Due to arrive in Honda dealers early next month, the 2009 Civic Hybrid undergoes modest but welcome variations that further enhance its basic mileage-making appeal. Outside, the same mild nose and tail tweaks found on the rest of the Civic lineup -- a revamped front fascia, new grille element and recast head/taillight color combinations -- add visual snap. Inside, Hybrid buyers will be able to step up this slick sedan's luxury quotient with a new available leather upholstery package that includes heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated side mirrors. Hybrids also get a new USB audio interface, and those fitted with the optional Navigation system add Bluetooth HandsFreeLink connectivity and include XM Satellite Radio.
The Hybrid's powertrain remains unchanged -- a 1.3-liter i-VTEC in-line 4 paired with Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system that produces 110 combined horsepower, drives the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission and earns 40-mpg city/45-mpg highway ratings from the EPA. However, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) joins the 2009 roster of standards to provide an extra measure of control and handling confidence. Pricing on the new Hybrid starts at $24,220 and tops out at $27,440 for one with both the Leather and Navigation Packages.
The other cleaner, greener Civic, the compressed natural gas-fueled Civic GX, receives the same basic exterior/interior updates as its kin. But save for new "NGV" badging on its rear doors, is otherwise unchanged. Available in California, New York and to fleet customers in all 50 states, the Civic GX continues to be the cleanest internal combustion-engine vehicle currently certified by the EPA.