, the available navigation system in the Civic has been modernized to a flash-memory-based system with turn-by-turn directions and improved voice recognition.
The Civic has been extensively redesigned this year; appearance-wise, it gets a new, more finely detailed evolution of last year's Civic design-as well as a reconfigured interior. While the Civic is about the same size, overall, as the previous model, Honda has tapped into more interior space with new seats and door panels along with new instrument panel.
The new Civic also gets significantly better fuel economy of up to 39 mpg highway. But for those who want to maximize their mileage on a budget, there's a new Civic HF model that gets 41 mpg on the highway-at a more affordable price than the Hybrid, which is still available. Hybrid models get a slightly larger engine this year-1.5-liter-as well as an upgraded electric motor, altogether resulting in significantly better fuel economy (3 mpg better combined than last year).
The Civic's powerplant lineup has been completely redesigned, with a reengineered version of the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine powering most of the lineup and a new 2.4L engine powering the Si.
The new Civic also gets extensively updated infotainment systems-including a revised navigation system with voice recognition and live traffic updates, as well as available Bluetooth hands-free interface and a new Multi-Information Display system.
The new 2012 Honda Civic HF gets an EPA-rated 41 mpg highway and, Honda claims, has the highest highway mileage of any non-hybrid, automatic-transmission sedan. For decades the Civic has offered top-tier reliability, resale value and longevity, making it one of the best compact-car picks for those who want to keep their ownership costs low and plan to keep their cars a long time. The Civic is also one of the roomiest small sedans, with even better ride comfort and interior refinement this year. The top EX-L can still be appointed with the works-including a navigation system and full leather upholstery-making it feel more like a compact luxury sedan than an affordable commuter.
* EPA mileage estimates and EPA fuel economy methods based on models beginning with
the indicated model year. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models
before the indicated model year. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how
you drive and maintain your vehicle.