2012 Honda Civic sedan at New York Auto Show, April 2011Enlarge Photo
With a redesigned range of Civic sedan and coupe models, and no fewer than five separate variants, the new 2012 Honda Civic makes an aggressive effort to position Honda at the forefront of gas mileage.
Unlike models from other makers, if you order a standard 2012 Civic with the 1.8-liter engine, you'll do better on mileage ratings by ticking the box for the five-speed automatic.
The EPA ratings for the automatic 2012 Honda Civic are 28 mpg, 39 mpg highway, for a combined 32-mpg number.
Opt to shift gears yourself, by specifying the five-speed manual gearbox, and the the highway number drops to 36 mpg (the city rating stays the same), knocking the combined number down one notch, to 31 mpg.
2012 Honda Civic SiEnlarge Photo
The 2012 Civic Si model, fitted with a 201-hp 2.4-liter engine and six-speed manual gearbox, drops much lower: 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, for a combined 25 mpg.
Even that sixth speed doesn't make up for the high-revving nature of the little hot rod's bigger engine.
2012 Honda Civic HF at New York Auto Show, April 2011Enlarge Photo
Moving up the ladder in the mileage stakes is the special 2012 Honda Civic HF model, which has a number of aerodynamic elements (also used on the new Civic Hybrid) to reduce drag at higher speeds.
The Civic HF model, a new addition to the lineup for 2012, is rated at 29 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined.
That gives Honda a standard gasoline model that achieves over the magical 40-mpg highway rating that so many makers are using in big letters to lure in buyers.
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, road test, Spring 2011Enlarge Photo
The highest-mileage model of all, though, is the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid. It comes in at 44 mpg for city, highway, and combined ratings, and our multi-day drive report verified that real-world usage returns between 42 and 45 mpg.
The Civic Hybrid uses a smaller 1.5-liter engine and the latest generation of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild-hybrid system, along with a new and smaller lithium-ion battery pack mounted at the rear of the trunk.
Like other mild hybrids, the Civic Hybrid can't move away from a stop on just electric power. Instead, the electric motor assists the smaller engine, adding torque under acceleration and very occasionally propelling the car alone for short periods once it's up to speed.
2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas model at New York Auto Show, April 2011Enlarge Photo
The final model of the five-car 2012 Civic lineup won't go on sale until this fall. That's the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which in previous years was known as the Civic GX.
Honda is the only maker that has consistently sold a natural-gas powered car in the U.S. for more than 10 years, and it plans to expand availability beyond the four states the car is currently sold in.
So what's the bottom line on 2012 Honda Civic mileage? Every model is equal or better to its predecessors from last year's Civic range, and the 2012 Civic Hybrid can return real-world mileage well above 40 mpg.