Unlike the Toyota Prius, which wears its green credentials on its sleeve, the Honda Civic Hybrid flies under the radar. Aside from a few subtle styling elements, it looks exactly like the normal Civic sedan on which it's based, and it drives similarly as well. However, pop open the hood and you'll find a hybrid powertrain that returns a combined 44 mpg.
Along with the rest of the compact Civic lineup, the Hybrid received a comprehensive update for the latest model year that includes fresh styling, a revised suspension and a more upscale interior.
What sets the Hybrid apart from the rest of the Civic family - its gas-electric powertrain - carries over unchanged. It consists of a 1.5-liter i-VTEC inline-four that teams with an electric motor for totals of 110 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. With the help of a continuously variable transmission, the pair can achieve 44 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway - that's the best mileage of any Civic model, although it's worth nothing that the similarly priced Toyota Prius returns 48/51 mpg.
Outside, the Hybrid features many of the same stylistic revisions as the rest of the Civic family, though touches such as triangular fog lights and blue-tinged headlights and taillights set it apart. Aiding in the Hybrid's efficiency mission are a number of model-specific, aero-focused exterior elements, including a special body kit, a rear spoiler and unique wheels.
The latest update brought a more cohesively-designed cabin with a newly squared-off center stack, revised air vents and upscale soft-touch materials that reside atop the instrument panel. The door panels have also been revised and are covered in similarly upgraded trim. The interior is now quieter than before thanks to a raft of NVH-related tweaks, including thicker windshield and front-side window glass, a stiffer subframe and more sound-deading materials in the trunk, doors and floor.
Underneath its revised sheetmetal, the Civic Hybrid features numerous handling-focused modifications. The suspension has been reworked with stiffer springs and rear bushings along with thicker roll bars front and rear, while the body structure benefits from a number of strengthened components. A retuned electric steering setup is also among the changes, as are upsized 11.1-inch brake rotors.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Hybrid gains a handful of notable standard safety features for the latest model year, including a rearview camera, forward collision warning (FCW) and lane departure warning (LDW). FCW provides the driver with visual and audible alerts if it detects a potential collision with a vehicle or object ahead, while LDW similarly warns the driver if it senses that the vehicle is wandering out of a lane without a turn signal.
Other standard features on the entry-level Hybrid trim level are air conditioning, power windows and locks, a six-speaker, 160-watt AM/FM/CD sound system with AUX/USB inputs, cruise control, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with audio streaming, a five-inch LCD information screen mounted atop the center stack and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The unimaginatively-named Hybrid with Leather trim level brings leather-upholstered seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and heated, power-adjustable side mirrors.
The Hybrid with Navigation brings (you guessed it) a navigation system, XM radio and FM traffic.
Finally, the Hybrid with Leather and Navigation combines the features included in the previous two trim levels.
In addition to the newly standard safety systems detailed above, the Civic Hybrid comes standard with dual front, front side and side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Rivals to the Civic Hybrid include the 51-mpg Toyota Prius as well as Honda's own Insight hybrid. Another option is the diesel-powered TDI variant of the Volkswagen Jetta.