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2012 Honda Civic hybrid gets li-ion battery, Si gets more torque

It may not look like much has changed for the 2012 Honda Civic, but there are changes under the hood for the hybrid and Si performance variants.

The 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid debuts with a new lithium ion battery pack and a combined 45 mpg fuel economy.
The 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid debuts with a new lithium ion battery pack and a combined 45 mpg fuel economy. Honda

When we got our first look at the next generation of the Honda Civic at the 2011 Detroit auto show, we were generally underwhelmed. The Civic Concept resembled the outgoing Civic so closely that it was easily overshadowed by more visually interesting reveals, such as the Hyundai Veloster. Today, with the unveiling of the production versions of what will be the 2012 Civic coupe and sedan, we're unsurprised to find that Honda's bread-and-butter model is just as visually underwhelming as when we last saw it. However, digging into the specs, we find that there are a few revisions for the 2012 model year worth getting excited about.

For starters, the 2012 Civic Hybrid gets upgraded with a new lithium ion battery pack and a larger 1.5-liter gasoline engine that work in concert to the tune of 45 mpg (combined). Aerodynamic tweaks and a new Eco Assist technology suite help the hybrid to achieve this number.

In the world of conventional power train configurations, a new Civic HF model will join the lineup with a 1.8-liter engine tuned for efficiency. This model will feature similar aero-tweaks to the Hybrid model, as well as the Eco Assist driver aid technology. Honda expects the Civic HF to achieve 41 mpg (combined), beating the Hyundai Elantra and Veloster by 1 mpg and effectively thumbing its nose at the upstarts from Korea.

For those who need a bit more oomph, the Civic Si is back with the same 200-horsepower output, but from a larger, 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine. More displacement means more torque in this case, as the new Si gets a bump to 170 pound-feet of twist at its peak--a 22 percent boost in torque over its rev-happy but at times gutless predecessor. The new Si also gets a new manual transmission to go with its new engine, as well as an estimated fuel economy of 31 mpg.