Honda Civic Hybrid Performance
Most find the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid's ride is similar to the conventional Civic's. But while USA Today finds the current Civic Hybrid "more powerful" and "less strained in demanding driving" than pre-2006 models, others are still underwhelmed with engine power.
Acceleration and Power
Featuring a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor, the Civic Hybrid makes 110 horsepower and 123 pounds-feet of torque. This combination, known as Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), helps Honda hybrids function with smaller engines to maintain great mileage. Most reviewers explain the engine's auto-stop feature, which turns off the engine when the car is stopped for traffic to save fuel, then restarts the engine once it's time to accelerate. As Cars.com notes, "it can catch you off guard sometimes; the engine occasionally needs to be started even when you're not moving, which can make the car creep forward if your foot isn't firmly on the brake pedal."
A number of reviews complain that the Civic Hybrid's acceleration is somewhat sluggish. "Overtaking cars on the highway at speeds above 70 requires forethought and planning," as Autobytel says, while CNET calls accelerating "underwhelming," and Consumer Guide gave the Civic Hybrid's acceleration lower marks than its class average.
In terms of fuel efficiency, reviewers caution drivers that the Environmental Protection Agency's high ratings, 40 miles per gallon in the city, 45 miles per gallon on the highway, are "rarely achieved," as Car and Driver finds. "To get mileage in the high-40-mpg range requires gradual acceleration, timid cruising speeds, and cautious use of the throttle." About.com's writer finds something different: "In my time with the car, I was hugely impressed with the fuel economy, averaging over 50 mpg while driving vigorously in both urban and country surroundings."
The 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid incorporates a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Forbes says "doesn't register the jolts that standard transmissions exhibit while shifting gears."
Handling and Braking
While there were some sources that say the Hybrid feels tight in its handling, a few, including Forbes, mention the electric motor's heaviness as a minus that causes some twist-aversion. Additionally, MSN's reviewer dislikes the Hybrid's "jolts when I drove over potholes." The 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid has a unit-body construction standard, with a MacPherson strut suspension in the front and multi-link rear suspension. Steering is provided by electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion and the curb-to-curb turning diameter is 34.8 feet.
In terms of braking, the Civic Hybrid has anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. As a hybrid vehicle, this Civic's brakes are also regenerative, which critics find takes some getting used to. Newsday claims the brake pedal has "an artificial and somewhat nonlinear feel because a variable amount of the stopping is being done by friction in the electric motor," and Cars.com discovers "the brakes are a bit shy of feeling like a regular car's -- especially as one nears a complete stop."