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#7

in 2010 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $11,503 - $12,907
Original MSRP: $23,800 - $27,000
MPG: 40 City / 45 Hwy
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2010 Honda Civic Hybrid Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid earns praise for its impressive fuel economy, but its engine is quite sluggish off the line. No one is going to mistake it for a performance-oriented or fun-to-drive vehicle.

If you're considering a Civic Hybrid, you're probably more interested in fuel efficiency than racecar dynamics. But if you want something that's a bit more fun to drive, consider shelling out some extra cash for the Mercury Milan Hybrid. It has lower fuel economy ratings of 41/36 city/highway, but it provides far better performance than you would expect from a hybrid.

  • "Hybrid's CVT promotes pronounced engine noise in rapid acceleration." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Though it delivers the same eager feel that distinguishes other Civics, and the IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system works well, it's not the right ride if you're in haste." -- Car and Driver
  • "I'm a Civic Si type of guy, but the Hybrid provided a better driving experience than other hybrids I've driven, and similar mileage." -- The Auto Channel

Acceleration and Power

Most reviewers say that the Civic Hybrid's acceleration is sluggish at best, but that's typical of many hybrids. What's important with any hybrid is its fuel economy, and the Civic Hybrid does not disappoint. With an EPA rating of 40/45 mpg city/highway, it outranks every other affordable small car. Still, if you're looking for the best available fuel economy among hybrids, the Toyota Prius holds the trump card with 51/48 mpg. The Prius is also has the advantage of being a full hybrid -- as opposed to the Civic Hybrid's mild hybrid design -- so that the electric motor is actually capable of powering the car all on its own so long as you keep the speed under 30 mph.

The Civic Hybrid comes with only one available engine, a 1.3 liter four-cylinder gas engine paired with an electric motor to produce 110 horsepower. It's paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

  • "[Civic] Hybrids are also slow off the line and demand liberal throttle to build speed quickly. They are able to keep pace with fast-moving traffic. As with other CVTs, this one lets the engine rev ahead of vehicle speed. The hybrid powertrain has no overt vices; system shuts off engine at stops to save gas, restarts instantly, and maintains air-conditioner power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It's slow off the line and needs deliberate use of the gas pedal to accelerate with any urgency. The engine start-stop feature is unobtrusive." -- Iguida
  • "The electric power steering starts light, but builds in feel as speeds grow higher. The skinny low-rolling resistance tires hang on in quick corners, but S2000-like handing is not this car's mission." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

It's true that the Civic Hybrid outperforms some other hybrids with its handling, but since not one of these cars is designed as a performance machine, that isn't saying much. The main complaints are about noseplow in tight turns and jerky brakes. If you're in the market for an eco-friendly vehicle that still handles better than the average hybrid, consider the Honda Insight. It has a starting price around $4,000 less than the Civic Hybrid, a fuel economy of 40/43 city/highway, and reviewers say its handling is composed and precise.

  • "Hybrids have low-rolling resistance tires that enhance fuel economy, but allow copious noseplow in tight turns." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Unfortunately, the grabby brakes and the unpolished transitions between coasting and getting into regenerative braking detract from the sedan's around-town smoothness." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Like gasoline Civics, the hybrid test car had a sturdy, tight feel, as if it were modeled after a sport sedan. It didn't have the slip-slidey feel you can get when trying to push a Prius briskly through corners. Thus, the Civic was more fun to drive in the normal-to-brisk end of the scale." -- USA Today
  • "Steering effort is light, but not overly so, thanks to electric assist, and the turning circle is a few inches less than other Civic sedans, possibly because of slightly narrower tires. This helps maneuver into tight parking spaces." -- The Auto Channel

Next Steps: 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid

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