2012 Honda Civic launches with new HF model; hybrid goes lithium

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

That's right, this is the 2012 Honda Civic in all its glory. Though it might be difficult to tell with just a casual glance, this Civic is brand-new, sharing practically nothing but its moniker with the previous generation. As much as we may have liked some additional visual flair, it seems Honda is being conservative and aiming right for the heart of the market with five separate and distinct flavors of its compact offering, each of which offers a notable improvement in fuel efficiency.

We'll start with the all-new HF model, which, as you may have guessed, is the most fuel efficient of the non-hybridized Civics that will be available in the United States. Honda expects the HF, with its 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine, to earn EPA-estimated fuel economy of 41 miles per gallon on the highway. The HF will share its aerodynamics package with the returing Civic Hybrid, which manages a combined rating of 45 mpg (a four-mpg improvement over the outgoing Civic Hybrid) thanks to its lithium-ion battery – a Honda-first – and 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine and CVT transmission. There's also a natural gas-powered Civic GX.

While those two models aim for the ultimate in fuel efficiency, we imagine that the standard Sedan and Coupe models will make up the bulk of sales. Buyers will find a 1.8-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine underhood with 140 horsepower that scores an EPA-estimated 39 mpg on the highway (a three-mpg improvement over the last Civic). The Civic soldiers on with a five-speed automatic at a time when most of its competitors are packing six ratios.

And then, of course, there's the sporty Si model. As the Civic that's meant to steal the hearts of performance lovers, it's nice to see a new 2.4-liter powerplant with 200 horsepower mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Perhaps more importantly, the larger mill pumps out 170 pound-feet of torque, a 22-percent increase over the outgoing twist-starved Si. All that and an additional two mpg on the highway (31 mpg estimated) ought to make for a reasonably fun everyday commuter.

And now to the styling. We'll start off on a positive note: the 2012 Honda Civic is not ugly. Problem is, it's also not hugely attractive. In fact, *yawn* it's not really anything. Both inside and out, this latest Civic is barely distinguishable from the previous generation, and as competitors continue pushing their design envelope forward, well... we really expect more these days. Let's hope the driving dynamics live up to our lofty expectations, and let's also hope that Honda accidentally left the shipping blocks in the cars it used for photography – particularly the Si models – or the new model looks a bit high-riding.

In any case, you don't have to take our word for it. See the 2012 Civic for yourself in our high-res image gallery below and feel free to peruse the full press release after the break.

2012 Honda Civic
2012 Honda Civic
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[Source: Honda]
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All-New 2012 Honda Civic Emphasizes Style, Fuel Economy and Performance
Two models offer 40+ mpg

02/17/2011 - TORRANCE, Calif.

Featuring the widest array of engine choices available in its class, the 2012 Civic is designed to even better meet the diverse needs of the compact-vehicle buyer when it launches this spring. The entire redesigned ninth-generation Civic lineup will become more fuel efficient with two models – the all-new Civic HF and the Civic Hybrid – each delivering fuel economy estimates of more than 40 mpg on the highway.

Built on the tradition of Honda fuel efficiency, the economical Civic HF model will be the most fuel-efficient gasoline-only powered Civic in the lineup when it launches this spring. Equipped with a 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine, the Civic HF is targeted to earn EPA-estimated fuel economy1 of 41 mpg on the highway. The 2012 Civic Hybrid, which will be outfitted for the first time with a lithium-ion battery and a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine, is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated city/highway combined fuel economy1 of 45 mpg, an improvement of 4 mpg compared to the current Civic Hybrid. Both the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models will be equipped with aerodynamic components for improved efficiency and Honda ECO Assist™ technology, an innovation that can enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback to promote more efficient individual driving styles.

"The Civic is the only model in the industry that can deliver on all fronts – fuel economy, sporty performance, smart packaging, alternative fuel and long-term value," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co.,Inc. "For the ninth-generation Civic, we are emphasizing improved fuel economy across the board, from the hybrid sedan to the sporty Si model."

In addition to the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models, the Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic GX Natural Gas models are also estimated to achieve improved fuel economy compared to the current models. The Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy2 of 39 mpg on the highway, an improvement of 3 mpg when compared to the current model. The Civic Natural Gas vehicle is anticipated to earn a 7 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to the current model. The Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic Natural Gas models will all be equipped with the Honda ECO Assist technology.

Along with improved fuel economy, the new Civic lineup also delivers more performance, particularly with the Civic Si. The Civic Si sedan and coupe models will be equipped with a larger, more powerful 2.4-liter engine as well as a new 6-speed manual transmission. The new engine is anticipated to deliver 200 horsepower with 170 ft-lb of torque. Even with the larger engine and a 22 percent increase in torque, Civic Si is targeted to achieve an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy1 of 31 mpg; an increase of 2 mpg when compared to the current model.

The 2012 Civic lineup includes a sedan and a coupe with conventional gasoline models, a new "HF" high fuel economy version, two sporty "Si" performance versions, along with one hybrid and a natural gas alternative-fuel variant.
Additional information on the new 2012 Civic will be announced closer to the on-sale date. For more information on the current Civic and other Honda models, please visit www.hondanews.com.

Civic HF, Sedan, Coupe and Natural Gas Specifications

* 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 5-speed automatic transmission
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic HF highway fuel economy: 41 mpg
* EPA-estimated Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe highway fuel economy: 39 mpg

Civic Hybrid Specifications

* 110 horsepower, 1.5-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine (combined gasoline + electric)
* Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
* Lithium-ion battery
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic Hybrid city/highway combined fuel economy: 45 mpg

Civic Si Specifications

* 200 horsepower and 170 lb-ft, 2.4-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 6-speed manual transmission
* EPA-estimated Civic Si highway fuel economy: 31 mpg

1Preliminary EPA mileage estimates determined by Honda. Final EPA mileage estimates not available at the time of printing. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

2Based on 2012 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

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