Vital Stats

Engine:
1.5L I4 / 20 kW Ni-MH
Power:
110 HP / 127 LB-FT (net)
Transmission:
CVT
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2879 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
10.7 CU-FT
MPG:
44 City / 44 HWY
Base Price:
$24,360
Even after Honda's Great Emergency Refresh of 2013, it still takes a sharp eye to spot the visual differences between the 2013 Honda Civic and its 2012 counterpart. While annual styling changes used to be commonplace back in the 1950s and '60s, this has become a much rarer practice in the industry due to the high costs of doing so, and sets the tone for just how important the Civic is in the Honda lineup.

One thing that hasn't changed for the Civic is the wide selection of models available including the fuel-efficient HF, Natural Gas and Hybrid models. For this Quick Spin, I spent a week with the 2013 Civic Hybrid, which has always been a kind of un-Prius with its more-conventional sedan styling. The Civic's top-mpg offering now finds itself under fire from newer rivals like the Chevy Cruze (Eco and Diesel) and VW Jetta (TDI and Hybrid). With the growing number of hybrids, diesels and high-fuel-economy gas models car buyers currently have at their disposal, if you've been clamoring for more fuel-efficient cars in recent years, now's the time to be putting your money where your mouth is.

Driving Notes:
  • The only part of the 2013 Civic Hybrid that was left alone, was the one area it could have used a little modernization: Honda's Integrated Motor Assist system. On the fuel economy front, sandwiching the 27-horsepower motor between the 110-hp 1.5-liter engine and the CVT returns EPA estimates of 44 miles per gallon for city and highway, which is far better than the mild-hybrid eAssist system used by General Motors but not as advanced as other hybrids in this segment. Unlike eAssist, Honda says that the motor can send power directly to the front wheels (but only during deceleration as a way to lessen the load on the engine), but unlike a more advanced hybrid, the Civic can't accelerate under all-electric power. Honda stepped up its game with a new lithium-ion battery for 2012, but it needs to come up with an equally advanced answer for the rest of the system.
  • The advantage of IMA, though, is a less intrusive hybrid experience. Except for the stop-start system, the only way most drivers will really know this is a hybrid is by how much better it is at the pump. During my week with the car, I was pleasantly surprised at how the Civic never 'felt' like a hybrid but returned excellent fuel economy. Based on the in-cluster estimates I averaged just over 40 mpg on the highway, and in the city my numbers were consistently above the official 44-mpg rating.
  • Aside from the powertrain, Honda made numerous small improvements that paid off big time with the styling of the 2013 Civic sedan lineup. The exterior received new fascias, taillights and a modified decklid to give all sedan models a more mature appearance, and the Civic Hybrid probably comes off as the most stylish of the Civic models now with its grinning chrome grille, LED running lights and the clear-lens, light-pipe taillights.
  • Interior updates were equally subtle but make a huge difference in terms of comfort and style, such as the added padding to the door panels for added comfort, the reworked instrument panel with a cleaner, less awkward design and much better HVAC controls. Despite being a big step up from 2012, the 2013 Civic's interior is still a step behind class leaders (in roominess and styling). All of these interior and exterior changes were most likely already in the product pipeline as a midcycle refresh, so it will be interesting to see how Honda updates this design in another couple years.
  • Starting at $24,360, the Civic Hybrid has about the same premium as most hybrids or diesels in this class, but my fully loaded tester with navigation and leather came out to $27,850. This is still a reasonable price for such a well-equipped car in this market, but for dedicated green-car enthusiasts, it might be a little too close to new plug-in or full-EV models to warrant the price.
  • Considering that a Civic Hybrid buyer could have just as easily bought a Civic Si, I'm not going to harp on the Hybrid too much, but the 110-hp engine and the equally buzz-killing CVT don't make for an exciting car. Still, going back to the IMA, the true saving grace of this system is that it doesn't add too much weight. At 2,879 pounds, the Civic Hybrid weighs almost the same as the non-hybrid Civic EX-L. In terms of braking, the weight saving means better performance along with pedal feel that is neither too spongy or frightening.
  • A new feature for 2013 is a lane departure warning system that uses a forward-mounted camera to sense the road lines and flash a bright warning on the upper screen if the car swerves out of its lane. Unfortunately, this camera takes up an unusually vast amount of windshield real estate, which was obvious as I was pulling out into traffic on more than one occasion.
  • When it comes to the idea of small, fuel-efficient cars, I've always been in the diesel camp, but I also enjoy taking long road trips. Those with regular city commutes should appreciate Civic Hybrid as much for what it brings to the table (excellent fuel economy) as for what it leaves behind (an overly flashy "I'm a hybrid" design). There is no doubt that this refresh has bought the Civic some time to keep pace with other compact cars, but I think that as much that has changed in this segment in the last few years, Honda isn't going to have much breathing room in this segment until the next-gen Civic can get here.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      miketim1
      • 1 Year Ago
      at least the corolla now looks better then this
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      Honda is either stupid or stubborn as it refuse to abandon the antiquated IMA while other auto makers have moved-on to better hybrid powertrain. Honda should merge with GM.
        tiguan2.0
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Clearly you are not up on Honda's latest hybrid technologies. The Accord Plug-In uses Honda's new two motor hybrid technology, and the Hybrid Accord weeks away from going on sale also uses this new hybrid system. The Accord Hybrid recently went on sale and demand is VERY STRONG. Also, the new Fit Jazz Hybrid that just went on sale in Japan using the new two motor hybrid technology, and it's getting great reviews.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @tiguan2.0
          [blocked]
        Luc K
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        In October we see the new Accord hybrid which is a full mode hybrid. Expect real-world 45-55 mpg (based on my test drive). The Civic won't get that system according to Honda until next refresh which is probably in 2015. But Fit will get this new hybrid system next summer which is expected to beat current Prius mpg. Autoblog always test these cars months after they are already released and in this case this is not a redesign.
        DBrown
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        IMA has its strengths and weaknesses (as described in this review). But you're right, Honda waited too long to advance its hybrid tech. As a Honda fan, it was downright infuriating to watch. I'd never buy this Civic Hybrid. But new Accord, Jazz/Fit, and Acura RLX hybrids are on the way, and hopefully they'll be more compelling. BTW, the internet scuttlebutt is that the Civic HF will be discontinued for 2014, and a CVT will replace the current 5-speed automatic on other Civics.
      Pandabear
      • 1 Year Ago
      For a 2013 hybrid it is pretty bad.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not impressed at all. Civic Hybrid is so far behind Prius in terms of fuel economy and horse power. The only thing worse that buying Civic Hybrid is buying a Jetta diesel.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        This Civic has a 27hp motor and a 110hp gas engine. So while total horsepower is not given, I imagine it cannot be much worse than the 134hp total the Prius is rated at. And the Civic is a few hundred pounds lighter.
      Rob
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hate the horrible fisher-price busy box dash board and it is just so bland and over priced.The Mazda 3 and Ford Focus just trashes this car (hybrid,natural gas, or regular petrol) on every level.
        Famsert
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob
        As someone doing cross shopping right now I'd have to say you're crazy. While the Mazda3 definitely does have a better interior design. The Focus? No way.. unless you get the Sony/Ford touch package, which is buggy and unusable still.
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Famsert
          I had a 2012 Focus with the 1st gen mft/sony. It had some bugs but worked for me 95% or more of the time without issue. I will say the Focus got excellent gas mileage for me. And it is definitely safe. Was tboned in it by a Highlander right on the driver door and all I had was airbag burn on my shoulder. It may have an ugly front end and a pathetic back seat but I would take it over this turd anyday anytime anywhere.
          Famsert
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Famsert
          The Civic is still the only compact car to score "good" on the small overlap test though. Yeah I'm sure mFt/sony works fine but you have to pay extra for it and it ends up being more than the civic if you do.
        makasay
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob
        The regular Civic is actually one of the cheaper cars in this class and is much better vaue than the hybrid. I think it's worth a look because it offers best in class safety (The only car to get the highest rating in the small overlap test) reliability, long list of standard features and great real world fuel economy. It may not be the most fun to drive, or have the best interior quality, but the Civic is a very well rounded car. Cheers!
      RobG
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, what an UGLY and uninspiring looking car. The new Civic looks are sad and those wheels are AWFUL. Yikes.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Ducman69
      • 1 Year Ago
      If I had no soul and my poops were gray, this would be a very appealing automobile.
      Rob J
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you drive in the city and don't like the Prius, this seems like a pretty strong choice.
      NightFlight
      • 1 Year Ago
      I fully expect mary.keana, Wrangler_Unlimited, BTCC, Aaronm_mt, aaronm_mt, Mary Keana, Mary.Keana, Toronto St. Paris, and whoever else he might be pretending to be today to gush all over this lackluster vehicle. There is a reason why the Civic Hybrid, Civic HX (now discontinued), CR-Z, and Insight all sell so poorly. Prepared for the inevitable downvoting, or ridiculous upvoting, or hey, you might just try to keep me at 0.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @NightFlight
        [blocked]
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @NightFlight
        You can still get a Honda HX, they just call it the HF now. It fills the gap between normal trims and the full-on hybrid. It uses a lot of the Hybrid's aerodynamic bits, and gets a couple mpg ( 41 hwy, 33 combined) better than the Civic LX, but at a much lower price premium ($20k vs. $25k)
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