By KBB.com Editors
Honda continues to make into reality what other manufacturers only talk about. Take, for example, the Civic Hybrid. It's a car that employs a small gasoline engine assisted by an electric motor that can, under certain low-speed situations, become the car's sole powerplant. Urban commuters will find the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid superior to its gasoline counterpart because it delivers extremely frugal city and highway fuel economy while producing minimal greenhouse emissions. Unlike the Toyota Prius, which assumes a functional but futuristic appearance, the Civic Hybrid closely mirrors the newly restyled Civic Sedan, with only a few minor exterior and interior changes to differentiate the two cars.You'll Like This Car If...
Whether your interest in hybrids is driven by political, environmental or financial considerations, the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid allows you to address those issues in a vehicle that's just about as comfortable and stylish as a compact sedan can be with little sacrifice in drivability.
If your interest in the Civic Hybrid is purely financial, you may be discouraged by the math (see our Pricing Notes in this review). The Civic Hybrid's sedan body style also isn't as functional as the hatchback design of the Prius, which also offers a fold-down rear seat. Lastly, if you'd like your hybrid vehicle to make a statement, the Civic doesn't speak as loudly as the uniquely styled, hybrid-only Prius.What's New for 2008
No major changes for 2008.Driving It Driving Impressions
Despite the sophistication of the technology under the hood, the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid delivers essentially the same experience you'd expect from any very good small car. It may not ride, handle or accelerate exactly like its gas-only Civic sedan counterpart, but the only differences you're likely to notice on your daily commute are the unique behavior of its "gearless" continuously variable transmission and the engine's stop/start operation at stoplights. If you're trying to decide between the new Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius, you'll have to rely on factors other than driving dynamics to make your decision. In back-to-back drives, we found the two largely similar. We like that other hybrids will accelerate from a stop on electric power alone (the Civic doesn't), but that fondness is based on novelty only.Favorite Features
45 Miles Per Gallon
Perhaps the only commuters who wouldn't appreciate the Civic Hybrid's theoretical maximum range of more than 500 miles are those hooked on Gas 'n' Sip convenience-store delicacies like beef jerky, lottery tickets, half-gallon fountain drinks and pre-packaged pastries.
Two-Tier Instrument Panel
While some non-traditional instrument panel layouts come across as gimmicky, the Civic's two-tier execution seems to make all the sense in the world.