Available as both a sedan and a coupe, the 2012 Honda Civic will have multiple engine choices: Conventional gasoline, hybrid and natural gas drivetrains will all be available.
The new shape of the popular Civic is more windswept and aggressive. The Civic Si concept coupe, pictured above, showcases a more angular front end, mesh grille and tapered rear roofline.
In its hybrid incarnation, the 2012 Civic marks Honda's first use of lithium-ion batteries in a Honda hybrid. As a gasoline-powered model, the 2012 Civic will employ the same Eco Assist technology that Honda debuted on its CR-Z hybrid last year, which allows drivers to select between different drive modes that alter fuel economy. The natural-gas-powered GX will be the only CNG passenger car assembled in North America.
The new 2012 Civics will be fighting for a spot in what has become an increasingly competitive compact-car market. Whereas once the Civic had to worry only about its main rival, the Toyota Corolla, now there are many new entrants into the segment, including competitive small cars from the American automakers.
Ford Motor Co. is launching its new-generation Ford Focus, which has done well overseas, in markets where the small-car segment is a larger percentage of sales than in the United States. General Motors Co. is selling its new Chevrolet Cruze, a compact that has received initial good reviews from the auto press; today, Chevrolet also announced it will produce a small car called the Sonic.
Additionally, South Korean manufacturer Hyundai is about to launch a new version of its Elantra. The car is bigger than previous generations but can get up to 40 miles per gallon.
At the same time that Honda is bringing out a new-generation Civic in the U.S., it has decided to eliminate the model in its home Japanese market, citing the popularity of even smaller cars.
-- Susan Carpenter and Jerry Hirsch
Photo: 2012 Honda Civic Si concept. Credit: American Honda Motor Co.