2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Road Test Review

Brian Armstead - CAP staff
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Take one of the best selling, most reliable small cars in history, the Honda Civic, add an advanced hybrid system, and the result is the Honda Civic Hybrid.

The powertrain for the Civic Hybrid is what Honda calls Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). IMA uses the gasoline engine as the primary source of power, while an electric motor provides additional power and electric regeneration capability. This new version of IMA uses lithium-ion batteries, which are more powerful than the nickel-metal hydride batteries in the previous generation Civic Hybrid.

During acceleration, the engine or a combination of the engine and electric motor propel the Civic. During highway cruising, the gasoline engine and/or the electric motor can propel the vehicle. During braking, the electric motor acts as a generator to recharge the battery pack. When in the "Econ" mode, the gas engine shuts down at idle to save fuel. The engine remains off until you release the brake pedal. The result of its fuel saving technology is an estimated EPA equivalent rating of 5.3 L/100km combined city/highway (the Canadian rating is 4.3).

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Honda Civic Hybrid ownership is that while you are saving big bucks on gasoline, Honda is also deeply committed to saving your life if you are involved in an accident. Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure manages crash energy around the passenger cell, and incorporates multiple airbags and electronic stability control and advanced anti-lock brakes to ensure a safe journey. Every Honda Civic is deemed a "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

During the press launch, Honda invited journalists to participate in a mileage challenge. Over the measured road course, which included highway and city driving, we were tasked to use as little fuel as possible. Would you believe my average of 3.8 L/100km was only good for third place? The winner got close to 3.4 L/100km using advanced "hypermiling" techniques to save fuel. Quite impressive indeed.

On the road, the Civic Hybrid is eerily quiet and performs well. Ride quality is superb for a small car, and fit and finish excellent.

Is this a better car than Toyota's Prius? Both are terrific vehicles. The advantage of the Civic Hybrid is that its styling is not as radical as that of the Prius, allowing you to go "green" without shouting about it every time you get behind the wheel.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, HEV, Honda, 2012, Civic Hybrid, $20,000 - $29,999, Electric, Hybrid,

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