It's not 50 miles per gallon (rest, easy Prius) but the mpg numbers for the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid impress us nonetheless: 44/44/44. That's city/highway/combined, and it's a nice jump – especially in the city – from the 40/43/41 numbers sported by the 2011 model. The New York Auto Show this week has been full of "40 mpg" claims from many automakers, but these have mostly described just one of the three ratings categories (usually highway). To have Honda announce that you get an estimated 44 miles to the gallon no matter where you drive deserves a bit of praise. (golf clap.)
The reason for the fuel economy boost lies, in part, in the upgraded battery pack used in the Honda Integrated Motor Assist system. Instead of the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in previous Civic Hybrids, the '12 version cruises along with 20-kW worth of li-ion cells. Compared to the NiMH pack, the lithium-ion battery is 5 kW more powerful and also a bit lighter. The gas engine has also been upgraded from 1.3-liters to a 1.5-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder mill, and the full system offers 110 combined horsepower at 5,500 rpm. There are also some design tweaks on the exterior – nothing too fancy – and you can check these out in our gallery below and read all about the 44 mpg Civic after the jump.
Live photos copyright ©2011 Drew Phillips / AOL
The most fuel-efficient sedan available in the U.S. takes style, comfort and technology to a higher level
04/20/2011 - TORRANCE, Calif.
The all-new 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid combines the sophistication of the Civic Sedan with the latest version of the Honda Integrated Motor Assist (IMA®) hybrid drivetrain.
Now with added features, new technology and the best EPA-estimated fuel economy of any sedan in the United States, the 2012 Civic Hybrid offers a higher fuel economy rating of 44/44/44 mpg1 city/highway/combined, up from 40/43/41 in the 2011 Civic Hybrid. Like other members of the Civic family, the 2012 Civic Hybrid gains new features and sleeker styling. Exclusive styling includes the front grill, headlights, taillights, wheels and side mirrors. The two available models are the Civic Hybrid with cloth seats and a Civic Hybrid with leather seating surfaces. Either version can be equipped with a navigation system.
"The Civic Hybrid provides the advantages of hybrid technology while maintaining the look and feel of a familiar sedan," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "The car's fuel economy rating can be summed up quite easily – 44 miles per gallon says it all."
For 2012, the Honda IMA system uses lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries, replacing the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in the previous two generations of Civic Hybrid. The gasoline engine is the primary source of power and the electric motor, positioned in-line between the engine and transmission, provides additional power and electricity regeneration capability.
The 2012 Civic Hybrid uses a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, up from 1.3 liters for improved mid-range torque, which incorporates extensive friction-reducing technologies for greater efficiency. It is connected to a lighter, larger and more powerful electric motor that provides up to 23 horsepower. Total combined horsepower for the gasoline engine and electric motor is 110 at 5500 rpm and torque is rated at 127 lb-ft. at 1000-3500 rpm.
During acceleration, the engine or the engine and electric motor together propel the vehicle. During cruising, the gasoline engine and/or the electric motor can propel the vehicle. During braking, the gasoline engine deactivates and the electric motor acts as a generator to replenish the battery pack. At a stop, the engine can shut off to save fuel and reduce emissions. The engine restarts the moment the brake pedal is released.
The battery pack, located behind the rear seatback, is used to capture and store electricity for the electric motor. The 20-kW lithium-ion battery is more powerful by 5 kW and lighter than the previous generation's battery. The IMA system's greater power and the battery's 35-percent increase in efficiency allow the Civic Hybrid to operate more frequently on the electric motor's power alone in certain low-speed cruising situations. A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) helps maintain engine rpm for optimal efficiency while eliminating the "stepped" gear transitions associated with conventional transmissions.
Along with the rest of 2012 Civic line, the Civic Hybrid offers a new interpretation of the current Civic's "one-motion" mono-form shape. A sleekly raked windshield, wide stance and exclusive styling features give the Civic Hybrid a sophisticated, high-tech presence. In front, there is a unique hybrid grille design with blue accents, and within the sleek headlight assemblies are blue bulb covers that provide additional distinction. Special five-spoke alloy wheels, a decklid spoiler and LED brake lights further differentiate the Civic Hybrid from other Civic models.
The Civic Hybrid's interior features a fresh take on the previous-generation Civic's highly functional two-tier instrument layout. The design puts the most frequently referenced information up high and close to the driver's line of sight. The new intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) is positioned in the upper tier and can present audio system information including album artwork. It can also display personal wallpaper backgrounds uploaded via the standard USB port. A unique feature of the Civic Hybrid's i-MID is a driver-feedback Eco Guide screen that monitors driving style and displays how it affects fuel efficiency. Together with the blue/green Eco Assist indicators located to the sides of the digital speedometer, the displays help drivers build awareness of and confirm fuel-efficient driving styles. The Civic Hybrid's i-MID contains an exclusive hybrid power-flow meter display in addition to the standard information screens.
The interior of the Civic Hybrid uses exclusive seat fabric and unique door panel covers for a distinctive appearance and feel. As with all Civics, high-quality materials are used throughout the cabin. Available leather-trimmed models include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift lever. Automatic climate control is standard on the Civic Hybrid, and the hybrid-style air conditioning compressor can continue to function on electric power when the engine is in idle-stop mode.
The Civic Hybrid offers a range of standard and available audio and navigation technologies. A 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers is standard and Civic Hybrid models equipped with the navigation system include XM Radio. The available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™2 with voice recognition has a 6.5-inch touch screen within reach of both the driver and passenger. Turn-by-turn direction information appears on both the navigation screen and the i-MID, where it's convenient for the driver to see. The system features a new 16 GB flash memory database for quicker response time and has FM traffic. FM traffic is a no-fee service that shows freeway traffic information and incident data on the map display in participating metropolitan areas.
The standard Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® system enables Civic Hybrid owners to make and receive mobile phone calls using the vehicle's audio system and a compatible mobile phone. Audio streaming is also supported with compatible devices.
The Civic Hybrid embraces Honda's tradition of making its vehicles fun to drive by continuing to use a fully independent suspension design, a premium and exceptional feature in the entry compact segment. The front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension is tuned for sporty driving fun, yet provides refined ride comfort. Ride and handling improvements are supported by a 10-percent more rigid unit-body structure resulting from enhanced structural designs and increased use of high-strength steel (55 percent compared to 50 percent on the previous model).
For safety, a wide variety of standard equipment includes Honda's exclusive Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure for enhanced frontal collision energy management and vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility. ACE enhances frontal collision energy management through a network of load bearing structures in the front of the vehicle. Standard safety equipment includes VSA that integrates with the new Motion Adaptive EPS system; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; front side airbags with occupant position detection system (OPDS); side curtain airbags; and a 4-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.
All Civic Hybrid models are produced and assembled in the Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Suzuka, Japan manufacturing facility. The 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile new car limited warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion limited warranty.
1 Based 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.
2 Third-party trademarks: The Bluetooth word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is under license.