Now in its third generation, the Honda Civic Hybrid is one of the stalwarts of the compact hybrid class, having been around in one form or another since its introduction to the U.S. in 2002.
Here we're looking at the popular 2006-2011 model, as one of our Five Best Used Green Cars To Buy.
While not as overtly green, nor as economical as the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius we looked at yesterday, the Civic Hybrid is well worth considering if you're in the market for a used green car.
The first generation of Civic Hybrid was first launched in 2001 in the Japanese market, but only reached U.S. shores in Spring 2002, as a 2003 model. The second generation Hybrid was launched in 2005, as a 2006 model-year car.
Based on the regular Civic sedan, the Hybrid uses Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, which slots a compact electric motor between the engine and transmission. The system debuted in the original Insight, and is also fitted to cars like the Honda CR-Z and current generation Insight.
The 2006-2011 Civic Hybrid uses a 1.3-liter engine with the IMA system, paired with a continuously-variable transmission. Combined, they produce 110 horsepower, and 123 pounds-feet of torque.
Driving experience, economy
2006 Honda Civic HybridEnlarge Photo
It may not match the 48 city and 45 highway of the 2004-2009 Prius then, but in terms of combined emissions the Civic actually ranks better than the Prius--so it's still a green choice.
Stepping behind the wheel, you won't get the shock you might in the Toyota Prius, as the Civic is fairly conventional inside. Even so, the two-tier dashboard looks high-tech and the driving position is comfortable.
Some might consider the Civic Hybrid more of a driver's car than its Prius rival, but this is still a car more suited to taking it easy than hitting the twists. Still, it's easy to drive, responsive, and the steering has a bit more road feel than the Prius's fingertip-light system.
It's just a pity that Honda's hybrid system isn't as smooth as Toyota's. You'll notice the engine turning on and off more, there's more of a step when the electric motor kicks in to help the gasoline engine, and the transition between regenerative braking and using the friction brakes is more pronounced. While it all works well enough, it lacks the polish of Toyota's system.