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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
the Civic Hybrid is quite slow
ended the test with a 38.2 mpg average
taut suspension, and body roll is well-controlled
Experts reviewed by TheCarConnection.com generally conclude that the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid has adequate performance, but its strongest features are its fuel efficiency and its surprisingly good handling.
The system at work in the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid has five modes that let the electrics and gas engine work together in various ways. In theory, the Civic Hybrid can effectively shut off all its cylinders by opening the valves to run on electric power alone at low speed. 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. Car and Driver notes that the 2010 "Honda's engine and electric motor are sandwiched together and then connected to the transmission, so if one is running, so is the other." According to Cars.com, the two combine to produce "110 horsepower and 123 pounds-feet of torque." The 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid's transmission is described by Kelley Blue Book as a "'gearless' continuously variable transmission" that is a "natural fit" for the hybrid system. The CVT keeps the engine operating near its peak performance range, which helps increase fuel economy, though J.D. Power calls it "less energetic" than standard Civic transmissions.
Many reviews mention the sluggish acceleration times offered by this combination, with ConsumerGuide warning that 2010 Honda Civic Hybrids are "slow off the line and demand liberal throttle to build speed quickly." Others concur. "The Civic Hybrid [is] quite slow," says Edmunds. "The Toyota Prius is quicker." On the other hand, Cars.com finds that the Honda "Civic Hybrid accelerates adequately." The Civic Hybrid's strong point is gas mileage; it is rated by the EPA at 40 mpg city, 45 highway. This is just marginally lower than the 2010 Toyota Prius, at 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway. After 10,000 miles, the difference between the two would be just 38 gallons. Testers at J.D. Power "ended the test with a 38.2 mpg average," but Car and Driver reviewers manage to hit the "40 mpg" mark.
As with most hybrid-electric cars, there's a learning curve to driving the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid. Like all Civics, the Hybrid squeezes unexpected driving fun into its thrifty package. Edmunds loves how the "suspension, steering and brakes all work together" seamlessly to make the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid "somewhat sporty to drive." And Cars.com reviewers rave about the "taut suspension" and "well-controlled" body roll, combined with the "responsive" steering. ConsumerGuide notes that Honda Civic Hybrids "have low-rolling resistance tires that enhance fuel economy, but allow some nose-plow in tight turns," but overall, they "take bumps in stride, with good absorbency and little float or wallow." The brakes are acceptable, but Cars.com finds they "can make smooth stops tricky."
Acceleration isn't the strongest suit of the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid, but that's not what it's designed for; its strength is fuel economy, where it excels.