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2012 Honda Civic variations appeal to buyers

November 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you drive a Honda Civic, you're in a pretty big demographic. Year after year, it's one of the best-selling cars in the country.

The Civic's been heavily revised for 2012, and one of the reasons it appeals to so many buyers is because it comes in so many variations.

At the sporty end of the Civic spectrum is the Si model. As with the previous generation of Civic, it offers up a high-revving VTEC engine and sporty styling to carry out the theme.

You can choose two doors or four with the Si, but you can't choose a transmission. It comes only as a six-speed manual.

If your tastes run more to green than red hot, the Civic hybrid will return, this time with slightly better gas mileage: 44 mpg city or highway.

Improvements to the hybrid make it both more efficient and more powerful, thanks to a larger engine and a new lithium ion hybrid battery.

Honda has used the Si letters to identify the sporty model of Civics since the 1980s when they used it not only on the Civic but the two-seat CRX as well.

In 2012, they've gone back to another two-letter designation from the 80s: HF, for high-fuel economy.

The HF gets some streamlining like a hybrid, which results in a better highway mpg number just three shy of the hybrid, for a much lower sticker price.

"Your highway fuel economy goes from 39 to 41, which makes that car the highest fuel economy car in the compact segment that's not a hybrid with an automatic transmission," said Honda spokesman Chris Martin.

The HF is the Civic for tightwads, though it is a bit Spartan inside.

All the new Civics have been criticized by many for having a so-so interior, including Consumer Reports, which routinely praise the car in the past.

Nevertheless, Civic buyers tend to be loyal, so Honda's probably not too worried. They give buyers lots of choices for the new mainstream Honda.


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