- Fuel economy
- Front-seat room
- Good handling for a hybrid
- Rear-seat access
- No pass-through to trunk
- CVT “shift” quality
The 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid excels in fuel economy and front-seat comfort.
The 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid takes the basic four-door Civic and gives it 45-mpg capability, through a powertrain that teams gas and electric power.
The Civic Hybrid's powertrain consists of a 1.3-liter four mated to an IMA hybrid system. The engine by itself produces 93 horsepower, assisted by a 20-hp electric motor. The system actually has five modes that let the electrics and gas engine work together in different ways, including allowing the Civic Hybrid to run on electric power alone. The Civic Hybrid gets 40/45 mpg, compared to the larger Toyota Prius's higher city mileage of 48/45 mpg.
It takes a trained eye to tell the Hybrid apart from other Civics. The Hybrid's minor cosmetic changes include a small spoiler, clear turn-signal lenses, and blue lighting for the interior, as well as a wonderfully rich blue cloth interior and blue vinyl dash cap, different wheels, and turn indicators built into the sideview mirror housings. The sedan shape is shared with the gas-powered four-doors, and it makes some compromises to style. The front seats are comfortable, but the dash standing before them has an unusual double-decker style that makes you feel like you're piloting a video game. In the Hybrid, the futuristic look is somewhat fitting. However, the design leaves a lot of wasted space above the dash, and in back, the rear doors with small cutouts make it harder for backseat passengers to get in and out of the Hybrid. There's not an abundance of headroom in back, either.
The 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid handles differently than the sedan, thanks to electric power steering, skinny tires, and its continuously variable transmission (CVT). As with most Hybrids, there's a learning curve to the Civic, such as in getting used to the numbed steering feel, the lower cornering limits, and the drone of the gas engine (the CVT keeps the engine operating near peak efficiency). The ride is a bit busy, too.
Power locks and windows are standard, as well as a tilt/telescope steering wheel, remote keyless entry, steering-wheel audio controls, a 160-watt audio system with an auxiliary jack for your MP3 player, automatic climate control, and 15-inch wheels and tires. There is no folding rear seat, because the battery pack lives between the rear seats and the trunk. Options include satellite radio and a navigation system.
Every Civic gets dual airbags, side and side curtain airbags, and anti-lock brakes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid as "good."