Honda Civic Hybrid
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 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 hybrid system, which pairs a somewhat larger 1.5L 4-cylinder engine with an upgraded 23-hp electric motor and new lithium-ion battery pack. 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 strong, 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 in 2011, 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.