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The Honda Civic Hybrid:

The Salutatorian of the Hybrid Class

There is no doubt that Honda and Toyota have been the leaders in the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) movement here in the United States. However, it’s interesting to note that they chose different ways to introduce HEV technology. Toyota opted to create a brand-new model, the Prius. The Honda Insight was also a brand-new model, but it was manufactured mostly as a test model and was discontinued. Honda’s main strategy has been to hide hybrid technology in pre-existing, popular Honda models. Hence, the Civic Hybrid.

Based on sales, it’s obvious that the Toyota strategy was the more successful. The attention and hype surrounding the Prius has cast a long shadow over the Civic Hybrid, which is a shame, because it’s a pretty good car. It’s not perfect, however (unlike the beatific and height/weight proportionate members of Better World Club).

This review is rather lengthy, and we know that BWC members are busy people (your cuticles aren’t going to nip themselves, after all), so we’ve graciously decided to bow to your on-the-go lifestyles by including handy section shortcuts below:

Begin At The Beginning. Hybrid Electric Vehicles Defined
Things People Like About The Civic Hybrid (might not apply to all model years)
Things People Don’t Like About The Civic Hybrid (might not apply to all model years)
What’s The Deal With The Batteries? The Shocking Truth: Battery Lifespan And Disposal
Quick Stats
Not-So-Quick Stats
Standard Features (2007 Model Specific)
Civic Hybrid Tax Credit Information
Recall Info

Begin At The Beginning. Hybrid Electric Vehicles Defined:

A hybrid is any vehicle that uses two or more sources of power – in today’s HEV’s, the two sources are electricity (from batteries) and mechanical power (from a small internal combustion engine). HEVs can offer the very low emissions of electric vehicles with the power and range of gasoline vehicles. They also offer up to 30 more miles per gallon, perform as well as or better than, and are just as safe as any comparable gasoline-powered car – and they never have to be plugged in for recharging. Widespread use of HEVs would help reduce our nation’s growing dependence on foreign oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions by one-third to one-half.

Not all hybrids are alike. There are many ways to combine the engine, motor/generator, and battery. Three basic hybrid configurations are the series, parallel, and split (or through-the-road) designs.

With the series configuration, the engine never directly powers the car. Instead, the engine drives the generator, and the generator can either charge the batteries or power an electric motor that drives the wheels.

In the case of the parallel configuration, the engine connects to the transmission, as do the batteries and the electric motor. So both the engine and the generator/motor can supply power to the wheels, switching back and forth as driving conditions vary.

The engine drives one axle and the electric motor drives the other in the split configuration. There is no connection between the engine and the electric components except “through the road.”

Things People Like About The Civic Hybrid (might not apply to all model years):

- Instrumentation is well laid-out and ergonomical.
- Money saved at the pumps!
- Moral superiority (Yes, you are better than most people when you drive a high-mileage vehicle. Please note, however, that cyclists are more superior, and people who travel via astral projection are the most superior)

Things People Don’t Like About The Civic Hybrid (might not apply to all model years):

- Bright sunlight makes it difficult to read the electronic displays on the dashboard.
- A bit pricey.
- Sluggish on hills.

What’s The Deal With The Batteries? The Shocking Truth: Battery Lifespan And Disposal:

The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the manufacturer.

Hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. "Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards.

Quick Stats:

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.77
Fuel to Drive 25 Miles: 0.60 gal
Cost of a Fill-up: $32.99
Miles on a Tank: 465 miles
Tank Size: 12.3 gal
Annual Fuel Cost: $1064
New EPA MPG: 40/45 City/Hwy
Annual Petroleum Consumption: 8.2 barrels per year (1 barrel=42 gallons)

Not-So-Quick Stats:

Standard Engine: 1.3L I4
Standard Transmission: VAR Speed Automatic
Cylinders: 4
Horsepower @ RPM: 110@6000
Fuel Economy Cty/Hwy: 49 / 51
Combined Fuel Economy: 50
EPA Class: Compact
Number of Valves: 8
Torque @ RPM: 123@2500 (foot-lbs)
Fuel Type/System: Hybrid Gas/Electric / Multi-Port Fuel Injected
Turbo (yes/no): No
Overdrive Transmission: Yes
Battery Output: 19.6
Compression: 10.8
Displacement: 1339 / 82
Bore X Stroke: 2.87x3.15
Cruising Range: 615
Final Drive Gear Ratio Opt: N/A
Power To Weight Ratio: 26.1
Final Drive Ratio: 4.94
Valves Configuration: Single Overhead Cam
Supercharged: No
Electric Horsepower RPM: 6000
Electric Torque Feet Per Pound: 123 (foot-lbs)
Electric Torque RPM: 2500 (foot-lbs)
Electric Horsepower BHP: 110
Cargo Volume (EPA): 10
Cargo Volume (MFR): 10.4
Fuel Capacity: 12.3
Passenger Volume (EPA): 91
Passenger Volume (MFR): 90.9
Box/Cargo Height: N/A
Box/Cargo Length: N/A
Box/Cargo Width (Wheel): N/A
Box/Cargo Width (Wall): N/A
GVWR Standard: N/A
GVWR Maximum: N/A
Payload Standard: N/A
Payload Maximum: N/A
Brakes (Front): Disc
Brakes (Rear): Drum
Driveline: Front Wheel Drive
Driveline (Opt): N/A
Steering: Rack & Pinion
Steering Diameter Left: 34.8
Steering Diameter Right: 34.8
Suspension (Front): Independent
Suspension (Rear): Independent
Tire Type: Passenger
Tire Width: 195
Tire Aspect Ratio: 65
Tire Construction: Radial
Tire Wheel Diameter: 15
Seating (Standard): 5
Seating (Optional): N/A
Tow Capacity (Standard): Towing Not Recommended
Tow Capacity (Maximum): Towing Not Recommended
Headroom (Front): 39.4
Headroom (Row 2): 37.4
Hiproom (Front): 51.9
Hiproom (Row 2): 51.0
Legroom (Front): 42.2
Legroom (Row 2): 34.6
Shoulder Room (Front): 53.6
Shoulder Room (Row 2): 52.3
Seating (Maximum): 5
Headroom (Row 3): N/A
Hiproom (Row 3): N/A
Legroom (Row 3): N/A
Shoulder Room (Row 3): N/A
Curb Weight MT: N/A
Curb Weight AT: 2875
Ground Clearance: 5.5
Height: 56.3
Length: 176.7
Top Type (Standard): Hard Fixed
Top Type (Optional): Not Applicable
Track (Front): 59.1
Track (Rear): 60.2
Weight Distribution AT (Front): 59
Weight Distribution AT (Rear): 41
Weight Distribution MT (Front): N/A
Weight Distribution MT (Rear): N/A
Wheelbase: 106.3
Width: 69.0
Doors (Standard): 4
Doors (Maximum): 4
Where Manufactured: USA

Standard Features (2007 Model Specific):

- Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission With Overdrive
- Power Rack and Pinion Variable Assisted Steering
- Telescopic Steering Column
- Tilt Steering Column
- Independent MacPherson Strut Front Suspension With Coil Springs and Shock Absorbers
- Independent Multi-Link Rear Suspension With Coil Springs and Shock Absorbers
- 12-mm Rear Stabilizer Bar
- 158-Volt, 5.5-Amps/Hour Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery
- 2 Front Power Outlets
- Drive-By-Wire Control For Throttle
- Auxiliary Audio Jack Portable Media Player Pre-Wiring
- Front Power 262-mm Ventilated Disc and Rear Power 221-mm Drum Brakes
- Electronic Brake Assistance
- Electronic Brake Force Distribution
- 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- Side Curtain Airbags Located In Headliner
- Driver Airbag With Dual Threshold, Dual Stage Deployment
- Seat Mounted Front Side Airbags
- Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) Passenger Airbag Cutoff Sensor Activated By Weight
- Passenger Airbag With Dual Threshold, Dual Stage Deployment
- Front and Rear Automatic Locking Retractors
- Advanced Compatibility Engineering (Ace(TM)) Body Structure
- Front Seatbelt Height Adjusters
- Rear 3-Point Center Seatbelt
- Front and Rear 3-Point Seatbelts
- Front Pretensioners With Force Limiters
- Side Guard Door Beams
- Trunk Anti-Trap Device
- Selective Unlocking Via Remote Keyless Entry
- Child Safety Door Locks Located On Rear Doors
- Power Door Locks With Automatic Locking
- Valet Lockout
- Radio Anti-Theft
- Vehicle Anti-Lockout Device
- Vehicle Anti-Theft Via Alarm and Engine Immobilizer
- Locking Fuel Filler Door
- Keyless Entry Operated Via Key Fob
- Multi-Function Remote Operates Anti-Theft, Door Lock/Unlock, Panic Alarm and Trunk
- Panic Button
- Remote Decklid Release Located On Multi-Function Remote
- Remote Fuel Door Release
- Cloth Seats
- Front Dual Reclining Bucket Seats With Driver Adjustable Seat Height and Adjustable Headrests
- Rear Bench Seat With Adjustable Headrests
- Covered Lower Console Storage Located On Floor
- 2 Cupholders Total
- Front and Rear Door Mounted Storage
- Glovebox
- Front Dual Seatback Storage Pockets
- Coinholder
- Exterior Temperature Gauge
- Maintenance Interval Indicator For Oil Quality and Oil Level
- Digital Clock
- Cruise Control
- CD Text Display Capability
- Steering Wheel Mounted Controls For Audio and Cruise Control
- Tachometer
- Trip Computer With Instantaneous Fuel Consumption
- Delayed Courtesy Light
- Front Map Lights
- Trunk Light
- Daytime Running Lights
- Halogen Headlights
- AM/FM Radio With 160-Watts, Speed Sensitive Volume and 6 Speakers Total; CD Player; MP3/WMA Player
- Radio Antenna
- Automatic Climate Control
- Interior Particle Air Filter
- Rear Heating Ducts
- Carpet Located In Passenger Cabin and Cargo Area
- Front Floor Mats
- Compact Spare Tire
- SBRP195/65R15 89S, All-Season Tires
- Alloy Wheels, 15-In. X 6-In.
- Dual Body Color Folding Power Adjustable Signaling Exterior Rearview Mirrors
- Front Dual Vanity Mirrors
- Power Window Lockout
- Power Windows With Driver One-Touch Up and One-Touch Down
- Rear Window Defroster
- Tinted Glass
- Front Dual Sunvisors
- Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers
- Front and Rear Body Color Impact-Absorbing Bumpers
- Front Air Dam
- Rear Trunk Spoiler
- Metallic Paint (If Selected)

Starting MSRP: $22,600

Civic Hybrid Tax Credit Information:

Click here to learn more about the hybrid tax credit.

Recall Info:

So far, there are no Civic Hybrid recalls for 2007, which is great news. We found only two for the 2006 model:

Make / Models /Build Years:

Honda / Civic Hybrid / 2006

Recall Date: JUL 25, 2006

Component: EQUIPMENT: OTHER: OWNERS/SERVICE/OTHER MANUAL

Consequence: THE LANGUAGE IN THE OWNER'S MANUALS IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CURRENT MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS.

Remedy: HONDA WILL SEND A POSTCARD TO DEALERS AND OWNERS WITH THE CORRECT NHTSA VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE INFORMATION AND WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO INSERT THE CARD INTO THE "REPORTING SAFETY DEFECTS" SECTION OF THE OWNER'S MANUAL. THE RECALL BEGAN ON AUGUST 2, 2006. OWNERS MAY CONTACT HONDA AT 1-800-999-1009, ACURA AT 1-800-382-2238 OR HONDA MOTORCYCLES AT 1-866-784-1870.

Make / Models /Build Years:

Honda / Civic Hybrid / 2006

Recall Date: JAN 31, 2007

Component: ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING: ENGINE

Consequence: THE TERMINAL MAY COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE METAL COVER, WHICH CAN RESULT IN AN ELECTRICAL SHORT THAT MAY BLOW THE IMA FUSE. A BLOWN FUSE WILL CAUSE THE ENGINE TO STALL, INCREASING THE RISK OF A CRASH.

Remedy: DEALERS WILL INSTALL A PLASTIC COVER ATTACHED TO A METAL BRACKET OVER THE RUBBER CAP. THE RECALL BEGAN ON FEBRUARY 26, 2006. OWNERS MAY CONTACT HONDA AT 1-800-999-1009.