Of the five separate 2012 Honda Civic models featured at last month's New York Auto Show, the Civic HF sedan is probably the most affordable tradeoff between gas mileage and purchase price. Its base price is $19,455.
It's EPA-rated at 29 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, toward the top of the 2012 Civic lineup. Honda says it expects that roughly 2 percent of the 2012 Civics it sells will be the HF model.
Only the Honda Civic Hybrid gets higher mileage--44 mpg city, 44 mpg highway--but it's far pricer, with a starting price that's a full $4,500 higher, at $24,050.
The 2012 Civic HF has no hybrid gear in it. Instead, it uses the standard Civic powertrain but adds some of the Civic Hybrid's aerodynamic aids, including underbody trays, more aerodynamic alloy wheels fitted with low-rolling-resistance tires, and a decklid spoiler.
The combined effect is enough to push the Civic HF past the magic level of 40 mpg highway that so many manufacturers have been touting.
Mind you, the standard 2012 Honda Civic model is rated at 28 29 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, and the least expensive model starts at $15,805.
So the 2012 Civic lineup poses a good test of the question: How much are you willing to pay to increase your fuel-efficiency rating?
The video below is our 2-minute walkaround tour of the 2012 Honda Civic HF model.
Watch it, and then tell us what you think of the tradeoff between purchase price and increased gas mileage in the Comments below.