The Natural Choice: 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid Review

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For most of the past 20 years, the Honda Civic has regularly been among the top 10 best-selling vehicles in America, and millions of Americans proudly call themselves Civic owners.I am convinced these are the only people who will buy the Honda Civic Hybrid, a car that delivers very good fuel economy in a very droll way.

This isn’t a knock on the 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid, which I recently spent a week with. Rather, it’s merely recognizing that this isn’t a car with car enthusiasts in mind. There is a very specific customer that Honda built the Civic Hybrid for, and that is current Civic owners.

While the 2014 Civic Model did get the updated looks, the 2013 model is far from ugly. The backend is by far the most exciting aspect of the car, with the still-innovative double gauge cluster design a close second. For a mass-market car, the I still think the Civic has one of the best cockpits. The leather seats could have been better, though the heating elements were a welcome addition with fall quickly giving way to winter here in the Northeast.

Unfortunately, the rest of the interior is lacking. The back seats offered adequate space, though one of the major drawbacks is the small trunk. The hybrid’s battery takes up a big chunk of space in the storage area, and the loss is noticeable. I’m the kind of person who regularly pushes storage space to the brink. and the Civic Hybrid doesn’t leave a lot of room for cramming.

The materials also felt subpar for a vehicle with a $27,060 price tag, with a lot of hard plastics and a cheap-feeling headunit that felt out of place in the Civic. If felt very aftermarket, rather than OEM, and the center stack had some very small buttons that could be frustrating to deal with. That said, I appreciate how Honda has kept the number of buttons and knobs to a functional minimum.

But if you’re a Civic owner, you’re used to limited trunk space, barely-adequete horsepower, and lesser interior materials. The 2013 Civic Hybrid uses a 110 horsepower 1.5 liter engine with Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA, for a total output  of 157 horsepower and 163 ft-lbs of torque. Sounds decent enough, but for one problem; the Civic Hybrid weighs a hefty 3,417 lbs, and the already-slow car feels downright sluggish without the electric motor to help motivate it.

Acceleration is not an area hybrids are known to shine in though, and many former Civic owners have gotten by with far less power. The regenerative braking, however, is something that takes a lot of getting used to, and there is still the issue of the brakes going from no stopping power to grabbing and slamming you against the seat belt. I live in a hilly area with a lot of stop signs, and even after a week I was still getting used to the system.

When it works though, the Civic Hybrid’s IMA system delivers some damn good gas mileage. Officially rated at 44 mpg across the board, I regularly went above and beyond that by pressing the ECO button and driving with a light foot. The best mileage the Civic told me I was getting was 47 mpg while cruising through downtown from stoplight to stoplight (most of which were green, I’ll grant you).

At $27,060, there are plenty of other hybrid options within a potential buyer’s price range, but I really don’t think the Honda Civic Hybrid was built as a “conquest car” to lure over Prius buyers. Rather, it’s a car to upsell to a lifelong Civic buyer, a person who has steadily increased their buying power over the years, but remains loyal to the Honda Civic even if they can afford something nicer.

With a full suite of infotainment, navigation, and satellite radio technologies, along with heated leather seats, the 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid is the nicest Civic you can buy save for the Civic Si. And if you’re not the kind of person into going fast and being flashy, the Honda Civic Hybrid is a low-key green car that is every bit as luxurious as the Civic Si. It’s the ultimate upsell, and with studies indicating that chicks dig guys who drive green cars, it might even be the better option for a bachelor with a bachelor’s degree.

The Honda Civic Hybrid is still a safe bet, one that won’t save the world, but won’t hurt it much either.

 Honda provided the Civic Hybrid and a full tank of gas for this review.

 

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.