2012 Honda Civic Performance

7.0
Performance

The 2012 Honda Civic remains offered in several different models—including standard gasoline versions, a Hybrid, the sporty Si, and a Natural Gas version—and they each drive a little bit differently.

 

The 2012 Honda Civic still feels a little more nimble and responsive than most other compacts, but the new Si no longer wows.

The standard Civic gasoline models accelerate responsively and have lively acceleration, along with confident handling and roadholding. Steering remains quite good, even though all the models in the lineup now come with an electric power system that doesn't feel quite as good, but it's easy to position the car exactly where you want it within the lane.

 

The sporty Si, once a benchmark, doesn't feel quite as sharp as its predecessor, and shoppers should be aware that the cost of its crisper responses comes in the form of increased road noise. It gets a larger-displacement 2.4-liter engine that produces its maximum torque roughly at engine speeds roughly 1,000 rpm lower than its predecessor, but as always, you still have to spin the engine toward its 7000-rpm redline to get the power. Novice Si drivers may find themselves one gear too high for useful acceleration under many different circumstances, yet the larger displacement makes it thirstier than former Si models.

 

The base engine in the Civic remains a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that's essentially carryover. That's perfectly fine, as it's one of the best engines in this class, smooth and responsive throughout the rev range, without becoming boomy when you rev it like some other models. Overall, we like the manual gearbox that comes on Civics best; the five-speed automatic tends to balk a little bit with downshifts and doesn't allow manual control.

 

You might not expect the Civic Hybrid to be as enjoyable to drive, but it's fun to chuck around corners and easy to place on corners. Like all of Honda's hybrids since 1999, the 2012 Civic Hybrid is a "mild hybrid," meaning it can't move the car on electric power alone. It's worth noting that the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid uses Honda's first-ever lithium-ion battery pack, which takes up relatively little room in the trunk and weighs far less than the older nickel-metal-hydride battery in its predecessor. Boost has been increased for the Honda Civic Hybrid; the hardware consists of a very thin 15-kilowatt (22-horsepower) electric motor, inserted between the 1.5-liter engine and Honda's continuously variable transmission (CVT).

 

The Civic Hybrid can't accelerate in electric-only mode at low speeds, like that of the Prius, but it does offer the ability to run in electric-only mode when cruising at speeds as high as 36 mph, but only for very short periods. In most Civic models there's an Econ mode that allows a gentler throttle calibration, along with more conservative transmission and accessory settings, but in the Hybrid you might need to turn it off to better keep up with traffic on hilly stretches. Because the Civic Hybrid has to restart its engine to move away from a dead stop, it's not as smooth to drive as a Prius-style full hybrid, either, with a tendency to switch the engine off momentarily in stop-and-go traffic, then hesitate for a moment when getting back on the throttle.

 

The 2012 Honda Civic remains offered in several different models—including standard gasoline versions, a Hybrid, the sporty Si, and a Natural Gas version—and they each drive a little bit differently.

 

The standard Civic gasoline models accelerate responsively and have lively acceleration, along with confident handling and roadholding. Steering remains quite good, even though all the models in the lineup now come with an electric power system that doesn't feel quite as good, but it's easy to position the car exactly where you want it within the lane.

 

The sporty Si, once a benchmark, doesn't feel quite as sharp as its predecessor, and shoppers should be aware that the cost of its crisper responses comes in the form of increased road noise. It gets a larger-displacement 2.4-liter engine that produces its maximum torque roughly at engine speeds roughly 1,000 rpm lower than its predecessor, but as always, you still have to spin the engine toward its 7000-rpm redline to get the power. Novice Si drivers may find themselves one gear too high for useful acceleration under many different circumstances, yet the larger displacement makes it thirstier than former Si models.

 

The base engine in the Civic remains a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine that's essentially carryover. That's perfectly fine, as it's one of the best engines in this class, smooth and responsive throughout the rev range, without becoming boomy when you rev it like some other models. Overall, we like the manual gearbox that comes on Civics best; the five-speed automatic tends to balk a little bit with downshifts and doesn't allow manual control.

 

You might not expect the Civic Hybrid to be as enjoyable to drive, but it's fun to chuck around corners and easy to place on corners. Like all of Honda's hybrids since 1999, the 2012 Civic Hybrid is a "mild hybrid," meaning it can't move the car on electric power alone. It's worth noting that the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid uses Honda's first-ever lithium-ion battery pack, which takes up relatively little room in the trunk and weighs far less than the older nickel-metal-hydride battery in its predecessor. Boost has been increased for the Honda Civic Hybrid; the hardware consists of a very thin 15-kilowatt (22-horsepower) electric motor, inserted between the 1.5-liter engine and Honda's continuously variable transmission (CVT).

 

The Civic Hybrid can't accelerate in electric-only mode at low speeds, like that of the Prius, but it does offer the ability to run in electric-only mode when cruising at speeds as high as 36 mph, but only for very short periods. In most Civic models there's an Econ mode that allows a gentler throttle calibration, along with more conservative transmission and accessory settings, but in the Hybrid you might need to turn it off to better keep up with traffic on hilly stretches. Because the Civic Hybrid has to restart its engine to move away from a dead stop, it's not as smooth to drive as a Prius-style full hybrid, either, with a tendency to switch the engine off momentarily in stop-and-go traffic, then hesitate for a moment when getting back on the throttle.

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