Hybrids & Electrics

Fuel-Saver Flashback: Honda Civic Hybrid

At first glance, you might see a Honda Civic Hybrid on the road and think that it’s just another Civic. Technically, that’s what Honda wanted you to think, but that Civic had a little trick up its sleeve. Let’s take a look back at the fuel-saving Civic variant that upped the fuel-economy quotient in Honda’s lineup for three generations and see what made it different.

History

The Honda Civic Hybrid was first introduced in the U.S. market in 2003 and was the second hybrid car that the brand produced. The first-generation Honda Insight had already been around for a couple of years, and while it garnered some interest from consumers, Honda thought it would be more fitting to release a hybrid car that could fit more than two occupants. So why not take the same technology from the Insight and throw it into a Civic sedan?

It was a genius move by Honda that proved successful for a number of years as the brand sold more than 230,000 of them during the total production cycle. The Civic Hybrid was around for three different generations of the Civic: 2003-2005, 2006-2011, and then 2012-2015. It was discontinued after the 2015 model year due to declining sales, decreasing gas prices, and the release of the 10th generation Civic line in 2016.

2002 Honda Civic Hybrid – First Generation

Design

During the time that the Civic Hybrid was produced, it went through three different body style changes. The first iteration came with the seventh-generation Civic sedan in which the hybrid model was adorned with hybrid badging and different 14-inch wheels with low-rolling-resistance tires.

The second iteration of the Civic Hybrid was offered with the eighth-generation Civic, in which the brand added a little more to set it apart from the other Civic models. Aerodynamic wheels were added, as well as a decklid spoiler, and there were hybrid badges to help distinguish that it was indeed a hybrid.

As you can probably guess, by the third generation of the Civic Hybrid, it looked a lot like the ninth-generation Civic, but the main difference was the clear tail lights, which made the Civic Hybrid look a little more futuristic. Otherwise, it basically just looked like a Civic.

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid – Second Generation

Powertrain

Along with three different generation changes came three different hybrid powertrain configurations. They all used the same Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) technology, which incorporated the use of a gasoline engine and a transmission with an electric motor sandwiched in between them to provide a power assist. The first generation (2003-2005) utilized a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a 10-kW electric motor that was coupled to either a five-speed manual or CVT transmission. The setup produced a total of 93 horsepower.

The second-generation Civic hybrid powertrain was revised from its predecessor as it used a larger 15-kW electric motor in between a 1.3-liter engine and CVT transmission. The power output was increased to 110 horsepower and the manual transmission was no longer available.

For the third generation, the Civic Hybrid was fitted with a 1.5-liter engine mated to a larger 17-kW electric motor combined with a CVT transmission. This setup produced the same 110 horsepower ratings but proved more efficient thanks in part to the use of a lithium-ion battery as opposed to nickel-metal hydride units in the past.

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid – Third Generation

Fuel Economy

According to the EPA estimates, all three generations of the Honda Civic Hybrid averaged over 40 mpg combined. While they all achieved over 40 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, they still didn’t come close to the Toyota Prius’ 50 mpg average at the time but were far more efficient than the regular gasoline-only Civics in their respective lineups.

2002 Honda Civic Hybrid with Manual Transmission

Is it worth it to buy one now?

Taking a look at the nationwide used-car listings, various Civic Hybrids are priced between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on the year, mileage, condition, and location. We would recommend this car to anyone looking to save on fuel and is in need of a car below a $10,000 budget. After all, there’s a good reason that the Civic Hybrid last so long in production, there’s probably no reason it shouldn’t last a lot longer in your driveway.