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

Though its miles per gallon rating rings in at 44/44/44 (that's city/highway/combined), the all-new 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is still no match at the pump for the third-generation, 51/48/50 mpg Toyota Prius that debuted as a 2010 model year vehicle. Sure, the 2012 Civic Hybrid is more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, but it doesn't trump the Prius, and that's a shame considering that the new Honda hybrid now packs a sophisticated lithium-ion battery pack and a reworked electric motor that's more powerful than the old unit.

So far, sales of the 2012 Civic Hybrid have been rather sluggish (Honda reports that sales hit 389 through the end of May). That's due in part to the vehicle's limited availability because of quake-related supply issues. However, with a sticker price that starts at $24,800, the 2012 Civic Hybrid is $1,920 more than a base Prius, which begs the question: can Honda's costlier hybrid – one that's not even as fuel efficient as the Toyota – actually compete?

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