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When Japanese automakers first started bringing hybrids to the American market in the late 1990s, few of us imagined how quickly gas-electric technology would find its way into everything from small econoboxes to large SUVs and hypercars. But the market's real "bread and butter" still lies in its most popular form: small sedans like the 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid.
Starting at $24,360, the Civic Hybrid is slightly pricier than the Toyota Prius. The Civic uses the same Integrated Motor Assist system that can be found in its hybrid sibling, the Insight. Combined output from the inline four-cylinder engine and the electric motor is 110 horsepower, paltry even by hybrid standards. Fuel economy ratings are class competitive, though, at 44 mpg in the city and on the highway.
The brakes are adequate for the car's svelte 2,868-pound curb weight, with power-assisted discs at the front and drums at the rear. The driving experience may not be particularly sporty or engaging, but that isn't the reason anyone buys a Civic Hybrid.
After a lukewarm reception for the redesigned 2012 Civic, Honda rushed a significant facelift for 2013. Its exterior has a more masculine shape, with a new grille and reconfigured taillights. A Civic Hybrid's interior comes well-equipped with features such as: cruise control, power locks and Bluetooth hands-free integration as standard. Interior room has been increased, allowing for a more comfortable seating experience, especially in the rear. The 10.7 cubic-foot trunk is, however, tiny.
Lower starting price, more power, more space, more trims to choose from and better fuel economy
An upgrade in size and style with better fuel economy, but slightly more expensive
Much more space and over 80 more horsepower for just over a $1,000 more
Costs $6,000 less than the Civic, excellent mileage with turbo-diesel engine, a more rewarding driving experience