Hello, Prius? Yeah, there’s a new guy in the neighborhood, and he’d like to talk about fuel efficiency. His name is the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, and he’s got a 44/44/44 mpg rating. And he looks like a car.
While its not quite the 45 mpg rating we were promised, this 44 mpg rating on the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is an impressive feat of engineering for a number of reasons, not the least of which was building a hybrid on one of the top selling vehicle platforms of all time. That could help the Civic Hybrid to attain the sales volume needed to make an impact on the dominant Prius sales. But as I’ve pointed out before, the MPG Gap is quickly closing between Toyota’s hybrid and the rest of the crowd, and they’re doing it in vehicles with more mass market appeal. The Civic Hybrid is 7 MPG behind in highway driving, but only 4 in the city, and I like that I could buy a Civic Hybrid, and most people wouldn’t even notice the difference (on the outside at least.)
So how did Honda improve its hybrid system for that lovely 44 mpg rating? They gave the new Civic Hybrid lithium-ion batteries to start with, which were 30% smaller than the old nickel-hydride battery pack (that the Prius V gets stuck with here in the states.) They also gave the hybrid a slightly larger engine, from 1.3 to 1.5 liters, which provides more power using the same amount of fuel. The electric motors also had their output bumped up to 20 kW as well. All told, HybridCars was able to get 68.7 mpg on a 10-mile road course set up by Honda, the best mpg score of the day during a media preview earlier in April (where was my invite?? I coulda done better.)
Alas, the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid will have a starting cost of $24,050; throw in leather, satellite radio and navigation and you’re talking closer to $27,000. Honda doesn’t have too high of sales hopes for the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid at just around 1,300 units a month, but with the extra volume from other Civic sales they can continue to invest in fuel-saving technology that will eventually spread out across their whole lineup. Sure, some media outlets aren’t happy with the lack of dynamic changes to the Civic’s looks, but I really like the looks of the most recent Civics. It feels like a completely different class of car from the Civics of old, but it doesn’t come across as trying to make a statement either. It’s just a really, really, really efficient version of the Civic, and that tickles me just right.
Source: Honda | HybridCars
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.