It's not 50 miles per gallon (rest, easy Prius), but the mpg numbers for the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid impress us nonetheless: 44/44/44. That's city/highway/combined, and it's a nice jump – especially in the city – from the 40/43/41 numbers sported by the 2011 model.
The New York Auto Show this week has been full of "40 mpg" claims from many automakers, but these have mostly described just one of the three ratings categories (usually highway). To have Honda announce you get an estimated 44 miles to the gallon no matter how you drive deserves a bit of praise. (Golf clap.)
The reason for the fuel economy boost lies, in part, with the upgraded battery pack used in the Honda Integrated Motor Assist system. Instead of the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in previous Civic Hybrids, the '12 version cruises along with 20-kW worth of li-ion cells. Compared to the NiMH pack, the lithium-ion battery is 5 kW more powerful and also a bit lighter. The gas engine has also been upgraded from 1.3 liters to a 1.5-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder, and the full system offers 110 combined horsepower at 5,500 rpm. There are also some design tweaks on the exterior – nothing too fancy – that you can check out in our gallery below and read all about after the jump.