The HF is a new addition to the Honda Civic lineup that offers consumers an inexpensive way to exceed the magic 40 mile per gallon number. As such, it eschews the relatively costly electric motor and battery system of the Civic Hybrid in favor of simple but effective tweaks to make it the most efficient gas-only variant of Honda's popular compact sedan.
The Civic HF utilizes the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine as many other Civic models. The motor puts out 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque and, in the Civic HF, comes equipped solely with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Despite the carryover engine, the car manages to return an impressive 29 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway (33 mpg combined). The Civic HF ekes out the improved fuel economy thanks to low-rolling resistance tires, a lower ride height that helps achieve better aerodynamics, wind-cheating underbody panels and a rear spoiler.
Even though the new Civic brings only subtle changes compared with the outgoing model, it still has a space-age look inside and out. The exterior features a steeply raked windshield and a large greenhouse, while aerodynamic (and stylish) 15-inch cast-aluminum wheels are an HF-specific touch. Inside, information is relayed via a unique two-tier instrument panel with the speedometer located conveniently near the driver's sightline. The controls are ergonomically sound, but some competitors offer better materials in the compact sedan segment.
Equipment-wise, the Civic HF has many of the same standard features as the LX model, including a 16-watt, four-speaker stereo with an iPod jack, cruise control, A/C, power windows and locks and steering-wheel mounted audio controls.
A dash-mounted ECO-button optimizes the engine and other energy-consuming systems for maximum operating efficiently. A multi-informational display provides access to a trip computer, digital fuel-mileage indicators, maintenance reminders and a host of customizable vehicle settings.
The Civic HF comes essentially in one configuration: the car doesn't have any available options besides dealer-installed accessories like wheel-locks and fog lights. Only two colors are offered, and the interior comes solely in grey.
Safety features include dual front, side and side curtain airbags, traction and stability control systems and ABS. A tire-pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are also fitted as standard.
Inexpensive, high-efficiency alternatives to the Civic HF include the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, the Ford Focus SFE and the Hyundai Elantra.