Since its introduction in 2003, Honda's
Civic Hybrid has consistently been the also-ran hybrid, overshadowed
by the more well-known Toyota Prius. Now in its second generation,
the Civic continues to quietly deliver more than 40 miles
to a gallon of gas.
An assist hybrid, the Civic uses its 1.3-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine as its primary source of power, even at slow speeds -- something that distinguishes it from most other hybrids on the market. The electric motor initially gets the car moving while starting the gasoline engine, and it also offers assistance to the gasoline engine when it needs a power boost, such as when you are entering a freeway or passing another car.
The Civic can switch off some or all of its cylinders when it is cruising and not under a heavy load, which allows it to run in an all-electric mode and save fuel. It also switches its engine off when you come to a complete stop.
Honda also has released a series of cryptic
announcements, disclosing that the company will have a new
small hybrid available in early 2009. Apparently it will be
a hatchback capable of seating five adults and will be an
assist hybrid, much like its Civic cousin. As an assist hybrid,
it will use its gasoline engine as its primary source of power,
relying on the electric motor to get the car started and for
power boosts during high-demand times, such as during acceleration.
Honda hasn't released a name, engine
specifications or mileage expectations, but has promised to
release more information about the upcoming car later this