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TheCarConnection.com has driven the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid to bring you this hands-on review that covers styling, performance, safety, utility, and features from on-the-road observations. TheCarConnection.com's editors also researched reviews from other sources to give you a comprehensive range of opinions from around the Web-and to help you decide which ones to trust.High Gear Media drove a manufacturer-provided Honda Civic Hybrid to produce this hands-on road test.
The 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid does just what it's designed to do: carry you and yours all over town with superb fuel efficiency. The four-door 2010 Civic Hybrid uses a blend of gasoline and electric power to achieve a real-world 45 mpg, but hardly anyone will know you're driving a hybrid. It's the hybrid for people who don't need to show off their green credentials. At a base price of $23,800, the Civic Hybrid competes with the Volkswagen Jetta TDI clean diesel sedan, the Honda Civic GX natural-gas vehicle, and the all-new 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback.
It takes a trained eye to tell the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid apart from other Civics. Along with the other Civic four-door sedans, it got a new grille and lights last year; otherwise, it's unchanged for 2010. The Hybrid's minor exterior tweaks include different wheels, clear turn-signal lenses, turn indicators built into the side-view mirror housings, and a small trunk-lid spoiler. Inside, it sports blue lighting and a wonderfully rich blue cloth interior and blue vinyl dash cap.
The system at work in the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid actually has five modes that let the electrics and gas engine work together in various ways. In theory, the Civic Hybrid can run on electric power alone, but we never experienced it for any noticeable duration. The powertrain consists of a 93-horsepower 1.3-liter four mated to Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. The engine is assisted by a 20-horsepower electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission. The Civic Hybrid is rated by the EPA at 40 mpg city, 45 highway. This is marginally lower than the 2010 Toyota Prius, at 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway. After 10,000 miles, the difference in consumption between the two would be a mere 38 gallons.
As with most hybrid-electric cars, there's a learning curve to driving the 2010 Civic Hybrid. Like all Civics, it handles well and is easy to blast around town. But the cornering limits are low, the steering feels somewhat numb, and at times, the gasoline engine drones at high speed when asked for urgent performance. The ride can be jiggly and busy, too. But driving gently around town at low speeds, you can occasionally move in near silence on electric power alone.
The futuristic interior styling of the 2010 Honda Civic seems appropriate for the Civic Hybrid model. The front seats are comfortable, but the dash ahead of them has an unusual double-decker style that makes drivers feel like they're piloting a video game. Combined with a steeply raked windshield, that leaves a lot of wasted space above the dash. With relatively small door openings, it can be a challenge for backseat passengers to get in and out of the Hybrid. There's not a ton of headroom in back, either. Unlike other Civic sedans, the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid doesn't offer a folding rear seat-because the battery pack sits between the rear seatback and the trunk, which also reduces cargo space.
Despite a design that dates back to 2006, the 2010 Honda Civic line rates high for safety. Every 2010 Civic gets dual front airbags, side and side-curtain airbags, and anti-lock brakes. Electronic stability control is also standard on the Civic Hybrid. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid as "good." And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards the 2010 Civic Hybrid five stars for front impact and side rear passenger impact, along with four stars for side driver impact.
Standard features on the well-equipped 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid include power locks and windows, along with automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, a 160-watt audio system with an auxiliary jack for your MP3 player, steering-wheel audio controls, and 15-inch wheels and tires. A short options list includes satellite radio and a navigation system, which now includes Bluetooth capabilities for hands-free calling. A leather-trimmed interior is also available.