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2012 Honda Civic Hybrid gets 44 mpg (photos)

Honda updated its entire Civic line for 2012, including the Civic Hybrid. The 2012 Civic Hybrid gets a new lithium ion battery pack, and boasts fuel economy of 44 mpg.

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Wayne Cunningham
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With the 2012 Civic update, Honda came up with six new versions, all presenting unique characteristics for different types of drivers. Rated at 44 mpg, the 2012 Civic Hybrid gets the best fuel economy of the Civics, and, according to Honda, also the highest of any sedan in the U.S.

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Following the theme that blue is green, Honda fits blue accents around the Civic Hybrid to distinguish it from other Civic models. A blue translucent strip forms the top bar of the grille, while the headlights have blue lens covers.

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Honda kept the width and length of the new Civic the same as that of the 2011 model. But the new Civic is a little shorter in height, and has a more compact wheelbase. Honda makes the new Civic look more dynamic, with lines that slant down toward the front of the car. The new Civic is available in both sedan and coupe forms, although the hybrid power train can only be had in the sedan.

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The reverse lights get blue-accent lens covers in the Civic Hybrid.

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Honda continues the use of its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system in the Civic Hybrid, which uses a gas engine for main power and an electric motor for additional boost. Honda increased the size of the gas engine for 2012 from 1.3 liters to 1.5 liters.

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A big change for the 2012 model year is the adoption of lithium ion technology for the battery. This new battery pack is lighter but more powerful than the previous generation. Honda installs it behind the rear seats, which eliminates the pass-through to the trunk.

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The hybrid system operates similar to that in the previous Civic Hybrid, stopping the engine at red lights and in traffic, and using the electric motor for additional boost during acceleration. The combined horsepower from engine and electric motor is 110, and torque is at 127 pound-feet. Fuel economy is rated at 44 mpg city and 44 mpg highway, which Honda says is the highest of any U.S. sedan.

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The Civic Hybrid can be had with navigation, and with cloth or leather seats, the various options creating a price range of $24,050 to $26,750. A continuously variable transmission is the only type available in the car.

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For years, Honda relied on a DVD-based navigation system, but this new one is flash-based, making for quicker response times and better resolution. Honda also integrates traffic into this navigation system.

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With a connected iPod, the library interface breaks down music into artist, album, and genre categories. The system populates screens quickly as you scroll down through the various categories.

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The main touchscreen shows the available audio sources, a new graphic design for Honda that will be easy to operate while driving. Unlike the previous version, the CD slot is at the top of the face plate, rather than behind the LCD, a change that makes it more easily accessible.

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The auxiliary screen, up at the top of the dashboard close to the driver's range of vision, is a smaller screen that lists audio sources sequentially. This screen flows sideways when the driver pushes the source button on the steering wheel.

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When playing a track from a connected iPod, the auxiliary screen shows song information, including album cover art when available. This auxiliary screen also shows route guidance information when a destination is programmed into the navigation system.

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